India (MNN) — Uttar Pradesh has one of the largest populations in India with 182 million people. Among those are only an estimated 13,000 Christians. This makes Bright Hope International's year-old church resource center very strategic.
Uttar Pradesh is the heartland of Hinduism and almost the headquarters of it in India. The resource center is involved in church planting, training and help with impoverished and low-caste people who make up most of the population. Training involves learning about church planting and evangelism. "We train them how to build bridges with the socially impoverished people, how to start a project, how to start a community involvement project, how to start a self-employment project–something practical which they can do," said Isaac Shaw with Bright Hope.
Training those in India to lead their fellow Indians to Christ is critical, Shaw said. The establishment of the church is possible through breaking the clutches of poverty by those who truly understand it, and, through that, people are led to Christ.
"The main goal of this center is to see 20,000-30,000 men trained like this by the year 2025 and to see over 10,000 churches planted in Uttar Pradesh. Churches are transformational communities that help in transformation–not just spiritual transformation but social transformation in the hearts and lives of people," said Shaw.
Since the opening last July, there have been 9 baptisms. All who come to Christ are first generation converts. With the other religions in much of the area, conversion is not easy. "We do prepare them for opposition, and we tell them that this opposition will come, and the conversions are genuine. Where the conversions are genuine, these men stand up and face great hardship–even martyrdom," Shaw explained.
As people come to Christ, Bible studies are started which often have a history of becoming house
churches which grows into a small church and then into an average size church. "That is the goal," said Shaw.
There are plans to expand the ministry to reach women, widows and children–the
"most vulnerable" in the community. The goal is to build a proper building where these projects can be centered.