India (MNN) — Hopeful excitement
is building in India as the new government, which has already taken steps to
protect Christians from persecution, begins its administration.
"Everyone is now anticipating five
years not only of political stability, but also 5 years of having a government
that wants to protect minorities," said Dave Stravers, president of Grand
Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.
Parliament passed new directives
for law enforcement about a week ago for the protection of minorities, Stravers
"You can substitute the word 'Christians'
there for 'minorities,' because it was a direct response to what happened last
year in the state of Orissa and other places where Christians are being
attacked," he explained. "So this is
really a very significant transition."
Many believe the transition is
occurring not only in the political world but also among the people of India.
"Even the secular and Hindu
pundits in India are saying that this election shows a cultural shift happening,"
Stravers said. "People are tired of the
politics of hate; they're tired of the religious extremism; they're tired of
what they call 'casteism.' They don't want
this kind of politics anymore. So this
is very good news for the Gospel."
The Gospel has been spreading
rapidly throughout India, and religious tolerance could open even more doors.
"India is so responsive to the
Gospel right now," Stravers said. "We
are hearing from virtually all the corners of India about openness, response,
people being baptized by the thousands, even the tens of thousands…It just
appears to us that all the conditions are right for a wonderful, massive,
movement to Christ in India.
"Keep your eyes open, because
you're going to be reading and hearing a lot more stories of what's happening
On his last trip to India,
Stravers learned one such story from a young man who had grown up as a very
devout Hindu. A Christian had brought
Scripture for his family, but later his family moved away.
"He said that from the age of 9,
he felt the Lord had been pursuing him, and he had been resisting it," Stravers
said. "Finally, God started giving him
dreams, and these dreams in the night directed him to talk to certain people
that he knew; he didn't know they were Christians."
Stravers met the man a few weeks
after he and his wife were baptized.
"Even though the result was he
lost his job and his family is opposing him, he's just very happy and telling
everyone his story," Stravers said. He
compared the way God pursued this young man to the way God is working in the
nation of India.
"In this case He decided to
pursue this man…for 20 years, till he came to Christ through a dream and a witnessing
friend," he said. "From my perspective, God
has decided to pursue India. And when
God is pursuing you, something remarkable is going to happen."
The election could also benefit
the lowest, most oppressed caste in Indian society — the Dalits. Many Christians are Dalits, and Mission India
is working hard to provide support and training for them.
"The Christians in India are
among the poorest people in the country…the kind of people you saw in Slumdog
Millionaire" Stravers said. "Those are
the people who are coming to Christ in great numbers."
Stravers encouraged Christians to
pray that God will provide for poor Christians, and that the government will
continue to protect minority populations.
"Pray that it's really true that
there will be some peace, some stability, and the doors will stay open," he said. "Also pray that extremists, whether they're Hindus
or Muslims, will not be successful in intimidating or creating fear among believers."