India (MNN) — India is quickly becoming one of the world’s largest people hubs and economic forces. Along with Brazil, Russia, and China, India is one of the BRIC nations: countries seen as having the world’s fastest up-and-coming economies. And at 1.2 billion people, India is second only to China in overall population.
Jim Ramsay says India drew the attention of The Mission Society four years ago.
“It’s been neat to see how, simultaneous with our own learning and feeling drawn to India, God has been sending us people to work with,” he states.
“In the course of four years, we’ve grown from 2 to 20 people serving in India.”
These factors, combined with others highlighted by anthropologist Prabhu Singh in the latest issue of Unfinished, make India one of the world’s largest mission fields.
“The sheer size of India, the population, the number of unreached peoples there,” lists Ramsay, “if you really are interested in the unfinished task of missions, then India has to be on your radar.”
Singh recently identified top trends and challenges facing the Body of Christ in India; one trend includes a growing receptivity to the Gospel.
“We’re seeing a real openness, a real desire among Indian Christians to reach across their own cultural boundaries into other parts of India,” Ramsay says. “The Indian Church itself is becoming very engaged in missions across their country.”
The Mission Society helps Indian believers reach the lost through cross-cultural training. Ramsay says it’s a turn from the traditional stance taken on missions by the Body of Christ in India.
“Historically, there hasn’t been a real burden of the Indian Church to reach across [cultural lines],” Ramsay explains. “They’ve stayed self-contained in their own states, their own identities, and their own language and people groups. But that’s been changing.”
This summer, several indigenous missionaries from southern India were trained and equipped by The Mission Society. Their goal was to evangelize unreached people groups in northern India.
“North India is like a different planet from south India,” Ramsay clarifies. The Gospel was introduced to India by Thomas, Christ’s doubtful apostle.
He sailed to India in 52 AD and landed in Kerala, one of India’s southernmost states. Today, Ramsay says southern India holds a higher concentration of Christ-followers than the north.
Helping indigenous missionaries reach the lost in rural northern regions is safer and more effective than sending foreign missionaries in to do evangelism.
“Because of the sensitivity toward the West–especially in some of the Muslim areas of north India, dropping Westerners into rural parts of India is just not helpful, to put it politely,” explains Ramsay.
“It can create all kinds of problems for the believers there, it can be unsafe for the Westerner, and yet often the cities [are places] that Westerners can go.”
When people envision missions, Ramsay says they often picture grass huts and remote villages. But today’s reality, in India and worldwide, is “a lot of the real need and opportunity are located in cities.
“You have several huge urban centers in India; many of which are fairly unreached with the Gospel.”
Pray that the Gospel spreads to more places in India. Learn more about The Mission Society’s work in India here.