India (MNN) — On August 15,
India celebrates 61 years of independence from British rule.
Usually, the main national
holiday observance takes place in New Delhi. The Prime Minister traditionally gives a speech from the Red Fort and raises the
Yet, the high rates of illiteracy
throughout the nation have kept many millions dependent and in poverty.
Dave Stravers of Grand Rapids,
Michigan-based Mission India says their Gospel-based literacy programs are
helping many people toward true freedom.
notes that the ministry's forward progress is not without resistance. "The
powerful forces that hold India in their grip would like to prevent the kind of
revolutionary change that will happen as the population becomes literate and
has the opportunity to follow Jesus Christ."
Seven states in India have "Freedom of Religion" laws (or
anti-conversion legislation) that are actually designed to prevent anyone from
turning their back on Hinduism.
Threats of jail and punitive
fines are commonplace. Government leaders often seem to do little to stop the
increasing harassment against believers.
Despite oppression, church
planters are only more convinced that the Gospel will change the nation.
Stravers says they need prayer and
support. "We can't meet nearly everybody that's asking us for training and
the materials that we supply. We believe that probably for every baptized
person, there are at least two or three, or maybe eight or ten people who are
following Jesus, but they don't dare to be baptized because of the fear of what
that will mean to make that public statement of following Christ."
He adds, "Pray that India, as a
nation, will honor the spirit of its own Freedom of Religion law and allow
believers to worship and proclaim our Lord and Savior in safety and peace."