India is one of the few countries in the world where only four percent of the population has been reached with the Gospel. It is one of the least reached nations in the world! In addition, Christians in India have a very difficult time, especially those with a Hindu background. A few years ago, persecution in India suddenly increased dramatically (source: https://www.opendoors.nl/ranglijst/india/.
Hindu extremists are still doing everything they can to get Christians and Muslims out of their country. After all, a true Indian is a Hindu. Christians face accusations of adhering to a ‘foreign religion’ and for calling down misfortune on the village community. These believers are often physically attacked or even killed. Others face pressure from their communities or are socially boycotted. Many believers live in isolation and don’t know any other Christians.
Joint approach City Bibles and NET
City Bibles and NET are working together in a joint project in India with a common missionary goal of equipping (lay)pastors and actively spreading the Gospel through local churches. The spearhead of CityBibles is the distribution of Bibles, and the spearhead of NET is equipping and encouraging pastors and Christians. The partnership of NET with City Bibles is unique. Through this partnership the students get direct access to a Bible in their own language (either through the key chains or through the printed version) and thus become ambassadors of the word of God. Both City Bibles and NET have the mission and desire to strengthen the church of Jesus Christ in India.
Despite persecution, Christianity is growing in India! People who have been touched by the Gospel themselves are going out as ‘tent makers’ to take God’s Word into new areas. Many of these pioneers move on and, like Paul, leave behind young congregations. The leaders in these congregations, in addition to physical pressure and discrimination, have to contend with cultural customs and abuses, which all too easily influence and weaken ‘young’ Christianity. Paul’s letters are full of similar examples, warnings, encouragement and teaching, which are also applicable to the living environment of Indian Christians.
Therefore, it is very important to support our brothers and sisters and strengthen them in their Christianity and congregation. Two aspects are of great importance here:
The way we address the need of equipping pastors works similar to what Paul suggests to his apprentice Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2. We equip trainers who teach (‘entrust’) the different topics we address to faithful people who are able to teach others also. In that way, we use existing networks pastors or church leaders already have established. Those same networks will be used to distribute the printed City Bibles and key chains with QR-codes to the believers they reach in remote areas. The churches in India emphasize the ministry of missionaries far more than the western churches do. The missional leaders at their turn can bring the City Bibles and key chains to the unreached they work with. To God’s glory and the good of the community!
‘As I read through the course book, I understood much better the topic of salvation and consequently the Word of God. I understood how God should be the center and focus of our lives every day, especially when we are going through difficult times.’ – anonymous student
Our goal in India for the coming years is to establish at least 3 stable impactful study centers from which hundreds of pastors and evangelists will be equipped and encouraged to lead their congregations biblically. Each Study Center does organize conferences in three or four locations in its area using local facilities (often churches). During a conference NET tries to build a relationship with the participants through the local coordinator and teachers, in order to encourage and learn from each other. The concept of the global NET Study Center’s is that in each Study Center the whole NET Curriculum is covered, so that pastors receive a broad training to be well equipped to do their work as pastors.
The project will focus on the following areas in India: Tamil Nadu (South), Andra Pradesh (East-South), Uttar Pradesh, Delhi (North-West) and Darjeeling (North-East).
The impact of this project does have multiple dimensions, starting holistically. Through equipping and encouragement from the heart, head and hands, congregations will raise up signs of God’s Kingdom.
The other dimension is quantitative. We want to provide these people with City Bibles and keychains. In this way our target group not only receives the necessary equipping and encouragement, but they also have the physical tools like the City Bibles and keychains in their hands to share within their community. This project will have impact on at least:
The total project cost for a period of three years (2021-2023) was approximately $213,000. In the first year (2021) we have put a lot of effort into the development and translation of our materials. In 2022 and 2023 the above mentioned centers will be rolled out more broadly. We are grateful that after a period of research, pioneering and start-up, this work is now going to grow and expand. India is a country in desperate need of the Gospel and with a huge potential. The funding of this project has been a great joint effort between MissionInvest The Netherlands ($173,500) and MissionInvest USA ($40,000).
This project is an amazing example how we can invest in God’s Kingdom reaching over 165,000 people (75,000 bibles, 90,000 key chains) in India with the Gospel for just 1,3 DOLLAR per person!