Last changed: Jul 22, 2009 17:06 by Michael Crichton
Having just returned from India after a two week trip in which I visited various christian groups and spoke at many Pastor's Conferences one thing is clear - India is a country on the move and undergoing enormous transformation!
Economically, India is becoming a superpower. You probably already knew that - but the changes that have taken place in the four years since my last visit have been substantial. For example, a huge freeway/highway network is being built the length and breadth of the country. This is major infrastructure and is delivering significant employment way down the employment tree to the most basic worker. The government guarantees 100 days work to anyone who turns up! The effect of this is to put more money in the system which in turn seems to be fuelling the development of all sorts of businesses. There a lots of new hotels - although you often need a discerning eye to find them in rural India, new trendy shops like Reebock and Hero Honda which seems to be the motorcycle of choice, and many others. Despite the GFC it is difficult to see the economic development slowing down in India for too long.
Politically, India is also becoming a superpower. World leaders are giving India far more attention that they have in previous decades - largely for economic reasons but this is still a big change. The recently re-elected Congress Party is giving India the freedom to embrace change and develop in ways that the restrictive BJP Hindu Party never would.
This government is also allowing various religious faiths the opportunity to prosper and grow without government interference including Christianity. This is a great blessing for the Christian Church in India and it is growing at a fast rate in rural India. Having said that, the State Governments in India don't always agree with the Federal and many still seek to oppress Christianity and do not stop persecution of Christians in many places.
The ministry of the India Gospel League which I witnessed on this recent trip was truly inspiring. Christian pastors are bringing life and hope to rural India which is often overlooked by the modern world. They enter communities bringing nothing but the love of Jesus and people are responding. They offer to care for the children of these communities by setting up Child Care Centres, Schools & skills training centres for the women. These are offered 'no strings attached' to any who would like to participate but it is all clearly offered in the name of Christ. The love of Christ is demonstrated, the gospel is preached unashamedly and people are responding! Maybe this has something to teach us about how to reach people for Christ.
These Pastor's are willing to count the cost, pay a significant personal price but they believe God will honour their endeavours and he doers. It is hard, difficult work often experienced through persecution but God is building his Kingdom in India daily.
It was a humbling privilege for me - to share with these pastor's and hear of their jouney and what God is doing. The highlight was visiting the village St Alban's has adopted and is supporting. It is in a very remote area - with some extremely poor people but the Pastor there has brought the love of Christ to that community in a tangible way. He now runs and oversees a child care centre, a school, a womens skills training vacility and 7 womens transformation groups, as well as an Evening Study Centre for children to study after school. The Pastor doesn't teach at all of these, he has trained and employed locals to do this - but he has untimate oversight in co-ordination with IGL. He has also established a small church of 32 baptised believers. He lives in a tin shed which also doubles as the church for worship on Sundays. Due to persecution he has had to move the church 4 times because people haven't wanted a worshipping Christian community in the village - but he has persevered and God is building his church.
Through the support of St Alban's it is hoped that some land can be purchased soon and a Life Centre can be built. This would have a major impact in a community such as this. Next year I am hoping to return to India - hopefully in July for an eye-witness trip in which I hope to take some members of St Alban's to visit the village and witness first hand the amazing things that God is doing in India through faithful pastors and IGL.
I have also brought back the profiles of 50 children from our adopted village which can be sponsored for $30 a month or $360 a year. Please contact the Church office (9416-1703) if you would like to be involved in this way.
To sum up - it was an exhausting, stimulating, challenging and encouraging trip. Which ever way you look at it - India is a country in massive transformation. May it be that in 50 years from now - history will show that the greatest transformation has been for Christ. May God make it so! Michael