This particular issue of Mission Frontiers is not really just about violence and suffering in India. Just hours before our press time the government changed hands in India, the world's largest democracy. A godly missionary's death gave that single deciding vote in parliament. And now a woman, a Christian, becomes one of the most powerful political figures in India.
This issue of Mission Frontiers was suddenly and massively changed when we received Mangalwadi's open letter to India. We ripped out articles and devastated most of my editorial, etc. Here, then, are a few words to explain this drastic action!
While the world watches Kosovo, all but unnoticed India, the world's largest democracy, has made a dramatic step--the fall of the government by one vote--and that one vote inevitably due to the reaction to terrorists burning up a missionary and his two sons. Now a European, Christian woman is a powerful force for the shaping of India's new government.
You will find Mangalwadi's article on page 24. It may in places be tough reading, but it is filled with urgent and significant insight.
Just as America was horrified by the terrorists who dragged a black man to his death in Texas, a lot of sensible, level-headed people in India, whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian, moved decisively to take the government out of the hands of the party that has in some ways fostered anti-Christian terrorism.
We have dug six pages out of this issue to present Mangalwadi's cogent analysis.
Do you know Mangalwadi?
You need to. It is hard to imagine the value to that great country--and to the whole world right now--of a true Indian who with his wife have authored eight books and who are extremely wise and insightful about a wide sweep of crucial, global issues.
November 11, 1918, after the European nations had destroyed their own moral leadership in World War I, a million of India's citizens returned from the war effort (under British auspices) with new eyes and expectations.
Within 18 months British troops fired into an unarmed crowd in India killing 379 and wounding 1,200. The withdrawal of Britain from India was now determined. Nehru, a disciple of the non-violent Gandhi, and his daughter Indira, and then her son Rajiv have carried India for most of the last fifty years of its independence from Britain. Now Rajiv's widow Sonia (whom he met and married as a student in Britain) has taken a prominent role.
But--learn this word-- "Hindutva" (hin-doot-va) has seized much of India. It is the concept of a purely Hindu India, clashing with the pluralistic stance ever since Gandhi. The party pursuing Hindutva took power a year ago. Terrorism against non-Hindus has increased. Read Mangalwadi to note the failure of the BJP party.
The civilized reaction in India itself to the burning of the Staines has now pushed the government back into the hands of the Congress Party and the person of Sonia Gandhi, the widow of one prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, daughter- in-law of another prime minister, Indira Gandhi, and grand-daughter-in-law of another prime minister, Nehru.
Mangalwadi does not give us reason to sit back and relax. The unwinding of history in the next few days, weeks, and months will be awesome.
The Astounding Influence of Jesus on India
Mangalwadi makes an amazing statement:
Most front-line missionaries don't seem to understand the power of their own work. They don't realize that their work is an historic threat to the socio-economic power equations that have existed in India for over two thousand years. Ever since Hinduism marginalized the lower-castes and tribals, Hinduism has kept these people by force as marginalized, ignorant, and vulnerable to oppression and exploitation. The missions are giving to them a new identity, self- respect and new principles for individual life, family and social organization.
As a parallel he warns us that we may not understand the significance of what is happening in India right now.
But more than all these details is the looming reality that in two hundred years of quiet, patient, heroic missionary work in India, a whole continent seems to be moving in a new direction.
The formal, religious "Christianity" that includes more than 30 million is apparently far exceeded by other millions that are Bible- reading devout followers of Christ but not part of the considerably Westernized movement of "Christianity." Here you see in further articles about "Churchless Christianity" by Richard and Hoefer (see pages 32 and 36) a phenomenon that is both less understood and even more important than anything else in India--the very serious acceptance of a Biblical faith within the cultural tradition of India itself.
See for yourself. Here it is.