Church Growth in India
Emil Jebasiogh, executive dimctor of Vishva Wani ("Voice to the Universe"), Trans World Radio¬India, spoke at the U.S. Center's Frontier Fellowship recently. His key point: though Western missionaries have had a difficult time obtaining visas into India, God is working, churches are being established, and the Gospel is moving forward at an incredible rate.
One of the more startling pieces of news Jebasingh brought had to do with the Indian government's role in helping to spread the Gospel.
Jebasiagh said the government is building small 'radio rooms" in every village throughout India. The rooms contain radios attached to outside loudspeakers. The government's purpose is to provide villagers with a reliable source of news. But in many towns, the villagers are tuning their sets to Vishva Wani, and the entire populace is hearing the message of Jesus Christ.
Pocket radios are extremely attractive to Indians tight now. It seems everyone wants one. 'We call this the day of the pocket radio and bicycle in India," said Jebasingh. That fact has led to another government program that is helping to spread the Gospel.
Desiring to curb population growth, the Indian government has established a program in which a radio is given to any man or woman who comes to receive family planning information.
In our country, with the glut of radio programming, it is hard to imagine that, merely by making radio receivers available, one would be aiding the cause of the Gospel. But the people at Vishva Ward have no doubts that this is exactly what is happening in India.
"Indians in general love the music from movie soundeacks," said
Jebasingh. "We decided to place ourselves right next to a station that specializes in movie soundtracks so that, when people 0 to tune in that station, they will stumble across ours. We play music of equal or better quality and aim it to appeal to the tastes of our intended audiences."
Vishva Want also benefits from a name very similar to that of the Indian government's "Voice of India." "God is so gracious!" said Jebasingh. "We get a minimum of 20,000 to 30.0(X) letters a month. Among these, 85 percent are from non Christians."
He said that Vishva Wani has nearly 3,500 lay leaders from all over the country who volunteer their time as "soul winners."
"We train these people in how to lead a person to the Lord. As soon as someone writes from any part of the country, we send the address to one of these nearby contact people. The volunteer then goes to the people who have written and invites them to his house. He opens his Bible and starts a Bible study group. The Bible study group meets once a week. After six months the group becomes a house church, and after about a year or so it becomes a fully established church."In this way, Vishva Wani has been able to plant an average of two new churches every week this past year. "It is our goal to plant three or four per week this coming year," he said.
Bihar State, according to Jebasingh, is "the most indisciplined stare in India." He said that 'm one district of Bihat, there are 2,000 rifle producing factories in operation without a license from the government. A man once called upon Bihari university students to skip their exams for two years and they did! And, said Jebasingh, "if you travel by train in Bihar, even in First Class, with a reservation, the Biharis will take your seat without a second thought. 'This is a Bihar State train not a central government train!' they will say."Yet the Malto people, a small tribal group in Bihar, is wide open for the Gospel. "We have received several very interesting letters from these people," said Jebasingh. "We have asked a Friends Missionary Prayer Band missionary who knows the Malto language to develop a program for these people. There is a small worshiping group and one of the Malto converts is being asked to develop a program for the Malto people. We believe this group may respond to the Gospel en masse in the coming year 1986 or 1987."
In Orissa there are 13 districts. Three are dominated by the high caste Brahmins. All the others am full of tribal peoples. In Orissa, people am responding to the Gospel from all 13 districts. Orissa is the only state in all of India from which high caste people have responded to Vishva Wani's message.
"By God's grace, in one district we have three Brahmin villages as villages responding to the Gospel," Jebasingh said. The Brahmins in the lust village responded, then they told their neighbors, and these told their neighbors. The nearest church is 90 kilometers away. It is very difficult to get to these villages; they have no road facilities. We have to go by bicycle."
That the Brahmins are preaching the Gospel to other Brahmins is extremely important. Because of the caste system, when a person becomes a Christian, he is thought to become a member of a subcam," out caste. Members of an outcaste are abhorred. They are normally not even allowed to approach the front door of a Brahmin IT.
"But what has happened in these villages,' said Jebasingh, "is that the Brahmins are opening their doors to sub-caste people! The central government has been trying to break down the barriers of the caste system for years, but it has never succeeded. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is now accomplishing this feat in Orissa!"
"Orissa is wide open. The whole country is open. We don't have any opposition. The government is even favorable to seeing the church grow. This is the day of missions in India.
"Last year, when Indira Ghandi was killed, I was in Delhi. Within a few minutes, we heard the news. The situation was tense. We were afraid. Maybe Russia would step in from Afghanistan, or a dictator would come. So we prayed in our office, 'Lord, keep the country open!' And God gave a right kind of man to lead the country. His wife is a Roman Catholic lady, and the country is very positive toward missions."
Jebasingh closed his presentation with the story of a Hindu priest who was convened to the Christian faith through radio.
"One or two times we have been questioned in the state assembly," he said. "A temple priest accepted the Lord by listening to our Telugu program, He removed all the idols from the temple that same night. The next morning all the people came and asked, 'Where are our gods?' The priest said, 'I came to know, through the radio, that God is a spirit We must worship Him in spirit and truth.'
"In India, if the temple priest says anything, the people will follow blindly. Immediately, all the people said, 'All right. Then we will accept the Lord Jesus Christ,' That temple has become a prayer house now and the priest has become a pastor."
Holamanu Population Explosion in Third World Cities Expected
Dr. Timothy Monsma, head of the new Institute of Global Urban Studies (IGUS) at the U.S. Center for World Mission, recently presented some of the reasons why he and his wife have formed that organization and what they hope to accomplish through it.
Concerning worldwide urbanization he said, "In 1950, there were only six cities worldwide with populations of five million or more. Those cities accounted for 47 million people. In 1980, there were 26 such world class cities; those 26 accounted for 252 million, By the year 2000, it is predicted that there will be 60 world. class cities accounting for 650 million people; 45 of those population centers will be found in Latin America. Africa, and Asia. "Asked why the explosion of growth is predicted to take place most noticeably in the Third World, Monsma replied, "In the West, urbanization has already taken place. Only 3 percent of the population in North America is still found on farms. That shift from the farms to the cities in the Third World is just reaching its peak right now, "Another factor to be considered is the openness of the West to birth control; Third World people, many of them, are not so inclined to limit the number of children they bear."
Within 5 years, said Moosma, the IGUS hopes to have "some information on every city of the world with 500,000 or more population."
Perspectives Class Has Wide Audience
Coordinators of a 123 student Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class wrote recently:
"We are overwhelmed at the way the Lord is working. There are 16 churches represented in the class; 7 pastors taking part; our oldest student is 85 and the youngest is 17. All backgrounds are represented: from a Stanford University graduate to a garbage collector.
"We come together every Monday evening for three hours of mind, heart , and spirit stretching insights on completing the missionary task."
"What a privilege to stand in the packed mm and sense the electricity and excitement among these precious people"
- Perspectives on the World Christian Movement will be offered on consecutive Tuesday evenings from January 28 through May 13. Class how will be 7:00 9:30 pro.
- Perspectives a lecture and study, series offered under many arrangements all over the world, provides an overview of the Biblical, historical, cultural, demographic, and strategic dimensions of world evangelization. Professor of record David Hesselgrave will be joined by rotation of visiting instructors.
- As a solid introduction to the unfinished task of world evangelization, "Perspectives" has given new direction in life to thousands of men and women young and old, pastors and laymen, miMionaries and supporters. After all. God cannot lead you on the basis of facts you do not know!
- Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Midwest Center for World Mission will co sponsor a conference on Missions in the Computer Age Saturday, April 19. Intended for pastors, missions committee members, and students, the conbrence will feature a series of 45minute workshops on promoting mission vision and action in the local congregation. Scheduled workshops include: How to Grow Missionaries in Your Own Church; Writing Missions Music; Innovative Ideas for Mission Coaterences; and Communicating M4esions to Children.
- Ruth Siemens of Global Opportunities will conduct a Tentmaker.
- Seminar on Friday evening and Sanjgday, April 25 26. The seminar, purposely scheduled to follow the April 4 Muslim Awareness Seminar at the Billy Graham Center, will provide pr4t and prospective "tentmakers." e.g., self supporting missionaries, with helpful perspectives and practical tips.
- "Perspectives" leads off the summer lineup, this time in a four week intensive format from June t6 to July Ii. Morning lectures and class discussions will be supplemented by afternoon field experiences in ethnic communities, evening ease studies, and reading assignments. See the spring Perspectives description for basic information.
- During these same four weeks, June t6 July Ii, Gene and May Lou Totten will lead a "creative" course on Understanding the Role of the Arts in World Evangelization. Drama, design, poetry, music, and dance are networks of communication within the world's cultures that can become bridges for the Good News. Whether you're a Christian artist with a particular gift or simply someone with a heart to more effectively communicate Christ, you'll benefit from this class with the Totters, co directors of the Fellowship of Artists for Cultural Evangelism.
- An Introduction to TESOL will also be offered during June 16 July II TESOL means Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, the premier "tentmaking' (or self supporting) skill available to Christians today who wish to minister in another culture, The Midwest Center's TESOL coordinator, Deborah Fink, will lead this course on language structure, instructional methodologies, and cross cultural issues.
- Neal Browning, director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the U.S. Center for World Mission, will teach a two week intensive course on The Gospel and Contemporary Japanese Society June 16 27. This course includes a brief historical survey of Japanese civilization, consideration of recent social and cultural developments, and an assessment of the challenges and opportunities in evangelizing contentporary Japan.
- Would you like to learn how to learn another language and build meaningful relationships with native speakers of that language at the same time? The LAMP (Language Acquisition Made Practical) course helps you to do just that. Dr. Elizabeth Brewster and assistant Linda Don' will conduct a two week intensive course July 14 25, featuring lectures, language learning drills, and practical field experience among ethnic communities in the Chicago area.
- There are more than 500 Asian Indians in the United States. Their presence is representative of Indians in urban centers around the world. From July 28 August 29 Mary Lou Wilson will lead an Introduction to Hindu Evangelism, focusing on outreach to these Indians through orientation to Indian culture, Hindu religion, and the needs of Indian communities outside of India. Practical outreach will be combined with cross cultural training and contextualization skills in Indian communities in Chicago.
- From July 28 through August 22 Deborah Fink will lead another session of Introduction to TESOL, identical in content to the course by the same name scheduled earlier in the summer.
- Following the TESOL course, on Saturday, August 23. Herbert Purnell and Pati MacLaren of William Carey International University will conduct a one day seminar on Teaching English as a Second Language as an Outreach for Your Church, The seminar will describe the necessary components of a church based ESL program, explain how to set up such a program, and present a case study of what one church has done.