Supplement Letters to the Editor
From Roger Greenway, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI:
"I found the article, "Is an Explosion of Faith Coming to India?" in the Sep/Oct issue to be fascinating. Let me explain why:
In 1960, I was flying on a DC-3 from Sri Lanka, where my wife and I were missionaries, to Madras, India. I was seated next to an American who was doing research on the subject of "Secret Christians" of India. He said that the amount of date he had uncovered far exceeded his expectations.
I have forgotten the man's name and the university with which he was connected, but I have pondered for many years what he said. He claimed that the number of secret believers in India exceeded the number of church members. Many of the secret believers lived under the shadows of churches but pastors did not know they existed.
They were people like "Rajan," in your article. They accepted the supremacy of Christ and the authority of the Bible, and met in small, secret groups for prayer and fellowship. The researcher said most of them were not baptized and a high percentage were women married to staunch Hindus.
If back there in 1960 the researcher was even partially correct in his estimates of the number of secret believers in India, how many of them may exist today? In the providence of God, the title of the article may be closer to the truth than we realize."
From C. Peter Wagner, President, Global Harvest Ministries:
"On the plane taking off from Tokyo I read the Sep/Oct issue of Mission Frontiers which you modestly say is the most important issue of Mission Frontiers ever published. I agree! The information in that one issue rivals the information contained in any one missiological textbook I know of (possibly excluding Understanding Church Growth) in potential implications for completing the Great Commission. ... This is right up there with strategic-level spiritual warfare
(including spiritual mapping and identificational repentance) on the side of the invisible world, with your hypothesis dealing with the missiological visible world. Together they could constitute a one-two knockout punch for the Enemy's final strongholds.
As I was praying about it this morning, I felt that the Lord was reminding me of what might turn out to be a helpful analogy. In contrast to Muslims and caste Hindus, we have been successful in winning many from animistic backgrounds. Huge numbers of Christians and Christian churches have come into the Kingdom out of spirit worship. One of the troublesome phenomena which almost all knowledgeable missiologists recognize is the problem of subsequent dual allegiance for at least a generation or two of Christians. Too many Christians from the Pacific islands to Brazilian cities to the African bush decide to cover their bases when a crisis arises by going back to the witch doctor. Others from Enlightenment-influenced cultures persist in reading the horoscope. Our response to this, generally speaking, has not been to excommunicate them and say that one or more visits to witch doctors or horoscope readings disqualifies them from being Christians. We assume that their primary allegiance is still to Jesus, and we take whatever steps are possible to teach them that this should be their only allegiance. While they are in the process of learning, however, we continue to include them in the household of faith. Their accepting the name "Christian" for themselves perhaps makes it a bit easier for us than if they choose not to use the name "Christian" as you suggest many in this new movement are doing. But let's be sure that we realize the name is only cosmetic, it does not at all deal directly with the essence which is allegiance. We have already formed a clear missiological consensus on this when it comes to dealing with the Messianic Judaism phonomenon. To many of them "Christian" is the distasteful "C" word and the rest of us attempt to honor them and not label them with what they consider a gentilizing term.
This matter is worth giving it time. If there is anything I can do to help move this innovation through the early adopter stage (where most of the flack will come), let me know."
From John DeVries, President, Mission India:
Thanks for the excellent Sep/Oct issue. You may be interested in knowing that a research project was done in the early '70s by a missionary of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod in the Ambur area to determine the number of secret believers among Muslim women. The result of that survey was astounding. Nearly 100% of the women interviewed secretly indicated a preference to follow Jesus Christ, if they could do it without losing their lives. Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the person who did the research and with my continuing contacts at LCMS, I have attempted to run it down but it seems to be buried back in history. I suppose some serious effort could be made to dig it out if it is worth it to you. Blessings to you."