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! Moreover, Christians in India have a very difficult time, especially those from Hindu backgrounds. A few years ago, persecution suddenly increased dramatically in India (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 are accused of adhering to a “foreign religion” and bringing misfortune upon the village community. These believers are often physically attacked or even killed. Others are pressured by their communities or socially boycotted. Many believers live in isolation and know no other Christians.
NET en City Bibles partnership
NET and CityBibles are working together in a project in India with the common missionary goal of equipping (lay) pastors and actively spreading the Gospel through local churches. NET’s focus is equipping and encouraging pastors and Christians; City Bibles’ focus is the distribution of Bibles. NET’s partnership with CityBibles is unique. Through this partnership, students get instant 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 are going out as “tentmakers” to bring God’s Word to new areas. Many of these pioneers move on and, like Paul, leave behind young congregations. The leaders in these congregations face not only physical pressure and discrimination, but also cultural customs and abuses that all too easily affect and weaken “young” Christianity. Paul’s letters are full of similar examples, warnings, encouragement and teaching, which also apply to the living environment of Indian Christians.
Therefore, it is very important to strengthen our brothers and sisters in India and encourage them in their Christian faith and the local church they serve. Two aspects are very important here:
The way we equip pastors is similar to what Paul suggests to his disciple Timothy “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). We apply the principle of “train-the-trainer”. A core group is trained on various topics (they are “entrusted” with the teaching) and in turn they then train other groups. Whenever possible, we use existing local networks in which pastors or church leaders participate. We also use these same networks to distribute the printed City Bibles and QR code key chains to the faithful church members who often live in remote areas. The local churches we partner with in India are very mission-driven; much more than Western churches! Many are driven by the love of Christ to bring others to Him. To the glory of God and for the good of the community!
‘As I read through the course book, I understood much better the subject of salvation and how God intended it in His Word. 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 next few years is to establish at least 3 stable study centers from which hundreds of pastors and evangelists will be equipped in leading their congregations. Each study center organizes conferences in three or four locations in its area, using local facilities (often churches). During a conference, NET seeks to build a personal relationship with participants through the local coordinator and teachers to encourage and learn from each other. The concept of NET’s worldwide Study Centers is that in each Study Center the entire NET Curriculum of 10 courses is covered, so that pastors receive broad training to be well equipped to do their work as pastors.
The project focuses on the following areas in India: Tamil Nadu (South), Andra Pradesh (East-South), Uttar Pradesh, Delhi (North-West) and Darjeeling (North-East).
Because the project is holistic in scope, the impact is also seen on multiple fronts. This is because the equipping of trainees focuses not only on the head, but also on the heart and on their hands! As a result, local congregations become visible signs of God’s Kingdom!
The impact of this project is not only qualitative, but also very much quantitative. The numbers we reach with this project are huge! In fact, all pastors will receive a substantial number of City Bibles and key chains with QR code to distribute to congregants in their own (home) congregations. All 750 trained pastors together serve approximately 25,000 congregants in their churches. The goal of this project is that each church member receives a minimum of 3 Bibles to distribute in his/her area. In this way, the pastors not only receive the necessary equipping and encouragement, but also physical “tools” such as City Bibles and key chains to hand out within their communities. Measured in numbers, this project will impact at least:
The total project cost for a three-year period (2021-2023) was about 176,000 euros. In the first year (2021), much effort was put into the development and translation of course materials. In 2022 and 2023, the structure was set up with NET Study Centers in various regions of India. 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 that desperately needs the Gospel and has tremendous potential. Funding for this project has been a joint effort between MissionInvest Netherlands (€140,000) and MissionInvest USA (€36,000, or $40,000).
This project is a great example of how we can invest in God’s Kingdom by reaching over 165,000 people (75,000 Bibles, 90,000 key chains) in India with the Gospel for only a little over €1 per person! MissionInvest is eager to expand this project together with NET and City Bibles in the coming years! For 2024 we need at least € 50,000. We hope and pray that enough funds will be made available.