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Rural Convention Draws 5,000 Tribals

December 27th, 2013 Comments off

Why would people travel through forests and across rice paddies just to spend time in a primitive church building with no electricity or air conditioning? Just ask the 5,000 people who crowded into a church building in Maharashtra, India, recently.

M.A. Lalachan, Gospel for Asia’s leader in central India, said the answer was Christian fellowship and worship.

“It was indeed a unique experience to see believers travel by foot, bullock cart and on the tops of jeeps,” Lalachan wrote. “The convention venue was in the middle of a forest, and it was 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the nearest town. We had no electricity or nearby roads, so generators provided power, and we had to cross through a rice paddy to reach it!”

The two-day conference was organized by 24 GFA native missionaries.

The rural location of the convention site posed difficulties, but it enabled Christians to come from tribal areas where transportation to the cities is often unavailable.

And what looked like a disastrous start to the convention ended up being a miracle.

“The convention started with a note of disappointment because it was raining heavily and there were high winds,” Lalachan reported. “However, we prayed and God stopped the rain miraculously just before the convention started.

“In spite of the downpour, 2,500 people came the first night. The second day started with a Bible study session from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The evening meeting saw a gathering of about 5,000 people.

“During the evening meeting, different churches presented worship songs in their own tribal languages. This went on until midnight.”

The attendees also brought food and worked together to cook meals. Mealtimes became a time of sweet fellowship, as everyone ate together.

At the end of the two days, the believers were encouraging each other and sharing how they were growing in their walks with the Lord. They were also looking forward to making a difference in their own communities.

“The conference concluded with a prayer and pledge that in the days to come, many more people should hear the Gospel in those areas,” Lalachan wrote. “We also prayed for a permanent building to hold these conventions every year.”

 

This article was originally published by Gospel for Asia. To learn more about Gospel for Asia, click here.

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Dalits Welcome in Church

December 13th, 2013 Comments off

 

Church Service

At churches where GFA missionaries serve as pastors, Dalits are able to freely worship alongside all members of society.

“The Dalits are so appreciative of the Christian community, because we don’t show any kind of partiality or discrimination against them,” explained Gospel for Asia field leader Janu Madhu. “And when they come into our churches, we welcome them with open arms.”

In Uttar Pradesh, India, Dalits (“Untouchables”) have lived as outcastes in society for thousands of years. Now, GFA missionaries are reaching out in Christ’s love and accepting them as equals—something the Dalits have never experienced before.

Janu and other GFA missionaries have a burning desire to see the Dalits come to a true understanding of their worth in Jesus’ eyes. Dalits are enslaved to a rigid caste system, and many of them have no hope for a future.

“Not only are we sharing the Gospel message and giving them Bibles, but we are also helping meet their physical and educational needs,” Janu said.

“Jesus never said anything about a caste system, and we want the Dalits to know that Christianity respects everyone,” Janu shared.

The churches where GFA missionaries serve as pastors welcome people from all caste backgrounds. And they especially want the Dalits to know that there is a Savior who values and loves them.

GFA missionaries in Uttar Pradesh also strive to change the Dalits’ extreme social disadvantage through various practical ministries. These programs demonstrate the Lord’s care for their well-being.

Because most Dalits in the state are illiterate, they have no way of earning even meager wages. High-caste field owners often force them to work long hours of back-breaking labor for just a few cents a day. But through GFA’s Bridge of Hope program, their children can escape this awful fate.

More than 5,500 Dalit children in Uttar Pradesh joyfully bound into BOH classrooms each day. They are receiving an education that will enable them to break through the bondage of poverty when they grow up.

Their parents’ lives are also changing dramatically. Several times a month, they meet at the center for literacy and hygiene classes led by GFA workers.

“We are also helping to meet their physical needs through Jesus Well projects, community outreach and the Women’s Fellowship,” Janu shared.

Along with Bridge of Hope, Women’s Fellowship plays a vital role in ministry to the Dalits. Several women’s fellowships have started literacy classes and citizenship training for Dalit women. Every hour, three Dalit women are raped, and GFA missionaries want that statistic to dramatically change.

“We inform the women about their rights as citizens. Most of them have no idea what rights they have, because they are illiterate and have no way of informing themselves,” Janu said.

All across Uttar Pradesh, Dalits are learning that they are valuable: As they walk into church buildings and are treated as equals. As they become educated. As their needs are met. And as they hear of a God who loves them more than anything.

Janu requests prayer that the Uttar Pradesh government will continue to expand the Dalits’ civil rights. He also asks for prayer that the Dalits will come to fully understand the love of Christ.

 

This article was originally published by Gospel for Asia. To learn more about Gospel for Asia, click here.

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