India (MNN) – The goal of the Great Commission is to make sure everyone has heard about Jesus, and to see lives transformed through the Gospel. But God works this out differently in every individual’s life. Today we wanted to share with you the story of *Paul, a man from India who we recently met at Missio Nexus.
The Hindu god, Ganesh.
Paul grew up in a traditional Hindu family. His mother was instrumental in teaching him the Hindu faith through the stories of their gods. Alongside that, she taught him a set of moral values.
At school, Paul’s history teacher was also having an impact on his spiritual life.
“She taught me about Christ as a part of our lesson. So, when she shared about Jesus Christ, she told us that Jesus died on the cross.”
Learning about Christ’s crucifixion impacted Paul’s heart deeply. He compared the actions of Jesus with his own beliefs and gods. The stories he had heard from his mom made one thing clear: his gods were not role models of the moral values he believed in.
“My mother advised me to be polite, to be a loving person, [that I] should not take revenge, like that. So when the teacher told about Jesus Christ and His love and compassion, I was impressed.”
Jesus’ life perfectly embodied the virtues Paul’s mom had instilled in him. He decided to follow Jesus. But with his polytheistic background and without a clear picture of the Gospel, he didn’t really know what that meant.
Not long after, this same teacher gave out an excerpt of text and told the students to study it. There would be an exam. But when the exam time came, the students all refused. The reading had been too difficult, they said. Their teacher held up a large book. It was where the portion of text had come from. She said if she could read the whole book in a year, surely they could read a short passage of text for an exam.
Paul later learned that this book was the Bible, and he read the underlined Scripture carefully. But he was just getting his feet wet in the Word of God. He wanted to know who this Jesus was who so perfectly embodied the values he admired.
Eventually, a distant relative gave Paul a King James Version Bible. But he couldn’t read it. His hunt for the answer continued. One day, a pastor came and visited Paul’s community. Paul approached the man, who gave him a Gideon New Testament. Finally, Paul was about to learn about the man named Jesus.
“I studied that New Testament within 24 days without any understanding, I just underlined the New Testament.”
He was still hungry for more. Someone suggested that he write to the Bible Society to get the full Bible. He did so, and they responded, telling him to send along 15 rubies.
“So, as a young guy, I saved all my pocket money in the piggy box. I didn’t know how to send the money to them. So, I put all the coins in an envelope and sent it to them. But by God’s grace, they sent the Bible,” he says with a laugh.
And then, something wonderful happened.
“I came to Christ … myself with the Lord and myself, only,” Paul says. After this, he couldn’t keep quiet about his new faith, not even at school.
“Nobody trained me, nobody taught me to teach, but according to … my eagerness, I shared the Gospel with my fellow students,” he says.
And then, Paul was off to engineering school. During this time, he got connected with other Christians who helped him get Biblical training. They discipled him as he grew in his faith and knowledge of God.
Paul’s story is an example of how the Christian faith is inherently one of multiplication. It is unnatural to keep it to oneself, even at the risk of rejection. So aside from his fellow classmates, Paul’s first mission field was his family.
It took some time, but Paul says, “All of my family [came] to Christ one by one. Then I came to ministry.”
He eventually started a small church in his own village and an Indian-based ministry. Today that has grown to 72 mission fields with more than 50 full-time missionaries. He is the pastor of a church and is involved in a variety of mission initiatives and groups. His ministry is focused on church planting. It also includes community outreach, leadership training, campus outreach, and more.
“Through that, we are winning the souls and planting the churches in various areas.”
The current religious landscape in India is making evangelism more and more of a risk. But Paul reminds us that this nation is no stranger to the story of Christ.
“The Gospel came to India the time of St. Thomas. So, we are the oldest Christians in the world.”
Even so, he points out that today, only about two percent of the nation professes to be Christian.
(Photo courtesy of Jake Guild via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/RpBoih)
“We need prayer groups to pray for India. We need missionaries, especially intercultural missionaries, we need strategies to share the Gospel.”
Despite these needs and challenges, there is one very encouraging thing that Paul is seeing through the ministry he is a part of.
“Once India was a mission field. Now, India is a missionary sending country. Most of our organizations are sending missionaries to various countries.”
Will you take time to pray for India today? Ask God to make his name known in this great country. You can learn more about India in numbers here. Consider committing to pray regularly for believers in India.
*Paul’s full name omitted for security reasons.