Church planter poisoned to death in Northern India


06/30/08 - Although India claims to have a constitutional commitment to secularism, there's a definite bent against Christians. Dave Stravers of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India says their partners are experiencing a lot of hostility and little protection, reports MNN.

He describes what happened to one church planter living in extreme Northern India. "One of them, a converted Muslim, was attacked by a local Muslim priest. The family forcibly separated the married couple, and then subsequently our church planter was poisoned and died."

Both the church planter and his wife were converted Muslims, and they had small children. As of the last report, Stravers says the wife has yet to be reunited with her children.

In Northern India, a Christian's evangelistic work is interpreted by the Muslims as "interference." Although the region is deeply religious, conversion to another faith is strongly discouraged. In some areas, the speed of church growth alarms the local clerics and prompts them to try to stop the missionaries.

However, because the people are open to the Gospel, they ask questions. New believers need discipleship. That's why Mission India assists Indian men and women who ask for training and resources as they seek to reach their own people through Church Planting.

In response, Mission India developed a two-year training program that includes approximately 8 months of classroom study and a total of 16 months in villages and communities, where they make themselves available to share the Gospel.
The agency also provides each student with 100 Scripture books, 50 New Testaments, 25 Bibles, classroom textbooks on the topic of church planting, training/materials to organize a Children's Bible Club and an Adult Literacy Class, and a bicycle for travel to outlying areas. All printed materials are in the regional language.

Stravers urges prayer for their church planters to stay committed, because the persecution of Christians isn't likely to lessen any time soon. "Persecution against our workers that we're supporting and training seems to have been increasing quite dramatically in many different parts of the country. We think this is because of the good response to the Gospel. It's almost like Satan's forces are getting worried."