IndiaNOW

By Anthony Lester, Managing Editor 

An Amazing Fact: Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world, has suffered under political and religious strife nearly constantly since Aryan tribes invaded 1,500 years before the birth of Christ. Later, Arabs seized control in the 8th century, Turks in the 12th, followed by European traders around AD 1500. Then in the 19th century, colonial Britain assumed political control of most Indian lands, until the nonviolent resistance led by Gandhi finally brought political independence in 1947. But today, most of India remains mired in a continual state of religious darkness, as less than 3 percent in a land of one billion have taken the name of Christ.

Here's another sobering fact that should wake you up: In August 2005, the influential Hindu party World Hindu Council began calling for nationwide anti-conversion laws in India. If such a law was passed, it could mean heavy fines, expulsion, and even 10 years of imprisonment for Christian missionaries who share the gospel as required by Christ's great commission.

Though it might seem unbelievable in this day, anti-conversion laws are already enforced in four states across India. Tragically, for people living in these areas, it is not only illegal to worship Jesus or proclaim the gospel, it is actually forbidden for Hindus to convert to Christianity

Moreover, the proposal itself is already enflaming religious passions--on August 22, six Christian Bible workers were abducted on their way back from an outreach in a nearby village. Not only was their gospel literature confiscated, they were taken to a holding cell where they were beaten and threatened. When local police finally intervened to free the Christians, Hindu extremists expressed outrage by rioting the next day.

Indeed, incidents of persecution like this are on the rise. One report estimates that there are more legal cases against Christians in the past five years than the previous 100 years combined. And in November, the threat of arson on churches once again hung over Christians determined to fellowship and praise Christ in their places of worship.

The Time Is Now
Clearly, a battle is growing rapidly for the soul of India. Says Pastor Doug Batchelor, president of Amazing Facts, "Our team has been prayerfully considering where we can minister most effectively and meet the greatest needs of the world. I believe the answer to our prayer is clear for 2006: We are to return to India before it's too late and the doors slam shut to the gospel!"

 

In November 2006, Amazing Facts is planning to launch a tremendous outreach to the people of India. It will be unlike any effort Amazing Facts has attempted before, but we know that with God's grace and the financial and prayer support of our devoted friends, millions more of these precious people will hear the gospel. Indeed, for many, they will be given the chance to accept Christ for the first time ever in their lives.

"I believe God will use our friends to reach thousands who desperately need to know the name of Jesus Christ and hear what He has done for them," adds Pastor Doug. "But I also know it will be a spiritual battle that the devil will attempt to thwart at every level. Please pray for every aspect of this effort!"

The Effort to Begin Soon
Amazing Facts is targeting 75 "villages" with a combined population that reaches into the millions. Pastor Doug will speak at a major event center, while a large team of volunteers, lay evangelists, and alumni from the Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism (AFCOE) will conduct simultaneous meetings at nearby locations. In addition, we're working to prepare a large medical team to provide much needed medical treatment in these villages.

 

Reaching our goals will depend on our pioneer Bible workers, so Amazing Facts will offer advanced training in India to the teams launching pre-work in the area, as well as to others. In addition, each lay evangelist will be supported by an entire Spirit-led team, including experts on health talks, children's programs, and additional team members who will distribute Christian literature and provide a great amount of personal prayer support to the thousands attending the meetings.

 

With this plan and God's grace, we expect a significant harvest of souls! As the meetings progress, word of mouth will help attendance snowball, climaxing into an all-village finale with an estimated 50,000 in attendance.

Our goal is clear: to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to as many who will listen, because "there is no other name given among man whereby we must be saved!" (Acts 4:12). In faith, we are praying for 20,000 baptisms as a result of this effort. Of course, our commitment to saving souls in India will continue long after we wrap up the meetings in November. Trained Bible workers will stay in the villages for three years to ensure continuing discipleship and church growth, doing the critical follow-up work with those who have been baptized.

What's more, a new church must be constructed in every village within a few months, else we risk many new believers falling away. Our experience has shown that by building churches right away, new Christians really take root in the faith and church membership often doubles in three years! Maranatha Volunteers will join hands with us for this effort.

Though this is one of our most ambitious ventures ever, God has also given Amazing Facts the qualified personnel to reach into India and make an incredible difference for eternity. With countless years of experience between them, our team members know how to use every scrap of resources to its fullest potential in one of the most populated yet spiritually dark nations on earth. "There are a billion people in India," says Pastor Doug. "It's unimaginable to realize that the vast majority of them don't even know about Christ, so we're sending quite possibly the most experienced team of Sabbathkeepers ever to evangelize India to reach as many of these precious souls as possible."

A History of Friendship Evangelism
Amazing Facts has had a long and rich tradition of touching lives for Christ in India. Even before the ministry's establishment, founder Joe Crews and his wife Lu Ann served God's work as missionaries during a time of great cultural resistance to Christianity.

 

But beginning in 1998, Amazing Facts' commitment to India evangelism reached an entirely new level, sponsoring several evangelistic meetings, training workers, providing translated Study Guides, and even broadcasting on national television on a regular basis.

For instance, in 1999, during another calamitous time for Christianity in that nation, Pastor Doug Batchelor reached out to Madras, India, with amazing results. In an auditorium designed to seat 1,600 people, more than 2,000 attended on opening night, and throughout the series, the complex accommodated overflowing crowds by allowing them to sit on the floors and steps around the seats. In fact, many chairs were being shared by two people!

More than 450 people were baptized immediately following those meetings, and countless more were being prepared for baptism. And all this at a time when Christians in India were under attack. Tragically, an Australian missionary and his two children were burned alive for their work on God's behalf, yet people still came from far and wide to hear the Word. Explains Pastor Doug, "Even in such adversity, I'd never quite met with a group so willing and ready to accept the message of Christ." Even the local and national Indian press at the time gave favorable reports as churches in other parts of the country were being set ablaze by Hindu extremists. "In spite of the growing persecution in India going on right now, I believe God will once again turn His hand to anyone who might instigate an uprising against His work. But we must be bold, and we must act now before time runs out."

Taking Root in India
For many years following the Madras series, Amazing Facts employed regular staff in India. Among these dedicated workers were Richard and Michelle Calderon, who coordinated ongoing weekly television programs, held pastoral training classes, translated ministry Bible studies into local languages, presented prophecy seminars, gave health talks, and even planted churches. They now work for Amazing Facts in Rocklin, California, and they'll play a key part in organizing IndiaNOW!

 

If you've been receiving the Inside Report since 2000, you might have seen many of their inspiring reports and awesome testimonies as a result of this couple's hard work. In their first year after the Madras series, they helped plant 10 churches and trained 50 church leaders to tend their flocks.

A year later, they nurtured 40 pastors who switched their congregations to be Sabbathkeeping churches. The following year, they coordinated the editing and translation of Millennium of Prophecy into Hindi that is now airing on television networks across India. They even translated the Storacles of Prophecy lessons into Hindi, which are currently being offered for free as part of our continuing mission to reach Indian people.

Still, even with our work continuing there, Amazing Facts strongly believes that it's now time to return and reap an abundant harvest while the doors remain open for full-scale evangelistic work.

The Spiritual Battle Looms
For Jim Ayer, event coordinator, the often chaotic and violent spiritual struggle in India became evident on a day that otherwise was one of happy celebrations. As a large crowd gathered to witness hundreds of baptisms, the beauty of one baptism was broken as a pastor attempted to raise the head of one woman above the muddy baptismal waters. Contorted and struggling, the woman seemed to fight to stay underneath the water. With all his strength, the pastor fought to save her life as the devil attempted to drown her on her day of commitment to God.

 

Still writhing in struggle, she was led to the soft clay bank of the river. Jim grabbed hold of her and demanded in the name of Jesus for the demons to come out. The Lord answered by power and in a moment, the little Indian lady stood tranquil in the sunshine of the day. In America, demon possession isn't a common everyday crisis (at least not openly), but in India, Christian pastors deal with it on a regular basis. In a land that has created 330 million deities, or roughly one god or goddess for every three Indians, it gives the devil plenty of inroads into every soul living there. What's more, the concept of "Ishta devta" -- "the god you like" -- means that Hindus can worship any god or goddess that suits their fancy, including worshiping rats and dedicating temples to monkeys.

Says Jim, "The battle between good and evil is evident at every turn in India. We need to uplift their spiritual senses from lowly rats and help them focus their eyes upward on Jesus." And according to Jim, God is already laying the foundation and opening opportunities for Amazing Facts to accomplish a great work. "There was a time when the devil had very little competition in that great land, but now is God's time! The Spirit of God is working mightily in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people looking for truth and deliverance from the bondage of sin and deception."

However, time might not always be on our side. Warns Jim, "The devil is not going to give up without a fight. Just as he attempted to drown that helpless woman in baptism, he is fighting to hold control over the entire nation by persecution and restrictive laws."

All Things Are Possible
When you start thinking about 20,000 baptisms, it's easy to forget the very personal life-changing power that God has effected through Amazing Facts in India. With the more than 450 people that were baptized in the Madras effort, thousands more Indians have since made that eternal decision because of the ministry's commitment to India.

 

It would be impossible to show you the face of every heart already touched in India, with the smiles and gladness they feel when Jesus takes possession of their hearts. Many of these would travel for hours standing up in the back of old dump trucks, in the driving rain, just to hear the gospel. Words can't possibly convey the ongoing, desperate need.

Strangely, you might have even heard how Hindu leaders decry evangelism efforts at all, suggesting that conversion for Hindus is an impractical idea. Yet their hostility toward evangelism and our experience suggest something completely different.

Ganesh, a 25-year-old Hindu, said he "was pushed by unseen hands" into a meeting hall where a Madras follow-up series was being held. After the end of the first meeting, he'd given his heart to Jesus. That night, he stayed awake basking in the "huge peace" that had taken over his heart and mind. Not only did he continue going, but he brought a friend too. This is just a small taste of what could happen all over again in India this November.

You Can Help Enlighten a Nation
Jim Ayer explains, "I once asked someone in the know, ‘Why India now?' His response made a lot of sense. ‘If all the fruit on the trees ripened at the same time, we couldn't pick it all and it would fall to the ground and rot. The same is true with God. He ripens countries at different times so we have opportunity and resources enabling us to pick the fruit.'

 

"Exactly! Russia once opened up her doors to evangelism, and we had an opportunity to do a great work there. Then the door began to close again. Right now, it's India's turn. The door is open and now is the time to pick the ripened fruit." The people of India are yearning to be delivered, and we must act while the opportunity is still open. Adds Jim, "I believe the door is almost ready to slam shut and this opportunity in time will soon be gone - perhaps forever." That's why Amazing Facts is asking for your help right now. Approximately $1.3 million in funds are needed to cover the costs of the meetings, Bible workers, Bibles, and construction of churches in every village we reach. That sounds like an enormous sum, but the tremendous need of the Indian people requires this equally substantial response. Yet in terms of individual lives, it's also so little per baptism that we believe the Lord will make possible a great harvest. Indeed, for a gift of just $65, you can provide everything needed for one person to be baptized into God's church.

Of course, whatever you can give, God will use it to make miracles happen in the lives of multiplied thousands. Every penny will be worth it, and no gift should be considered too small. Call 916-434-3880 to see how you can help make IndiaNOW! our greatest outreach success ever!

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