We’re floored each time a partner in one of the 84 nations we work with shares their testimony. Each story we receive is wildly different, but we’ve been able to boil them down into several reoccurring themes. The first theme is that this work would not be possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. The second theme is that congregations need a place to meet. The following is from a partner in India, a Hindu and Muslim majority nation:
National missionaries, elders and the believers all request for one thing: a church building. No matter how many ministries and mission leaders talk down the necessity of a literal church building, at the ground level it is the building that consolidates all the evangelistic work, helps it grow and provides stability to disciple the people. It’s not just about International Cooperating Ministries giving funds to an organization like us but you are touching many national missionaries and congregations by giving this powerful tool- a place. Thank you for your love and generosity for the people of India.
He went on to share this story from one of the churches they work with:
Chandra was born in the Koya tribe village of Tadikalapudi in the Khammam district. Koyas are unique in their Indian culture and one of the most unreached people groups of the state of Telangana.
The Koya practice their own ethnic religion, but also worship 300 million gods and goddesses from their Hindu counterparts. They do not believe in Heaven, Hell or reincarnation but have village priests carry out sacrifices on their behalf. When a member of their community dies, his body is carried on a cot which is covered with grain, liquor, new clothes, money and a cow’s tail. After burning the dead body, it’s ashes are placed in a clay pot were the Koya believe the spirits either linger about in the ancestral pot, patrol the sky over the village or wander about the village disturbing daily life.
Every 730 days or so, a tribal festival called Sammakka Saralamma Jatara brings literally millions of people together in the Koya’s area. This event is the largest tribal gathering in the entire world. Chandra’s family saw these festivals as something very special because they created a sacred place to sacrifice to the goddess celebrated particularly in the state of Telangana.
This festival was an event that allowed many to indulge in their own desires. Chandra’s father was an alcoholic and like many in attendance, spent most of his family’s earnings on alcohol. Once the festival ended, Chandra volunteered to work as a slave to fieldworkers in town due to debt that was breaking his family apart. For four years he went to the fields to work until all his father’s debt was paid. Despite the radical change in his family’s condition, Chandra recalls feeling immensely broken and admitted to abusing his wife and practicing to witchcraft to ease the pain.
In turn Chandra had spells cast on him that made him very weak. He stopped eating food and one day found himself wandering naked in to his village graveyard. He lived among the dead for three years.
This was not the end of Chandra’s story. This dead man was called into the land of the living.
Some national missionaries arrived at the Tadikalapudi village where Chandra lived. These missionaries visited him and prayed over him. Like a violent storm the evil spirit left his body. Chandra was healed and became a man with a right mind. His whole family was shocked to see this change. They knew the God of the national missionaries was the true and living God. This was not all, for these missionaries continued to visit him, prayed with him and exposed him to the Scriptures. He accepted Jesus as His Savior and soon after his family did as well. Before the beginning of the new year this family became active members of the church where they were baptized and Chandra had his name changed to Steven.
Now Steven is a national missionary in India-a nation that is reportedly 2.3 percent Christian– He passionately loves Jesus and calls Him his Lord and Savior. One day he heard the call of God and decided to live his life as a testimony for his name. He joined the Covenant School of Apostolic Ministry (CSAM) and was trained in the Word and in ministry. After his graduation he went to his old tribe and ministered among them. Since 2014 he planted churches in three separate villages. His family has faced persecution several times, have been rejected by their own people and almost starved, yet they tell us they continue to feel the presence of God while reaching out to the people.
Up to this date Steven has baptized 36 Koyas and has been mobilizing them to be disciples.