Today, I’m writing this blog from my motel room in Hyderabad, India.
It is the hot dry season, and temperatures are up to about 41 degrees celsius. The city has a population of over 9 million people. The streets are jammed with cars, motorcycles, tuk-tuks, buses, bicycles and almost every conceivable mode of transportation. As much as I love driving, I definitely would not drive here. Pedestrians seem to take their life in their own hands as they cross major streets, and on the odd occasion, one will see a cow wandering down a busy intersection. It is utterly fascinating. I have visited around 20 other countries before getting to this one, but I have not witnessed anything as remarkable as what I see here.
A quick look on a government website shows the city has a growth rate of around 8% a year. That is staggering! While the overall growth rate of China has slowed considerably, India continues to forge ahead. Furthermore, India’s economy is growing. Every day, thousands more Indians get online for the first time. Hyderabad is the centre of the growing tech market in India. And all of this is superimposed upon a country with overwhelming poverty.
Reliable sources would indicate that Thomas, the disciple of our Lord, first brought the Christian faith here in the first century. In recent history, William Carey, considered the father of modern missions, laboured here for many years. Given that India is home to more than 1,600 languages, his efforts in translating the Bible into multiple languages continues to be a remarkable story.
And yet, at present, India continues to have a very small Christian population. Estimates vary, and while there may be as many as 45 million Christians here, the actual number is very difficult to come by. The church here has survived and in some places even thrived, but nowhere does India resemble the kind of revivals that have happened in other parts of the world.
Back to the Bible India has an office in Hyderabad, along with two other offices in different cities. I had the privilege of touring the office with Ben Lowell and Steve Biggerstaff. We prayed with the small group of faithful brothers and sisters who dream of ways in which the gospel can reach many through a variety of different media. I saw in the faces of Christians here a willingness to continue to pray for a country whose population is so vast that the average Canadian has difficulty coming to grips with it.
My time here has made me reflect upon the nature of global Christianity. In some places, as in Syria today, we are witnessing a virtual genocide against Christians. In other places, Christians meet underground. In the west, Christians are besieged by secularism. And in places like the one I live, there is a sense that the gospel is struggling to be heard. Here, in India, a faithful church continues to look for ways of making the gospel known.
And yet, despite what is happening around the globe, the gospel continues to grow! I am thankful for this opportunity that myself and Back to the Bible Canada has to both pray with and listen to our ministry partners in this part of the world.
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