With increasing frequency and violence Christians are being attacked and jailed for their bold testimony of the Gospel in India. Each year Open Doors' World Watch List authoritatively ranks the countries in which it is most difficult to be a Christian. India has steadily risen in the ranks, falling in the #11 spot for 2018 and being categorized as a country of extreme persecution. This ranks India ahead of countries notorious for persecution such as China, Egypt, and Nigeria.
Alpha Relief was built on a legacy of going in when others rush out. It's clear that now is the time to reach India with the Gospel as the doors swing shut. The Church is growing in maturity and leaders are desperate for more training!
In response to the need, Global Advance recently sent a team to train and encourage frontline men and women in the northwestern state of Gujarat, a hotbed of Hindu extremism. Seven local pastors who were part of a core prayer team were detained by police while on their way to the conference. They were held for three weeks without charges, but were finally released. To the glory of God, 250 pastors and 1,200 women were empowered to fulfill the Great Commission during our multi-initiative events in Gujarat.
As witnessed through these recent training initiatives, the move of God is evident in India. The December Esther Initiative conference was the largest women’s gathering of this kind in the history of this region. 95% of the attendees were the next generation of young rising leaders – now equipped, encouraged, and empowered to GO and reach the unreached with the love and hope of Jesus Christ. A team of 82 leaders has formed post-conference to meet weekly for prayer, with the goal of reaching many more from the community with the truth of Jesus Christ. In 2018, these leaders are praying to plant 12 new churches in strategic locations in North India.
Despite the rise of persecution and increasing governmental restrictions, believers are standing firm on the Word of God and the encouragement and support from fellow Christians. But they need Bibles! Global Advance estimates that every pastor attending one of our training conferences in India represents 25 people without access to the Word of God. So Alpha Relief is mounting up to provide 5,000 audio Bibles through frontline leaders in the Hindi-language areas of North India. The area suffers 70% illiteracy rates, mainly among women. Extremists intentionally target poor Christians with pressure to re-convert to Hinduism, and without a foundation in Scripture our brothers and sisters are dangerously vulnerable.