Persevering in India
Bangalore is the capital city of the state of Karnataka in southern India. It is the IT (information technology) ‘capital’ of India and has experienced immense growth over the last five years.
My family and I were sent there in May 2005 by Maranatha Bible Presbyterian Church, Singapore, supported by other like-minded churches, to establish a Reformed church.
Initially we rented a house with a small hall and used this for Sunday worship. In July 2006 the Lord provided land for the construction of a mission centre – with a worship hall, guest house, parsonage, day-care facilities and kindergarten.
Our usual Sunday congregation is about 30 people. We have a weekly children’s ministry and Bible study, and engage in various evangelistic outreaches.
Over the last three years, we have experienced many obstacles. These have arisen especially because India is aHindu society. We have been restricted in the propagation of our faith, and experienced difficulties in doing door-to-door evangelism and open-air preaching.
Secondly, the fact that most of the major churches in India are heavily influenced by Charismatic teaching has made it difficult to make the truth of the gospel known.
Thirdly, we live in the context of a corrupt political system. It is imperative that we honour God in all we do, and corruption has led to many difficulties in getting things done properly.
Perseverance has been the key to the survival of our mission. By the grace of God we have been able to persevere and have known the Lord’s help. Let me cite some examples of situations we have faced.
Although we have been meeting for worship in a rented house, this became a problem when inviting people to our services, since the Indian mindset prefers a proper church building as a place of worship.
In addition, our house was located in a residential area where the government prohibits religious activity. But, thank God, we have not received a single complaint so far from the residents. In fact, some of them have been very friendly and sent their children to our children’s programme.
Then, when searching for land to build the mission centre, we found it difficult to find an honest vendor and avoid the widespread corrupt practices. Yet eventually we were able to purchase land honestly in one of Bangalore’s booming localities.
But this purchase proved to be the beginning, not the end, of our problems. Once construction work was well underway, we ran into opposition from the local landlord. He blocked our access route so that we had great difficulty bringing building materials onto the site.
The Hindu landlord does not want a church building next to his land. We have been harassed and threatened by his men over the past six months.
However, we have persevered with the building and will soon complete the ground floor. Our situation is similar to that of Ezra and Nehemiah when restoring the temple and walls of Jerusalem. Amidst opposition from Sanballat and Tobiah, Nehemiah turned to God for strength and guidance. He could write: ‘So we built the wall … for the people had a mind to work’ (Nehemiah 4:4-6).
In our spiritual warfare we are reminded that we ‘wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’.
To meet that challenge, we must ‘be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might’ – putting on ‘the whole armour of God … to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand’ (Ephesians 6:10-13).
We will have much work and ministry to do when the new building is completed. The Lord has called us and marvellously brought us thus far, so there is now no turning back.
We are planning on holding worship services in English (the major trade language of India) and also in such local languages as Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, and the national language Hindi.
We plan to base our children’s ministry on the day care facility and kindergarten. We also plan in the long-term to establish a theological training centre, as the Lord wills. We believe that in the midst of our struggles all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.