Earlier this year I visited India and was deeply impressed with that vast nation of a billion people. It is a country of immense contrasts – poverty and yet industriousness; good communications and yet chaos in the cities; the tranquillity of the Ganges and yet the incessant noise of traffic.
We asked one of our drivers how often he replaces his motor horn. He said, ‘Oh, about every three months or so’. I can well believe it!
India is fast pulling away from a third-world position. But along with technological advance and Western thinking has come humanism and evolutionary thinking, sowing seeds of unbelief.
Our ministry in India started with meetings in the Kerala district. Daniel Pappy pastors a church and also runs two large orphanages with 130 children – the children’s happiness was a joy to see. Daniel is concerned that churches in the area are not well taught on the dangers of evolution, which is coming into many seminaries and schools.
One case will suffice to illustrate this. Nicholson Syrian Girls High Secondary School is a well-known girls boarding school, begun in 1897 by missionaries Mrs Nicholson and Miss McKibbin from Liverpool.
At that school 300 children listened attentively. ‘Where did birds come from?’ I asked. Quickly, one girl said, ‘Archaeopteryx’ and another referred to dinosaurs. Clearly they had imbibed evolution and were now compartmentalising their ‘science’ away from a biblical perspective.
I showed them the inconsistency of this thinking, emphasising the different breathing mechanisms of birds and reptiles and the need to connect faith with a biblical worldview.
Daniel Pappy took me to the southwest to see the Arabian Sea and we imagined how a year ago the tsunami hit this coastline. Many in this area died because they did not heed the warnings that day.
My time in Calcutta was shared with Dr Nigel Robinson from Dudley. We both stayed at the home of Jyoti Ckakravartty, in Bengal – where Jyoti and his wife Sushmita, together with Jyoti’s parents, looked after us like princes!
Jyoti runs the Creation Science Association of India and the Know the Truth Book Ministry (both in association with India Link Ministries, whose UK director is Paul Barnes, PO Box 5884, Basildon, SS13 3AJ; tel. 01268 552895).
Jyoti showed us the creation and book centre he has started. It has literature, videos and other material for teaching about creation. There is also a wealth of reformed Christian literature. He plans to use the centre to reach out to many areas of India.
In Calcutta we had a creation conference, attended by over 100 pastors and church leaders from north-east India. Nigel and I were humbled by their keen interest. There were eleven sessions over two days, at which both Nigel and I preached. It was a joy to hear Jyoti’s own niece Renee testify at the end how she realised she could now believe. Beforehand, evolution had turned her away from the faith.
While travelling through India, I read S. Pearce Carey’s moving biography of William Carey. William was a missionary in India for 40 years from 1793 and is widely regarded as the father of modern missions. He translated the Bible into the main dialects of North India and, with Ward and Marshman, was able to leave parts of the Scriptures translated into 35 languages by the time of his death.
Nigel and I were privileged to see Serampore, Carey’s base of 200 years ago, where Serampore College (one of many projects he inspired) is still standing.
Over the road, near the Ganges, is a cross marking the spot where their first Indian convert, Krishna Pal, was baptised in 1800. We saw too the graves of William Carey, his son Felix who died aged 36, and his wife Dorothy. Following the death of their son Peter, aged five, she became mentally ill and William cared for her for 13 years.
Carey’s epitaph summarised his total dependence on Christ: ‘A wretched, poor and helpless worm, on Thy kind arms I fall’.
Jyoti showed us his own work among slum children. This made a deep impression on me. Poverty-stricken children aged 6-10 gathered in a small rented room in the slum. They came to hear the Word of God in the best clothes they could find. It was a joy to see this gospel work tending not just to bodily needs but to the needs of the soul.
Following the creation conference, we drove to Kharagpur, south-west of Calcutta, along a new road which incorporates a dual carriageway – and met some trucks driving on the wrong side in the fast lane! Still, we got there and after a service in the morning spoke in the evening at the Indian Institute of Technology.
The evangelistic message ‘A designer world?’ attracted a large audience. Most realised that the scientific evidence pointed clearly to creation. But with many Hindus present there was much discussion to show that Christ is both Creator and Redeemer.
The Hindu idea of life readily accommodates evolutionary thinking. The vague idea of a ‘life principle’ sits well with reincarnation, which supposes you may return to this life as, say, an animal. I began to recognise a strong resemblance between evolution (‘we descended from monkeys’) and eastern religion.
The last stop was Bangalore, where Nigel and I spoke at the Asian Evangelical Seminary. Bangalore is well known as a major Indian centre for science and information technology – so the seminary is well situated to counter evolutionary thinking!
It was a joy to speak at an impromptu Bible study in the home of Prof Ashoak Samuelson on the fundamental importance of creation to the gospel. In the evening many came to a public meeting, after which it was the final trip to the airport at Bangalore – and home.
This was a memorable visit. It made me realise the vast need beyond our shores. If other lands are thirsting for the truth and our own nation increasingly rejecting it, we must pay special heed to the call of Christ: ‘Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20).
It is significant that Jesus says ‘teach’. Methodically teaching the truth will lay a firm foundation for the future – as William Carey well knew.
Many thanks for your prayers. We suffered no deli beli!