Understanding One of the World’s Least Reached Countries
June 22, 2016
It’s the seventh largest country by area and the second most populous. It’s home to over 53 cities with over one million residents and boasts a population of over 1.2 billion people. India is one of the world largest political and economic forces, valued at over $2.183 trillion.
But despite its size and global importance, it’s also one of the least reached countries in the world. Since its ancient days, India has been home to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. But in the first thousand years since Jesus’ birth, western religions have also moved in – namely Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Yet after centuries of expansion, the Gospel is still scarce in Indian culture.
Today, 2,233 distinct people groups call India home. Of those, 2,013 are considered unreached. This means that over 90% of the groups, making up over 94% of the total population, have few, if any believers in their communities.
For centuries, Christians have tried to reach India with Gospel. It was even the starting point for the modern missions movement. So how can such an important country remain dark to the story and message of Jesus?
- Persecution against Christians.
In recent years, Hinduism has gained influence among government officials. And while expression of religion is technically protected, many public figures have now called for an eradication of Christianity from the country. One leader even put a 2021 deadline on the initiative. There is also a call to ban Christians from the Himalayan regions sacred to Hindus. This makes foreign mission work more difficult and even suppressing home-grown initiatives.
- Spiritual warfare.
While we are often less accustomed to spiritual warfare here in the United States, spiritual awareness is baked into the fabric of Indian culture. Many believers report oppressive, even violent, experiences with dark spiritual forces. This greatly impacts the way mission work is accomplished and hinders the efforts in very practical and basic ways.
- Strong social hierarchy.
The caste system and the social hierarchy it produces remains strong in Indian culture today. In the past, violence has even broken out between castes. The Dalits, once known as “untouchables,” are still relegated to the margins of society. New Christians must deal with the social ramifications of following Jesus after a lifetime of cultural separation. This can hinder the developments of new churches that take the Gospel deeper into Indian culture.
Despite these and other hindrances, God is still moving. e3 Partners alone has launched thousands of new churches that are transforming their communities and multiplying into new towns and villages. While many obstacles stand in the way, India is an exciting frontier for global missions and you can be a part of it. We are launching expeditions into the region all year long. You can find a trip and be part of church planting, community transformation, and medical work all over the country! Visit www.e3partners.org/india to learn more.