Taking undue advantage of the lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, missionaries in India converted as many as 1 lakh people and adopted 50,000 villages in a span of one year. Need for medical aid and two squares meals amidst the financial crisis, pushed the economically weaker section into the trap of missionaries. The missionaries also built a record number of churches in thousands of villages where none existed before.
The data was validated by David Reeves, the CEO of unfoldingWord, an organization dedicated to church planting and ‘translating God’s Word — with accuracy and excellence’. David in an interview with Missionary Network News informed that one of their partners of the church planting network shared a detailed report about the immaculate feat achieved in India.
Reeves stated, “Because they could not meet with others during lockdown, they decided [to] simply start specifically praying for unsaved people they know. Then, they decided to follow up those prayers by phone and WhatsApp. They estimate about 100,000 conversions during lockdown as a result of this approach. Similarly, with church planting, they encouraged every church to [pray for] 10 specific villages or neighbourhoods [with] no church. Then, as restrictions loosened slightly, they were able to get into these regions. They estimate that churches adopted about 50,000 villages during lockdown, and 25% now have an “opening” for the Gospel — some believers, a small house church, etc.”
“This is much more than we could have done pre-COVID,” he remarked.
While the world was reeling under the pandemic, unfoldingWords was celebrating the unexpected good news from church planting partners in India. “During 2020 – the COVID year – they’ve planted more churches than all the 25 years of their ministry work there,” Reeves says. The organization sees the pandemic as a blessing to strengthen their conversion business.
Who is David Reeves?
David Reeves is the president of JAARS (Jungle Aviation and Radio Service), an organization responsible for the translation of the Bible. David believes that a Bible translation in as many languages is necessary for the expansion of the church and the ‘Kingdom of God’. His organization also provides resources for biblical training.
What is church planting?
As per OM (Operation Mobilisation), a missionary organization, church planting is as simple as forming new churches in places where few or none exist. Planting of churches requires so-called church planters to work hand-in-hand with national churches to establish new fellowships and train in missions which is essentially adding more people to their faith.
They “intentionally and systematically sow God’s Word” through literature distribution, public meetings and events.
According to the missionary group Reach All Nations, “RAN receives students from various parts of India for receiving theological education. Upon the completion of the training, they go back to their own communities. In collaboration with their local churches, they are placed in the mission field for church planting work. While they are in the field we support them in two ways. Helping them with monthly financial gifts until they are self-supported and providing ongoing biblical training in the field. Once a month we meet with them for a full day of prayer, fellowship, and teaching. We do this until the fledgling church is fully launched.”
There are over a 110 Evangelical organizations with a ‘Church Planting’ mission running steadily in India. Every organization has maps, targets and objectives for conversions and the creation of new churches set for every year.
Joshua Project, an organization that claims to give definition to the ‘unfinished business’ maintains ethnological data of every community of India mapped along with its population, occupation, obstacles and a roadmap to convert them.