The Gospel and the Harvest of India

By all accounts a great harvest of the Holy Spirit is going on in India at the present moment. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has a project in India called My Hope which recently reported over 4 million responses to the gospel over the past few months! Effective evangelism in India is spreading and millions of lay Christians are being equipped to share Christ powerfully in this growing harvest season.

I visited India twice in the 1980s and saw a marvelous work of the Spirit in the south, in the state of Andra Pradesh, one of the larger Christian population centers in India, with over 10% of the state professing faith. I preached to thousands, baptized hundreds, dedicated church buildings, layed hands on the sick, and particpated in times of deliverance. What I saw changed my life. I have longed believed that India was ripe for an even bigger harvest. Hinduism has failed India and Islam is not the leading force for change in a modern democracy like India, which is an increasingly open society.

The Indian church uses mass media, appropriate music, personal witness and local church leadership to spread the gospel effectively. They encounter the demonic realm routinely but what marks the church in India more than anything else is love of Christ and neighbor.

One of my favorite Christian missionary teachers of the 20th century was E. Stanley Jones, the Methodist missionary to India. His work on the kingdom of God is seminal and his book, The Christ of the Indian Road, impacted me very deeply when I first read it. (It was a controersial book in the West because it challenged our Western way of thinking about the kingdom of Jesus.) Once, when E. Stanley Jones was with the great spiritual teacher Mahatma Gandhi, he asked the famous man the following question: "Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is it that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming His follower?" Gandhi replied that his problem wasn’t with Christ but with the fact that so many Christians are unlike Christ.

It is very easy for Western Christian conservatives to make apolgetical reasons for Gandhi’s misunderstanding at this point. I rather prefer to ask: "Why would he say this unless there was some serious truth behind the statement in the first place?"