After her first miscarriage, Tanvi Lal* went for ritual washing according to Hindu custom in eastern India, and a year later she was pregnant again. In her sixth month, she miscarried again.
The next time she was pregnant, she visited many temples and offered every possible sacrifice to encourage the gods to grant her a child. After more than six years of marriage, the cultural pressure on her to give birth was intense. The Lals also spent the equivalent of thousands of dollars consulting with top doctors at the best hospitals.
She carried the baby to term but suffered a high fever during delivery.
“A baby girl was born, but after one hour she died,” the leader of a local ministry said. “The news made Tanvi unconscious, and after that she was attacked by terrible headache and fever. She cried to her gods to save her, but there was no help from anywhere.”
Suffering complications and needing local-anesthetic surgery to save her life, Lal remembered hearing a local missionary once talk about Christ as the one, true God who would hear anyone’s prayer and heal those who believe, the ministry leader said.
“So instead of calling on her gods, she started calling to Jesus with her whole heart and mind and entered the operation theater for the stitching again on the belly,” he said. “From the beginning of the operation till the end, she only called Jesus. The operation was successful, and after two days she was discharged. She got complete healing.”
Lal sought out the local missionary, a pastor of the native ministry’s church, and told him that she now knew Jesus was the living God and would hear prayer, the leader said. She told him about her healing and said she wanted to know more about Christ.
“The pastor told her the gospel and asked her to receive Jesus Christ,” the ministry leader said. “Both she and her husband accepted Jesus and took baptism, and now they are strong in the faith and taking leadership responsibility of the church in their village.”
The pastor had begun the house church with one family at a time when there were no other Christians in the village.
“Seeing the faith of Tanvi and her husband in Jesus Christ, and the way that couple is happy and serving the Lord, five other families have now come to the Lord,” the ministry leader said. “They also forsook their gods and goddesses and now come to worship on Sundays.”
The Lals’ have yet to conceive again, but they and other church members are happy and joyful to know the living Christ who loved them and died for them, he added.
“Here the pastor had started the church with one family, and now there are eight families serving the Lord,” the leader said before the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Never in the history of the village was there regularly worship on Sundays on a verandah. As we visit them, we encourage them to live as salt and light, to be known by others as different people who worship a loving and living God.”
Reaching the Unreached
In the state where the Lals’ live (undisclosed for security reasons), 94 percent of more than 700 people groups are unreached. Less than 3 percent of the population is Christian.
The leader’s ministry trains its church-planters not only how to shepherd congregations but how to encourage church members to bring the gospel to new villages where no church has formed, he said.
“Each believer is challenged to have good relationships with their relatives for the sake of the gospel,” he said. “They have visited the villages, prayed for them and distributed the literature. Some of them responded positively, and some did not. Each church is assigned to proclaim the gospel to nearby villages.”
Over the course of a six-month span, the ministry’s mission centers baptized 362 people, he said. The native ministry also organized 15 evangelistic camps in remote areas last year.
“Thousands attended and were blessed as they heard God’s message and committed their lives to live for Jesus and His kingdom,” he said.
Evangelists and church leaders follow up with those who have received Christ or shown interest, visiting them at their homes to encourage and pray with them, he said. Workers invite some to men’s or women’s groups for Bible study.
“We have planted church fellowships in houses first, then when they are grown to a larger size, we think of making a church building for them with their participation,” the leader said. “In one district, we have around 30 house churches in various mission areas.”
Committed evangelists, church-planters and pastors are carrying out such work throughout the country. Please consider a donation today to equip and send them to make disciples in areas rife with false gods and despair.
*Name changed for security reasons