The strategic significance of our engagement in Chhattisgarh includes the central geographical location of this state in India. Out of a total 526 people groups, there are still 494 people groups who have yet to hear the gospel for the first time. - Dr. James Chacko, Field Director, Global Advance South Asia Initiative
Our latest training initiative for frontline pastoral leaders was held in the capital city of Raipur in the state of Chhattisgarh, India. During this three day training we provided much needed encouragement, equipping, training, and resources to 92 leaders. The majority of these leaders are working among those in extreme poverty: the Dalits (untouchables), and in tribal communities - including the largest tribe called the Gond - from the remote jungles of this state. These leaders provide oversight to approximately 200 church plants and various social and community engagements to advance the gospel in this predominantly radical Hindu state. Many of these tribal people were ancestor worshippers who were forcibly converted to Hinduism. Tribal peoples are generally poor, undereducated, highly superstitious and religious, and deeply engaged in the world of spirits, witch doctors, and sorcery.
Mukesh* was a young cycle rickshaw puller, living in utter poverty and darkness when the good news of Jesus was presented to him. Immediately, he gave up pulling people on a cycle to their destinations in order to pull people to their eternal destiny. Having received the call, he joined the Bible training institution run by one of our Global Advance International Coordinators. Soon it was discovered that he had tuberculosis, a disease most rickshaw pullers in India suffer from due to their poor work environment and the lack of money to provide healthy meals. His pastor took complete responsibility for providing medical treatment for this young man, who was now kicked out of his village for having accepted Christ. Mukesh was completely healed, and upon completing his Bible training was sent to his own community as a pioneering missionary. Today, he overseas over 100 church plants and heads multiple ministry initiatives under the spiritual oversight of one of our key International Coordinators in India. It was a joy to watch Mukesh provide the key apostolic oversight to host our first Frontline Pastors Conference in this state for his own people.
Kindly pray for these frontline hidden heroes as they face great opposition to the gospel. Anti-conversion legislative law passed by radical Hindu government prohibits converting people to other faith. Radical Hindu groups constantly enter into worship gatherings, disturbing the services and beating up believers and leaders. Naxals - namely the Maoist political groups - constantly abduct Christian leaders to extort money. They also destroy churches to create political instability in the region.
Hosting a conference amidst such persecution was a step of faith for the local leaders as well as for our national resource team, but our Global Advance Global Prayer Network stood in the gap in prayer to see the fulfillment of this incredible vision. We aimed to train 70 leaders, but exceeded that goal by training 92. Twenty-two leaders committed to plant at least one new church among unreached people groups within the next six months. We had two leaders commit to become cross cultural missionaries by leaving their state to go to another state to reach the unreached.
Thank you for praying, giving, and joining the Global Advance Ambassador Network to help us reach every unreached people group in Asia. Together, we press on towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Yours in His Team,
Pastor James Chacko, Ph.D.
Field Director, Global Advance South Asia Initiative
*Name changed for security purposes