I am writing this from Delhi, India. It is a city of 25 million people, more than half of the population of Canada in a single city. I like that you can walk around this part of the city without feeling that you are in any kind of danger.
Our TWR partner in India will celebrate 40 years of ministry in 2018. We have been broadcasting into India for all those years with amazing results. Forty years later much has changed, but the message has not changed. We use the internet, cell phones, Whatsapp, radio, and television to share the message of the gospel.
When we began, we broadcast in 5 languages and today we broadcast in 84 languages. This sounds impressive, but there are more than 1,600 languages spoken in the country. We are broadcasting in the major languages like Hindi which has over 500,000 million speakers.
There were multiple purposes for making this visit, but the primary reason was to see how we can assist the team in India. They continue to stretch for the goal of reaching their entire nation with the gospel through radio broadcasts, their on-the-ground network of partners, and follow up centres throughout the country. We were also there to arrange the first training of local leaders in how to lead their churches more effectively using the Discipleship Essentials
It would be impossible to share all the details of this network, but more than 500,000 responses come in to our follow up centres last year and each one gets a personal response. These centres are scattered throughout the country and staff make personal visits to many of the listeners they hear from.
There are over 2,000 radio home groups, these are groups of at least 10 people who come together weekly to listen to Thru The Bible
on a small media player. This is their weekly sermon, and after the sermon they discuss the program and encourage each other in their faith.
TWR India started broadcasting via the Whatsapp messaging platform in February of this year. They already have 318,000 people listening to a one minute message each day.
The following testimony was shared with me. It happened a few years ago, but it clearly demonstrates how a radio broadcast can change a village. I found this man’s story very encouraging. Lives are being changed and eternally impacted by the broadcasts of TWR in India.A number of years ago, a young man was encouraged by his father to strengthen his English language skills by listening to the BBC broadcasts on the radio. The son did as he was asked. One night while trying to find the BBC broadcast, the son heard a TWR broadcast in Hindi. He had questions about his father’s religion and was intrigued by what he heard, so every night he would tune into the TWR broadcasts. In time, the young man accepted Christ as his Saviour even though he knew this would cause trouble for him and upset his family. Part of the teaching from the radio was about baptism. He wrote to our follow up team and told them he wanted to be baptized. When the team looked up his location on a map, they saw that the closest pastor we were connected with was over 500 km away. The team reached out to the pastor anyway and told him about this young man who wanted to be baptised. The pastor said he couldn’t travel that far to baptize one person.The young man accepted that and waited for the day he would be baptised. The pastor never forgot the request and felt guilty that he had not gone to baptize the young man. He got in touch with our team and said he would go. When he arrived, he worried that this young man had set a trap for him. The young man lived in a part of the country where Christians are often persecuted and are the minority. When the pastor finally got to the young man, he was pleasantly surprised. He wouldn’t be baptizing just one young man, but 65 people from the village. The young man had convinced other people to listen to the TWR broadcasts and there were now 65 Christians in that village. Today that young man is a trained pastor and leads a group of churches in his area. The power of the gospel is amazing.
Next month, we will train 50 church leaders from Bangladesh and India in using Discipleship Essentials (a discipleship tool we developed in Canada with the specific purpose of strengthening the church through a systematic discipleship program).
The other great need in India is supplying copies of the Scripture to those who hear the Word and want to learn more. We are partnering with ShareWord Global to do a pilot project in southern India to supply the Gospel of John in a magazine format to people who contact us and want to know more about Jesus. For those who have an even greater interest in the Word of God, we will supply a Bible to them.
Through media, we begin a process to share the Word of God with the people of India, but it doesn’t stop there. We want those listeners to be grounded in the Word so we will do our best to get Bibles into their hands and connect them with a local church or radio home group.
I leave India with a heavy heart because the task seems overwhelming. There are 1.3 billion people in India and only 3% are Christians. We will only reach them all with the gospel if we work together.
TWR Canada will continue to do all we can to help reach out to a country where many are searching for the truth found in the gospel.