Recently, Jason Brown, TWR Canada’s director of ministry initiatives and engagement, had the opportunity to travel to India to see firsthand how TWR Canada’s financial support is helping to reach hearts for Christ and train believers in biblical understanding. In a two-part series, he will be sharing some of what he saw and learned while there.
To say that I was overwhelmed in the days leading up to my trip to India would be an understatement. My itinerary had me travelling to seven different states in seven days, including five flights totalling over 6,000km on three local airlines, and an unknown number of hours in cars and on public trains in between. And this didn’t include the 24,000km from London, Ontario to New Delhi, India and back, on either end of this trip. But to say that the trip turned out to be more encouraging than I was anticipating would be a far bigger understatement.
Last year, TWR Canada was able to purchase 5,000 media players for TWR India’s radio home group ministry, a ministry that now includes over 30,000 members in more than 6,000 groups who are actively listening to and studying the Word of God together in a systematic way. The ministry had been growing faster than the team in India was able to keep up with, so with the financial help of some partners in Canada, we were able to support this Indian-led initiative to facilitate continued growth. While on the trip, I travelled with George Philip, the leader of TWR India, who shared at one event why this initiative was so important to him, and how it got started.
George was raised in a Christian family and was very active in the church and Sunday school that his family led in their home, but shared with me, “I had no love for God. I was a confused youth, so my parents were insistent that I attend Bible school. I went to the Bible college for five years, and when I came out, I was more confused than when I went in. You see, the problem wasn’t in the Bible college, the problem was with me. It was at that time, almost 40 years ago, I started working for TWR.”
George worked to respond to listener letters that came in from all over India. A while later, the TWR India leader came to him, saying that since George had a Bible college degree, he needed to teach the Bible in his language for his people. At that time, Thru the Bible, a long-time ministry partner of TWR, wanted to produce their five-year daily audio Bible commentary in Malayalam, George’s heart language. At first, George resisted, not feeling equipped or knowledgeable enough to take on this task. Eventually, he was given an ultimatum: produce these programs, or find a new job! Out of self-preservation as much as anything else, George took on the task of teaching through the whole Bible.
“You cannot teach without somebody teaching you,” George shared to a group of 150 pastors in Secunderabad. “When I started preparing to teach, God started teaching me. I noticed changes in my life. I had confusions about many doctrines, things that got clearer. I am here today because of the Bible. (Over the years,) thousands of people have written back, saying they are blessed because of the program. So I prayed, asking, ‘Lord, in my lifetime, will you allow me to give this same Word to as many languages as possible? If you can change my life, you can change any life.’ My desire for God increased and my love for Jesus became first.”
God did answer George’s prayer in 2017, through a vision to produce a portion of the same audio Bible commentary George produced in Malayalam so many years ago, in 150 languages by the end of 2020, and to start 1,000 small study groups, called radio home groups, in each language. By God’s grace, 141 of these 150 languages are already in production and/or distribution!
During my time in India, I met over 500 men and women who are leading radio home groups in their language – many often leading several groups, taking audio players from group to group.
A man named Prajwal (name changed) contacted TWR India, describing that he worked as a Hindu priest, just like his father and forefathers.
One day Prajwal turned on his radio to listen to some music but came across the TWR radio program instead. He was intrigued by what he heard and took the radio to work, hiding it in his robe, so that he could listen to the program while performing his priestly duties. Slowly, he started praying to Jesus. Then he told the TWR team: “One day as I was listening, I heard from your program that I must believe that Jesus is the real God. I listen every day, but I have a problem. I don’t know how to do any job other than be a temple priest, but I believe in Jesus Christ, and I pray only to Jesus.”
Over time, through the discipleship efforts of TWR India, Prajwal ultimately left the temple work, and was encouraged to study the Word of God in a small group. TWR India gave him an audio player, and he started one group. Then he started two groups, then three. Today, he has 22 groups! When he left the temple work, his family and community persecuted him. But seeing his changed life, they are now studying the word of God too. Today, Prajwal is known as “Pastor Prajwal”. Praise the Lord for how he is using one man and a radio to transform communities for Christ.
Next week, Jason will share more specifically about one of these unreached people groups, the Koya, as he was able to witness the official launch of the radio home group movement at an event with over 100 local Christian leaders.