India

Outreach in India is challenging, as Hindu fanaticism threatens Christian life and witness throughout the country.

India is a hard place to do ministry. More unreached people live here than anywhere else on earth. In many areas of northern India and Bhutan, less than 1% of the population is Christian. Remainders of a harsh caste system make evangelism here particularly difficult. Low-caste individuals who embrace Christianity may become ostracized even more, while higher-caste members of society see little need to follow the humbler example of Christ.

Good education and health services are also lacking inside the region. (A mere 55% of women are able to read, and overall life expectancy in the country is a shockingly low 63 years.) Despite the many challenges to sharing the gospel that exist in South Asia, through radio and the hard work of pastors and lay leaders, Christ is drawing hearts to him. Thanks to the generosity of Words of Hope supporters, broadcasts in four different heart languages can be heard by those who still need to learn the truth.

“A young man came to know the Lord through the Garhwali program. His joy was complete and now all he wanted was for the rest of his family to be saved. He encouraged his brother to listen to the program. He too was blessed and accepted Jesus as Savior. The brothers are now praying for their parents who have also now started listening to the programs.

Languages

Hindi is spoken by 407 million people, of which 80% are Hindu, with an official estimate of only 2.4% Christian. The ministry of Good Books Educational Trust (GBET) began in the 1960s with the establishment of Christian bookstores. Through its partnership with Words of Hope, GBET broadened its outreach in 1978 to provide Christian radio programming and publications. Responses are received through telephone, email, text-messaging, and postal mail. The ministry conducts personal field visits as well as ongoing Bible correspondence courses.

Target Area: India
Broadcasters: Neelam Sonali Tirkey, Vidyut Minz
Partners: Trans World Radio – India, ReFrame Ministries
Transmission Site: Shortwave from C.I.S.
Times: Saturday, Sunday at 7:00 PM, Monday at 7:15 PM

The Garhwal is a mountainous region where the River Ganges emerges from the Himalayas. It is home to many of Hinduism’s holiest sites with numerous shrines for Hindu pilgrimage. The Garhwali people listen to radio—the only available means of taking the gospel to these mountain dwellers. The Garhwali language is spoken by over 4 million people in the Garhwal region of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. This region still faces the problems of illiteracy and poverty. Radio is an effective tool to reach the many Garhwali listeners with the message of God’s redeeming love.

Target Area: Uttarakhand, India
Broadcasters: Rajesh Mansell
Partners: Trans World Radio – India
Transmission Site: Shortwave from C.I.S.
Times: Monday – Friday at 18:30

Dogri is spoken by the people in the southern half of the northernmost Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir is predominantly Islamic, while the majority of the population in Jammu is Hindu. These states are located in the Himalayan Mountains, where many of the people still seek after “god” by praying to idols in temples.

Target Area: Jammu and Kashmir, India
Broadcasters: Sadiq Masih, Anil Kumar
Partners: Trans World Radio – India
Transmission Site: Shortwave from C.I.S.
Times: Monday – Friday at 18:45

Perched high in the Himalayas in a long-disputed region along the India-Pakistan border, Jammu and Kashmir is India’s only predominantly Islamic state. Since November 2011 Words of Hope has not been able to produce Kashmiri programs, forcing the radio broadcasts to be discontinued. Kashmir’s highest official of Sharia law not only banished the only Christian pastor, but also the coordinator of Words of Hope’s Kashmiri ministry. The charges were “propagating Christianity” and “luring Muslims to Christianity by exploiting their financial conditions and promoting immorality.” Their actual offense was baptizing people who had turned from Islam to Christ. The government of Kashmir agreed to enforce the verdict of the Islamic court with a “lifetime ban,” forbidding these Christian leaders from ever reentering the state. The Words of Hope ministry leader and his family were forced to flee the state, abandoning their home, possessions, and the small studio where Kashmiri radio programs had been recorded.

Target Area: North India, East Pakistan
Broadcasters: (Names withheld for security reasons)
Transmission Site: Internet
Times: Seven programs per week

Odia is one of the 22 official languages of India, and is spoken by over 33 million people in the Odisha region and beyond. Christians in these communities face severe persecution; less than 3% of Odia speakers are Christians, most of them tribal people living in remote areas. In 2008, violence against Christians resulted in the death of more than 50 believers, and the burning of more than 730 houses and 95 churches. In 1999, Australian Missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were burnt alive. Words of Hope began recording and distributing messages in the Odia language in 2016. There is much work to be done in the region.

Target Area: Jammu and Kashmir, India
Broadcasters: Name withheld for security reasons
Partners: Trans World Radio – India, ReFrame Ministries
Transmission Site: Internet

The Sadri language is spoken by people living in several of the eastern states of India. It is similar in some ways to Hindi, and is considered by some to be a dialect of it. About four million people speak the Sadri language. The caste system can still be encountered among those living in this region, an issue that gospel radio programming can speak truth into. The primary religion in this area is Hinduism, and estimates show that as few as 2% of the population is Christian at this time.

Target Area: India

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for listeners who face opposition from [Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim] family and community when they turn to Christ.
  • Pray for the outreach and follow-up efforts through home cell groups and listener meetings.
  • Petition the Lord to restrain militants who oppose gospel outreach.
  • Pray for safety in travel through mountainous regions.