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India: Practical Church Planting

How much does it cost to plant a church in northern India?

Depending on the location it could cost a few thousand dollars a month for a rented space in the United States, and hundreds more for chairs and a projector.

The answer, according to VOM partner Leanna Cinquanta of TellAsia, is $150 in northern India.

India pastor

“They need a mat to spread out for people to sit on, they need a drum to lead worship, and they need a few training materials and Bibles,” she said.

Leanna and other VOM partners have the volunteers ready. These men and woman don’t require a salary, because they minister in their free time. Most have been to Bible school, and desire to reach out to others in their communities, but they lack tools.

A willing volunteer plus a VOM Village Outreach Pack can start a church.

Reaching India for Jesus

Leanna started working closely with national missionaries doing village church planting work in northern India after learning of the huge need for Christians in the region. The area is considered the heart of Hinduism, with many committed Hindus.

Leaving behind a secure career path, Leanna arrived on her own, a single young foreign woman in northern India. She ended up living in the villages with the people: sleeping where they slept, eating what they ate and drinking what they drank. People were desperately poor, living off the land and restricted to diets of lentils and rice. They were too poor to afford anything else.

As a foreigner, Leanna’s body was not used to the Indian bacteria and microorganisms. She spent years suffering from various sicknesses, but she persisted. Eventually, she met an Indian believer, a convert from Hinduism. She called him “David,” believing that God was going to form him into a leader of his people.

When they met, David was traveling daily to preach the gospel in surrounding villages. His family members were ardent Hindus and they thought David’s conversion was both ridiculous and shameful. When he returned at night, he was often locked out of the home and he would have to sleep on the ground. If he was ever allowed in, he was only given a little rice mixed with water to eat.

David’s father married him to a Hindu woman suffering from tuberculosis. Since tuberculosis can cause infertility even after it’s treated, David’s father was sentencing him to a life of shame in a culture where being childless is devastating. He also hoped the Hindu woman would convince David to return to Hinduism.

Instead, David’s wife was healed and eventually had children. He grew into an effective Christian leader, training other Indian believers how to share the gospel.

Through her experiences in the villages and her friendship with David, Leanna realized the most effective way to share Christ with the Indian people was through other Indians. Today, she leads an organization that assists Indian evangelists to share the gospel on the front lines, often carrying only a mat, a drum and Bibles provided by VOM donors.

Posted: February 17, 2017

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