Persecution in India affects meetings
International Missions Association cancels meeting in India, but WMI held.by Jewel Showalter
As news of escalating anti-Christian persecution in India spread, the International Missions Association (IMA) cancelled its annual Holy Spirit in Mission Conference and regional outreaches.
Students pray during the two-week India World Missions Institute cosponsored by Eastern Mennonite Missions and the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, a new Anabaptist group in India. Photo provided.
Instead, a small cluster of 11 leaders of IMA met in Delhi, India, Sept. 29-Oct. 5, hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, one of the IMA’s 18 member organizations.
The group spent the first day in fasting and prayer for the church in India as well as for needs in their own lands.
“The government of India wants us to think we’re a tiny minority,” said P. C. Alexander (known as Alex), leader of the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. “But with the Lord we are a majority. We are ‘more than conquerors.’ ”
Alex noted that the violence had affected some of the 120 church planters who work with his organization in sensitive areas of north India. New believers in their circles had been forced to burn their Bibles and reconvert to Hinduism. There were community efforts to close down their headquarters. But in spite of this, Alex said, they had decided to quietly move ahead with a two-week World Missions Institute (WMI) for 106 cross-cultural workers from India, Nepal, North America and Europe, followed by the scaled-down IMA.
“The WMI—a vision which grew out of earlier IMA gatherings—is changing the way we look at Muslims here in India,” he said. “After my first IMA meeting … God encouraged me to step out in fresh, cross-cultural initiatives. A meeting like this —with internationals who pray and share about missions together—is very unusual for India.”
The two-week WMI, cosponsored by Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) and Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, was held Sept. 15-29. The training for cross-cultural missions rested on the wonder of the Incarnation.
A visit the group took to a mosque during the WMI module on world religions taught by David W. Shenk, a global consultant with EMM, was the first time most of them had ever set foot in a mosque.
The WMI group fasted and then broke the Ramadan fast with their Muslim hosts.
M.P. James, a WMI participant who works in the Punjab region of India, said: “There are many Muslims in Punjab, but I never considered reaching out them before. Now maybe I will. God is preparing all peoples, and we mustn’t overlook Muslims because we afraid of them.”
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