(Photo: REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw)
Christian missionary groups in India are reportedly helping with the remarkable rise in Christianity in the second most populous country in the world, especially among young people as well as middle and high caste Indians.
"With more than 71 million claiming Christianity, India is now the eighth largest Christian nation in the world," said Dick McClain, president and CEO of The Mission Society, publisher of Unfinished. "Yet with 456 languages and more than 2,611 distinct people groups, India still has more people groups unreached with the gospel than any other nation – 88 percent of its population."
The rise of Christianity is detailed in the latest issue of Unfinished magazine, where The Mission Society, which recruits, trains and sends Christian missionaries around the world, details how the Gospel is creating a "new India." The missionary efforts are reportedly reaching new groups beyond the lower caste and marginalized communities, who traditionally have been the more likely to be open to Christianity.
Indian anthropologist Prabhu Singh identifies five dominant themes that define the missional challenges in India, but also points out that the rise of Christianity, which is still a minority religion there, is also being met by an increase in religious animosity, resulting in persecution and violence against Christians.
The last official nationwide survey in India in 2001 on religious beliefs identified that only 2.3 percent, or 24 million people, identify as Christians. The Mission Society claims that that number has risen dramatically in the past decade, however.
Singh added in a separate blog that the Indian church also sends out thousands of its own missionaries to share with people the message of Christ, but many do not receive money from abroad for their purposes.
"For example, one south-India-based mission agency with nearly 2000 workers has an annual budget of almost nine million U.S. dollars, and all of its money is raised from Indians, both living in India and abroad," The Mission Society wrote in a blog post.
"Despite India's contribution to global missions and the rise of Global South Christianity, global missions continues under the grip of Western influence. How do we help, by God's grace, to rectify this? How do Americans begin to better regard our worldwide brothers and sisters as friends and equals in God's kingdom work?"
The latest Unfinished issue gives suggestions to believers for how they can pray for the "new India," and offers further statistical trends, including demographics on religion, hunger and suicide, and the rise of social media.