The servants of God in Orissa, perhaps India’s poorest state where Fundamentalist Hindus dominate, are generally not trained to preach the gospel as Jesus did and as His disciples continued to do in Acts when the gospel exploded throughout the known world. Instead they are trained to preach the gospel to Hindus and other lost people groups according to Church tradition.
According to Church tradition, miracles such as miraculous healings no longer accompany the preaching of the gospel on a consistent basis to non-Christian people groups highly resistant to the gospel. While there are “superstar ministries” here and there in India which witness the miraculous, the gospel is generally preached with words alone, sometimes accompanied by good works like feeding the poor or caring for orphans. As commendable and pleasing to God as such humanitarian works might be, in themselves they have been proven to be generally ineffective in reaching the gospel-resistant in India for Jesus Christ.
In Acts, the early disciples took the gospel first to Jews and later to idol-worshipping Gentiles who worshipped Greek and Roman gods. The preaching of the gospel was confirmed by powerful miraculous healings which convinced the Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was in fact the Messiah and the only way to the One True God. In such a way the early disciples turned the known world upside down.
Today in India, the home of perhaps 900 million Hindus who worship gods similar to the Greek and Roman gods of the Gentiles in Acts, the gospel is no longer preached as it was at that time. Church tradition has instead largely taken over in missions. Astonishingly, even Islam—which arrived in India approximately seven centuries after the gospel—boasts a number of adherents in India six times greater than that of Christianity according to a 2011 Census (Wikipedia: Religion in India). The severe contrast between the rapid expanse of the gospel in the Mediterranean world of Acts within a generation or two and the snail’s pace afterwards in India over the past two millennia should be nothing less than shocking.
The primary difference lies in the way the gospel is being preached. The one involves the power of the miraculous confirming the undeniable truth of the gospel to the lost while the other relies on words, sometimes accompanied by works of compassion. The latter approach cannot convince India’s multitudes that Christianity is anything more than just another world religion—in this case the religion of their former British colonial masters. With this traditional approach there is little reason for Hindus to give up their sacred 4,000-year-old tradition to embrace a very foreign Eurocentric one.
Interestingly, we are seeing that Church tradition is no less stubborn in refusing to release the many servants of God in India who sadly are limited to preaching the gospel to the Hindus with words alone—apart from any powerful miraculous signs as evidence that it is the truth. They have difficulty accepting in practice that they have been given supernatural power and authority over diseases and demons in the context of proclaiming the kingdom of God to the lost. This despite John 14 where Jesus emphasized the importance of miraculous works in His ministry, and equally significantly in the ministries of those who would believe on Him.
John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, WHOEVER BELIEVES IN ME will do the works I have been doing…
The Lord has called The Elijah Challenge to train the Lord’s servants in India to preach the gospel as Jesus did and as the early disciples did in Acts. By His grace the Training has been and is proving to be effective and fruitful for the gospel in India. But with India’s vast population expecting to exceed China’s by 2028, we have barely scratched the surface. However, we believe we are in the last days, and that within a generation or two the Great Commission will be fulfilled as we persevere in God’s holy calling to make disciples like those who preached the gospel so powerfully in Acts—toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Through them the pace of the Great Commission in India will be greatly accelerated during these last days.