As you probably know, JESUS MISSION started its ministry in Madhya Pradesh in 1994. However, that was not the beginning of Jesus Mission. In fact Jesus Mission started in Kerala in 1984 as an evangelistic team. Saju John Mathew, who was a student evangelist then, along with students and youngsters of his region started helping the existing churches in its evangelistic activities by conducting street meetings and small conventions and also involved with door to door and literature evangelism. Sometimes the Operation Mobilization team also was helping them in their activities. Those who received Jesus through their work were added to the existing churches of the locality. It was not a “professional” team of ministers. Most of the members his team were university students. All of them worked voluntarily. It was a small band of young people! However, God had a big plan for it.
After a decade, as per God’s guidance, in 1994 James John and Saju visited a place called Damoh, a district in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh, which is part of a region called `Bundhelkhand.’
In fact, they were ignorant about the people of Bundelkhand- their language, philosophy, culture and their needs! However, they had a vision. They believed that God wanted them to do something in that place. They just made a ‘prayer walk’ in the villages of Damoh. They took time to interact with people and made a survey of their social and spiritual life. The findings were heart breaking! The villagers were ignorant, illiterate and ill-treated! They were exploited and manipulated by their social and religious ‘Overlords.’
How sad, there were only less than a thousand Christians in the whole district of Damoh, out of its one million population! Moreover, this Christian population was confined to the district head quarter alone. They came to know that none of the 1398 villages of Damoh has a church!
God confirmed the vision of those two brothers. Trusting in the Lord’s grace, they decided to sign in. They rented a small room in Damoh and started ministering in the town.
Brother James was the first missionary. He visited houses, distributed tracts, met people in person and shared gospel with them. Soon he could win the confidence of people, but that was not enough. People were too religious to leave their old ways.
In the words of our founding missionaries:
“As we established our work, we badly felt the need for more people in the vineyard to reach such a huge number of people with the gospel of Christ. We started praying for more labourers as we saw the field vast and the harvest so plentiful! God answered our prayers! Many came, some with a short-term commitment, some with a long-term commitment and some with even a lifetime commitment!
The main religion of Bundelkhand is Hinduism but there are a considerable number of Muslims and Jains too. People of Bundelkhand are very much religious. Caste system, in its worst form, exists in the villages.
As most of them are Caste Hindus, they are aware of their religious philosophy. The Law of Karma, another version of fatalism, dominates their thoughts. This philosophy has mostly shaped the life of normal Hindus. It has wrecked their hope for a change in their lives. Many schools of Hinduism do not realize the existence of sin itself. Think about sharing gospel with a person who does not believe in sin!
Some times the villagers welcome our missionaries; but many a time they are indifferent to the gospel – stubborn and even violent. In some places, we had to close down our activities due to these indifference and resistance.”
For more than a decade, we are working in the Indian villages. Now, Jesus Mission is having missionaries in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal, Bihar, Karnataka, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. By the grace of God, we have 106 missionary families in 15 states, involved in evangelism, church planting, children homes, school, vernacular printing, Bible training, charity and literacy programs. However, what is it in comparison to the thousands and thousands of villages yet to be reached with the life giving gospel of Jesus!
We know there is still a lot to be done! Most villages in North India are not blessed with a village evangelist! They are without Christ. The Mission is yet unaccomplished!
Beloved, these are eye-opening facts, isn’t it? Certainly, God wants us to do something. Let us remember these people and places. Let us pray fervently, labor patiently and wait hopefully for the furtherance of God’s kingdom in India.
James the pioneer in the Jesus Mission Missionary movement and Saju.