South Asia—Walk into a typical Hindu home in South Asia and lining its walls on at least one side will be a row of colorful, framed depictions of Hindu deities. In one corner of the main room will be an altar to the gods, with more pictures and figurines adorned with fresh-flower garlands.
David used to spend his days traveling from village to village near his home in South Asia to sell these pictures and figurines from his cart.
He was proud of his mobile shop, and “I was proud of my Hindu gods and goddesses,” David recalled.
One day, a Christian minister approached him, talking to him about Jesus.
“I told him, ‘I have enough gods,” David recalled. “I have my own gods and goddesses, I don’t need an extra god.”
Undeterred, the minister shared the gospel with David’s family. His father, mother and wife professed Jesus as Lord. But David refused to go to church with them or have anything to do with Christianity for three years.
Finally yielding to his wife’s requests for him to attend a church service with her, “the same day … I decided to follow Jesus,” said David, who, like many of the Christians there, goes by a name from the Bible instead of the name of a Hindu god he was given at birth.
The four Christian family members were baptized in a joint service. “Since then, the joy has been unspeakable and that obedience has made me to rejoice in the Lord every day,” David said.
As he began reading the Bible and praying, he realized “there are a lot of people perishing without Jesus … my people … so I need to share the gospel.”
Once going from town to town touting wares of countless Hindu gods, David now goes village to village planting house churches dedicated to the One True God. Among the four house churches he has started, including one in his home town, there are 150-200 attendees. Sixty of them have been baptized—publicly forsaking all other gods and putting their faith in Jesus Christ alone.
David doesn’t shy away from sharing the gospel in villages that others don’t or won’t. One village contains cases of leprosy. Another has been targeted by Hindu militants because dozens of villagers are joining the growing house church there and being baptized.
The Christians there live in small tents “in the dirtiest area of their town,” said Donald McKinney,* who has provided pastoral and church planting training to Christian leaders there, including David. “They are despised, and they are very, very low in the social order.”
McKinney’s ministry partner, Nanjappa, who leads the church leader training program, helped the villagers start a microbusiness raising pigs in order to provide income for their families.
As villagers became Christians, they began tithing of what little they had to the house church. Believers stopped spending their time getting drunk and began working hard to make a go of raising pigs. The villagers built pens for them right next to their tents.
The impact of the gospel on one of the pig farmers was particularly pronounced. Now called Moses, the pig farmer was no longer known in the village as a drunk. He became a leader in the house church.
Area Hindu militants did not look favorably on the change in Moses, so they poisoned the pigs’ food or water. Nineteen pigs died—a loss of nearly one year’s income for the Christian families.
Instead of turning away from his new-found belief, Moses “was encouraging others not to lose heart,” David said. “Even though it was such a loss, to focus on the Lord.”
“Let us follow Jesus,” Moses told them. The Christians were able to obtain more pigs to start again.
“Though they have less, they give,” David said of the villagers’ continued tithing in the house church. “If we say there is a need, they give. Sometimes if they cannot give cash, they give in kind (goods or services to help the congregation), and they are so happy to give.”
Contributions to the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions have enabled McKinney to offer church leaders like David training, counsel and encouragement.
“Your gift to the missions offering helped us be there, to teach them and guide them,” McKinney said. “Your gift has helped a lot of guys that you’ll never see this side of heaven learn the Scripture, grow churches, baptize believers and spread the Word of God, so thanks for helping us to do that.” (IMB)