We are continuing our Get to Know India campaign and are focusing today on Christianity in India. As we have stated in previous posts, Christianity is the third largest religion in India with approximately 26 million adherents. This number seems large until you compare it to the national population of 1.3 billion. This equates to only two percent of the population identifying as Christians.
The 26 million Christians in India are located in Christian pockets. Some city blocks, towns, and even some States within India are considered Christian. Generally speaking, many of those Christian pockets are located in Southern India, while the Northern States tend to be more anti-Christian and adversarial.
Faith Comes From Hearing
No one knows specifically how Christianity first came to India, however, we do know that it was through the proclamation of the Gospel. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).
Some people believe that the Gospel was first brought to India by the Disciple Thomas. It is believed that Thomas landed in Kerala, India in 52 A.D. Kerala is a Southern State in India along the Western Coast. Interestingly, it is also the headquarters of Grace Christian Ministry (our indigenous partner in India).
In addition, the Christian Historian Eusebius, who lived during the fourth century, also mentioned the Apostle Bartholomew visiting India, stating that a certain Pantaenus, “is said to have gone among the Indians, where a report is that he discovered the Gospel according to Matthew among some there who knew Christ, which had anticipated his arrival; Bartholomew, one of the Apostles, had preached to them and had left them the writings of Matthew in Hebrew letters, which writing they preserved until the aforesaid time…”. Other well known missionaries that have gone to India to share the gospel include William Carey and Amy Carmichael.
As in all nations Christianity includes the visible Church and the true Church. Many Indians who are part of the visible Church in India are not part of the one true Church. Christianity in India suffers, as in all places, with false teachings that undermine the sufficiency of the blood of Jesus paying for all of our sins: past, present and future.
Partnership in the Gospel
In light of what we wrote above, it is our desire at Epaphroditus to do two things:
1. Send out more people to share the gospel.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14)
2. Equip pastors and congregations in India with good theology.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)
Will you consider partnering with us in this endeavor? If so, please pray for laborers to send out into the harvest and consider joining us financially to train and equip more native Indians to reach their own people.