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It Took a Village

Few people groups have experienced the level of poverty and abuse felt by India's 300 million Dalits or "untouchables." But indigenous missionaries and evangelists are bringing them new hope.


Imagine a village full of people all wanting to receive Christ at the same time. That was the scene earlier this year in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu when 500 Dalits gathered together to hear the gospel at an evangelistic rally led by Gospel for Asia (GFA) ministries. India's Dalits—or "untouchables"—comprise some 300 million people. For 3,000 years they have lived in a cycle of discrimination and despair with no sign of escape. Until now.

What makes this mass conversion all the more miraculous is that it followed on the heels of Tamil Nadu's recently passed anti-conversion law, which makes it illegal to convert someone to a religion other than Hindu through the use of "force, fraud or allurement." Under this law, a Dalit leaving his caste-based faith for another religion could receive a four-year prison sentence and a 100,000-rupee fine ($2,000). Many Dalits in India are nevertheless boldly stepping forward to embrace Christianity.

"The Lord Jesus gave us the most encouraging promise when he said that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church," says K.P. Yohannan, president and founder of GFA. "The history of Christianity proves that no matter how hard the pressures and difficulties, the church will continue to grow because it belongs to the Lord."

Throughout India, indigenous missionaries and pastors are discipling new Christians and establishing church fellowships where they can worship. What happened in Tamil Nadu is just a snapshot of the many ways in which God is working as a Dalit awakening takes place throughout India, says Yohannan.

Source: Gospel for Asia; to learn more about the Dalit Awakening, visit www.dalit-awakening.org.

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