Today there are some 40 million Christians in 200,000 local churches in India. In the last few years, local churches and parachurch organizations have joined in the vision of reaching India by generating more than 200 plans for evangelization focusing on the year 2000. For example:
|The Evangelical Church of India has a denominational plan to establish 1000 local churches by then. With almost 900 churches already, they expect to reach their goal in 1998 -- two years ahead of schedule.||The Friends Missionary Prayer Band has developed "Hindi Heartland Penetration
Strategies" to mobilize 1000 new missionaries and to research and evangelize 300
unreached people groups within the next few years.
||An agency has a church-planting movement among 100 of the Joshua Project
2000 unreached peoples of southern Asia.
||India Reach has taken on the goal of reaching 500 million people with the gospel
through direct mail efforts followed up by personal visits within six weeks to the
individuals who respond. They are believing God for over 65 million decisions for
Christ by the year 2000.
||An agency has launched an initiative
to present the gospel through literature to 100 million people in India by the year
||An agency has a goal for training 100,000 missionaries for outreadh to India,
10,000 of them by December 31, 2000.
||The Association of Pentecostals is working effectively towards a church for every
one of the 75,000 pin codes by the end of the year 2000.
||The Charismatic New Life Churches have a church-planting movement for every one
of the 512 districts by the end of the year 2000.
Historically, much of the mission work in this part of India has been done by individual missionaries, ministries and denominations. We rejoice in their faithful efforts and enthusiastically support all that they are doing. But God is doing something very special in India at this time with His Church. As never before, networks are emerging throughout all of North India involving not only historical mainline church leaders, but new church pastors, missionaries from both international and indigenous missions and qualified professional people, many of who are leaving their careers to devote themselves to reaching the unreached in North India.
Many of these people and organizations have come together as the North India Harvest Network, a loosely-organized forum established for mutual encouragement and strength in evangelism and church planting efforts. Totally managed by volunteers, it has sponsored seminars in 60 of the 200 districts of North India to build networks and mobilize workers for the harvest they truly believe is coming. Their goal is reaching "every people group in every city in every language in every geographic district." Their mission is expressed in the phrase "PLUG, PREM and be NICE," a series of acronyms that describe their focus and methodology for reaching their goals.
PLUG refers to the different targets their networks are trying to reach: every PEOPLE - in every LANGUAGE - in every URBAN center - in every GEOGRAPHIC division (district, block and PIN code).
At the heart of the strategy are 500 target groups or units in North India based on this PLUG approach.
Much like a net, each target group serves as a thread drawn from a different direction to ensure that every person has a chance to hear, regardless of the language they speak, their cultural grouping, of the city of geographical district in which they reside. These target groups have become the focus of the network's prayer and mobilization efforts. Through their seminars, the NIHN seeks to identify, prepare and train local leaders who will coordinate the resources and personell to reach each of these target groups in their area.
PREM and be NICE describe how that work will be done: PRAYER must be offered - RESEARCH into the harvest field must be performed and then utilized - EQUIPPING and training those who go out to labor must occur - MOBILIZATION must be ongoing.
It is recognized and understood by all concerned that this can only occur: by NETWORKING, especially in pioneer situations - by taking INITIATIVE when nothing is happening or a gap is realized - by being a CATALYST (and agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action) - by ENCOURAGING all the existing ministries and efforts that advance the cause of Jesus Christ.
In so many ways, India is learning to work together to reach its own unreached peoples. The networks of concerned individuals and churches are stretching across the entire country. Perhaps more than any other factor, these networks reveal the growing unity of the Church, without which global evangelization cannot occur.
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