I've just arrived back from a week in New Delhi where I met with over ninety leaders, mostly south Asians, who are in the business of sparking movements that multiply disciples and churches.
I met Tamils, Begalis, Nagas, as well as workers from Nepal, and Bangladesh.
Curry was on the menu three meals a day, and there was plenty of chai to drink.
Two thoughts. . .
1. This is India's day.
India will soon become the world's largest mission field with 1.1 billion people and 2,000 language groups, and is around 2% Christian.
In the twentieth century Christianity surged in Africa, Latin America, and China. The twenty first century will see the unprecedented spread of the gospel throughout south Asia—India, Nepal, Bangladesh. Although there is still a long way to go in Pakistan.
I met up with Indian-Australian couple who are on our team. After thirty years in Australia They returned to the land of their birth. They are grandparents in their their sixties. Now they serve in a region of India that has a population of 90 million.
In just a few years this couple have identified and trained movement leaders to the north, south, east and west of their state. Those local movements have planted a staggering 1,600 village and neighbourhood churches. Their goal is 45,000 new churches.
The numbers in India are overwhelming. I met up with one brother who's mission field covers 400 million people. An impossible task unless he partners with local believers to spark multiple streams of church planting movements that are not dependent on outside funding.
What's the key to this advance in south Asia? The same as for the rest of the global south—the missionaries have planted the seed of the gospel, now indigenous movements, empowered by the Spirit are reaching their communities.
2. International partnerships are still vital.
Foreign missionaries, mostly from the West, still have a role to play. The best of them learn language and culture, connect with the people, share the gospel, plant churches, and train local workers to do the same.
Christianity is a missionary movement that spreads when ordinary people are empowered to share the gospel, train disciples and gather them into communities.
The best practitioners don't pay locals to the do the ministry. That only breeds dependency and mixed motivations. The best partner with local leaders to provide training, and coaching. They don't build institutions with Western money, they fuel movements led and funded by locals.
There have been Christian communities in India for two thousand years. Since that time, Indian believers have prayed, and suffered, and believed for a time such as this.