God’s Best for the Least
For a new believer in northern India, it’s not uncommon to be baptized at midnight. Not because it’s more meaningful by moonlight, but because the cover of darkness offers more safety in a region where Christians are increasingly facing persecution.
For a new believer here, gaining ultimate freedom in Christ often means losing other freedoms—like drawing water from the community well or walking down the street without fear of being beaten. Amazingly—churches are growing in this place where many of the 400 million people living here are in desperate poverty, Hinduism is the predominant religion, and most have never heard of Jesus.
To Langham Scholar Rohan*, it is a vast mission field. “God is on the move in the northern part of India,” he shares. “There is a tremendous growth that is happening.” Along with the growth, Rohan sees one great challenge: “We don’t have enough people to go out and reach out to these people who are responding to the Gospel,” he says. “We don’t have enough leaders who are qualified enough to take care of the church into a deeper level.”
Positioning a Transformational Leader
This is what Rohan is working to change. After receiving his PhD in Theology with support from Langham, he became the principal of a Bible college in northern India, and the missions director for a large church network in the region. Today, he is actively involved in developing biblical leaders for mission and ministry across India. Many of the students who graduate from the Bible college go on to plant new churches, serving as pastors and leaders in some of the most remote villages. In fact, more than 1,800 churches have been planted and nurtured with help of students and leaders trained through the Bible college and the church missions network.
Pastor Bahula* leads one of these churches, which draws more than 1,000 from surrounding villages to worship on Sunday. He shares, “The leaders of the Bible college and churches come here and train us. They equip us with the Word of God and that helps us disciple our new believers.”
Equipping a Generation
Like many Langham Scholars, Rohan’s impact extends beyond the seminary and church walls and out into the surrounding community. He’s one of 42% of Langham Scholars who respond to urgent needs by launching salt and light ministries and schools. Rohan and his network of leaders began to notice that as churches were exploding with growth, many of the children were not educated. Traditionally, the very poor or lower caste members aren’t able to attend school.
“We began to think, ‘How can we help our next generation be more literate and be educated so their lives will be more fruitful,” Rohan recalls.
That led to the development of a school in one of the rural villages, a nursery through 12th grade school that started with 5 students and has grown to 1100 students. With the goal of strengthening the church by providing quality education to Christian children, today there are several campuses throughout India. Students from the Bible college regularly visit to teach classes and minister at the schools, and graduates of the school have gone on to become teachers, doctors, and pastors.
While their children are receiving a quality education, many parents continue to struggle. Especially in the more remote villages, Christians represent some of the poorest of the poor. Cast out by their families and communities and shunned in the marketplace, many exist on only 30 rupees, the equivalent of 50 cents, per day. Rohan says, “We have seen tremendous results of people being baptized and being disciples. But we still could not see much transformation in their economic life.”
So, in keeping with his holistic approach to ministry—that ministry happens not just within the walls of a church—Rohan and several other leaders developed a micro-lending program for believers in the region. Today, nearly 600 families have been able to make use of the small loans to start businesses, lifting themselves out of poverty and giving back to the community. Rohan estimates that today, most of these families are living off of closer to $4 per day.
Rohan shares the story of Bahi*, a homemaker and mother of two small children whose husband is a masonry worker. She received a loan to purchase two small goats, which she uses to provide milk for her children. She will be able to sell the extra milk and any offspring in the marketplace.
Bringing God’s Best for the Least
The driving principle behind Rohan’s vision for developing biblical leaders is, in his own words, “bringing God’s best for the least.” “God enabled me to receive the best education, and I want to use it for the least of our country, the least of our society,” he shares. “By investing in my life, Langham has provided with me a perspective about the global church . . . God enabled me to come back to my own country to bring that scholarship for my people.”
Rohan’s story is a powerful example of how one trained leader can impact thousands of lives for Christ. It’s why this year Langham is providing scholarships for 69 emerging leaders like Rohan from around the world, supporting and caring for them as they pursue their PhDs in Bible and theology and prepare to return to their home countries. Thank you for your continued support that equips these leaders to bring God’s best, His Word, to His people.
This story originally featured in Langham Partnership Australia’s eNews – May 2018.
*Names have been changed to protect those living and serving in this sensitive region.Tags: baptism, Bible college, India, Langham Partnership, Langham Scholars, Majority World, North India, Persecution, PhD, Theological Education, training, Transformation