I've had a keen interest in the work being done by Christians in India. I have friends there who have completed a three-year stint training locals to lead their churches and teach their own people. The situation in India is challenging, with a sort of freedom of religion juxtaposed beside intense persecution.
When I had a chance to read In the presence of the Poor by Kay Marshall, I was anxious to learn more about the work in India. It's an important, thoughtful book and I'd recommend you read it, too. I've included purchase information at the end of this post but here's more about the book:
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—There is no shortage of books about Western missionary heroes. But in the developing world, just as in the West, the most effective way to reach the lost is through the local church. As one Indian Christian leader told missionaries from abroad, “You have been offering the water of life to the people of India in a foreign cup. That is why we have been slow to receive it. If you offer it to us in an Indian cup, we are more likely to accept it.”
This is the new face of missions. The global church can learn much from the stories of indigenous missionary heroes. In her new book, In the Presence of the Poor, author Kay Marshall Strom shares the amazing story of Professor B. E. Vijayam, Ph.D., a university professor and award-winning scientist who has made a career of reaching India’s poorest people with God’s love.
Dr. Vijayam was born the son and grandson of prominent Christian bishops in India, but he gained his reputation as a nationally recognized scientist. Driven by his pioneering spirit and limitless love for India’s poor and forgotten souls, Dr. Vijayam is breaking new ground in missionary practice, and he has much to teach the Western church.
As a geologist, Dr. Vijayam dedicated much of his research to improving the living conditions for the oppressed Dalit people. He encouraged other scientists to venture past the hallowed halls of academia and bring technology to the poor. As the founder of organizations like MERIBA (Mission to Encourage Rural Impact in Backward Areas), he achieved the unthinkable—uniting entire villages of Dalit people, educating them concerning their rights, and overturning centuries of culturally sanctioned tyranny.
Through various other social action groups, he brought clean water, agricultural innovation, and environmental protection to people all over India. Dr. Vijayam is not just another social activist. Every technological innovation served a greater purpose—setting the stage to share the Gospel with India’s 4,600 people groups.
“To Dr. Vijayam, the gospel must be holistic,” Strom says. “As the Bible says, it is no use telling a person who is naked and hungry to go in peace without actually taking care of that person’s physical needs.”
Today Joshua Vision India, one of Dr. Vijayam’s projects, trains church planters to use technology for the benefit of the people groups they serve. In the Presence of the Poor is more than just one man’s story.
It is a wake-up call to us in the Western church who have grown comfortable in our affluence and indifferent to the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters in the developing world. Strom stresses the need for partnership between churches rich in resources (i.e., North Americans) and churches rich in opportunities for evangelism (i.e., Indian churches).
Through his work with Partners International, Dr. Vijayam has sought to foster that kind of cooperation. Strom urges Christians in the West to catch the vision of a global body of believers united in service and love for Christ.
“Now is the time for the family of God to link hands around the world. It is time for us not only to teach but to be teachable,” says Strom. “It is time for the financially blessed among us to loosen our grip and pour out the finances that will enable those with wide-open opportunities to make the most of them. It is time to support each other so that we can bring in a great harvest for the Lord.”
In the Presence of the Poor by Kay Marshall Strom
Authentic Publishing ISBN: 978-1-606547-012-8/163 pages/softcover/$12.99 www.authenticpublishing.com