Pray for: India

Flag for India

Key Stats

Religion & Geography
Category Statistic
Continent: Asia
Population: 1,393,409,033
% Urban: 35.4 %
Population Under 15 Yrs: 26.6 %
Official Language: Constitutionally there are 22 official languages. The official language is Hindi (spoken by 40% of the population). English is a subsidiary official language
Languages: 456
Literacy Rate: 71 %
HDI Ranking: 131 / 189
% Christian: 5.8 %
% Evangelical: 2.2 %
Largest Religion: Hindu
% Largest Religion: 74.3 %
People Groups: 2,493
Least Reached People Groups: 2,445
% Unevangelized: 43 %
Persecution Ranking: 10 / 50

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Topic: Indian Society, Economy, and Government

India is the world’s largest democracy. Political, economic, and social challenges all place a heavy burden on the government. Pray that the government will choose to build on the progress of recent decades, especially to preserve and protect human dignity, rights, and freedoms. The current government has been operating on a Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) platform. This has brought about intensifying persecution of other religions, increasing re-Hinduization/reconversion of Dalit and tribal groups, and the introduction of many barriers of foreign Christian mission in India. The government’s aggressive stance to defend Hinduism – and persecute other faiths – has emboldened religious violence by radical Hindu groups.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Topic: Indian Society, Economy, and Government

The caste system remains a major issue. The Dalits/Bahujans/Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes together are 25% of the population. Others oppressed these groups for thousands of years, and used the caste system (and Hinduism) to justify their harmful actions. The UN, the Indian government, and international NGOs have all taken action to address the situation. Churches also work to establish human rights, education, health, and employment, and also for salvation of the Dalits. The Church has an opportunity to show that the love of Christ extends to all people, regardless of caste, race, language, gender, and economic status. Pray for Christians to remove all caste discrimination from the Church, where it sadly does exist. The Dalit Freedom Network educates Christians about issues related to Dalit rights and freedoms.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Topic: Indian Society, Economy, and Government

Women and children suffer the most. Pray for state programmes and loving Christian ministries to address these desperate needs. Pray that God will change attitudes and practices in society to reflect His care for women and children. Of the 400 million children, possibly up to 35 million are orphans. 11 million are abandoned (90% are girls). 3 million live on the streets. Some families sell children into slavery to pay off family debts. Two-thirds of all children suffer physical abuse, and half suffer some kind of sexual harassment or abuse. Over 1 million end up in prostitution (mostly Nepalis and Bangladeshis). Society prefers male children, so some families abort, abandon, or even kill girl babies. the female population today lacks 35 million girls when compared with the male population. Women have lower rates of literacy and education, and domestic abuse is a widespread problem. Some young girls get dedicated to the ancient service of temple prostitution.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Topic: The Church in India

The Indian Church is highly diverse, with a long legacy. Much of Indian Christianity results from people movements of the last 300 years, often started by local revivals. Some Christian groups today have remarkable growth, while other groups decline in numbers. Persecution of Christians has been steadily intensifying in recent years, and shows no signs of abating. Pray for our brothers and sisters in India to endure in the midst of this increasing pressure.

  • The Orthodox Churches trace their origin to the tradition of the Apostle Thomas, who was said to minister here in the 1st century. Orthodox Christians (over 2.2 million) have the strongest presence in Kerala and southwest India.
  • Catholics represent the largest Christian group in India (nearly 20 million). People respect their charity work, especially Mother Teresa’s care for the poorest of the poor. Catholics run more than 5,000, healthcare facilities. The charismatic movement in the Catholic Church began in 1972. It spread to almost every congregation, and brought both new life and increased outreach.
  • Evangelical denominations and congregations multiplied. God uses several networks and alliances to mature and mobilize believers through prayer, pastors’ retreats, and conventions. They also coordinate training, literature production, missions, and outreach (the Evangelical Fellowship of India links over 224 denominations, the Pentecostal Fellowship of India links the major Pentecostal groups, and so on).
  • Newer Pentecostal and charismatic fellowships sprang up quickly, and spread throughout India, especially in the last 15 years. The Yesu Darbar gathers tens of thousands of Jesus’ followers in North India. They model biblical worship and fellowship patterns in an Indian style.
  • Millions of followers of Jesus (Yesu Bhaktas) are secret believers, or unbaptized Christians outside the established denominations. Pray for discipleship for these people as their numbers increase.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Topic: The Church in India

Training for Christian workers is an urgent need. The life and health of the Church depend on pastors, teachers, evangelists, and missionaries. Many new believers come to faith through large rallies, healings, or miracles, but have few opportunities for Christian discipleship. Most leaders and pastors received very little preparation for their work. Pray for the formal training institutions. India now has over 100 degree-level seminaries! Many are evangelical. Bible schools number over 1,000. Many teach practical skills (such as church planting) in addition to theology. Training centres for indigenous workers (to train church planters) now also play a significant role. But much more is needed. Pray for creative, effective models to reach the country’s pastors and leaders with Bible teaching. All Christians need training to be effective ambassadors for Christ in their society. The Indian Church must learn to have greater impact in the workplace and in national life. Currently most Indians associate Christianity with the deprived and lower classes of society (80% of Indian Christians come from Dalit or tribal communities). The gospel has not yet made a significant impact on business, politics, arts, or culture.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Topic: India's Least Evangelised

India has more unreached individuals than any other nation. The south and northeast have a higher proportion of Christians than the more populated north and west. Pray that the Church worldwide might rise to this task! Pray for:

  • The North India Ganges plains, or the states through which the Ganges
  • The great cities, where the very rich live close to the very poor. Millions come from rural areas to cities every year, and most end up in slums. Mumbai and Hyderabad have significant Christian populations, while Kolkata, Delhi, Varanasi, and Lucknow have little Christian witness.
  • The middle classes (up to 350 million people). Half the cross-cultural missionaries worked among tribal groups, and many of the rest among the neediest sections of the population. Few today work among the urban middle class and the higher castes. This needs to change, but most workers feel unprepared for such challenges.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Andhra Pradesh & Telangana: Many Indian mission agencies work in these states, and many people come to Christ! Every district now has churches. But 16 people groups remain unreached and unengaged. Millions of Hindus come to Andhra Pradesh every year to worship at Tirupathi. 200 Christian organizations have bases in Hyderabad (the state capital), a key centre for Christian ministry. 40% of Hyderabad are Muslim, and it is also a key centre for Islam in South India. Very little is done to reach out to Muslims – pray for effective outreach to them.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Assam: Assam remains the major spiritual challenge in Northeast India. After 2 centuries of missions, Christians are only a small minority. Most tribal peoples remain unreached. Few Christians witness to the 9.7 million Muslims (who speak mostly Bengali) or the Hindu majority (who speak Assamese). The tea-estate workers are migrant peoples or tribal minorities from other states. Most are open to the gospel, but few Christians are there to share it. Pray for a new wave of loving witness, especially to those who are open to the Gospel.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand both have minerals, forests, and good farm land. But the people are largely poor and under-educated. Rebel groups are very active in the forest and jungle regions, and violent conflict (which can include persecution of Christians) causes problems. The Christian Church remains small here, but house churches have begun to spread. Chhattisgarh is known as “Home of the Tribals”. Pray that the light of the gospel shines into every tribal group, in both states.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Gujarat remains a place of religious tension and persecution. The state government and the police support Hindu militant groups that intimidate Muslims and Christians in Dalit and tribal groups. Gujarat was the birthplace of the leader Gandhi. Pray for the peace and tolerance he promoted to become a reality here! Religious oppression at times prevents Christian outreach, and creates division among believers. But persecution sometimes brings new life and revival. Pray for labourers to the unreached, especially The Jains. The Saurashtra (peninsula that reaches into the Arabian Sea) has over 1 million Jains. Ahmadabad is a major Jain centre, with over 100 temples and little Christian work.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Haryana is one of India’s least-evangelized states. Only 32,000 identify themselves as Christian among its 22 million people. 6,000 villages have no Christian witness. But 15 Christian training centres have work here. Pray for them to equip many new workers for outreach. A significant number of Sikhs in Haryana have come into the Kingdom. Pray that this number increases, and has an impact on Sikhs elsewhere. Few known Christians exist among the 1.7 million Brahmins or the 750,000 Shaikhs.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Jammu and Kashmir endure tragic suffering and conflict. Almost all groups in Jammu and Kashmir remain unreached. The Kashmir Valley region is 97% Muslim, the Jammu region is 66% Hindu, and the Ladakh region is 46% Buddhist. Pray especially for a breakthrough among the more isolated Buddhist peoples.

  • Pakistan and India both claim possession of Kashmir since the partition of India (1947). Islamic militants fight to either join Pakistan or have an independent state. So far 40,000 have died, and 800,000 lost their homes in this war. In 2019, the Hindu nationalist Indian government recently removed Kashmir’s special status, arrested local political leaders, introduced thousands of military troops, and denied mobile phone services and foreign journalist access in efforts to assert greater control over a region that is predominantly Muslim.
  • Christians have always been few, but in some places whole villages have now come to faith! Many feel tired of the hatred and violence, and find hope and peace in Christ. Christian growth usually meets persecution from families and communities. Pray for the protection of new believers and Christian workers.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Madhya Pradesh was one of the last states to open up for missions. It is strongly Hindu, with strict laws that limit conversions to Christianity. Madhya Pradesh has many large tribal peoples, and more tribal groups than anywhere else in the world. Most practise a version of animism that was influenced by Hinduism. Many practise witchcraft, Shaktism (worship of female energy), and Saivism (worship of the god Shiva). Christians planted thousands of new churches in 20 years. Praise God for house church movements among some of the tribes. The whole state needs pioneer mission work. Pray for open doors for the gospel!

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Odisha state has more intense persecution of Christians than anywhere else in India. In many districts, Christians must either reconvert to Hinduism, leave their village, or face death. Pray that churches might grow in unity, and in their ability to withstand persecution. Despite the troubles, the Church multiplies rapidly, mostly among tribal and Dalit peoples. 709 of the 799 people groups in Odisha have no Christians, according to a census. Pray for the effective use of audio Scripture, and Christian radio and TV programmes, as illiteracy is common.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Politics affects the Church and mission in Tamil Nadu state. Hindu extremists threaten the Church with anti-conversion laws. Pray that the current religious freedom continues. The Church grows despite the social pressures, especially among Dalit and tribal peoples. Muslims and higher caste Hindus receive very little outreach. Tamils founded many of the Christian organizations throughout India. Pray that the Church of Tamil Nadu presses forward with its mission vision and outreach.

India

Title: India

Tier: 1

Type: country

Uttar Pradesh (UP) is the home of Hinduism, and has a long historical connection to Buddhism and Jainism also. Sadly, it has given no home to the gospel.

  • Millions of Hindu pilgrims visit Varanasi, the holy city of Hinduism on the Ganges River. But very few find the living water only Jesus can give. This key state needs vast amounts of prayer, and thousands more Christian workers.
  • The scale of human need and suffering here is immense. Water-borne diseases are widespread. Most of the world’s polio cases occur in Uttar Pradesh. The majority of children are undernourished. Christian witness must go together with acts of mercy.
  • The size of the unfinished task in Uttar Pradesh should drive us to prayer. If Uttar Pradesh were its own country, it would have the third-largest unevangelized population in the world. 191 groups remain unreached and unengaged. This single state likely represents the world’s greatest missionary challenge. Praise God that more churches, mission agencies, and prayer networks (both national and expatriate) now focus some work on UP.

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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.