June 23 - Pray for: India

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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.


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The world's least-evangelized peoples are concentrated in India. Of 159 people groups of over 1 million people, 133 are unreached. Hundreds more groups of fewer than 1 million are unreached. Also, 953 ethnic groups have populations greater than 10,000; of these, 205 have no church and little to no outreach from Christians. They can be found in every state, although they tend to be more concentrated in the north. A few of the most significant peoples for prayer:

  • The Brahmin are the priestly caste, which is the highest caste in the Hindu world. They number over 50 million, but perhaps only 18,000 follow Jesus. They are the most influential group in India, but few focused efforts to reach them have been made.
  • Forward Castes - the Rajput (43.0m), Mahratta (29.0m), Hindu Jat (16.0m), Mahishya (10.6m), Kayastha (8.1m), Nair (7.5m), Agarwal/Bania (5.0m), Arora (3.9m), Bhumihar (3.0m), Vellalan (2.5m), Hindu Khatri (2.1m) and others. Several others are considered Forward Castes in some states but Backward in others. Forward Castes have very negative views of Christians - that they are Dalits, simple and cowardly, and they reject Hindu culture for Western colonial ideas. There remains little effective ministry among the Forward Castes. These people groups will need a different and a sensitive, loving approach and adequate preparation of workers if the barriers to faith in Christ are to be breached.
  • Backward Caste peoples represent anywhere from 27% to 52% of India's population, depending on definition and source. The most numerous include the Yadava (59.0m), Kurmi (17.9m), Teli (17.9m), Kunbi (16.6m), Kapu (15.9m), Nai (11.5m), Pashtun (11.3m), Mappila (9.6m), Lingayat (9.5m), Kairi (7.7m), Sonar (7.4m), Gujar (6.6m), Vakkaliga (6.3m) and literally thousands more. Of the groups listed above, all are less than 0.1% Christian, most less than 0.01% Christian.
  • Scheduled Castes/Dalits have responded more to the gospel, some in large numbers. But the Dhobi (12.6m), Mahar (9.1m), Pasi (7.5m), Namasudra (5.1m), Rajbansi (5.0m), Bagdi (3.6m) and Pod (3.2m) are all less than 0.1% Christian.
  • Numerous Scheduled Tribes are still unevangelized or underevangelized. After years of ministry, the Bhil (14.5m) and Gond (14.1m) have numerous churches among them, yet both are only around 1% Christian. The Koli (12.1m) are only 0.3% Christian.
  • There are 485 people groups with populations of over 10,000 that are unreached and unengaged, almost three quarters of the world's 639 people groups that come under this category.
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Students number over 11.5 million in 320 universities and 23,000 colleges. The large majority of these will graduate but be considered unemployable due to the competitiveness of industry and inadequate quality of education. Pray for the ministries of YFC, ICru, Inter Collegiate Prayer Fellowship (ICPF) and Union of Evangelical Students of India (UESI/IFES). UESI alone has 15,000 student members and 7,000 graduates. Pray for their clear, vibrant witness to the thousands of non-Christian students. Pray for their growth and integration into local churches.

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The blind. As many as 15 million people in India are blind (and another 50 million visually impaired) - this is nearly 40% of the world's total. Of these cases, 70% would be preventable were there sufficient doctors and optometrists. Braille is an under-utilized tool. Agencies with ministry to blind people are Mission to the Blind, India Fellowship for Visually Handicapped and Torch Trust for the Blind. Compass Braille is an agency specializing in producing Braille Scriptures in Indian languages by means of computer. Christian audio resources such as Megavoice, Proclaimer and others are vital for reaching and discipling India's blind people.

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The Indian diaspora now numbers nearly 30 million and is spread across 130 countries. Large numbers have emigrated to the Americas: USA (2.2m, where they have built over 500 Hindu temples), Canada (1.0m), Trinidad (500,000), Suriname (150,000); others to Europe: UK (1.5m), France (290,000); many to Africa: South Africa (920,000), Mauritius (870,000); to the Pacific: Fiji (310,000), Australia (225,000); to Asia: Nepal (5.5m), Malaysia (2.1m), Myanmar (2.5m), Sri Lanka (1.5m), Singapore (400,000); and to the Middle East: Saudi Arabia (1.4m), UAE (1.4m), Kuwait (560,000), Oman (385,000). They are influential in their adopted lands, especially in business, technology and culture. They are likewise a great influence on their relations and communities back in India. Many are open to the gospel - especially first-generation immigrants - and in some countries, there has been significant outreach and response (South Africa, USA, Canada, Mauritius, Middle East). Outreach by Indian missions to diaspora communities is overdue, as is the envisioning of diaspora Christians to reach out to India.

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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.