EVERY twenty-four hours, 50,000 new people are born in the nation of India alone. If present conditions continue, the majority of these will mature, marry, have children, grow old, and die and never hear the name of Jesus.
Traveling in Karnataka State in South India one day, I asked three young men on the road if they had ever heard of Jesus Christ. They shook their heads and responded, "Nobody by that name lives in any village around here."
As many as 300 million people in India may never yet have heard the story of Jesus. And this is a land where the Constitution guarantees to all freedom to practice and propagate their religious faith. Recently a few states passed legislation restricting the freedom of the people to change religions, but the High Court of the state of Orissa struck down the first test case of these laws which was brought before it.
Few lands permit Christian believers to propagate their faith as openly as India today. Still, tens of thousands of villages have yet to hear the story of the cross.
In previous decades the work advanced with great difficulty in India. Results were often discouraging and conversions were few. But the Holy Spirit has changed all that in recent years. During 1973, more than 10,000 were baptized into the remnant church in India. This was more than double the previous year.
Had our church in India the financial resources of more favored lands, this could have been 100,000 and more. Hundreds of thousands in India's villages and towns are willing to accept Christ as their Saviour today. Multitudes would delight to keep the commandments of God and prepare for the coming of Jesus if only the message could be brought to them. Hinduism is losing its hold on the hearts of millions. Will they find Jesus as the answer to their soul's hunger?
Our evangelists plead that if only we had the wholehearted support of the world church, by the grace of God we would raise up new congregations of believers in every city and village.
The crisis situation the church faces in India can be duplicated in many other lands in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The rapid growth of the church today is largely in the poverty areas of earth. When such growth takes place, where great opportunities face us and our great challenges are being met, the financial resources of the church are stretched beyond measure.
The Holy Spirit is directing in this rapid growth of the church in these lands. We pray for the out pouring of the Spirit. Should we not then be willing to follow where He leads and place our means at His disposal for the work in these lands?
Years ago during a crisis in world missions, ministers and church members were urged to sacrifice one week's income in a special offering. This developed into the Week of Sacrifice Offering.
Today we face a new crisis. A crisis of success. It is harvest-time. Multitudes can be gathered into the church if we will cooperate with the heavenly agencies today.
We believe the second coming of Jesus is near. We pray for it, we long for it, but we will not look upon the face of Jesus when multiplied millions are still in darkness never having heard of the One who loved them enough to die for them.
Let us speed His coming by the way we give for the Week of Sacrifice Offering this year. Let us meet the crisis we have in India and other lands by responding, "Here am I, Lord. I'll do all I can." And may our prayers go with our gifts.