Although India, the world’s largest democracy is seen today as a fast developing economy, the existing systems and structures provide for only a small portion of the population to benefit. There is much talk about India facing the future with its changing realities. However, there lies ahead the staggering task of dealing with traditions, culture and structures that are established. The nation is currently going through a wave of political, social and economic changes. Interestingly, with the dynamics of caste and religion playing a dominant role, all of these are closely interrelated in a way that is quite unique only to this country.
Presently, it is evident that adequate measures are not taken to address the unemployment of a majority of Indians. They are young and they are the nation’s future but they lack the opportunities. These young men and women must be empowered to participate both in the benefits of the country’s economic growth as well as contribute to it. To realize this vision, education and intensive training in skills that prepare and equip them for employment and the labor market must become accessible to them. Currently this is not happening and the end result despite the progress, is a widening divide between the rich and the poor.
Now, why should this be of any concern to us? For two reasons. First, the indigenous church is growing in the midst of this reality that cannot simply be brushed aside. Secondly, the movement toward Christ is among the poor, underprivileged, marginalized and oppressed communities. Unless issues relating to social and economic development are addressed even at this early stage of church growth, it will be difficult to break the cycle of dependency and lay the foundations for sustainability. The church should have a robust and credible witness in the community and serve as a catalyst for change as salt and light.
IGL does not see such a holistic vision as an optional add on to the Gospel or as a means to presenting Christ to the unreached. Development is a natural as well as a biblically mandated consequence as we lead with the Gospel. As the Apostle Paul proclaimed: “Our Gospel came to you not only in word but also in power . . . (I Thes 1:5).” This power of the gospel is seen at work each day through our ministry – the power that is not restricted to the spiritual change of an individual alone but the power that transforms entire communities.
IGL is deeply committed to this vision and strives to make such socially and economically uplifting opportunities available to the deprived rural masses. In our Life Centers, large numbers of young people are trained in various skills. Such training opens doors for their employment and economic development. Young men and women graduate each year with a government certified diploma from the Sharon Community college in Salem, equipped with various skills and the ability to cope with the challenges of transforming their own communities. Our Micro finance programs continue to lift thousands out of poverty. Your support at this significant time will help us step up, reach wider and do much more. The only thing that holds us back is the need of adequate resources.
2014 was a good year in many respects for IGL. Day after day we experienced God’s miraculous provision through His children helping the ministry move forward significantly with its outreach. This new year 2015 looks bright, holding great opportunities for the ministry despite the increasing pressure on minorities in India by Hindu fundamentalists. This calls for much prayer, thoughtful planning, careful and strategic implementation of our programs, exercising sensitivity on our part to the changing contexts. A strong yet silent Christian witness is the need of the hour. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and support.
May the Lord bless you with His very best through each remaining day of this year and always.Sam