This month in New Delhi, Truth/ Sathyam Ministries will host its 15th World Christian Expo. Host Chacko Varghese Vadavana says, “The purpose of Christian Expo is to bring the Christian community together, and to serve as a common platform for all Christian ministries and organizations in India and abroad—to unite, share and interact.”
Publishers, retailers, musicians, and mission organizations attend this oneof- a-kind event, which is held every two years. At World Christian Expo Nov. 8-13, they have an opportunity to meet while promoting, encouraging, and upholding one another and their work in the mission field and other Christian spheres in India and beyond. Some conference highlights include:
• A visual display of the history of the process of translating the Bible from clay to computer
• Several influential books and media products to be released and launched
• Seminars and workshops by mission leaders
• Engaging youth and music festival with some prominent musicians from across the globe
SURVEYING THE CHRISTIAN LANDSCAPE
Vadavana, founder and chairman of Truth/Sathyam Ministries, says India’s 1 billion people live in 29 states and seven territories and speak 18 main languages and 1,690 dialects. More than 4,600 people groups call India home, including 3,000 castes, and 25,000 subcastes. Unfortunately, 36 percent of the population is illiterate, and more than 600 million live in extreme poverty, of which 300 million live below the poverty line. The average per capita income is $1,500 per year.
The government census reports that 3.5 percent are Christians, although many Christian leaders believe this number is much greater. Even so, with nearly 500,000 unevangelized villages, India is undoubtedly one of the greatest evangelistic challenges facing the worldwide Christian community today. If present trends continue, it will soon be the world’s most populous nation. Many of the states in India have larger populations than countries in Europe and other parts of the world. Not only are their populations huge, but each state is usually as distinctive as if it were another world. Most have completely different culture, dress, diet, and language. This diversity is what makes India such a tremendous challenge to missionary work.
SPREADING THE GOOD NEWS
“I am interested in learning more and being an effective leader in the contribution toward the ministry so that I can be a blessing to my people in India,” says Vadavana, who was born into a Roman Catholic family and served as an ordained priest for several years. “I made my decision for Christ and His Gospel and then I decided to leave the monastery. When I left the priesthood in 1985, my superior priest gave me 153 Indian rupees [today that would be less than $2.50 USD] as a gift. That was the initial investment of Sathyam Publications,” he says. With that money, he printed and distributed his first tract. “I was convinced of the power of the printed page and the Lord gave me the motto of my mission: ‘Winning Souls through Christian Literature.’”
After writing more than 32 books in his first five years of ministry, he founded Sathyam Ministries International Inc. in 1988. For the past 28 years, Truth/ Sathyam Ministries has been involved in spreading the good news about Jesus through numerous charitable activities, from running orphanages and various mission schools, to vocational training centers for women, and relief work throughout India serving the poor and disadvantaged. According to Vadavana, “We strive to restore dignity and self-worth to the downtrodden of society, irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, race, or gender.”
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Even though the caste system has been abolished legally in India, Vadavana says, “It is still very prevalent in the minds of the people and the lower-caste population, ‘the untouchables,’ have been brutally treated and looked down upon. I have seen that many of these people groups are still unreached, and I am very passionate about reaching them and showing them the love of Jesus.”
Some of Truth/Sathyam’s future goals include planting 50 new churches in each state in India; establishing one seminary in each state; conducting five leader conferences every year; establishing medical clinics and schools in different parts of India; and printing the Bible in different Indian languages.
Publishing and distribution in India
Vadavana says there are about 282 publishers, retailers, and bookstalls in India. More recently the industry has faced some competition since the arrival of online resources. Products are both produced locally in India, as well as imported from other countries. The most popular trends in Christian products have been books, Bibles, and gift items.
“The church in India has been rapidly growing even though the churches in India face hardships and persecution. Many doors have been closing to preach the Gospel freely. In spite of the challenges there are many opportunities for spreading the Gospel. Some of them are church planting, distribution of literature through tracts and flyers, and showing Christian films like the Jesus film,” he says.
Looking to the future, Vadavana believes “we are witnessing a new day in missions. Years ago no one dreamed that the Indian churches or the native missionaries would be ready to lead the final thrust, but dedicated native evangelists are beginning to go out and reach their own people and nation for the Lord. Even more exciting, we have a role. God is calling all of us to be part of what He is doing.”
For more information on Dr. Vadavana and Truth/Sathyam Ministries, visit www.sathyam.org.