India has totaled 20.6 million confirmed cases and more than 226,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Countries across Asia are witnessing rise in a infections, with India accounting for more than 90 percent in the region, 46 percent of global cases and 25 percent of global deaths. It may sound absurd, but in Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park, one of the largest zoos in Asia, eight lions were tested COVID-positive.
Christian churches are responding in three ways.
Mirroring Christ’s mercy
Kindness is an investment that returns with interest. This is biblical. Jesus taught that mercy returns in mercy, and giving returns in receiving. The Indian church is mirroring this message. for the Lord delights in mercy.
Indian churches have joined the government in reaching out to the needy irrespective of distinctions. Apart from money, medicine and voluntary services, Christian schools, organizations and churches turned their facilities into emergency COVID centers, while all or most Christian hospitals have already been providing services since 2020.
While celebrities generally prefer to give to the National Calamity Fund when there is a disaster, Christians engage in relief programs throughout the year. If given to calculate what Indian Christians contributed over the centuries, it would for sure be surprisingly incalculable.
Rescuing Lives (RL) is committed to rescuing homeless orphans, widows and women at risk. RL is presently providing medicines, relief kits, shelter, clothing and more to a thousand or more people daily. Apart from rescuing young girls from trafficking, RL provides life-skills training and employment to hundreds of women.
In 2020, the Indian government led by Hindu fundamentalists canceled 20,674 licenses to Christian organizations that were receiving funds under the Foreign Currency Regulation Act. Against all such obstacles, Christians remain the major contributors to India’s relief works. No wonder one of India’s legendary journalists, the ate Kushwanth Singh, once commented that India receives 80 percent of medical and 60 percent of educational services from Christian organizations alone.
Mirroring Christ’s mission
What is Jesus doing today? Interceding.
Since the pandemic in 2020, churches have been on a constant prayer vigil that multiplied in volume and numbers in 2021. Prayer concerts, chain prayers, late nights and weekend prayer groups mushroomed all over the country. One can see hundred and thousands of people praying and weeping in Zoom meets from as early as 3 a.m. until day break. In the spiritual realm, it must be like one mighty wave of a hundred tsunamis rising up to heaven.
We cannot meet publicly, but using the technology, the church in India is joining her master in the mission he is in today — intercession.
Mirroring Christ’s message
India is home to four major world religions and a land of millions of gods, superstitions and “godmen.” Yet the answer to death, which is the cornerstone of human life, is far from answered. Humans see death as a distant event, but the pandemic brought it closer than imagined. Questions about death are looming larger now than ever.
Circumstances make us, but before they do, they reveal us. The church’s challenge is to share and spread the message of healing, happiness and hope in Christ. even while dealing with death at home. The church is not indifferent to death but addressing it while seeing it in its face.
Those dying without Christ have only a past to refer to. But those dying in Christ have a past, a present that they are with Christ now and a future that we shall see them again. This is the timeless message of the Church.
Indian philosophy does not clearly address what lies beyond death. The message of Jesus’ death, return to life and the empty tomb explains it all. While a few are angry at God, many are afraid to be angry with him. However, some are arguably asking God for answers, especially those who lost their loved ones. Amy Carmichael says, “Acceptance is peace”, and so is the church accepting God’s sovereignty and that what he does, he does out of love, for he is love.
The Bible tells that not a single hair of his children falls without his permission. If so, how then can their lives fall without his will? All our days are designed and decided, meaning death arrives not a day late nor early. When it comes, as God’s children we accept it in peace. Jesus taught us, “Love Not Life — Fear No Death. This is the essence of the message the church has to carry in India and the world over.
Rescuing Lives’ office is located in Rogers, Arkansas and operates under a 501c3 status. For more information about Rescuing Lives please contact us by emailing them at email@example.com.
–Sunny Joseph | Metro Voice correspondent in India. Joseph is an academic, writer and Chief Editor of Fountain of Life.