The following is a true account of Pastor John in northern India. His name has been changed, and many of the details in this testimony will be vague for his church's protection.
Early in the morning, far from officials and religious leaders, the new Christians believed they would be safe at the river’s edge deep in the forest. In the predominantly Hindu area of northern India, known for violence against Christians, Pastor John says, such gatherings are often secretive for the safety of the people God had entrusted to him. In the past, people opposed to Christianity destroyed the church building the congregation had spent years building. Multiple times, the pastor has been beaten, jailed, and had his life threatened because of his beliefs. To protect his family, the pastor recently moved his wife and young children out of state, but he remains to care for several small and dispersed flocks that gather to listen to Talking Bibles in his area.
Recalling the day of the baptism, Pastor John says the congregation sang worship and praise songs in their mother tongue at the river’s edge before listening to portions of scripture on a Talking Bible. He gave a short message and people joined him in the water for baptism. It was the beginning of what was supposed to be a beautiful day.
One of the ladies being baptized had been warned with beatings by her husband and sons not to attend any Christian gatherings. Since baptism is seen as a compete rejection of Hinduism, and the embracing of a foreign god, it was particularly dangerous for her to be baptized. Even with the threats she went into the water. While it is common for the people under his care to face trials for their faith, Pastor John says he later learned spies had come to their gathering to report back to authorities and the families of those that were baptized. He remembers, “Unfortunately the woman that was baptized, was severely beaten later that day. So were many others, but she almost died and we were not allowed to go to her.”
Facing trials for their faith, even to the point of jail and death for followers of Christ in his area, has not discouraged Pastor John. Since a distribution of 10 Talking Bibles more than two years ago, the mostly illiterate people are much better equipped to face the trials. Christians in his area seldom meet publicly, but the pastor says, “We easily carry this Talking Bible and nobody thinks we have a powerful tool with us, but we are actually walking with the words of Jesus Christ, and that changes people.”
More than 100 people are gathering in more than 15 listening groups in his area. The groups are growing, and some have split to multiply into new groups. Pastor John says, “There are so many remote areas with no pastors and no church where they can regularly meet, but people are learning about salvation through Jesus Christ by hearing His words with Talking Bibles.” The pastor, who usually speaks with a reserved voice, adds, “They see the hope of Jesus Christ and want that hope.”