Dr. Ambrose Selvaraj is the founder and director of the Indian Christian Research Organization (ICRO) of which Equpping Members on Service is the church-planting arm. He has a tremendous personal testimony of being healed from a serious childhood disease and redirected away from the communist party as an adult.
After the death of his father, a committed believer, Selvaraj committed his life to the Lord and the expansion of His Kingdom among India’s unreached people. Dr. Selvaraj is married and has one daughter.
Equpping Members on Service (EMOS) is an indigenous church-planting movement that works to bring the Gospel to the unreached peoples of India through the training and sending of grassroots church planters. EMOS has been heralded as the most effective church-planting ministry in the Hindi-speaking belt of North India.
“My name is Kamulu. I am from the Jain people group. We worshipped unknown spirits, ancestors, and nature. All our village people were very poor and illiterate. Each family has a little paddy land, but they never had a good harvest because they were told the spirits were angry with them. As a new believer, I attended a Scriptures in Use seminar. With a new vision, I returned to my village and called everyone together. Using the storytelling method, I told them about the life-changing power of Jesus. All my village people began to believe in Jesus and began to work together in the paddy fields without fear of unknown spirits. They believed that Jesus would give a good harvest and heal their sickness.
Praise God, now I can see real transformation in my village.”
No other part of the world has as high a concentration of unevangelized people as India. Only 25 million of India’s one billion people, about 2.4 percent of the population, claim to be Christian and most of these are from the poorest of the poor—the Dalits or “untouchables.” These Dalit Christians have little opportunity to improve their lives because the government denies them their constitutionally-protected rights to education and employment benefits.
Though outlawed, the Hindu caste system remains prevalent, even within the Church. Laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the class structure have not changed the reality that the caste system remains an important source of social identification for most Hindus and a potent factor in the political life of the country. Although 83 percent of the people are Hindu, India has one of the world’s largest Muslim populations with more than 150 million adherents. There are also large populations of animistic tribal people.
Persecution against Christians is on the increase as never before, especially over the last three years. Hindu militant groups are growing in strength and influencing society with their call for a return to Hinduism. The global economic recession and terrorist attacks in Mumbai have further challenged the Church and general populace in India. Despite these struggles, or perhaps because of them, indigenous church planters, are seeing many give their lives to Christ.
Church Planting Teams, EMOS
There are 4,635 distinct people groups in India. More than 85% of these people groups remain unreached by the Gospel. EMOS’ vision is to share the Gospel and establish churches among these unreached groups. Their strategies include relationship evangelism and cottage prayer meetings, as well as programs that meet community needs in regard to youth, women, child development, and health. Their goal is to bring Kingdom values to rural communities.
Under EMOS’ church-planting project, teams of two to five church planters aretrained and sent to unreached villages. These teams, led by experienced leaders, work to evangelize the entire village or tribe they are working among. Because they face tremendous opposition in some areas, the church planters must be creative in their efforts to open the way for the Good News. Festivals, cottage prayer meetings, medical camps, relationship evangelism, and other outreaches meet the needs of Indian people and open the way for church planters to share about Christ. Usually within a year each team is able to establish several small village fellowships. Once a fellowship has a stable number of solid believers, EMOS hands it over to another Christian organization for further development, so that the EMOS church planters can move on to a new, unreached area.
Their approach has been remarkably effective. EMOS has been instrumental in planting more than 1,370 churches since 1998. They have also trained 180 grassroots church planters, 250 church-planting leaders, and 1,900 volunteer evangelists. Currently, EMOS has 35 church-planting teams currently in ministry. Five teams ($625 each per month) are in urgent need of support. Your gift will ensure these teams of brave church planters are supported and sent to the field.
Women's Outreach Teams, EMOS
Though Indian women have achieved a certain level of independence in urban areas, rural women are still under the rule of a male-dominated society and bear much of the burden of domestic life. To meet their unique spiritual and social needs, EMOS launched its first women’s outreach team in Kerala State in 2004.
For cultural reasons, the women’s teams work independently of the men’s church-planting teams and reach out specifically to women. The teams are made up of primarily single women who engage in a wide array of activities including Bible studies, youth ministry, counseling, prayer, house visitation, self-help groups, and literature distribution. They have a special focus on the storytelling method of evangelism which is a highly effective way to evangelize and disciple non-literate women. Currently, five teams are actively ministering in urban areas. Partners would like to provide partial support for two teams ($860 each per month) this year. Support for the women’s teams is higher due to the fact that they serve in urban areas and require additional security precautions.
Training Workers/EMOS, India
Since 1943, Partners International has invested in the lives and ministries of indigenous Christian leaders all over the world. We’ve found that as important as financial resources are, they are only as effective as a ministry’s capacity to use them. Our vision is to help our partners develop their ministry and organizational capacities so that their ministries are both transformational and sustainable. As our partners are equipped, their ministry impact increases exponentially.
Sponsored by Partners International, staff of EMOS will take part in a series of capacity-building training events in 2012-2013. These will include training on the topics of Scripture storytelling (evangelism and discipleship of non-literates), community health evangelism (basic health training coupled with the Gospel), and children’s ministry. In all, three training events will be held engaging approximately 30-40 people each. These training events are requested by EMOS leadership to develop their staff in areas of critical need.