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Missionary to Speak of Persecution in India

ICC Note: While Christians continue to face opposition in India , there are many believers who continue to provide supplies and Christ’s love to those suffering from persecution.

By Cary McMullen

6/7/08 India (TheLedger) – The persecution of Christians for their religious beliefs may seem to most Americans a thing of the distant past, a relic of ancient Roman circuses. Philip Joseph knows it isn’t so.

India Pentecostal Church in Lakeland , where Joseph is an associate pastor, donated an SUV to a Bible college in the Indian state of Orissa, only to learn last week that it was the victim of anti-Christian violence. A team from the college went into a village to hold a worship meeting, but several hundred people in the village opposed it, Joseph said.

‘There was a fight, and the vehicle was demolished,’ he said.

Joseph’s church belongs to India Gospel Outreach, an evangelistic organization that is seeking to plant new churches and spread Christianity throughout India . The general secretary of India Gospel Outreach, the Rev. Valson Abraham, will speak at 9 a.m. Sunday at India Pentecostal Church about the progress made and the resistance faced by his organization.

Speaking by phone from his office in Rancho Cucamonga , Calif. , Abraham said he is continuing work begun by his grandfather in 1923 in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

‘There were hundreds of churches in our fellowship, but they were found in only about 70 ethnic groups. The conviction grew that we will send church-planting teams to share the good news of Jesus Christ into all ethnic groups,’ he said.

In 1984, Abraham established India Gospel Outreach with the goal of planting a church among all 3,000 of India ‘s major ethnic groups. His organization has planted more than 10,000 churches and thousands of ‘mission stations,’ he said, and has trained about 12,000 people in Bible colleges and training centers.

‘In the last 19 years, more people have come to know Jesus than in the previous 150 years,’ Abraham said.

Joseph said Abraham is well known for his efforts.

‘He’s a very notable person. He’s very much in the evangelism business,’ he said.

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