The Lord has revealed to Simon Haqq and his team an unprecedentedly effective model for planting churches in unreached villages. This model was revealed to them after The Elijah Challenge event in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh in May 2007. The model involves holding an event where the gospel is preached, the sick are healed, and the people are fed a good meal. In this way servants of God trained by The Elijah Challenge at the Meerut Seminar have already planted two churches. Their first effort was in July 22, 2007 in the totally Hindu village of Sijarsi where 476 people were fed, many were healed of their infirmities, and 280 decided to believe on Jesus Christ after hearing the gospel and witnessing the confirming miracles. A church was immediately planted and led by a pastor trained under The Elijah Challenge. Miracles took place there nearly every day. This village event was highly successful and fruitful by any standard.
The next village where they were to plant another church was called Hyburpur. Here is their report:
“Before we started the Feeding Event at Hyburpur, our ministry team went to invite people just one day before the event. But our team leader received a threat from local religious fundamentalists which said ‘we don’t allow Christians to do this program’ because they heard about what happened at the village of Sijarsi—how people gave their lives to Jesus and were healed and started to follow Christ. That news went around the villages near Sijarsi. We have 15 villages in mind; our plan and prayer are that all the villagers shall know Christ in every village. We had planned to start a fellowship in Hyburpur, but this time we had to go to the next village called Chotpur because of the opposition. On 18th of September at Chotpur village we had successful Feeding Event—261 people gave their life to Jesus Christ.”
This model involves two things: demonstrations of miraculous healing power and personal relationships. The miracles performed in Jesus’ name demonstrate to the villagers that our God is the only true God. Then at the meal after the meeting, there are opportunities for interaction and personal relationships to be formed between the gospel team and the villagers. The term “Christianity” is not mentioned to them because it would immediately arouse suspicions that they are being christianized which would likely lead to their rejecting the team and their message. Instead, Jesus Christ and Him crucified are preached with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
Jesus never commanded us to christianize people, but rather to disciple the nations. Unfortunately the church has confused the two and made it difficult to fulfill the Great Commission. There are unreached people groups in India who are willing to be disciples of Jesus Christ, but not to be christianized. The first involves following, obeying, and serving the Son of God Jesus Christ. The second connotes embracing a western religion fostered upon their nation by foreign conquerors of a bygone era as well as in part the western culture associated with that religion.
There is a great need to plant churches in the villages of India. Between sixty to seventy percent of India’s one billion souls live in villages. In India’s big cities there can be found churches of many different stripes. But relatively few are willing to go to the villages to proclaim the kingdom of God.
With the potential help of American sponsors who finance the gospel events, Simon and his team are now hoping to hold two such events each month to plant two churches monthly. (After achieving that their next goal will be to plant 100 churches annually in unreached villages.) In order to do this we will need funds to hold Training Events to train the Indian servants of God to heal the sick at the Feeding Events. The pastors who will be placed in these new churches also need to be trained under The Elijah Challenge so that they can continue to heal the sick and draw new souls into the Kingdom of God.
The Lord has shown us a model that is surprisingly successful for planting churches in the villages of India. We hope ultimately to be able to train thousands of teams with the Elijah Challenge and then to send them into unreached villages to hold Feeding Events resulting in the planting of new churches, each with a trained pastor. So far two village churches—in Sijarsi and in Chotpur—have been planted in this way.
On the second night of an Elijah Challenge Crusade in the town of Budaun, Uttar Pradesh the Lord performed many miracles through His Indian servants. These healings demonstrated that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father according to John 14:6. Approximately 200 people, all of them Hindus and Musl__ms, came forward to accept Jesus as their only Savior after hearing the gospel and witnessing the confirming miraculous healings. A new fellowship was formed out of these new believers from Hindu and Musl__m backgrounds. It is good when new groups come into being not by believers transferring from existing churches, but simply by believers obeying the command of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the sick and preach the gospel to the lost.