Though foreign funding to missionary organisations should technically be reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act), it is likely that such funds are under-reported. “Every organisation is receiving foreign funds,” says Rao. “Lots of foreign funds are coming in right now. Approximately 75 percent of our activity is foreign funded. If foreign funding stops, the movement can also stop.
According to MHA figures, the funding for Christian mission agencies have shown a regular increase. Also, over 80 percent of the voluntary organisations receiving foreign funds are Christian Mission agencies. (see Table-Religious Organisations registered under FCRA)
What should have by now been picked up by the government is the fact that only a fraction of the total money flowing into the country is reported. (see http://www.tehelka.com
for a detailed funding list). “They (funds) do not come here directly. There are many different offices in South India. The funds come directly to those offices and from there it is distributed. For example, funds meant for Himachal Pradesh pastors are forwarded from offices in AP, Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” Rao told Tehelka. Apart from TMOs, Christian NGOs are also part of this network. For instance, World Vision, the world’s largest Christian NGO ministry, fuses evangelical activities with development work. “World Vision is mainly focusing on social work. Through social work, they are doing an excellent job. Through social work they are able to share the Gospel,” says Rao.
Sharing the Gospel is a sunrise industry in India. It has attracted Christian professionals from all walks of life. Some are short-term missionaries and many have given up on their professional lives to engage in evangelism. These missionaries are called the ‘tentmakers’.
Joseph Vijayam, a tentmaker and CEO of Olive Technology in Hyderabad, believes that a secular Christian missionary worker is important because he helps the Gospel transcend “socio-cultural or political barriers. He also helps take the Gospel across what may be called the poverty barrier.” In an article titled ‘Kingdom Business’, he cites Mahatma Gandhi: “Recall Gandhi’s famous saying, ‘To the hungry man, bread is God’.”
If bread is God, can his call go unanswered? The former director of Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, Dr Victor Choudhrie, gave up his prestigious job along with his wife Bindu Choudhrie, also a doctor, to take up the reins of the Operation Agape ministry in Central India. Choudhrie is considered to be the pioneer of house-church movement in India. “New house-churches are coming up. Prayer groups are being formed and Bible society groups are being set up. India needs to be bathed in Holy Spirit. So the eyes and ears are open, so people can hear the gospel and their hearts can be changed,” Choudrie says.
His special focus is Uttar Pradesh. The goal of the Agape movement in UP is the same as in Punjab: one million house-churches and 100,000 church leaders by 2010. With a population of over 174 million people, UP has a miniscule population of Christians: 0.1 percent. “I look at the UP mission simply as a model for what can be done… together we can start such a powerful movement inspired by the Holy Spirit to take this nation within our generation,” says brother Mohan Phillip of AGAPE UP mission.