Kashmir, the northwestern region of India, has been dubbed the world's highest battleground on the planet. India and Pakistan have fought there since 1984, and both countries maintain a permanent military presence above 6000 meters (20,000 feet) in the eastern Karakoram range of the Himalaya Mountains.
Other mountainous areas of India are only slightly less foreboding to the spreading of the Gospel.
The original “Mission Vision” of Climbing For Christ, written in June 2004, identified this Indian state as a potential target. We wrote: “Himachal Pradesh, a mountainous Himalayan state bordering Kashmir and Tibet is India’s least-evangelized state. It is the 'Land of the Gods' and a center for Hindu pilgrimages. Every mountain is named after a god and there is much devotion to idols. The first commandment states: 'You shall have no other gods before me.' (Exodus 20:3).”
“To be Hindu is to be Indian and to be Indian is to be Hindu,” said one Climbing For Christ friend who has taught and ministered in India for several years. “Such is the day-to-day philosophy of India. They don't see any religion as a threat to their religion, rather to their way of life.
“For example, the Hindu pantheon of gods can claim as many as 10,000 gods and goddesses. Adding another one here and there isn't a big deal. They don't really object to adding Jesus as another god. They object to, and cannot fathom, ONE GOD alone. They also get confused at our claim of Trinity as ONE.
“What the Hindus really fear is the change of the CULTURE from Hindu to other. Their culture surrounds Hinduism and it is within Hinduism that their culture thrives. Indians are really religious people, filled with gods-in-their-lives aplenty.
“Rituals, symbols, prayers, special days of foreboding good or ill fortune, caste ties, ancestors, animals, hills and rivers, all add up to a sense of mankind as apart of a greater thing like fate, destiny or karma. Their gods are interwoven among all these things and are always to be served in various ways.”
: Another state identified as hard to reach is Arunachal Pradesh, located in the far northeastern part of India along the China border. The Naga people, who are found there, practice animistic faith and are among the most unreached people in India. Arunachal Pradesh means “land of the dawn-lit mountains,” as it is covered by the Himalayas. Climbing For Christ advisory team member Tim Scott (of Travel the Road ministry) once stated that this area was ideal for our ministry.
In all, there are 28 states in India and many are untouched by Christian workers. “No other part of the world has such a concentration of unevangelized people,” according to Operation World.
“India has more (and larger) people groups with no Christians, churches or workers than any other people of the world.”
Hinduism is practiced by about 80 percent of the population of 1.15 billion people. More than 13 percent are Muslim, and only 2.3 percent profess to be Christian. That means 25 million of the world's second-largest population claim to be Christ followers.
Missionaries have worked in India since the Apostle Thomas first went there. William Carey was used by the Lord to make tremendous in-roads more than 200 years ago. More recently, there have been periodic revivals in various states, such as Nagaland, which neighbors Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast and is said to be nearly 80 percent Christian.
Persecution remains a solid obstacle. Open Doors, the worldwide watchdog, lists India among the 50 most persecuted countries on the planet.
“Physical harassment and attacks on prayer meetings still largely remain prevalent, especially in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh,” Open Doors reported.
Southern Asia. Leader:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (since May 22, 2004). Population:
1.15 billion living in an area that is slightly more than one-third the size of the United States. Primary Religion:
Where in the world?
India is bordered by Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
(The World Factbook)