The power of your own story…

The power of your own story…

Helping people in India come to faith means sharing what God has done at every opportunity.

BMS worker Ben sits on a boat.
BMS worker Ben is helping people share the gospel in India, with your support.

Travel to India and it’s unlikely you’ll meet a Christian on the street. At least, that’s what the statistics tell you. In the world’s second most populous country, just over two per cent of the population openly identifies as Christian. But that’s still around 28 million people, a good foundation for those working hard to share the gospel in a nation that’s 80 per cent Hindu.

The challenge of telling people about Jesus remains daunting, however. It requires boldness, stamina and, critically, an approach that gets results. Thankfully, the church planters you support in India have it all. They’re led by BMS World Mission worker Ben Francis, a man who is never found silent when given the chance to express his passion for Jesus. Ben is at the forefront of an exciting disciple-making movement in his country, and has an inspiring hunger to see people come to faith.

A man raises his hand in worship in front of a lectern.
Thousands of people across India are committed to sharing how Christ has transformed their lives.

Around 45,000 people became Christians last year through the work Ben leads in India. It’s a number that’s easier to understand when you learn that over 8,000 people, who his church planters led to faith, attended training sessions on how to spread the gospel. And at the heart of the training is a simple lesson – never miss a chance to share how the love of Christ has transformed your life.

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“People need to share their story whenever they can,” says Ben. “They need to be in the habit of talking about what the Lord has done at every opportunity. To friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, acquaintances, or even people they’re buying things from.

“The conventional method was to go out and bring people back to church. Now, we go out, start a group and tell people to go and start one somewhere else. Multiplication can take place much faster this way.”

Sharing stories is at the core of this multiplication. As is getting to the point quickly. Ben encourages church planters to share their stories of transformation in just three minutes. “Not everybody you talk to will respond,” says Ben. “But some will, and then you tell them more about God.”

Top tips for evangelism graphic
Men and women sit together with bibles.
Ben says that the growth of people coming to faith seen in India can happen anywhere in the world.

One place where there has been an extraordinary response to the gospel is the state of Odisha (formerly Orissa). You may know about it because you supported our recent appeal focusing on church planting there. Or perhaps you followed the brutal persecution that happened in Odisha a few years ago.

Christians are still persecuted by extremists today in Odisha. They’re beaten. Intimidated. Humiliated. Murdered. Yet, in spite of extreme opposition, Christians continue to preach the Word of God – gently, respectfully and boldly. You’ve been supporting more than 40 church planters in the state, and in recent years, they’ve taken the gospel to over 1,600 villages.

And while the work you support in India is amazing, you’re going further, too. By supporting BMS, you’ve been helping Christians in other countries expand their church planting. Ben has been equipping churches in Europe and Asia to better communicate the love of Christ, just as he does in India. Soon you may even get a chance to learn from him in person about how you can start a disciple-making movement where you are.

“If the growth of people coming to faith can happen in India, then it can happen anywhere,” says Ben. “The principles of the Word of God do not change because you’re in India, or China, or anywhere. The Spirit of God energises.”

That energy is sweeping through towns and villages in India. Through homes. And through lives, as disciples make disciples. You’re already making it possible. And we’re excited for what comes next.

Watch Ben’s simple explanation of how to share your story of transformation

This story was originally published in BMS’ magazine, Engage. Subscribe to Engage today to get more stories like this delivered straight to your door for free!

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Original article featured in Issue 44 of Engage, the BMS World Mission Magazine. Edited for the website by Laura Durrant.

Sleeping on the pavements, studying on the streets

Sleeping on the pavements, studying on the streets:

helping children in India to thrive

Begging, selling alcohol and stealing – this is how street children in India survive and provide for their families. But thanks to BMS World Mission, a school on the street in Kolkata is providing these children with an education, teaching them life skills to help them succeed.

Tens of thousands of children live day and night on the streets of Kolkata. With no access to education or healthcare, begging or selling alcohol and drugs are often the only ways they can survive. Countless families live in absolute poverty, and it can often feel like there is no way out.

A girl walking on the side of a busy road next to the bridge where the street school takes place.
This is where the street school takes place, underneath a bridge.

But lasting change sometimes starts with something small. Underneath a bridge in the bustling city of Kolkata, next to a traffic-filled road, 50 children who call the streets their home are getting to go to school. Because BMS worker Ben Francis and his team have brought school to them. Calling themselves Street Servants, our team teaches the children reading, writing and arithmetic – important lessons from the government kindergarten syllabus. And once they’re ready, the team help get the children into a government school to earn essential certificates. They’re also learning about Jesus. Every day, the children sing songs about God. They learn to read through parables and Bible stories, and they pray.

These children, who have only ever known life on the streets, are gaining new opportunities to learn, and new skills that will set them up for life. And it’s all because of your support for BMS.

Nawab was begging outside a horse racing track when the BMS-supported Street Servants met him. After meeting with his parents, the team invited Nawab to come to the street school, along with his two sisters. He excelled. Thanks to the school, Nawab’s life has changed dramatically. Along with seven other children who were taught by BMS-supported teachers in Kolkata, he’s now in a government school. Sat in a busy classroom of children in school uniform, after a life without much structure, the adjustment has not been easy. But now, Nawab has the opportunity of a full education. A way off the streets.

All 50 children at the street school are learning the skills they need to get into government schools. As well as learning the right curriculum, they’re also being taught wider life skills. “We’re giving them the habit of discipline,” says BMS worker Ben Francis, who helps oversee the project in Kolkata. Street school is preparing these children to sit in a classroom, to listen, and to learn to change their own futures.

Nawab, a serious boy looking straight into the camera. Wearing a cream buttoned shirt.
This serious boy is Nawab. Thanks to your support, he's now in a government school along with seven other children from the street school.

And we aren’t just stopping with 50 children. We want more children like Nawab to receive a quality education, and our team is working hard to set up a second school. “We want to see more children get into government schools,” says Ben. “We want more communities changed, and more families leaving the streets.”

BMS worker Ben Francis smiling into the camera. A man dressed in a long white shaul.
BMS worker Ben Francis, who helps oversee the Street Servants project in Kolkata.

And it really is all about families. The Street Servants team go and meet parents, offering counselling and advice. For many, having their child in school means a loss of income, as they often beg to help support the families. “It’s about changing the mindset of the parents,” says Ben. “We tell them, ‘today you want 40 pence from your child. But if you let them study, some day they will bring back four thousand pounds.’” By getting the parents on board, the children can go to school and become more equipped to support their families in the future.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone in the UK,” says Ben. “You’re enabling underprivileged children to touch love, and helping us show Jesus’ love in the most tangible way that people will understand.”

It’s not just about supporting one child. It’s about changing generations.

Please pray for the street school, for Nawab, and his seven classmates as they continue to thrive in the government school, getting an education that any of us would want for our own children. And you can do something to help them – and people like them – right now. By clicking our donate button and giving, you will give help and hope to people who the rest of the world wants to forget. Do something small today to let them know they’re not forgotten. Click the big red button and give right now. You really can make a difference. As Ben Francis says, “it’s not just about supporting one child. It’s about changing generations.”

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Want to share this story in your church or small group?

Download a PowerPoint with photos below.

Street Servants PowerPoint