Christians who changed the history of India
India has never been an easy country to preach the gospel. The caste system, rituals, and ceremonies became barriers for many missionaries. In the history of the country there were key figures – Christians who managed to change the history of Christianity in India. About them will be discussed.
Christians of India can be called the oldest Christian community outside the former Roman Empire. It is believed that Christianity in India brought in 52 AD. Saint Thomas. Now the Church of St. Thomas is included in the group of five Ancient Eastern Churches along with the Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian and Armenian. Nowadays, there are about two million followers of this trend, living mainly in the Indian state of Kerala on the southwest coast of the Indian subcontinent, where the apostle Thomas preached and was executed.
Assurance of St. Thomas (picture by Caravaggio, 1601–1602)
One of the first Europeans who went to India to preach the Gospel was the Franciscan monks. Christianization of the local population often took place violently: entire villages were baptized under the threat of reprisal. The Christians of the Apostle Thomas were forced to switch to the Latin rite, which caused schisms in the community and led to open rebellion and refusal to obey Rome.
Arrived in India in May 1542. In addition to the Hindus and Muslims, who constituted the majority of the population of the province, there was already a small Christian community, and several churches were built. In the South and West of India, Francis spent about three years, reaching the extreme southern tip of India, Cape Kanyakumari, and even crossing over to Ceylon. He was able to convert many, although the behavior of the Portuguese soldiers, who were called upon to demonstrate a pattern of Christian life, often turned the locals against the new faith.
Francis Xavier, who baptized more than 40,000 people in 11 years of work in the Far East and South Asia, was canonized with Ignatius Loyola in 1622 and is considered the greatest missionary and preacher since the time of the apostles. His body is still kept in a silver tomb in the Cathedral of Bom Jesus in Old Goa.
French Dominican, arrived in India in 1320, began work in Surat and in the province of Gujarat. He revived Christianity in this territory and drew many thousands of people. After some time, the Pope appointed him as the first Roman Catholic bishop in this country, managing communities in Calcutta and Mangalore.
The first English missionaries appeared in India during the reign of the Portuguese. Soon after the founding of the British East India Company, the priests of the Anglican Church began to arrive here, but at first they had little opportunity to preach to the local population.
English Baptist Missionary. Arrived in India in 1793, is considered the founder of the modern mission. He acted in Kolkata, Serampore and other communities. In Serampura, he founded a college and also made three translations of the entire Bible (Bengali, Sanskrit and Marathi). He also translated the New Testament and parts of Scripture into even more languages.
On the life story of William Carey shot the film “Candle in the night”
Christian life in India today
In today’s India, Christians occupy the most advanced positions in a number of areas of life. Former Chief of the General Staff of the Indian Army, General Rodriguez, world champion in billiards Michael Pereira, tennis stars Amrit Raj and Lender Paez, sprinter Shine Abraham are just some of the names of Christians.
However, the life of Christians in India can not be called cloudless. According to statistics, in 1998 alone, more than 120 attacks on Christian churches and schools in India were recorded, while in the previous 50 years of Indian independence – from 1947 – only 50.
In August 2016, a report was released by the Evangelical Brotherhood of India, which reported 134 incidents of violence committed against Christians in the first six months of 2016. If we compare this semi-annual figure with the annual data for 2014 (147 cases) and 2015 (177 cases), it is clear that attacks against Christians have almost doubled. But the leaders of Christian churches in India are now more worried about another problem: the church system no longer has time to train new religious teachers, and it simply does not have enough priests for new parishes in the conditions of rapid growth of church construction in the country.
At the same time, the number of Christians continues to grow. In 2015, the Calvary Temple, the Indian Church, was named the fastest growing Christian community in the world. Conducted her first ministry on June 5, 2005. Then only 25 people gathered together. In 2015, the church had more than 130,000 members. And 60 000 was added only for the last 3 years.