Despite the growing persecution of Christians and a strict lockdown in India, the Church is growing there, too.

“But even [amid] that persecution, God grows and strengthens his Church,” says David Reeves, President and CEO of unfoldingWord.

"They estimate about 100,000 conversions during lockdown"

Reeves spoke with Mission Network News after Open Doors again listed India as the 10th worst country for persecution of Christians.

“During 2020 – the COVID year – they’ve planted more churches than all the 25 years of their ministry work there,” Reeves says.

Reeves' ministry helps church planters translate the Bible into local languages. “They’re tired of waiting [for a translation]; they’re trying to do it themselves, and we provide tools [and] resources to help them,” he says.

One ministry partner tells Reeves that "Because they could not meet with others during lockdown, they decided [to] simply start specifically praying for unsaved people they know. Then, they decided to follow up those prayers by phone and WhatsApp. They estimate about 100,000 conversions during lockdown as a result of this approach. Similarly, with church-planting, they encouraged every church to [pray for] 10 specific villages or neighbourhoods [with] no church. Then, as restrictions loosened slightly, they were able to get into these regions. They estimate that churches adopted about 50,000 villages during lockdown, and 25 per cent now have an 'opening' for the Gospel — some believers, a small house church, etc."

Reeves says several of his friends in India were killed for their Kingdom-building efforts. Others were “thrown in prison [or] persecuted in various ways,” he adds.

“This context looks a lot like the first century Church. These folks keep pressing ahead, just like the early Church [kept] pressing on amid persecution,” Reeves says.

“Pray for them – [for] courage to keep pressing ahead; that God will protect them [and] they’ll have the tools and resources they need.”