“I think that the greatest joy of my life is seeing a Muslim family coming to know the Lord,” Bir* shares. “My life is for them, and I want to spend the rest of my life sharing the gospel with Muslims.”
Bir works to share the gospel and raise Christian leaders among the Muslim community in northern India. He serves with a variety of ministries and partners with OM to provide training and resources to Jesus followers across the country.
Growing up in a Christian home in eastern India, Bir personally met the Lord for the first time when he was 17-years-old. The Holy Spirit changed his heart, making him see his need for Christ. He said: “I thank God for good parents... but I realised that [being good] is not enough...only by the blood of Jesus and the power of Holy Spirit can I surrender.” After accepting Christ as his Saviour, Bir’s life changed. He dedicated his life to sharing the gospel with Muslims in India.
The task ahead
Bir and a team of eighteen full-time team members live and work in a predominately Muslim area – where there are more than 60 million Muslims. He describes the task of sharing the gospel in India as a mountain sitting before them. Yet, as Christ used the small fish to feed thousands in abundance, He can do the same with a small team among millions.
In 2017, the team in India created a plan to answer the question posed by Bir: “What can we do to make sure that this work expands in a sustainable way where we don't have to keep spending money?” Eighteen workers cannot share the gospel with 60 million people, but they can train men and women to become leaders and plant seeds in their own communities. Over time, Bir prays for the multiplication of Christ-following communities.
The team’s goal in India is to disciple Christians and teach them how to find their hope in Christ so that they can stand strong through persecution and other challenges. God has brought many people to faith in Christ and baptism into His family, but new followers of Christ need guidance and direction to know what comes next. Bir assures that “every person that comes out of the water needs to go through discipleship.” In order to disciple all those who come to faith, India needs Christian leaders.
By the end of the year, Bir’s team aims to raise 100 Christian leaders from Muslim backgrounds. He says: “I believe that training is the backbone of our ministry.” The team has already recruited 60 men and women who have portrayed servant-leader attitudes and a passion for the gospel from all around northern India. Bir has accompanied his team to visit the new leaders and explains: “the next two years is to see that these leaders are trained. If there are 100 leaders, I want to meet every leader. I have met, of course, the 60 leaders. I stayed in their homes, and I ate with them and tried to find out who they are, what they do, and how best we can train them.”
After the two-year training programme, the leaders will aim to start home churches in their own regions and establish a Christ-following community. During the training, they learn about the character of God, how to study the Bible, church planting and leadership.
Though Bir grew up in a Christian home, he stresses the importance of raising leaders from a Muslim background to minister in their own communities. He describes: “There are people already in the community that God is at work in their lives. Finding the right person of peace or house of peace is the key and that is where you know the ministry really expands and multiplies.”
Persecution and hope
Sharing the gospel with Muslim communities poses unique difficulties. The Islamic faith centres around family and loyalty, making the decision to follow Christ life-changing in every way imaginable. Bir shares: “Last week, one of our believers was highly persecuted, and 100 people seized his home and wanted to force him to [return to Islam]. They asked him to hand over all the properties to his brothers and divorce his wife. There was immense pressure and then he had no place to go. Last Saturday, he came to my house.” Choosing to follow Christ as a Muslim means leaving family and friends and risking burnt homes, violence, and the need to flee home.
Amidst the risk and hardship, Bir shares immense hope and joy. “I think that the greatest joy of my life is seeing a Muslim family coming to know the Lord,” he shares. “My life is for them and I want to spend the rest of my life sharing the gospel with my neighbours.” Bir lives to share the hope of Christ to families around him and train them to tell those in their own communities how they are loved and accepted by Jesus. Eventually, with God’s hand and time, Bir prays that Christ-following communities will immerge. God provides hope even amidst danger and before the greatest odds.
God remains steadfast even when Christians stand at the foot of a looming mountain, unsure of where to begin. Pray for Bir and the team in India, that they will have endurance and not lose sight of hope. Pray that God will raise 100 leaders by the end of the year and capture the hearts of millions of Indian Muslims through their work.