Reach Beyond reports that the producers of some special Easter programming which aired across India were dumbfounded when they received a telephone call from a Buddhist in India in a remote corner of the country.
It was the first of nearly 3,500 calls that would arrive in the studios of Reach Beyond partner Genesis Media Training Association (GMTA) in Delhi as a result of the Hindi programs that aired nationwide April 18-20.
“We [work in] two villages of orthodox Buddhist believers,” the caller said, explaining that the area is so isolated that it becomes cut off from the outside world for up to six months at a time due to snowstorms and avalanches. Less that 1% of India’s population is Buddhist, the vast majority of the population (74%) being Hindu. Just 2.2% of residents are evangelical Christians.
“We have never seen a man suffer and die for sins as you showed in your program,” the caller related. “We want to know more about this Jesus…. Please send us books to read. We want to follow Jesus if what you say is true.”
Three 15-minute “Beyond Words” radio programs, called Aao Easter Manayein (Let’s Celebrate Easter), were carried on All India Radio’s FM stations while two 30-minute television programs broadcast on a Hindu devotional channel–a first for the Indian partner. The radio programs also aired to India via shortwave from Australia.
“I heard your program Beyond Words for the first time,” said a respondent. “I listened to the whole program. I am a Muslim. The Quran says Jesus is coming back, too. What do you think is the time of His return? Please send me a New Testament. I want to read it. Thanks!”
The telephone did not stop ringing from Friday to Monday as partners Dolly and Christopher Kirubakaran and Dr. Jacob attended to live calls, prayed for the sick, and counseled people–many who were Buddhists in India.
“I have a lung disease,” wrote a viewer. “I saw your program. I watch this channel every day. This is the first Christian program I have seen so well done by Indians! Please pray for me.”
Many of the calls came from distant towns and villages where there are no believers and little or no Christian background. Some respondents said they had never heard the name of Christ, and they understood the salvation message for the first time.
Even members of the TV crew who helped with the recording and editing of the Easter programs expressed an interest in the gospel despite belonging to Hindu families in Delhi.
President of Reach Beyond Wayne Pederson says, “It’s an amazing opportunity to be on a network that the government has provided to share the news: the story of Jesus and the resurrection.”
Pederson says there were other reports. “One young man requested a Bible. Another young person said that she had made a decision to follow Jesus and wanted to know more about Christianity.” She added “that it was costing her significant problems with her family because she was the only believer in her family.”
Pray for these new believers. Pray that Dolly and Christopher Kirubakaran can continue meeting needs through radio programming beamed in to India through short-wave.