India (MNN) ― Historically, the West are the senders in missions. But over the last few decades, non-western nations have been stepping up to the plate.
Churches across Africa have sacrificed to send missionaries to other nations. Brazil is becoming a leading missions hub. And now, India is making it's way to the forefront.
Audio Scripture Ministries, an organization dedicated to sending God's Word across the world in audio form, has had ministry in India for years, but without much financial support from the nation. ASM's J.P. Sundararajan says it's time for that to change.
"I would love to see the Christians of India take ownership of the ministries of India--mostly because they have the means," says Sundararajan. "India is a growing economy. India is a land that's burgeoning with young people, and there is a new search for what is truth, for who God is, and what God means. I think it's time for Indians to take ownership of some of these ministries."
Technology is helping them establish that segue.
In the past, technology has been somewhat of a stumbling block for ministry in India. ASM sends out digital audio players across the world, but "for many years, we've had to deal with the stigma of not being placed on the same plane as organizations that send people as missionaries," explains Sundararajan. "Because we were a technological agency, we were kind of put on a second tier, of sorts."
But times are changing, and so is India. In the past several years, technology has become more and more relevant, opening a window of opportunity for ASM to crawl through.
"What has happened with the advent of the younger generation is that technology--especially today in countries like India--is coming to the forefront of most conversations. And young people are the ones spearheading this," says Sundararajan. "They know what technology can do. They're very savvy. Now they're finding out that, ‘Hey, you know what? We can use technology to minister, as well.'
"[It's] kind of a radical thought for them because nobody's really shared with them that possibility. Now, as they're hearing more and more about our work in India, they're becoming more involved."
Their involvement is actually going as far as to fill the gap of self-dependency that ASM has been hoping the Indian church would attain. While they aren't there yet, local giving in India to ASM's Indian ministry has shot up. For about 30 years, local support was only about 2-3%. This year, ASM has already seen 20% of their total budget for their work in India come from India. Next year, they're hoping to see it rise to 25%.
Sundararajan is excited about the possibilities as India begins to take ownership of their ministries through funding the spread of the Gospel. With such an enormous potential for growth, ASM even hopes to start sending Indian ASM missionaries to their other major mission field in Mozambique, and vice versa.
The possibilities for growth are endless, as Sundararajan says they should be. "Ministry needs to be a global event. It shouldn't just be a one-way street," notes Sundararajan. "We've always had, historically, the West sending missionaries, sending funds. And there's connotations that come with it, and there's the aftertaste of colonialism. There's a lot of stigma that we've had to deal with. I think having a ministry that is very much a local and self-sustaining ministry is a great model for Indians to get involved in."
At the same time, Sundararajan recognizes, "We at ASM in America still have a role to play in our ministries in India. But watching our local ministries flourish with local support is one of the best things you can--as a partner organization--watch."
As ASM's ministry in India begins to take a self-sustaining form, pray for ASM to be discerning in their next moves. Also pray that believers in India would continue to embrace their call to fulfill the Great Commission.