Although Hinduism is the primary religion practiced in India (approx. 80%) and Islam second at around 15%, God is doing a mighty work to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through the 29 million (2.3%) Christians in India. Nowhere is this move seen more clearly than in India’s two most southern states of Kerala (#1 in Christian population with 6 million) and Tamil Nadu (#2 with 4 million).
We don’t hear much in the media about Christian persecution in India, so it may be surprising to know that the Open Doors Watch List of 50 countries ranks India at #10, just behind Iraq, for the extremity of violence against Christians reported. And the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Annual Report for 2020 identifies India as a “Country of Particular Concern (Tier 1 status)”, alongside other countries well known for religious persecution such as China, Iran, and North Korea. In short, India is becoming an increasingly unfriendly place to follow Jesus, but the gospel is continuing to spread nonetheless!
In February 2020, six members of the Legacy Missions Team were privileged to witness firsthand how actively God is moving in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu! We spent 10 days in the city of Cuddalore getting to know Pastor Blessing Easterdoss and his wife, Phebe who together oversee a dynamic ministry called Savior Jesus Christ Missions. Included under their ministry umbrella are several churches, an orphanage, and a K-12 school, an online Bible School plus around 50 village churches and their pastors. As you can see, God is using this ministry in powerful ways to spread the gospel in India!
In 2019, we connected with Pastor Blessing and more specifically, the Savior Jesus Orphanage through a Legacy church member who had previously visited there with YWAM. God used the needs of the orphanage to enlarge our hearts for mission work and soon, Legacy Missions was born. As we began supporting them from afar with various needs and projects, our desire to do more grew and it wasn’t long before we sent a team of six people to meet our friends in person! While there, we built a water filtration system and laid the groundwork for a child sponsorship program which is now providing vital monthly support for 38 of the orphanage children. God is amazing! He used that incredible trip to bind our hearts together in love and consecrate an ongoing Kingdom partnership with Savior Jesus Christ Missions.
Savior Jesus Ministries
The Orphanage and School
50 children reside at the Savior Jesus Christ Orphanage, a campus comprised of three 3-story buildings set in a large U-shape. The grounds include the Savior Jesus Christ church building, a 2-bedroom residence for Pastor Blessing’s family, three separate dorm rooms, a kitchen and dining hall for the children, and two guest rooms for visiting pastors or mission teams. Although granted a license through the Indian government, the orphanage does not receive any government financial support for the children under their care. Previous to the child sponsorship program, the orphanage was funded solely through tithes and offerings which, as you can imagine, was a daily walk of genuine faith. Despite financial hardships, their continued growth and increased influence in the community is nothing short of a miraculous move of God.
As American’s, we think of an orphanage as a place for children without parents, however those at Savior Jesus Orphanage have arrived through many different circumstances. Some of the children are without parents, some abandoned on the streets, some neglected by family, and some brought by loving parents who are too poor to provide food or shelter. And lastly, some are children of rural pastors who trust the orphanage to provide the food, shelter and safety they cannot. Like many Christians in India, these pastors pay a high personal price to preach the gospel.
Every morning, the children walk to school which is a 3-story building outside of the main grounds, but located just around the corner. Savior Jesus School, operated by the Savior Jesus Ministry offers a K-12 Christian education in English. The student body includes orphanage children and those from outside who pay a private tuition for enrollment. Considered a privilege in India, the children at the orphanage are blessed to receive a high-quality education in English.
The Savior Jesus Church is like a tree with many branches that extend the reach of the church far into the countryside. To minister to people in a country where travel is difficult and expensive, the church has to be local and accessible if it is going to be effective. Limited resources and a government hostile towards Christians often make it necessary for congregations to be smaller to both, find places to meet and avoid unwanted attention . The result of God working in this region is a very large church made up of many smaller churches. There are over 50 branch pastors leading vibrant and growing congregations in and around Cuddalore, India under the canopy of the Savior Jesus Church. The typical church can range in size from ten to a hundred believers. Churchs meet in all kinds of locations from thatched-roof structures in small villages to concrete buildings in the city. In every church, the word of the Lord is proclaimed boldly and people are coming to know Jesus and growing to be more like Him!
There are several ways for you can partner with Legacy in the work that God is doing in India. Check out the options below to see if anything speaks to your heart too!