Friday, July 18, 2014

Christian Practices Outlawed

My friends, awhile back I wrote about the recent elections for a new Prime Minister of India. On Monday, May 16, Narendra Modi was sworn in as the next leader of India.  Modi did not just win an election, but he won it in a landslide of popularity. 

Prime Minister Modi is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which many are trying to downplay.  The media is touting him, and the party, as pro business and anti corruption, which remains to be seen.   Yet, the BJP is a hard-line nationalistic party whose policy has historically reflected Hindu nationalist positions. The party also advocates social conservatism and a foreign policy centered on nationalist principles. 

 Since that day, our ministry partner and his co-workers (Shall remain un-named for security reasons) in the state of Odisha, where there has traditionally been a great deal of persecution, has been attacked, Bibles destroyed, and brought before a magistrate.  Praise God, they were released and not convicted of any crime, but this may be an indication of what the future may hold. Soon after that,  our partner in Odisha received a letter stating that Christian ministries were no longer allowed to receive funds from outside that state.

And finally, just yesterday, we received news that several villages in the state of Chhattisgarh have passed laws that criminalize the outward expression of the Christian faith.  These new state laws are at the very least illegal, and may encouraged anti-Christian violence.  

Arun Pannalal, president of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, said the text reads as such, "To stop the forced conversion by some outsider religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, and bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions"

The Times of India, a national English-language daily newspaper, on July 9 quoted a claim by Suresh Yadav, the Bastar district president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, that more than 50 villages have adopted similar resolutions. 

In some places attacks on Christians have increased since passing this resolution.  According to Rev. Vijayesh Lal, "a Christian man in Kue Mari village had been ordered to pay a fine for his Christian activities. He did, and yet his house was still burned down, Lal said.  Today he is living under a plastic sheet with his family that includes three children and his elderly parents."

Chhattisgarh law already requires residents to obtain government permission before they can change religions, placing the state among the handful in India with laws restricting conversion.  The BJP is the governing authority in this state. 

At this time Prime Minister Modi has not stated his support for these activities, nor has he pushed any National policies that would encourage these type of policies.  Yet,  when a leader belongs to a group that expresses certain beliefs, and commits certain actions that are normally considered illegal, or when others commit these violations of the law and no one pursues charges against them, then there is every likelihood that these actions will not only continue, but increase as time goes on.   

Yet throughout this entire struggle, the believers of India continue to do kingdom work; spreading the good news of Jesus Christ among their people.  

Why do these people continue to endure persecution?   
They have a different perspective than we
have in the West. In the East, people think their entire purpose is to find forgiveness of sin.  They know they’re sinners, but they’ve never heard about this Jesus. If you ask someone if they know Jesus, they say Jesus doesn’t live here. Go to the next village

When they finally hear what Jesus did for them on Calvary, for them, persecution is a minor thing; it’s worth it to go through persecution if they can be forgiven of their sin.  In the West we have believers whose faith doesn’t change their entire life. It may change what they do on Sunday, but not everything.

Gospel for Asia Vice President Daniel Yohanan says, "In America we’ve lost the theology of suffering. Because of our prosperity, we see suffering as an absence of God’s blessing in our lives.  In the Bible, Joseph was in prison for 13 years and in the perfect will of God, but in America we don’t see it that way."

How to Pray Specifically:
1)  For safety and security of our brothers and sisters who are living under religious oppression in the nation of India.      
2)  For our ministry partners as they seek to do the will of the Father, and obey His calling on their lives.
3)  Pray that God moves upon the hearts of the people to turn their lives over to Him.
4)  Pray for opposing factions and religions to stop persecuting followers of Jesus.
5)  Pray for the effective planting of churches in villages that don’t yet have one.
6)  Pray that God continues to provide the financial support needed in order to continue the work of the ministry.

Truly there is a staggering amount of work to do.  However, with native missionaries we can reach them!   Help Support a Missionary Today!     

Only $40 per month.  Upon receipt  of your donation we will send you a packet with complete information on the missionary, his testimony, a photo, and return envelopes for each payment.  At least once each quarter you will receive a letter about his ministry and prayer requests.  These men work in a dangerous area so please do not post any of this information online.  Thank you!


Asia International Mission is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry.
All gifts are tax-deductible and 100% of donations are used as designated



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Route 66: Summary of the Old Testament

Hi everyone! In the daily workings of AIM, our primary concern is that everything we do lead to someone hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ and having an opportunity to respond to God's grace and unconditional love.

With that in mind, I hope you will take a moment to watch, and then pass around this short video.  It's a five-minute summary of the Old Testament’s plot produced by James Street, from The Master’s College and Seminary. 

Enjoy, and may God be glorified by it's presentation.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spread the Word!

“Without the Bible, world evangelization would not only be impossible, but actually inconceivable,” --John R.W. Stott. 

 The Bible is the only book in the world that tells us how our sins can be forgiven, and the name we must call upon for salvation. It is our light in darkness, our comfort in sorrow and our guide in following Christ. It is our courage, strength and everything we will ever need to safely reach our Father's home.  And here at Asia International Mission,  we affirm that truth, and testify that there is no tool for world evangelization that works quite as well as the printed Word of God.

Bibles for the Children of the Nile Project
India has a great need for Bibles. Though they love the Lord and delight in serving Him, many of them can’t afford to buy Bibles. The price of a Bible in their language is equivalent to about 3 day's  wages for many workers in the villages and rural areas, some of whom already have a hard time feeding their families.

There was a report some time ago published by Mission Network News about the situation in the state of Odisha.  Because of the violence that happened back in 2008, the distribution of Bibles has been made  difficult, if not impossible in some areas of the state.  There has been a group of Hindu Nationalists fighting against the conversion of the people to Christianity, and the handing out of the scriptures, supported by the nationalistic political party called the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). 

Because of this, distributing Bibles will have to be done a little more quietly than was previously done.  Many villager believers have been forced to stand by as their houses and possessions were burned, including their Bibles.  Outside distributors are being chased away now, so the only people that can accomplish this are those native to the area. These missionaries are doing what they can, but they have been beaten, tortured and even killed for their work. 

Distributing Bibles in a Dalit Village
According to the World Bible Translation Center, "There has never been a time like this in Odisha, and even in other parts of India,”  The request for Bibles has been overwhelming. People at the relief camps do not have even a single copy of the Bible. To remedy this problem, many house church members are sneaking Bibles into relief camps for those who have lost their homes, so they can be encouraged by the Word even in light of persecution. 

C.S. Lewis once said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

As a Christian, this statement rings true in my life. The Bible tells us, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)  God's word (the Bible) illuminates our lives; making life so much brighter. We are able to see because of His word, and to know because of His word.  That is just one of the many reasons why it is so important to make sure the persecuted church has His Word.

And our brothers and sisters are grateful for God's word. Their Bible is their most valuable possession. With all the turmoil and pain they are going through, His word can light their path, and illumine everything in their lives, and encourage them to stand strong despite the persecution.

Bible Distribution in a Village in Odisha
Please pray that the Lord would continue to allow more opportunities to deliver His word to these believers.

You can reach India from where you are with the Good News.  Take the first step today to put a Bible in the hands of a family in India 

It's only $3.50 for a complete Bible in their language.  Only $35 will purchase 10 Bibles, and 50 Bibles can be purchased for only $175.   

Will you  take the first step NOW?

 ---Russ Sharrock

Asia International Mission is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry. 
All gifts are tax-deductible and 100% of donations are used as designated

Thursday, May 22, 2014

India’s Changing of the Guard

India’s latest election for Prime minister is over.  And on Monday, May 16th, Narendra Modi will be sworn in as the next leader of India.

Modi is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is very much a Hindu Nationalistic group, although many are trying to downplay this aspect.  The media is touting him, and the party, as pro business and anti corruption, which remains to be seen. 

Typically, politics in India is not a concern for us, but the election of this man could have far reaching consequences for Christian ministries, and the work of AIM in India.   So, I want to give you a bit of analysis of what this could possibly mean to us in the future.

Christian ministries remain cautiously optimistic that they will be able to continue their evangelistic outreach without government interference.  This was a landslide election.  The BJP have controlled individual states before, but this is the first time they have controlled the national government in more than six decades.  Not only that, but they won a majority of seats in the Parliament.  Up until this point the Gandhi-Nehru family has held power over the nation.

Because Modi will be the first hard-line Hindu nationalist to lead the country, both religious and secular media have raised questions regarding how the new government might reshape India’s treatment of other faiths—namely Christianity.

According to Sarla Mahara, the South Asia director for Christian Aid Mission, “The BJP has never hidden its preference to run as a Hindu nationalistic party.  They are clearly religiously oriented.  Obviously that is somewhat of a concern for Christians in India,”

India is a multi-party democracy, and the national constitution provides for the religious freedom of its 1.2 billion citizens, of which over 75 percent are Hindu.  However, persecution is an ongoing reality in many areas where local authorities impose their own set of criteria for approved religious activity.  In states like Odisha or Gujarat where evangelism is already difficult, officials could exert even more pressure on ministries.

It’s not likely there will be a constitutional change any time soon, but pressure on the state level could increase quickly.  Anti-conversion legislation already exists in some Indian states. However, these laws only make conversion illegal when it takes place through coercion or fraud. When individuals plan to change their religion, they are required to inform local authorities that they are intending to do so, and that the decision is their own choice.  Seeking to crackdown on evangelistic work, offended Hindus have in many cases already brought false accusations of forced conversion against Christians.

This one of the many reasons AIM supports local ministries such as missionary Bihit and Pastors Samuel, Ravi, Paresh, and Babu rather than sending and trying to establish a new missionary from the
US in that country.  The efforts of indigenous groups like theirs have proven very effective in taking the gospel to places where Western missionaries are not permitted.  Its colonial history remains a sore spot in the minds of many Indians, who associate Christianity with unwelcomed foreign influence.  With a Hindu nationalist in the highest office in the land, there are legitimate concerns that Christians and other religious minorities could face heightened opposition.

Again, no one knows at this point whether or not these things will happen.  Lord willing, the ministries we support will have an open window for a long period of time. And if changes do occur, they probably won’t happen overnight, and that will give Christian workers time to plan ahead and be prepared.

For now, let’s be sure to be in prayer for India’s leadership, and for the indigenous missionaries and ministries that are experiencing an abundant spiritual harvest in their country. 

Pray that they will have the courage to follow the vision God has given them. Persecution is part of the package for those who serve in ministry.  Political change is challenging, as we’ve seen to some extent here, but pray that believers will face these challenges with deep faith and spiritual wisdom, and that they will continue to love their own people, so that hearts can be won even in the midst of persecution.

I would be interested in hearing the viewpoint of any of my Indian readers on the situation there.  Please feel free to comment in the "comments" section below.  Thank you.

--Russ Sharrock

 If you would like to help our ministry partners bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to their people click here now:

Contributions are accepted with the understanding that Asia International Mission has complete control and discretion over the use of all donations to the general fund. This is to ensure that your gift is fully tax-deductible under IRS rulings. We will never distribute, sell, or provide your information to a third party.

AIM is a faith-based organization who depends on the Lord to provide committed, financial supporters and partners. The contributions from these individuals help generate ministry opportunities around the world, and provide a means for AIM to fulfill its mission of spreading the good news of Christ and ministering to the poor and sick. You can be a part of mobilizing church leaders around the world by donating to AIM.

“We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” 2 Corinthians 8:20-21

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Are You Trapped?

In our ministry at AIM we get to meet Christians from various nations and different ethnic, social, and church backgrounds.  This gives us an opportunity to see and hear how believers are doing, and we try to encouage as many as possible to remain firm in the faith.

Over the past several years we have become increasingly aware  that many Christians we meet--whether in Asia, the US, or right here in Stillwater--are struggling in many areas of their lives.  There is testing in their marriages, jobs, finances, health, and moral purity.  We hear so often from people that, "whatever could go wrong, has gone wrong" in their lives.  It seems that, knowing time is short,  Satan as been working overtime in the lives of all that identify as follwers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many believers have become disillusioned in their walk and service to God.  There are two different traps that struggling believers have fallen into.

The first is the danger of legalism.  So many have been decimated by a legalistic church environment, where unbiblical rules, traditions, and principles are forced on them.  These types of environments are poisonous, and many people simply give up under the burden of these rules.  They simply cannot keep them.

Many believers have found themselves trapped in a spiritual desert.  Legalism is a vicious, yet subtle, master.  It promises living water for the soul, only to fill your mouth with sand.  Young people are deserting these churches by the thousands.  If you find yourself in this position, you must realize that one of Satan's favorite strategies is to cause Christians to wilt and dry up from the inside out.  He doesn't care what we believe, as long as it isn't that the Gospel gives life and nourishment to our souls. 

The scripture tells us that, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ...These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." (Colossians 2:8, 17)

If you find yourself trapped in the failure to obey human rules,  I encourage you to put your faith in Jesus Christ alone, and not in the rules and traditions of men.

The other trap many believers have fallen into is the belief in a "prosperity" gospel.  At first, everything seems well and good, but as the poison of this belief works its way through your life, you will find yourself moving farther and farther away from God.  Eventually, your faith will weaken and your heart will grow less responsive to God's Word.  In the end, the prosperity Gospel will only bring death and destruction to a believer's life unless God removes it from your system.

The Bible warns us about the danger of false gospels.  Paul reminds us when he says, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:6-8)

Be aware that the prosperity Gospel goes much deeper than money and finances alone. It is a wide-spread philosophy that if you do and say certain things, then your life is guaranteed to get progressively better.  But the truth is that Jesus told us we must take up our cross daily (be prepared to be crucified) and follow Him.  He promised that the world would hate us and persecute us.  Yet, this was not to scare us.  He told His followers that, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

As soon as hardship comes along, people who believe in the prosperity Gospel collapse, because the false foundation they have built their lives upon begins to disintegrate. 

How can you tell if you have fallen into these traps?   Over time, the prosperity Gospel believer begins to lose their fear of God.  Sin becomes tolerated and even practiced, rather than something to be feared and avoided.  This false teaching is so destructive that believers start acting as if God is their servant, and they have the power to order Him to do what they want.  Paul tells us that we need to, "...hold on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith." (1 Timothy 1:19)

If you find yourself struggling because you are trapped by a false teaching, I encourage you not to give up.  As long as you continue to breathe there is hope.  The cure for those caught in legalism is the same as for those caught in the prosperity Gospel.  The answer is Jesus!  The reality is found in Christ.

As the world grows darker, we must humble ourselves before the Living God and depend on Him to steer us clear of these two dangers.  Both are places of destruction that millions of believers fall into.  If you are struggling, don't hide from God like Adam and Eve did.  Instead, come running into the arms of God.  Remember these words of our Lord and allow them to soak into your heart and mind, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty...All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:35, 37-40)

--Russ Sharrock


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Taking Jesus to the Unreached

Darkness is falling as we enter his door.  The little shed is attached to the end of some poverty-
John Kumar
stricken row houses.  With no electricity--a battery light helps us see the cot/bed and two plastic chairs so we don't stumble over them.  No running water--every drop must be carried from the community hand pump.  This is the home of missionary John Kumar.  His life is dedicated to bringing Christ to his people.

John's elderly mother smiles at us from the door of the tiny kitchen.  We sit--Russ on his walker, Alice on a chair, Bihit and John on the bed.  Curious neighbors, drawn by the unusual sight of a car, come crowding through the doorway.

Even more unusual to them is the sight of a white foreigner with titanium legs.  They know John is a Christian and assume we are too.  One woman, her right arm paralyzed by a stroke, asks for prayer from Russ.  His disability strikes a chord in others who are struggling.  Prayer continues for many more who are seeking hope in the darkness.  The doors of hearts are opened that night.  John will have many questions to answer tomorrow, and ears will listen to the Gospel of Christ--the One True God in a land of millions of idols.

John Kumar has already planted two growing congregations, now under their own pastors, in the
Russ & Bihit Praying for Woman
villages of Gunpalli and Gungawada, where Russ was invited to preach.  We met the people, visited their homes, participated in a group baptism, and were invited to dinner in the home of a Hindu family--who were also curious about us.  The Kingdom of God is like leaven, spreading through the whole culture and changing lives.

Asia International Mission is a small organization, and we are continually pushing beyond our age and physical limitations.  And yet, so much more needs to be done!  India has more unreached people groups (2000+) than any other country.  This is why we find local men whom God has called, and equip them to go to their own people.

AIM partners with a group of 25 men who bravely and sacrificially carry the Gospel of Christ to the unreached of Odisha (Orissa) State.  They are led by an energetic young man named Bihit that Russ and I personally support; the others still need financial help.  They often have wives and children to feed--but are away from home for weeks, trekking, preaching, evangelizing, planting house churches, carrying the Good News.  Their lives are constantly at risk.  Life is lived on the edge for Christ.

Odisha (Orissa) is infamous for persecution of Christians.  Our missionary partners experience this every day.  

Here is an excerpt from Bihit's latest January-March Mission Report:

"...our missionaries evangelized more than 187 new villages...God has done marvelous work through us to reach 1236 families who hear the Gospel and acknowledged about Christ.  Before, they do not know who Christ the village of Tadama where people thrown (out) their idol and image of god and goddess...the VHP (Vishpa Hindu Parishad) and Bajarangdal....threaten us strictly not to preach the gospel in that area 'otherwise we will kill you.'  Please pray for us." 

Here in the USA we have just completed a joyful Easter celebration.  Our salvation is secure; we rejoice in our Risen Lord, but what about the millions who know nothing about Him?  Join us--send us--send our partners!

They need your help.  Please help us provide for these national missionaries.  Your monthly gift of
A missionary (Top right) and a family of new believers
$40 will support one man and his family--$1.34 per day to advance the Kingdom of Christ before His return.

(When you sponsor a missionary in Odisha you will receive more personal information that cannot be made public.)

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and financial support.  God bless you as you bless the nations with His salvation!

--Alice Sharrock

             If you would like to sponsor a missionary now please click here:                                                                        

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                     Asia International Mission is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry.
                      All gifts are tax-deductible and 100% of donations are used as designated


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fishers of Men

As we walked along the docks in South Asia, I began to pray and reflect on the past season of ministry and the coming one. There, we had our first experience seeing fishermen use nets to bring in a catch from the shore.

As a young boy I had always envisioned being a fisher of men, as someone with a fishing rod, baiting “Come, follow me… and I will make you fishers of men.”
The Docks at Visakhapatnam
the hook to attract a fish and casting his line to wait patiently for a nibble. That was a reflection of my experience fishing. Yet the fishermen Jesus spoke to in His time on Earth cast nets, pulling them back out of the water with an abundance of fish (at least sometimes). In Matthew 4:19 and again in Mark 1:17 Jesus said,

Although it may seem obvious, there is a great deal of difference between line fishing and net fishing. With line fishing you cast and wait, often alone, catching one at a time. But net fishing is a different activity altogether, offering the possibility of a much bigger catch. It even changes the fishermen’s expectations as they approach the water. Net fishermen cast in groups and bring in a net full of fish together, relying upon one another for strength to draw it back in.

The distinction is valuable as we consider the ministry of AIM. We desire to cast the gospel net wide and see large numbers believe in Jesus simultaneously in order to build a church and allow the people to support one another in grace and love. Line fishing is a solitary art, and while it is always appropriate to cast a line out with the Good News, at AIM we deliberately choose to work in teams so that we may help one another draw new believers into God’s fold.

There is a promise in Jesus’ words to His disciples; promises of multiplication (in contrast to addition) as new believers learn to cast their own nets and draw others into the Body of Christ.

Please pray for Asia International Mission as we seek to cast a wide net and allow the Holy Spirit to draw people into it.

--Russ Sharrock  

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                    Asia International Mission is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry.
                      All gifts are tax-deductible and 100% of donations are used as designated