He was raised by his grandparents in a remote regional village, and against all the odds he managed to finish school and then go to university, where he has completed degrees in accountancy and holds a Master of Rural Development. He has always been inspired by the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free. “Our country is very divided and many people are exploited,” OP says. “We are a free and democratic country, but not for everyone. Education is the key, because if you can change people’s mindset, you can change their lives.” As the Project Coordinator for India’s Diocese of Amritsar Social Empowerment and Education Project, OP oversees ministry among local Dalit communities (the “untouchable” caste). The church is the reliable, vibrant centre for work that helps children stay in school, skills up families to be able to earn an income and supports them to advocate for their rights.
“The people know that the Church loves and cares for them, and that we won’t walk away during a crisis like COVID-19.”
“We have just seen such incredible changes in our communities,” OP says. “The people know that the church loves and cares for them, and that we won’t walk away during a crisis like COVID-19.” The Diocese of Amritsar is part of the Church of North India. They train new ministers for remote congregations providing pastoral care and spiritual guidance, as well as creating desperately needed opportunities for people to live with dignity through education, clean water and sanitation, small business start ups and advocacy for social services.
The church is driven not only by the powerful impetus of the gospel, but by their partnerships with people around the world, including with the Uniting Church in Australia. “If we want to be obedient to Jesus, we must bring the good news to those who need it the most,” OP says.
“For me, you Uniting Church people in Australia are like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ story. Most of you don’t know us – have never met us – but you pray and give all the same. You are the real neighbours that Jesus talked about.”
power of god's
The church covers more than two thirds of the country, and although a tiny
minority of the religious population, they work hard to equip pastors for the
growing church in remote places, who make the gospel story real in the lives
of millions of people. Their motto is, “Unity, Witness, Service” and they strive to
demonstrate the power of God’s Kingdom by working against barriers of class,
caste, gender and economic inequality.
1. Welbeing and Equality
India ranks #131 on the United Nations Index of Human Development. In a population of 1.353 billion, 70% of the country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of 10% of its people. Pray that Dalit communities will continue their brave climb out of poverty, buoyed by the love and care of the Church.
Pray for Om Prakash, Moderator Bishop Pradeep Samantaroy and his wife Lily. They are constantly taking risks in the face of political opposition to their work, including being arrested.
3. Determination and Resilience
As Hindu nationalism grows in India, there is more and more opposition to the work of the Church. Pray for grace and wisdom in the Church of North India as they seek to show love and grace in action.
We can all do simple things to stand with our partners and show support:
- Visit the Diocese of Amritsar’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/amritsar.diocese and learn about their work. Follow them and show your support by leaving encouraging comments and sharing their posts!