It’s a fair question coming from someone whose faith recognizes an infinite number of deities: “Why do you want to give us another god from another country?”
Western minds can hardly comprehend Hinduism. For better and for worse, the world’s third-largest religion is mostly inclusive, tolerant of other faiths, including Christianity. The varieties of Hindu beliefs collectively recognize a whole host of manifestations of a Supreme Being. For Hindus, accepting elements of other religions comes more easily than acknowledging only one God.
Hinduism permeates India. About three-fourths of its billion-plus population practices some form of the religion. The numbers of Christians is uncertain—perhaps around 5%. To add to this evangelistic challenge, India has 18 main languages and many hundreds more local languages and dialects.
Paul, Formerly a Blasphemer
Balaram Chintada grew up in a Hindu family in India’s large southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh. His family heritage of animism (spirit worship) didn’t keep him from wondering about one, true God. He eventually settled on atheism, and hated Christianity as a foreign faith. He once badly rejected a pastor who visited his home to share Christ’s love.
When Balaram grew unhappy to the point of attempting suicide, his desire for truth resurfaced. After hearing an open-air presentation of the Gospel, he came to understand that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way to God.
Balaram received the Christian name, Paul, from his pastor after baptism. Besides the name, he shares part of the apostle’s testimony too, having experienced persecutions, hunger, isolation and rejection.
Asked to leave his home after conversion, Paul Chintada went to help a pastor in a tribal area. During his absence his family came to salvation. He now says God allowed his faith to be tested by trials, “And the fire He ignited in me was difficult to quench.”
Paul returned home and spent six years at a seminary to become equipped for ministry, eventually obtaining two degrees. During that time, he says, “God challenged me to relinquish my comforts and security, to penetrate the most unreached people groups of India with the Gospel.”
Philadelphia Missions, Andhra Pradesh
In 2004, shortly after Paul Chintada’s marriage to Padma, who he says “dedicated her life for fulltime ministry with me,” he established Philadelphia Missions. They chose its name from God’s message to the church in Philadelphia: “I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Rev. 3:8).
The Philadelphia Mission staff currently consists of seven members and another 27 pastors and church planters working in the field. They send teams to remote people groups, and plant churches among them. They travel to rural villages ruled by superstition and to coastal fishing communities that worship a goddess of water. Going further out, they visit ancestor-worshipping tribal groups in mountainous areas bordering the state of Orissa—an area with slums, and hostility toward Christians.
“We give ourselves to persistent evangelism, and make disciples who, in turn, disciple their own people,” Pastor Paul says. “We also seek to meet humanitarian needs, with the ultimate purpose of furthering the Gospel.”
God used a string of mission-minded believers across the globe to connect Paul Chintada to the work of International Outreach—now a part of The Gospel Coalition (TGC-IO). He now serves as a primary partner in translating and publishing IO resources in Telugu, the main language of Andhra Pradesh.
John Piper’s Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, is an excellent resource for training and equipping church leaders. Through the financial gifts of International Outreach donors, Paul Chintada has been able to translate and print twelve thousand Telugu-language copies of the book—locally, in Andhra Pradesh. Philadelphia Missions provides them to leaders, church planters and seminary students. They’ll also give a copy to any interested family or individual.
“This book is a tool to articulate the Christian faith,” he says.
Paul and Padma gave one copy to a neighbor who asked them about Jesus. “This Hindu woman, whose husband is a priest at a Hindu temple asked, ‘Why do you want to give us another god from another country?’ Fifty Reasons helped her to understand, and come to faith in Christ,” he said.
Hopes and Plans
Paul Chintada reports a true “move of God” through the work of Philadelphia Missions. Teams recently went out in two vans to pray, preach and share Christ in fishing villages. They’ve seen God save and deliver people from darkness and bondage.
Of their outreach to the tribal lands bordering Orissa, where there is much opposition to the gospel, the pastor says, “Previously animist people are now turning to the Lord. We hope and plan to get Fifty Reasons translated into Orissa’s main language.”
The book Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ is currently available to TGCIO partners for their work in Telugu-speaking regions of India.
Patti Richter is a freelance Christian journalist—a writer of news, essays, and profile stories for several publications. She and her husband, Jim, live near Dallas, Texas.