The opposition in Andhra Pradesh has accused chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy of fast tracking conversions through the various schemes of the government. Like was done in the North East years ago, Andhra Pradesh is also increasingly witnessing church planting.
Andhra Pradesh State Christian (Minorities) Finance Corporation is a department being run by the Andhra Pradesh government. The website says, Andhra Pradesh State Christian (Minorities) Finance Corporation has been formed in November 2008. The main objective of the corporation is to assist the Christian community with their socio-economic development in collaboration with banks and other development agencies. The source of funding for the corporate is from the government of Andhra Pradesh.
Fast tracking conversions:
The opposition in Andhra Pradesh has accused chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Mohan Reddy of fast tracking conversions through the various schemes of the government. In November 2019, the AP government had increased the financial assistance to Christian pilgrims going to Jerusalem from Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 for those with an annual income of up to Rs 3 lakh.
The assistance money for those earning over Rs 3 lakh per year was kept at Rs 30,000. Prior to this, the assistance money was Rs 20,000. In addition to this, Jagan had also announced Rs 5,000 per annum for the pastors. There are also housing schemes being worked out for the Christians and the same would be announced soon.
The Jagan government had allowed state-sponsored tour period of the Biblical places to be increased from 8 to 10 days. Further, the government had also permitted the Christian pilgrims from AP availing the scheme to visit four more places, the Mdaba Church of Apostles in Jordan, Virgin Mary Tomb, Solomon’s Temple and Mount Moriah in Israel.
Most of these decisions were made after Jagan’s personal visit to Jerusalem along with his family.
These decisions have led to the opposition questioning Jagan’s intent. The BJP in Andhra Pradesh says that all these schemes are aimed at encouraging conversions. Such freebies being doled out would only encourage conversions, BJP’s Chandra Mohan said.
Requested to use this opportunity:
On the website of the Andhra Pradesh State Christian (Minorities) Finance Corporation runs a scroll urging beneficiaries to utilise the facility being provided by the government to visit Jerusalem. There is also a link that has been provided for the online registration to visit Jerusalem.
Apart from this, there is a link to fill a nomination form for the felicitation of eminent Christians. Church construction application forms, applications for Church-run institutions are also the other links that are provided.
The website mentions that this department was started for the assistance of the Christian community for their socio-economic development in collaboration with banks and other development agencies. The source of funding is the Andhra Pradesh government, it also states.
At whose cost:
The Jagan government has been extremely charitable while reaching out to the Christians. First and foremost, he came under fire when the AP government spent Rs 22.5 lakh on his trip to Jerusalem. His government clarified that the amount was spent on his security.
The external affairs ministry after giving approval for the trip had said that the visit was purely personal and the expenditure shall be borne by the dignitary.
The AP government also sought the enumeration of the pastors through a survey. This order came in the backdrop of the government announcing Rs 5,000 per month for the pastors in the state.
The YSR Congress in its manifesto had assured that it would provide plots and houses for pastors and financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh for wedding of Christians girls.
The BJP has termed this as deplorable and even said that there are evangelical events being carried out in the village and ward secretariat buildings of the government.
Like was done in the North East years ago, Andhra Pradesh is also increasingly witnessing church planting. The number of churches in several villages has outnumbered the temples. This has led to the fear among the Hindu community and they feel that they are being sidelined.
Further, the doles offered are clearly better to the Christians when compared to the Hindus. This could well lure the poorer Hindus into converting to Christianity.
The Central India Christian Mission on its website speaks about this concept of church planting. It says that since 1982, through God’s will and hand over 1,600 churches have been planted and on any given Sunday 3,60,000 people gather to worship.
Church planting is the establishment of a new and independent congregation of believers. An article in the Mission Frontiers says that 6 out 10 Hindus would like a Christian to tell them more about Jesus. It is imperative that we sow the gospel among the Hindus abundantly.
In Andhra Pradesh, church planting has seen an increase. What needs to be taken into account is that church planting is not about setting up a place of worship. It is aimed at creating new followers of Christianity.
Christ for India states that there are over 215 congregations established through the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, Kerala and Chhattisgarh, with more than 22,000 members.
Most of the church planting missions have been seeking donations. The home ministry records clearly show that the donations are coming in through the various NGOs that work in India. In India, there are 27 known church planter organisations today.
Empower Ministries says that the cost to hold a Mini Crusade is only $ 100 and provides speaker transportation, a sound system, New Testament, and evangelistic and discipleship books to reach a village for Christ.
Last Updated 5:03 PM IST