Church Planters in India – Aggressive Snakes an Ongoing Threat
For church planters traversing through the fields in rural India, there’s more to overcome than the oppressive heat, relational conflict, and the daunting persecution… watch, your, step.
SOM-India Director Singh reports how church planters regularly encounter snakes as a way of life. Most church planters are common laborers who cut down major areas of dense trees and shrubbery to prepare the fields for harvest, which often means confronting dangers unseen and hidden.
Although there are many stories of snake bites, two stand out. In one case, the SOM church planter Ganapati made his living working the rice fields that were known for snakes. One late afternoon he was bit and immediately felt the effects of the venom, becoming numb, speechless, and thereafter died. His mother is a strong believer in Christ today from the witness of Ganapati’s life.
A snake bit another SOM church planter in 2019. He toils daily cutting wood for the government and logging industry. On the day he was bit, his co-workers ran from him in fear of a snake curse upon them. His friends heard the church planter calling upon Jesus. After half an hour, the friends came back and saw that the church planter was healthy. The church planter preached the gospel and the fear of God fell upon all the Indians. Two Indians surrendered their lives to Christ as a result.
New research from eLife Sciences reports that 50,000 people die each year (137 daily) in India from snake bites. Lurking in the fields and forests are cobras, vipers, mambas, and numerous other types of venomous snakes.
Indians highly regard snakes as part of their Hindu worship culture, with many worshipping the snake as a god. Killing snakes is forbidden. One of their prime gods is half-human and half snake! This god breeds great fear and has fangs of death.
The Lord tells man, in the book of Genesis, to rule over the creatures of the ground. The worship of snakes in India reminds us that having creatures rule over mankind brings great harm and daily oppression.
To be bitten by a snake in India is to be cursed by the gods. Therefore, when a violent snake attacks, the people shutter in awe and fear.
Scripture also shows snakes to represent Satan. Snakes are symbolic of temptation and doubt which is the fruit of Satan. Snakes do much more than leave bite marks. Hundreds of thousands are left each year with debilitating physical effects. SOM network of church planters must regularly confront physical and spiritual snakes as they advance the gospel in unreached and restricted villages.
By faith in Jesus Christ, believers can be confident in the call of God to exercise dominion over ALL the creatures upon the earth (Genesis 1:26).
“Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:55b-57).
Though sin and death are like bad snake bites that snap at the heels and numb the soul, the power of the Gospel brings deliverance.
The faith, sacrifice and endurance of the first church planter who died, is a testimony to stand up in the face of the harshest conditions.
For the second church planter who was bitten and watched his coworkers scatter, the power to rise above death is a compelling reminder of the power of God’s Spirit to intervene and overcome even as the apostle Paul did on Malta when a snake bit him (Acts 28:3-5).
The act of confronting, removing, and overcoming dangerous snakes, if necessary, is a powerful witness to idol worshipping Indians.
These are just more ways the advancement of the Church planting movement is changing India. Your prayers, witness of Christ and generosity assist our Indian family in redeeming the land and clearing the brush, in more ways than one!
SOM-USA, Jeremiah Philip