How the Bhojpuri CPM has Started Other Movements
– By Victor John –
God is working in amazing ways among the Bhojpuri speakers of North India, with a CPM of more than 10 million baptized disciples of Jesus. God’s glory in this movement shines even brighter against the backdrop of this area’s history. The Bhojpuri area of India is fertile in many ways – not just in its soil. A great many religious leaders were born here. Gautama Buddha received his enlightenment and gave his first sermon in this area. Yoga and Jainism originated here as well.
The Bhojpuri area has been described as a place of darkness – not just by Christians, but by non-Christians as well. Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, after traveling in eastern Uttar Pradesh, wrote a book entitled An Area of Darkness, describing well the region’s pathos and depravity.
In the past, this region was very, very hostile to the gospel, which was viewed as foreign. It was known as “the graveyard of modern missions.” When the foreignness was removed, people started accepting the good news.
But God does not want to only reach the Bhojpuri speakers. When God began to use us to reach beyond the Bhojpuri group, some people asked, “Why don’t you stick with reaching the Bhojpuri? There are so many of them! 150 million is a huge number of people! Why don’t you just stay there until that job is finished?”
My first response is the pioneering nature of gospel work. Doing apostolic/pioneering work involves always looking for places where the good news has not taken root: looking for opportunities to make Christ known where He is not yet known. That’s one reason we expanded our work to other language groups.
Second, these various languages overlap in their usage, one with another. There’s no clear-cut line where use of one language ends and another begins. Also, believers often move because of relationships, such as getting married or having a job offer elsewhere. As people in the movement have traveled or moved, the good news has gone with them.
Some people came back and said, “We see God working in this other place. We would like to start a work in that area.” We told them, “Go ahead!”
So they came back a year later and said, “We’ve planted 15 churches there.” We were amazed and blessed, because it happened organically. There was no agenda, no preparation, and no funding. When they asked what was next, we began to work with them to help the believers get grounded in God’s word and quickly mature.
Third, we started training centers which expanded the work, both intentionally and unintentionally (more God’s plan than ours). Sometimes people from a nearby language group would come to a training and then return home and work among their own people.
A fourth reason for expansion: sometimes people have come to us and said, “We need help. Can you come help us?” We assist and encourage them as best we can. These have been the key factors in moving into neighboring areas beyond the Bhojpuri.
The work began among the Bhojpuri in 1994, then spread into other languages and areas in this order: Awadhi (1999), Cousins (2002), Bengali (2004), Magahi (2006), Punjabi, Sindhi, Hindi, English (in urban communities) and Haryanvi (2008), Angika (2008), Maithili (2010), and Rajasthani (2015).
We praise God that the movement has spread in a variety of ways to different language groups, different geographic areas, multiple caste groups (within those language and geographic areas), and different religions. The power of the good news keeps breaking through all kinds of boundaries.
The work among the Maithili people serves as a very good example of partnership. Our partnership with one key leader was an experiment in expanding the movement. Instead of us opening our own office with our own staff, we accomplished the same goal in a more reproducible way.
While these movements are led indigenously, we continue to partner together. We recently began training 15+ Angika leaders in Eastern Bihar in holistic (integrated) ministry. We plan to help start holistic ministry centers in three different Angika locations in the coming year and raise up more local Angika leaders. Our key partner working among the Maithili is also extending work into the Angika area.