During a break, I did a little research, for my own interest. There are about 1.2 billion people in India, in a space of just over 3.2 million square kilometres. That means that in a geographical space just about a third the size of Canada, India holds 36 times as many people.
I must admit that I thought the country was geographically smaller; in fact, if you look at Mercator projection of the world, it is deceiving – but Canadians like the Mercator projection, because it makes Canada look much bigger than the United States! On that projection, India looks to be about the size of Ontario, but it is about twice that size.
Roughly 2% of India’s population is considered Christian, though there are some regions where that number is as high as 100%. The national average, though, is quite small, meaning that the opportunities for mission and ministry are massive. However, 2% of India’s population equals about the population of Canada. There are many very enthusiastic believers in this country, with a high commitment to mission; I have been privileged to meet some of them during our time here at SAIACS. Yet there is a high cost, for many, to be engaged deeply in their Christian faith.
Some have told me that their Hindu friends will tease and taunt them for their faith if there is any illness or difficulty in their lives, as if God were expected to make everything perfect all the time. Others, especially those in pastoral ministry, often find that the culture demeans their role in church leadership, as if they couldn’t cut it in a secular job, so they “had to” resort to ministry.
In Canada, we do not yet experience these sorts of persecutions. While only 10-15% of Canadians engage in Christian faith on a regular basis, there still remains a reasonable tolerance for Christian practice; it is, after all, the foundational tradition for our nation. But would we be willing to accept the sacrifices that our Indian sisters and brothers face? And can we be as committed to mission as they are?
If Canadian Christians were as devoted to sharing Christ as Indian Christians are, I dare say that the face of the Canadian church and nation would look much different.