India is the second most populous country in the world, topping 1.2 billion people and counting. The Christian community peaks at 2%. The majority of Indians are Hindu, and there is a very active right wing Hindu segment of The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Narendra Modi is the head of the BJP and was elected as Prime Minister by a large majority back in May 2014. Ironically the voting took place in May 2014 during the AME India Annual Conference when I visited the country for the first time.
Last week Prime Minister Modi in collaboration with the Catholic Church in India announced a no tolerance policy for hate crimes committed against the Christian community.
There are also a minority population of Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and other minority religions in India. Christians often practice their religion at great risk in certain parts of the country. While on the trip we visited the church of Rev. John Wesley a brave AME pastor whose original church building was bulldozed by the right wing Hindus. So we met with the women and children in an open air concrete structure that has yet to be finished because of cost. Our women took up a collection of $610 in 15 minutes and gave it to Rev Wesley to help finish his church. He pastors Emmanuel AME Church in Puthur, Andhra Pradesh India and was very grateful for our support.
Above is a photo of our group on Day One at our fabulous hotel, The Leela Palace. We had just sorted our mission items and got them ready for Presiding Elders Sarah and Abraham Peddiny. Some of the items were given out last week during our visit. The others will be carefully distributed according to the needs of the AME India Community.
PLEASE come with us next February 2016 when we return to India for our next trip. Details in March.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.