Please intercede with us this week for Dr. Atul Aghamkar in India.
With 1.38 billion people (80% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 2% Christian, 2% Sikh), India is the second most populous nation on earth. Megacities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata each have over 14 million residents. According to 2017 data from The World Bank, 34% of Indians live in urban areas. Up to 120 million city dwellers are migrant workers from rural villages, disproportionately from “lower” castes or minority tribes. Pray for the Church’s witness and ministry in India’s cities, where so many have lost lives and loved ones. Pray for India as the country braces for a third wave of COVID-19.
Atul serves as Director of the National Center for Urban Transformation (NCUT) in Bangalore, India. NCUT is a ministry of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), a national alliance of 65,000 churches and 150 mission agencies and parachurch organizations across India. Through training seminars, conferences, writers’ workshops, and publications, NCUT mobilizes and equips Christian leaders for urban ministry.
Previously, Atul headed the Department of Missiology at South Asia Institute for Advanced Christian Studies (SAICS), a VSI client school, in Bangalore, as well as at Union Biblical Seminary in Pune. ScholarLeaders supported Atul for his PhD studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. Atul is married to Suman, who works with Biblica Inc. as a Bible translator.
Atul shares the following message:
ScholarLeaders Prayer Partners,
We count this as a providential privilege to share this brief report of our lives, ministries, and especially the COVID-19 situation in India. We count on your prayer support as we continue to serve the Lord amid a severe pandemic situation in India.
The COVID-19 Situation in India
You must have been wondering about us amid this coronavirus situation affecting us all here in India. Yes, it is one of the most difficult and complex situations we are facing and will probably continue to face in the immediate future. So many of our dear and near ones have succumbed to death. In June, my mother lost her younger brother, who was a pastor in Nagpur. Less than a month later, my wife Suman lost her uncle, as he could not get the needed oxygen in time. The situation is becoming grimmer by the day.
India has gone through a very severe second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, as millions tested positive and thousands died within a short period of three months. For many, this has been a terrible time with a sense of helplessness. For others, it has been a life and death situation. Many are grieving the loss of their dear ones. Others are running from pillar to post to save dear ones who are suffering from the coronavirus infection.
Most hospitals have no beds left to admit and treat COVID patients, no adequate supplies of oxygen or ventilators, and very limited access to life-saving medicines. Medical professionals are exhausted and have reached their limits while taking care of patients. Almost all government hospitals are full and have no beds to treat serious patients. Private hospitals are too expensive for ordinary people to afford. Apparently, the whole medical system in India is crumbling down. Hence, international intervention seems urgent.
Having served as Professor and Head of the Department of Missiology for over two decades at both Union Biblical Seminary in Pune and South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies in Bangalore, I currently provide leadership to the National Center for Urban Transformation under the umbrella of the Evangelical Fellowship of India. Through this Center, our team has conducted seminars, workshops, and conferences in 33 cities in North India and has equipped over 2,000 urban pastors, leaders, and missionaries to effectively transform cities for Christ.
During this prolonged lockdown in India, our team is working to produce six booklets on key aspects of urban ministry. We are also developing a comprehensive urban ministry/mission curriculum for Bible colleges and seminaries in India, as there are none currently available.
We are also attempting to produce more resources for those who are teaching and doing urban ministry in India. At this point in time, we have five writing projects in the pipeline. Two are based on the revised doctoral dissertations of my students. The remaining three are originally researched monographs. I am responsible for producing a major urban ministry textbook tentatively titled, Mission to Metropolis: Equipping Christian Leaders for Urban Ministry in India. As you may realize, such research and writing projects are quite demanding and require a lot of commitment, effort, and financial backing. We would appreciate your prayers as we strive to complete these projects.
We have also recently completed a video series, Building Bridges with Hindus in Diaspora, and made it available for those who want to reach the Hindu population outside of America. This is a carefully documented series that provides step-by-step guidelines for reaching various types of Hindus around the world.
I have covered most of what I am doing in and through the ministries of the National Center for Urban Transformation. While based in Bangalore, the NCUT team has been traveling and conducting various programs in key cities of India.
My wife Suman continues to serve with Biblica Inc. on the Marathi Bible Translation Team, which has just completed a revision and upgrade of a New Testament translation in our own mother tongue of Marathi. Now, she is promoting it in different churches and denominations in central India. She also has a ministry to vulnerable widows and poor children, providing financial and spiritual assistance on a regular basis.
Our daughters Arpana and Sewa are both involved in teaching in schools, but are also facilitating various ministries with their local churches. Sewa, in particular, is significantly involved in empowering women who are facing violence and atrocities. Our son Abhishek is working in Bangalore and assisting me in ministry-related video production. All three of them are married, and we are grateful that the Lord is blessing all of them in their family lives.
Thank you for standing with us in prayer, especially as we are still going through the third wave of the coronavirus. Along with prayers for protection, we would appreciate your prayers for grace and provision for our relief efforts. Pray also for our writing projects, that these would be completed, published, and made available for the urban leadership in India.