South Asia

Consisting of eight nations (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), South Asia represents nearly a quarter of the world’s population. Christians form a small minority in this region, which is home to approximately one billion Hindus, 600 million Muslims, and only 35 million Christians. ScholarLeaders has supported Christian leaders from three South Asian nations (Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka). Through the Vital SustainAbility Initiative, ScholarLeaders works with the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) in India and with Colombo Theological Seminary (CTS) in Sri Lanka. The Centre for South Asia Research at SAIACS (India) is a collaborative ministry of SAIACS, the Theological Book Network, and ScholarLeaders International.

Pakistan is the only nation established in the name of Islam. Constitutionally, all laws must conform to the Quran. The country has a large economy and a rising middle class, but also faces challenges related to illiteracy, corruption, and terrorism. Of the nation’s 213 million people, more than 96% are Muslims. Christians represent a very small minority, but the Church continues to persevere and grow, despite persecution. Learn about the Church’s historical relationship with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the strongest barriers to missions, and Muslims’ most common objections to Christianity in this 2016 feature on Gloria Calib’s prophetic leadership in Pakistan. For a Christian response to religious extremism, read Maqsood Kamil’s 2016 Insights Perspective.

Sharing its northwestern border with Pakistan, India is home to over 1.3 billion people, 80% of whom are Hindus. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India has seen tremendous change over the last 30 years. Although the percentage of people living below the global poverty line has decreased, economic inequality has increased. Internal migration and urban growth have strained infrastructure, and have challenged traditions and identities. Since 2014, the political ascension of Hindu nationalism has increased pressure on religious minorities. Islam is the second largest religion in India. With around 180 million Muslims, India has the third largest Muslim population in the world (behind Indonesia and Pakistan). Although only 2 to 3% of Indians are Christians, the Church is still 26 to 35 million-strong and growing. The Church needs leaders who can shepherd new believers and help address the unique contextual needs of the subcontinent. Learn about Manohar James’ distinctive response to Hindu nationalist persecution and rising “re-conversions” to Hinduism here.

A large island just southeast of India, Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism in the world. 70% of its 22 million people practice Buddhism; the rest are Hindus (13%), Muslims (10%), and Christians (7%). The teardrop-shaped island nation has seen plenty of tears in recent years: ethnic riots, the 2004 tsunami, and 26 years of civil war. Lal Senanayake’s 2019 InSights Perspective offers reflections on understanding suffering in light of God’s character. Presently, political stability has led to increased economic growth and development. Although nearly 85% of Sri Lankans remain in rural areas, the country has a remarkably high literacy rate of 92%. Most of Sri Lanka’s 1.5 million Christians are Roman Catholic. Although Evangelicals comprise only 2% of the population, they have continued to grow at twice the rate of the general population.

Prayer Community

Kesolenuo Suokhrie from Nagaland, India

My doctoral research focuses on social justice, particularly for immigrants. This interest comes from my own experiences working with Karen refugees, displaced by communal violence, at the Thai-Myanmar border and in Australia. In my own context, the influx of Muslim Bangladeshis into Nagaland has led to serious issues. To the natives, immigrants are outsiders who are invading our land, exhausting our resources, and threatening the identities of our indigenous peoples.

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Coronavirus Impact

Like almost everyone, ScholarLeaders has felt COVID-19’s impact. This week, please join us in prayer for a situation that has reached over 180 countries. First, we pray for those infected by the virus and those who have lost loved ones. We pray that the most vulnerable among us would be protected. We pray too for those facing quarantines, travel and employment restrictions, financial pressures in shrinking economies, new caregiving and homeschooling responsibilities, and limited supplies.

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Manohar James from India

Eighty percent of the rural pastors in India, especially non-denominational or non-affiliated church planters and pastors, have very little knowledge of the Word of God because they enter ministry with no theological training or in-depth bible knowledge. They seldom have a spiritual mentor. With great passion, faith, and hard work, they successfully plant churches, but are not able to nourish new believers in the Word, since they cannot offer what they do not possess.

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Maqsood Kamil in Pakistan

Maqsood is Vice Principal of Gujranwala Theological Seminary, which trains 80% of church leaders for all major Protestant denominations in Pakistan. He recently completed his PhD in Islamic Studies at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (UK). His research on Christian-Muslim debates in 19th-century India will provide valuable insights for interreligious dialogue in Islamic contexts.

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Sutrisna Harjanto in Indonesia

Please pray for God’s wisdom in my leadership at Bandung Theological Seminary (BTS). It is a great opportunity to be able to lead in this God-given moment to develop theological education with a holistic vision, to bring the whole gospel to impact the whole society with the whole church.

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Eva Wong Suk Hyun from Malaysia

I am currently in my fifth year of PhD studies at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS) in the United Kingdom. My research examines the extent to which the practice of the Assemblies of God of Malaysia has changed, with respect to its espoused Pentecostal Theology, since its inception in 1957 to the present day.

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Nok Kam from Myanmar

I ask for your intercessory prayer for my people and my country, Myanmar, which is full of conflicts between the Burmese military and ethnic minorities. Christians and ethnic minorities have been tortured by the military for a long time. Consequently, many ethnic groups are seeking refuge in neighboring countries and in Western countries as well. Please do pray for the total dismantling of military power in the Union government.

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Chung Man Anna Lo serving Cambodia

I am originally from Hong Kong but worked at a Bible school in Phnom Penh before furthering my studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. My husband, Kakda Chan, was also a teacher at that Bible school. Cambodia has a strong need of trained pastors and church leaders. Higher educational levels of younger generations call for higher levels of theological training. We therefore decided to further our studies in the United States in hopes of joining our colleagues later in order to open a theology school that offers graduate-level programs.

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Prayer Community

Patrick from Hong Kong

In last seven months, the pro-democracy anti-extradition protests have completely changed Hong Kong. The protests started as peaceful marches against the extradition bill. However, violence and clashes between protestors and police erupted when the nonviolent protests failed to effect change. To date, police have arrested over 6,000 people and have fired more than 16,000 rounds of tear gas in the city.

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