Staff writer Vittoria Allen sat down with Dr. Ajai Lall and Josh Howard to learn more about the mission in India and how the pandemic multiplied their ministry of spreading the gospel.
Emmanuel watched his wife get sexually abused before his very eyes. And just a year later, he would baptize the men who did it.
One morning, Dr. Ajai Lall received a called from Emmanuel that he assumed would be a routine update on his home church. Little did he know, he would learn that God was moving in bigger ways than he could even imagine.
Emmanuel, a graduate from Central India Bible Academy (CIBA), took his wife and children to a village that he knew needed the gospel. After multiple threats from the locals to denounce Jesus and leave the town, he continued to proclaim the name of God. Emmanuel was left for dead while he watched multiple men abuse his wife, but by the grace of God, they both survived. They didn’t just survive. They forgave their abusers. They shared the gospel with them. And a year later, they baptized them.
This is just one of countless stories of Central India Christian Mission (CICM) led by Dr. Lall and his family.
As the son of a pastor and teacher, Dr. Lall didn’t think he would go into the ministry. He preferred to become a lawyer. But while attending law school, he occasionally spoke at a local church. He had a hunch that he had found his calling as an evangelist.
After completing his bachelor’s degree in India, Dr. Lall came to the United States to attend Dallas Christian College. It was there that he met Dusty Rubeck, Executive Advisor to the Board and CEO of CDF Capital. They developed a relationship that thrives to this day. Dr. Lall returned to India and began CICM with his wife Indu.
“People are scared to go where there is terrorism,” Dr. Lall stated, “where Christian preachers have gone and have been killed. But that was my intention.”
Today, their ministry has grown in ways that he says can only be explained by God. With 800 staff members throughout 6 countries, they are serving areas where the Christian population is less than 1% through training leaders, serving children, providing medical care, and planting churches.
In Hindi, the word orphan means “godless child.” Because of traditional belief systems, the poor are marginalized. The Lalls see families devastated by natural disasters, disease, and persecution. They see children who were rescued from brothels. Children who are deaf and blind.
“God takes you to a place, opens the door, shows you. You don’t go back and look at your vision statement. You go and do it,” Dr. Lall said. “Because God is opening the door. Your heart is crushed when you see that these people will die. I think about this—33,000 children die every day from starvation. When you encounter that, your heart is melted.”
Josh Howard, Dr. Lall’s son-in-law, runs the leadership development for CIBA. On a missions trip to India, he met Lashi, Dr. Lall’s daughter. He has been doing ministry with CICM ever since.
One quarter of the world’s population resides in Southeast Asia. Each of the 4 major religions has a deep history there, however 80% of this population still hasn’t heard the gospel.
“We want to go after God’s heart for this part of the world,” Josh said. “The only time a nation can be fully saturated is when a movement happens among the indigenous people where they are spreading the gospel. The whole idea of leadership development is about multiplying as many leaders as possible to pick up the baton of spreading the gospel in this part of the world.”
CICM’s passion for leadership development is about so much more than offering a Bible school to the community. In 2019 there were about 150 students at CIBA. Today, there are almost 10,000.
“God takes you to a place, opens the door, shows you. You don’t go back and look at your vision statement. You go and do it.”—Dr. Ajai Lall
When it comes to a ministry plan, CICM simply looks at the needs of their community. Starting schools for children, hospitals for the sick, and a Bible college to train leaders were all ideas born out of seeing a need.
Thanks to CICM’s Mission Hospital, locals no longer have to travel to big cities for medical care. CICM volunteers are serving the entire region by sending doctors and nurses to villages for free medical camps and clinics to bear witness to the love of Christ in a tangible way. In response to COVID-19, CICM’s Mission Hospital has been serving on the front lines offering help and healing in Jesus’ name.
“Most people run away from medical issues, but Christians run to the suffering. It’s a huge witness,” Dr. Lall said.
Ministering During the Pandemic
Despite all odds, the pandemic increased CICM's ministry. The inability to meet in person brought the idea to decentralize the college, which allowed them to increase CICM's number of students from 150 to 10,000. To solve the problem of gathering for church, they moved online. The first week, they had 360 viewers. Today, there are 3.2 million viewers in 81 countries. They have had almost 25,000 decisions for Christ.
“God is moving. God is working. It’s unreal,” Dr. Lall exclaimed. “It’s not humanly possible for our team to translate the entire Bible into a language of 52 million people in less than 10 years. It's not possible for Hindi Church Online to grow from 360 to 3.2 million in one year. It's not possible to have a Bible college program with thousands of people.”
CICM’s partnership with CDF Capital is beyond financial involvement, Josh and Dr. Lall agreed. CDF Capital provides one-on-one mentoring for non-profit leaderships to maximum fundraising.
“It is, beyond the boundaries of any institution or country. We are one in the Spirit,” Dr. Lall said. “We have the goal of seeing people who are lost see hope.”
Dr. Lall is astonished by all that’s happened in the last year. Even after decades of ministry, God still surprises him.
“Only God can do these things. He has promised that He will do beyond our imaginations and what we ask for. These things are only possible because God’s hand is moving mightily.”
To get involved with what CICM is doing in Southeast Asia, visit indiamission.org.