Without a Vision, the People Perish
The story of India Gospel League begins with one man’s journey into the Christian faith through faithful missionaries nearly 150 years ago. From there, a vision was born, to carry the gospel out to the least-reached and the least-loved. Today the same ministry stands firmly on that vision and calling, to bring the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ to unreached peoples, and through effective discipleship, to extend God’s reign over the nations. Here is the story, as told by Sam Stephens:
My great grandfather was the first one of my family to become a Christian from the Hindu religion. He heard about Jesus when the Salvation Army missionaries first came to India in the 1860s. He accepted the Lord into his life in a street meeting. Because he came from a high caste Hindu family, his family felt he had brought them disgrace by becoming a Christian. He left home and became an itinerant evangelist, going from village to village preaching and sharing his witness.
His son (my grandfather) founded the ministry that today is known as India Gospel League. He lived his life to the very end as a preacher and an evangelist, and so did my father after him. I had the privilege of working with my father for 12 years in the ministry. He taught me many things, but I will always remember his last words to me: “No matter what happens, son, don’t lose the vision.”
My father had organized the ministry in India on the basis of his deep conviction that, as Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The vision is reaching out to the neglected masses of people in the villages of India who are perishing without Christ. Most of them are dying without an opportunity to even hear the name of Jesus in their entire lifetime. This verse is the motto of the ministry, and we remain committed to that vision and calling.
Non-denominational Association of Interdependent Churches
In 1996 India Gospel League initiated the Non-denominational Association of Interdependent Churches (NAIC) in Salem, Tamil Nadu. Church planters toiling on the frontlines in India have planted thousands of independent house churches during the last two decades. The NAIC assumes the role of gathering these dedicated church planters together, giving their ministry and their churches an identity. The NAIC provides church planters a great vision for the masses of people in India. It seeks to encourage them to catch a vision of a robust and vibrant missional church in the nation. The NAIC is also committed to help church planters to share skills, knowledge and material resources, and to explore ways and means of planting churches in unreached villages in India.
The NAIC is a body uniting more than 35,000 churches. These small churches exist without any support or opportunity for affiliation with other institutions. The NAIC creates opportunities for such fellowship and unity.
The NAIC brings together newly planted independent churches and empowers them to effectively live out the Great Commission. This is its mission.
About Rev. Samuel Stephens
Rev. Samuel D. Stephens is the third generation leader of the India Gospel League, which was founded in 1948 by Samuel’s grandfather, Rev. Devaprasad Stephens. He passed the ministry to Samuel’s father Rajah, who in 1971 established the ministry as a Registered Society. Samuel D. Stephens served as a barefoot pastor until his father’s death in 1988, when he assumed leadership of the ministry.
In 1994, India Gospel League North America (IGL NA) was established in the United States as a 501(c)3 corporation. Rev. Samuel Stephens serves as the President of IGL NA, whose mission is to raise awareness and encourage involvement and support for India Gospel League’s evangelism, discipleship, church planting, education, agricultural assistance, economic empowerment, and medical programs. It provides information, raises financial support, establishes prayer coverage, sends training teams, and secures sponsorship for Indian children, Children’s Gospel Clubs, barefoot pastors, Bible students, villages and entire regions where the Gospel has not yet penetrated.