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US-Canadian group plans ‘baptism’ drive in Punjab

‘Our partners in north India have baptized over 80,000 new believers this year,’ claims the group’s website. The Chandigarh event is called India Journey of Compassion.

Navtan Kumar & Arvind Chhabra  New Delhi/Chandigarh | 20th Dec 2014

Even as Parliament proceedings are disrupted over the issue of religious conversions, a North American organisation is planning an event in Chandigarh, for which people have been invited from all over the world, to "preach", "heal the sick" and "participate in one of the largest house church movements", for baptism of new entrants to the church.

The event, called "India Journey of Compassion" has been organised by "Impactnations" and is proposed to be held at Chandigarh from 15 to 27 March next year. As per information provided on its website, www.impactnations.org, the organisation has its offices at 860 E 53rd Ave, Vancouver (Canada) and 4830 Pan American FWY NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA).

The organisation has also fixed $1,850 as early registration fees, for which the last date is 8 January. Regular registration will cost $1,995, as per the website.

An email sent to the organisation, asking about details of the event, remained unanswered. However, Christina Stewart, partner and wife of founder Steve Stewart told The Sunday Guardian from Vancouver over telephone that their next journey is Cambodia, which is where they are focusing on right now, after which they will head to India in March.

The description given on the website reads like this: "India, soon to be the most populous nation on earth, is a country like no other. It is estimated that there are now over 150 million believers — but more than a billion have yet to turn to Christ. India is in revival. Our partners in north India have baptized over 80,000 new believers this year. They have seen over 200 people raised from the dead. What is happening is historic; Impact Nations has been invited to take part — and we are extending this invitation to you."

The website says, that the organisation is currently seeking "medical professionals: doctors, nurses, pharmacists..." to form a team. It adds, "We are so excited to be taking a team into the North of India, where we will be partnering with the largest church planting movement in India to bring healing, medicine, clean water and most importantly Jesus to the Punjab."

The website claims that this "journey" will give the particpants "a great opportunity to impact not only this area but also to connect with the Indian community in our own towns". "So many of our neighbours in America, Canada, Australia and England come from the Punjab region," it says. "Come and you will heal the sick, lead many to Jesus, give medicine and clean water to the sick and poor and be the face of Jesus to thousands," the website adds. The organisation says participants will conduct mobile medical clinics; provide a lifetime supply of clean drinking water; lead outdoor healing and evangelism meetings among unreached people groups; participate in one of the largest house church movements in the world; and work with children in the villages.

When asked, Christina Stewart told this newspaper, "We have not yet finalised our details for the Chandigarh journey and we have the Cambodia tour coming up in January." Asked about the activities that will mark the event, she said: "We hold medical camps, where we cure and heal people." Is this specific to any religion? To this, she said, "People from all religions are welcome. It is not that only Christians come for such events."

"We had come to Chandigarh in January as well and it was a successful journey. We were about 30 team members drawn from various countries," she said. Asked how many people in Chandigarh "benefited" from their programme, she said they did not go about counting numbers, but there were a lot of people. "They came from different towns of Punjab, while Chandigarh was our base," she said. When contacted, Randeep Mathews, the India representative of Impactnations, claimed to this newspaper that the event may be postponed.

 
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