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Joshua Project: A Study

Back in November 2012, the then UPA Government made an official provision for missionary activities. In its 18 types of visas to foreigners, India’s Ministry of External Affairs created a special category for Christian Missionaries termed “Missionary Visa.”

Item 17 of the passport office website, under visa service clearly states:

Missionary Visa: Visa to foreign missionaries, other than those holding ‘No objection to return to India Endorsements’, are granted only after clearance by concerned Ministry/ Department in India.

Some commentators during that time raised objections to this move of officially granting Visa to Christian missionaries since it goes against the core secular value of the Indian Constitution. But such commentators were branded as ‘communal’ by the nation’s self-anointed secular defenders.

The bulk of missionaries that come to India to preach Christian teachings are Evangelicals, who have a reputation for spreading their version of Christianity with an aggressive zeal. This often leads to tensions within the society they are operating. The objective of this report is to highlight the danger of one such Evangelical organization poses to India.

It is both innocuously and fittingly known as the Joshua Project.

Introduction to Joshua Project

Joshua Project claims to be a research initiative aiming to bring to light the ethnic groups worldwide that do not adhere to the Christian faith. Joshua Project maintains ethnological data to support Christian missions, and is based in Colorado Springs, USA.

Joshua Project claims that its inspiration came from the following verse in Matthew 24:14

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

In other words Joshua Project aims to spread Christianity on a global scale.

Focusing on ethnicity, they maintain a database of unreached peoples listed by country and language. Unreached people is a term meant to denote any ethnic group without enough Christians (that is, missionaries) to evangelize the rest of the non-Christian population of any non-Christian nation.

As of 2010, the Joshua Project lists 9803 ethnic groups. These are further divided into 16,349 peoples-by-countries, counting national minorities individually for each of 236 countries, of which 6,647 are classified as “unreached peoples.”

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The Joshua project welcomes several mission agencies, denominations, and churches to take advantage of their database to accelerate missionary activities into each of the “least-reached” people groups. Data is gathered from a worldwide constituency of field workers and their agencies, brought together into a database, and within security guidelines, provided free of charge to the global Church.

Joshua Project has also developed a Progress Scale which shows the success of “movement” made with the unreached group.

Joshua Project took birth during the 1990s as part of a worldwide conversion movement, funded by American evangelical groups. Beginning as ‘AD2000 & Beyond,’ the movement later morphed into Joshua Project I and Joshua Project II.[1]

What was AD2000?

During the last days of 1980s US-based Evangelical Christian organizations like the International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention, Christian Aid, World Vision, Seventh Day Adventist Church and several similar enterprises run by famed evangelists like Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, among others, were aiming for a coordinated conversion campaign in India titling it as AD2000.

The term AD2000 was initially used at a convention of international evangelical missions named Lausanne II in Manila in 1989. The movement then spread rapidly around the globe in the 1990s while being led by the World Evangelical Fellowship (an international alliance of national evangelical alliances), working with the AD2000 movement. It brought together a wide variety of individuals and organizations, under the single goal of achieving “a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000.”[1]

This movement, led by an astute strategist and missionary Luis Bush from the movement’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, aimed for large-scale conversions of people living within what is known as the 10/40 Window.

What is the 10/40 Window?

The term “10/40 Window” was coined by Luis Bush as a reference to those regions of the eastern hemisphere, plus the European and African part of the western hemisphere, located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator. This is a general area encompassing Saharan and Northern Africa, as well as almost all of Asia (West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and much of Southeast Asia), whose population in 1990 had the least number of Christian adherents.

Almost two-thirds of the world’s population lives in the 10/40 Window and is predominantly Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. Also noteworthy of the 10/40 area is the looming presence of great poverty and low quality of life.

Modus operandi of AD2000

When AD2000 was conceived for India, it was based on well-researched information on various facets of selected people groups. This research was based on a detailed study of Indian demographics by Dr KS Singh, entitled ‘People of India Project.’ This 1985 book published by the Anthropological Society of India, closely examined the social and economic divisions in various Indian communities. All of the book’s information regarding caste, creed, and class were taken into account by both the Indian and American evangelical missionaries.[1]

During the 1990s, the prime destination these strategists had in mind was North India. According to AD2000 the reasons were:

1. It represents forty per cent of the Indian population.

2. The capital New Delhi is located in North India, making the region a power center.

3. It has the smallest Christian presence in all of India.

4. During that time, it was the most socially deprived area of India.

Subsequently, the AD2000 movement mobilized and funded several evangelical operations in Northern India. Further, it sponsored the May 17-25, 1995, Global Consultation on World Evangelization (GCOWE) in Seoul, South Korea, where nearly 4,000 Christian leaders from 186 countries, including India, gathered to draw up methods for rapid conversion.[1]

That same year also saw the movement being renamed as the Joshua Project.

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Christian organizations of India in alliance with the rechristened Joshua Project, carried out activities which were central to the fulfillment of the goals set by this initiative.

The division of the Indian geography using the 6-digit PIN code introduced in August 1972 has greatly helped evangelical work. The missionaries use the pincode to identify the socio-linguistic divisions in any state of the country. After this, they send evangelists who are familiar with these divisions, thereby greatly facilitating the speed at which conversion can happen.

The targets of these missionaries are the unfortunate low-castes who, due to socio-economic conditions fall for their “promises.” According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI):

“The 300 million Dalits in India are considered to be less than human through the Hindu caste system…..The Dalit leadership has called the people to reject Hinduism. As Christians, we support the movement ….People have the freedom to choose. We are in solidarity with them because this is an issue of justice and of resisting oppression. As God’s people we stand with the issues of equality of justice, human dignity, identity, and the right to be treated with respect and equality. Therefore the church is involved.” [2]

Alliances of the Joshua Project

The Joshua Project’s list of unreached people was made by the experts from Christian organizations like the Summer Institute of Linguistics, World Vision (WV), and the Foreign Mission Board (affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention).[1]

This should be a cause for alarm because the CIA has openly admitted taking help from the Summer Institute of Linguistics for covert intelligence operations in many parts of the world.

In the book Thy Will Be Done (1995) by Gerard Colby aand Charlotte Dennett, one finds details of CIA-Wycliffe missions to source anthropological data from Latin America. A cursory glance at any history text of Latin America will showcase the disruptive role the CIA played in that continent.

Not many would know that certain Evangelicals oversee the US International Religious Freedoms report. The 2003 report openly admitted that “US officials have continued to engage state officials on the implementation and reversal of anti-conversion laws.” This explains the biased view this report has often taken with respect to India.

Many NGOs in India which are run by Christian associations get their funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID was founded along with the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress, by President John F Kennedy,”to stem the spread of communism.” In other words, it was meant to keep the former Soviet Union at bay while often funding corrupt regimes and autocracies.

Again, one should go through Thy Will Be Done where details of the CIA-USAID collaboration in Ecuador, Uruguay, Thailand and the Phillippines are revealed.

To be continued

 

References:

1. Preparing for the harvest -VK Shashikumar- http://archive.tehelka.co/story_main.asp?filename=ts013004shashi.asp

2. Those that shall deliver- http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main.asp?filename=ts013004qaeda.asp&id=1