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Friday, July 26, 2024

Foreign Missionaries prove to be Bharat’s scourge even in spreading COVID-19 epidemic

While ordinary citizens are waking up to the abuse of tourist visa and other rules & regulations by the Islamic missionaries of Tablighi Jamaat who have emerged as a super-spreader of the Covid-19 disease, Christian evangelists in Punjab have also played a role by violating government guidelines and thereby potentially spreading the disease. 

It appears that some foreign evangelists who had come to proselytize illegally by abusing their tourist visa have potentially infected 4 villages in Punjab which would otherwise have been untouched by the pandemic.

Special Chief Secretary of Punjab, KBS Sidhu tweeted that a person from the Ropar district of Punjab tested positive for COVID-19 but he neither had any travel history or went to Hola Mohalla – a daylong Sikh festival celebration which was attended by Covid19 patient Baldev Singh (70) who had returned in early March after a trip to Germany & Italy. Apparently, Mohan Singh (55) of Chatamli village in Ropar district got the infection from foreign nationals who visited his village and some other neighbouring villages from 11 – 18 March to conduct a ‘health camp’ organised by Pastor Randeep Mathews. 

Pastor Randeep Mathews of New Life City Church, Chandigarh partners with Steve Stewart of US-based Impact Nations International Ministries to bring foreign nationals to attend camps where people are ‘healed and cured’. These people go around checking villagers, as many as 250 persons in a camp as per their FB posts, give out medicines and claim to cure them through prayers. The foreigners pay good money for this opportunity to ‘save souls’, albeit by preying on ignorance and poverty.

24 foreigners, mostly from the US and Canada, went around the villages in Ropar for ‘praying, healing and saving‘. The Deputy Commissioner of Ropar Sonali Giri said that the camp did not have health department and administration’s permission, and that private Bharatiya doctors had checked up on the attendees while foreigners were there to ‘collect charity and donations from the villagers’. But villagers who attended the camp said that the foreigners did medical check-ups, gave medicines and prayed for every individual. 

An ex-sarpanch of Chatamli who was at the camp has been tested positive. The disease was detected when he was admitted in hospital to be treated for diabetes and hypertension. Now both his wife, who is the current sarpanch and son have tested positive. Officials were confused in the beginning from where he contracted the disease as he had no travel history or contact with an infected person.

After discovering the presence of foreign nationals, the district administration has taken measures to trace the camp attendees and their contacts in four villages.

American missionaries & local partners – breaking the law with impunity

‘Impact Nations’ is the missionary group that funds small-time evangelists in Bharat to help them establish ‘house churches’ (similar to prayer halls, congregating in houses but operating without a leader in the words of Steve Stewart, founder of Impact Nations).

The organisation’s mission statement: “Impact Nations partners with leaders in the developing world to rescue lives and transform communities by engaging people in practical and supernatural expressions of the Kingdom of God.”

Steve Stewart was funding evangelists in Andhra Pradesh in the beginning from 2007-2013. They claim to have provided ‘medical aid’ to 10,000 people in these 7 years, and mainly converted the Banjara (nomadic) community.  Their eyes fell on Punjab in 2014 and they paired with Randeep Mathews’ New Life City Church (NLC) in Chandigarh for conversion activities. From then on they have been focusing on Punjab by bringing foreigners mainly from US and Canada on journeys called ‘Journey of Compassion’.

In April 2017, Stewart wrote that they were on their 54th journey of compassion and Randeep Mathews had converted 5,00,000 people by then. ‘Each of the villages where we will be going during this Journey has been selected for its strategic significance. Randeep’s team has recognized that these specific communities are particularly ripe for harvest’, he writes.

Their modus operandi appears to be as follow: Foreigners brainwash the villagers, mainly Sikhs, during the ‘medical camps’ and their local partner NLC church will follow up by planting a house church in the vicinity of the potential convert. Thus they claim to have planted 17,862 house churches as of July, 2019. Their founder Steve tweeted that Pastor Randeep had converted 7,80,000 Indians 5 years back.

Impact Nations collects $2,195 per person for the missionary trip to Bharat. Other projects they claim to raise funds for are Water Filter-$65, Medicine-$20, Sponsoring a child-$35 per month. 

Pastor Randeep and his wife run two non-profit Section-25 companies – RAA New Life City (NLC) Foundation, Cocoon to Butterfly Foundation and an LLP (Limited Liability Partnership), Outsourcing Network. None of these entities has an FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) license.

Impact Nations International Ministries, in its IRS (US tax) return mentions around $1,00,000 (INR 75 lakh) was spent by them for ‘outreach & evangelism’ programs and grant-making for the ‘South Asia’ region in 2018. Since the same return mentions India as the sole South Asian nation where it organised ‘mission trips’, it is safe to assume that the entire $100,000 money was transferred to India. The return also talks about a grant of ~ $30,000 made to ‘partner’ New Life City Foundation to start a sewing school in India for destitute women.

But how NLC foundation got these foreign funds is a mystery as it doesn’t have an FCRA license. Is the money for this ‘charity’ work being illegally conduited through the LLP formed by Pastor Randeep?

The apparent fraudulence doesn’t stop here. Impact Nations asks their donors who come on missionary trips to lie in their Visa forms. They ask them to get a ‘tourist’ visa instead of the ‘missionary’ visa even though all the concerned parties are aware that the purpose of their journey is to proselytize. In their information booklet they tutor their donors to fill out mis-information in Visa forms so as to not raise suspicion about their activities.

They also warn the travellers that people in developing countries tend to ask for money which they should not give and that any such donations they want to give must only be given to the local church which in this case is New Life City Church. 

‘What we have to give is spiritual impartation, training, primary local medical assistance during a journey, power evangelism, healing and love. We seek transformation through Kingdom principles. We, therefore, ask our team members to refrain from giving out money or personal contact information. We sometimes will give the team the opportunity to give a love offering to the local church which will be administered by the local church leaders. We also sometimes do likewise for our translators and others who have served the team faithfully (drivers for example).’

Most media reports on this topic have abstained from naming Pastor Randeep, and his organisation is merely mentioned as a ‘Christian Missionary Organisation’. Apart from govt. confirmation that the 20 odd foreigners were screened for Covid-19, there is no information as to whether Pastor Randeep, his family and acquaintances were screened or enquired (his whole family seems to be into the missionary business).

Pastor Randeep also runs a daycare for slum children. But even here, there are no free lunches.

‘At the heart of everything we do is making disciplesFrom the first day people are saved, they are making disciples themselves.. Jesus told us to go into all the world making disciples and this is at the center of all that we do, determining our strategies and priorities’.

As per usual missionary segment targeting, the ‘4/14 window‘ (4 to 14 year old children) and women in the ‘10/40 window‘ (rectangular area encompassing South Asia, Middle East etc approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude) are targeted.

The missionaries conducted ‘medical camps’ between March 11-18 as per their itinerary. Other than Chatamli village in Ropar district, now three more villages – Rauwal, Jaffarwal and Varsal Chak – of Gurdaspur district too have been sealed as a precautionary measure after receiving information that the same ‘health camps’ had been organised there between March 15 to 18.

Details have emerged that none of the foreigners were doctors and no permission was taken from either the health department or the district administration to conduct the medical camps. 

While the Government and its intelligence agencies have failed in allowing foreign missionaries, both Christian and Muslim, to first fraudulently enter the country on tourist visa and then failed to prosecute them for violating the visa conditions, the state machinery doesn’t seem to be working well in handling this specific case. The administration has made it public that none of the foreigners have tested positive for Covid-19. If so, then where did the local patients contract the disease? Have Pastor Randeep Mathews and his family been tested? What is the status of women and children from their sewing school and daycare centre?

This year’s Journey of Compassion page says ‘We have a unique opportunity to visit the Sikh temple Virasat-e-khalsa. It beautifully describes the complete history of Sikhism. Last year’s team held a medical clinic in a Sikh temple with astounding favor. This year, we have been so warmly invited that almost all of our medical clinics, declaring the name of Jesus, will be held in Sikh temples!’

Are the officials privy to such details? What are Sikh organisations doing in the face of this rampant and aggressive proselytisation?

The Tribune quoted a doctor as saying, “We conducted a check-up on 49 Christians from Rauwal village; six of Chak Yaqub; four of Kahnuwan and one from Warrainch village. All of them were found to be fine.” What about the Sikhs who visited the Sikh gurudwaras after the camps were held there as claimed by the missionaries? 

As fellow dharmikas we pray that the innocent & trusting Sikhs and Hindus of Punjab stay immune to both Covid-19 and the Abrahamic missionary tricks & allurements.


Indian Express – 1
Times of India

Indian Express – 2

The Tribune

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