The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Faith flows over the airwaves

In Northern India, Lutherans broadcast God's love

"People are coming to the Lord. Why, I don't know," said Lucia Tudu. But these words of this Lutheran pastor, who directs the radio ministry of India's Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church, do not tell the real story.

In India, radio is still an important means of communication. This is especially the case among the Santali and other tribal people in northeastern India. Many spend their days outside and in the evening gather around the radio to relax. Shortwave radios are still cheap and with government restrictions on Christian programming, churches rely on shortwave broadcasts from outside India as a means to spread the word widely.

The NELC produces programs in Dumka, a small city three hours by train and another two hours by road northwest of Kolkata. Church leaders send the recordings to Guam, where programming is broadcast to India seven days a week.

Lucia Tudu, the pastor who directs
Lucia Tudu, the pastor who directs the radio ministry of the Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church, talks with technician Xmas Marandi at their Dumka, India, studio.

"Some of these people, in their traditional religions, believe that if they don't perform the right sacrifices, evil spirits will take hold of them," Tudu said. "But through our programming, they learn there is a loving God."

Tudu recounted how men once came looking for a member of the radio staff after midnight. "We were afraid we may have offended someone and wanted to wait until morning," she said. "But the group insisted we come now."

"We went, in the rain, to a house with 29 people waiting for us and seeking to be baptized on the spot. We spent the whole night teaching about baptism and, in the morning, those gathered said it was OK to be baptized. We directed them to a church to continue their journey of faith."

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Embracing diversity