Soul harvesting as an onsite-offshore business model
It is undeniable that the early successes of the Indian IT owed tremendously to what is now commonly known as the onsite-offshore business model. Here’s typically how the model works. Let us assume the client is an American bank and one of its vendors is an Indian IT company which has most of the workforce in India. When personnel from the American client visits the vendor’s offshore facility, the client is given presentations and efforts are made to show how hard the vendor is working towards improving the client’s product and thus the client’s business. Parties are arranged in the offshore office to impress the client. Sometimes managers from the (Indian) vendor visit the US client location to give detailed updates about the progress of the ongoing projects and try to get new business from the client. The goal of this model is getting the work done at a cheaper rate and thus improving the bank’s (client’s) profits. There are lots of variations in this model but this generic model should suffice for the purposes of this article.
The Model applied to Soul harvesting
Christian missionaries also have a similar onsite-offshore model. The clients are countless Churches, Ministries and evangelist Christian communities in the US, UK, Germany and other countries with deep pockets.The vendors are Churches and evangelical NGOs in India. Every year the foreign clients send about 1.2 billion USD to these vendor NGOs according to records published by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India. This amountis approximately half of Indian film industry’s revenue. The product of this business is the souls of non-Christians. The ‘saved‘ souls are the profit of the collective efforts of the clients and their offshore vendors/counterparts. The souls of non-Christians have to be saved by converting them to Christianity. Let us understand this business model of missionaries with a case study.
Harvest India – a case study
Harvest India is a Christian missionary organization located in the Vijayawada area in Andhra Pradesh. The word “Harvest” in the title refers to harvesting of heathen(non-Christian) souls. This evangelical NGO received Rs. 33.44 crores (approx. 6.7 million USD) between April 2006 and March 2013, according to Government of India data.
When we examine its FCRA filings for2006-2007, 2007-2008 , 2008-2009,2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013 we see that the donations came mainly from the US and UK.
Clients of Harvest India
The clients for Harvest India are evangelist Christian communities and churches in the US, UK and other Western countries. Churches like Cornerstone Church, Chandler, Arizona, USA, Water Church, Bend, Orgeon, USA, St.Mary’s, Marylebone, London etc., and missionary organizations like London Prophetic Forum figure prominently. There are organizations registered with the name ‘Harvest India’ in the US and UK.
These organizations serve as a hub to collect money from evangelist communities within the US and UK and remit it to India.They pool money on different occasions and send it to our Indian NGOs.
What does the Indian vendor do?
Our vendor NGO is run by one Suresh Kumar. Here is the goal of the NGO in his own words.
In the video, Suresh Kumar, the president of the NGO says “Harvest India has the vision to reach the unreached people and its main concern is to spread the good news of Christ”. He quotes the usual figure of 500,000 unreached villages usually quoted by missionaries. This number comes from Joshua Project. He further says that “Harvest India has been doing crusades and bringing the light of Lord Jesus Christ to the darkness…this is a huge nation and there are many people…that have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.”
He requests for funds for conversions. It is clear that this is his sales pitch. And so, let us watch another sales pitch video.
The usual numbers again, from Joshua Project and the usual hateful language: “330 million false gods being worshiped”, “darkness”, “full of spirituality, but no salvation”, “70000 people die each year without hearing about Christ.” Suresh requests for funds and invites the clients to visit India to watch first-hand how many conversions are going on. The video also gives the cost for each crusade and even gives the cost to save a soul.
This fundraising page by Harvest India gives the breakup of cost, which varies between $4 and $10 to save a soul. On their part, the clients often visit India to witness these harvesting efforts. Such visits are technically called “mission trips,” which will be explored in a separate piece in future.
Suresh visits (mostly with family) all the client places almost every year. His latest visit was to his American clients in 2014. This soul-vendor explains the current status of the projects and looks for “potential new partners.” He explains that he runs a nursing college for girls and Bible colleges. Boys “graduate” from these bible “colleges” and plant churches. Girls preach the gospel while serving the patients. This is another of our vendor’s sales pitch. Which is also what our client wants. In the following video, the client says that a lot of times “we have to make Jesus famous.”
Just as in any business model, you need to show the results. Suresh speaks about how many people are getting converted in his crusades. He cites miracles to impress the clients. Here are some samples: 4000 people were converted in 2012, and 12000 in in 2013. And these numbers are just from one crusade. With dwindling numbers of church-going Christians in Europe and North America, a client from UK does not believe his eyes when he sees so many people getting converted in a remote country. Indeed USD 1.2 billion would not be pumped into India every year for no reason.
By now, it is clear to us that this is an evangelical NGO trying to convert non-Christians to Christianity. However, in its FCRA filings to Government of India, it identifies itself as an “economic, educational, and social” organization, and not as a religious association. Example: the FCRA filing for 2011-2012. In other words, this is nothing but plain-faced lying, and is the norm in FCRA filings by evangelical NGOs. If this is the case, the question that arises is: are we sure they are not lying about the numbers as well? Unfortunately no scrutiny seems to have been undertaken regarding the funding sources, activities, and claims made in the FCRA filings by these evangelical organizations.
Politics and Government programs
In one of visits to the US, Suresh as the video shows, claims the “oppressive” Hindu(NDA) government built 68000 temples. It is astonishing where he got that number or the fact that the government itself built temples. Suresh also says he is happy because the Congress government (2004 onwards) was formed because “Congress loves all religions and especially Christianity.”
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is a Christian as was former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy (YSR). It is an open secret that YSR’s son-in-law “Brother” Anil is also an evangelist. In fact, YSR used public money to repair churches. In turn, Christian organizations supported YSR in elections. Further, Suresh says that “his organization is involved with Government programs.”
To get an idea of how deep these links go, Harvest India received awards from the Andhra government all the way from 2007—2011. However, the most interesting award is the award it received in 2007. See the screenshot below.
Harvest India received the award for helping in the Indiramma program, a Government programme instituted by YSR. As part of this program, “eligible” people receive money from the AP government to build houses. And so, apart from the foreign funding, Harvest India seems to have got funding from the AP government as well! Small wonder that Suresh felt happy about the Congress government in power.
It is clear that evangelical organizations like Harvest India work like a typical onsite—offshore business entity with clients, vendors, products, sales pitch, cost breakups, posting of results, client visits, vendor presentations.
They even support certain political parties and get all kinds of support in return. They lie in FCRA filings to the Indian Government. The clients want to convert all of India and change the demographics of India and our vendors facilitate this change.
Indeed, the 33.44 crores that Harvest India received is a very small amount. There are evangelical NGOs which receive in multiples of that amount in a single year. However, the modus operandi is the same.