Matthew 28:19-20 – Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
“All nations” is what Jesus commanded, not just the places where it is convenient, easy and where the Gospel message is accepted without compromise. But what happens when your missionary parents in India raise you to have a personal relationship with Jesus, you accept His invitation and this blessing provides you with a way out? The door swings wide open for you to leave your impoverished homeland where only 2% of its citizenry acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord, and the vast majority are clinging to Hinduism or Islam. You have to leave and never come back, right?
This was the opportunity given to, and the decision to be made by Paul Rajkumar Gupta, better known as Bobby Gupta.
Bobby is the son of Dr. Paul V. and Devi Gupta. His father, having heard the Gospel message in India from a missionary in 1937, was compelled to spend his life sharing the good news throughout his homeland. In 1952 Dr. Gupta and his wife began the Hindustan Bible Institute (HBI) and its sole purpose was to spread the good news about Jesus Christ. Through his “multiplication principle” Dr. Gupta encouraged his students to share the Gospel message one man to another and it would slowly spread through India and take root.
Meanwhile his son Bobby received his diploma in Biblical Studies from HBI in 1975 and then was presented with the opportunity alluded to above: An escape.
Bobby came to the United States to passionately pursue his Christian studies. In 1977 he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Theology from Piedmont College in North Carolina, followed by a Masters in Divinity in 1980 from Talbot Seminary. Ultimately Bobby went on to complete his Masters in Theology and his Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Seminary.
Finally, Bobby was ordained as a Pastor by the Bethany Bible Fellowship in California.
It is entirely possible with his impressive Biblical resume that Bobby Gupta could have settled in nicely and pastored a church in sunny Southern California, delivering God’s message of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ each and every Sunday morning, and telling people of his escape from his homeland.
But that was clearly not God’s plan for Bobby.
In 1983, Bobby Gupta returned to India after spending ten years in the United States. Possessing the very same passion for the people of his homeland that his father had, Bobby joined the HBI ministries and ultimately took on the roles of President and Director in 1984. He developed HBI International Ministries, which is now known as HBI Global Partners; their chief purpose is to glorify God by mobilizing the North American church to partner with national ministries to fulfill the Great Commission in India and beyond.
Led by Bobby and his wife Linnet, HBI has been a Mission ONE partner since 1992 and they are training up the next generation of Christian missionaries in India through evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and leadership training. Their ministry activities include gospel teams, Bible studies, all-night prayer meetings, praying for sick people, open air evangelism, prison ministry, medical camps, hospital visitation, house visitation, youth fellowship, home meetings, literature distribution, fasting, working among women, children and students.
Ultimately, and at the heart of it all, Bobby Gupta returned to his homeland to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, and there really was no reluctance to come back.
“The vision that God put in my heart started to develop,” he says. “By 1987 the vision became clear: It was a church in every village, every colony of every town and city in our nation. Every people group of our country would have the opportunity to hear, understand, respond and be discipled into a worshipping community of people.”
Today as he looks back at the early days of that vision and sees how much God has done he is astounded and humbled.
“It is amazing as I look back now, nearly 30 years later to see how much God has done with a simple call that He put on my life,” he says. “Today almost every part of India is beginning to know and experience the knowledge of the glory of God. Churches are everywhere in our country – not that the mission is done – there are many people groups who have never once had the opportunity to hear – and so the mission is still alive.”
The original mission is very much alive, and as he looks back on the goals that were set, Bobby is thrilled by the results to date. That original goal – to plant a church for every 1,000 people by the year 2000 – originally seemed unattainable, but God has added better than 600,000 Christian churches in India since 1987.
Beyond the actual church walls, Bobby is even more excited by those who are making commitments to follow Jesus.
“We are very encouraged by the number of people who say that they want to know more about Jesus Christ,” says Bobby. “Last year we had over 61,825 people that said they not only wanted to know more, but they also received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and not only did we see people come to the Lord, we saw 51,891 men, women and children who were discipled into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and joined a local church.”
And now Bobby looks to the future.
By 2025 he envisions 300,000 church-planters trained by HBI with the idea of making The Gospel accessible to everyone, which means that they have their work cut out for them in the immediate.
“We would like to see 2,000 church planters who are trained and equipped to do the work of multiplying churches everywhere,” he says. “We would like to move from our goal of 10,000 churches, to actually 20,000 additional churches in our country, and we would like to see two million individuals discipled to the Lord Jesus Christ by the year 2025, and 100,000 homes worshipping God seven days a week.”
And for Bobby Gupta it is not about the numbers, rather, it is about delivering the Good News of Jesus Christ’s saving grace to the people of India – to the people of all nations – who are thirsty for the truth.
“It is so that the glory of God is covering the earth as the waters cover the sea,” Bobby says.
That is a vision and a purpose we can all get behind, and we thank HBI Global Partners and especially Bobby and Linnet Gupta for their tireless efforts.