Christian leaders pledge help for Telugu migrants

Hyderabad conference stresses need for fellowship among southern Indians struggling with new cultures
Christian leaders pledge help for Telugu migrants

A.C. Michael, development director of ADF India, addresses the World Telugu Christian Summit in Hyderabad on Oct. 25. The summit called for Christian networks to help migrants from the Telugu region of southern India. (Photo supplied) reporter, Hyderabad
October 31, 2018
A global conference of Christians has sought ways to help thousands of people who migrate from southern India's Telugu-speaking region to the United States and other nations.

Some 600 Christian leaders, who attended the World Telugu Christian Summit in Hyderabad, said language, housing and unfamiliar regulations challenge the migrants.

The four-day conference that ended Oct. 25 called for greater efforts to "strengthen and motivate each other," according to Sudhakar Monditoka, secretary of Global Telugu Christian Ministries (GTCM)

The conference, organized by the Christian Council of Telangana state and GTCM, also stressed having Christian fellowship of members in every country where Telugu people have migrated.

Monditoka said Telugu people are living in at least 12 major nations including the U.S. All hold fellowship gatherings for Christians.

Mohan Babu, general secretary of the Christian Council of Telangana, told that "migrants go through a phase of difficulties both financial and psychological as they begin life alone in a strange country."

The conference sought to strengthen the network of Christians and become a "helping hand and source of strength to the brethren who had just moved to a foreign nation," he said.

"Our objective is to unite Telugu people so that we can pray together and work for the kingdom. Encouraging Christian brothers to break the barriers of denominations is the only way to build unity."

Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad and leaders of Protestant and Methodist churches addressed the conference.

Christian leader A.C. Michael, from advocacy group ADF India, addressed the gathering on the increasing violence against Christians in India. Christians experienced at least 190 incidents of violence in the first nine months of 2018, he said.

One in every four Indians migrating to the U.S. is a Telugu person, according to Katherine Hadda, the American consul in Hyderabad.

Some 2.3 million Indians live in the U.S. and 415,000 are from the Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, records show.

Telugu is the fastest-growing language spoken at home in the U.S., according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies. 

Telugu-speaking people began to migrate to Mauritius, South Africa, Fiji and present-day Myanmar and Sri Lanka during British colonial times. After slavery was abolished in the British empire in 1833, Britain needed workers from elsewhere to work on plantations.

A second wave of migration started in the 1980s when Telugu people began moving to Australia, Canada, Europe, the U.S. and several Persian Gulf states for studies and as information technology workers in what later came to be known as the "Telugu boom."

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The number of Christians among Telugu-speaking migrants is not available, but Christian leaders say it should be about 4 percent, roughly the same as the percentage of Christians among the Telugu-speaking population.

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