Jolly Sinha grew up in Orissa, one of the poorest states in India, a country where Hinduism is dominant and influential. “Pretty much the entire population of India is based on Hindu tradition,” Jolly says. “With 80 percent of the people being Hindu, Indian culture is Hindu. Even Christians and Muslims have Hindu customs interspersed in their way of life.”
Although introduced to the Gospel through Catholic school early in life, Jolly did not become a Christian. But it was no coincidence that she would continue to be surrounded by Christians. While growing up, she met her future husband, Asish, who was already a Christian. When Jolly and Asish became adults, they wanted to get married, but since Jolly was Hindu, Asish’s father told her that she needed to be baptized in order for them to marry in a church. She agreed.
After her baptism, Jolly’s family disowned her and she was treated as an outcast.
Since the church she attended did not offer any Bible studies or Sunday school classes for adults, no one was there to help her grow after Jolly was baptized. For two years, extreme hardship continued to the point that she contemplated killing herself. However, Jolly, Asish, and their daughter eventually moved to America for a better life.
When Jolly moved to America, she focused on continuing her education. She and her husband lived in many different cities before settling in State College, Pennsylvania, for a short time in 1996. There, she met Barb Baldner, who is on staff with The Navigators. Barb took Jolly through a discipleship program that changed her life.
“That’s when I really developed a relationship with Christ. If I had not come to the United States, I don’t think I would have grown or matured as a Christian. The Navigators put the pieces of the puzzle together and gave me the complete picture of what an obedient Christian ought to be,” says Jolly.
Jolly and Asish are intent on advancing the Gospel in India and helping Indian Christians grow in their faith. “For the last five years, we’ve gone back to India twice per year. We also established the Benjamin-Pusphakeshi Memorial Trust Fund in 1992. We named the foundation after my husband’s grandparents who were dedicated Christian leaders in Northern India.”
Asish and Jolly find that they can stretch their dollars much further in India. “For every one missionary in America, we can support five in India,” Jolly says. “It makes sense to train local leaders who know the language and culture, and are readily available to guide locals on a daily basis.”
The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support to church projects, children’s programs, church libraries, and church planting. “In India, there aren’t a lot of resources and people don’t have ready access to reading materials that would help them grow and help them understand Scripture better,” Jolly says. “Most pastors in rural areas often preach from their own understanding. They don’t have the resources they need to effectively research. They do what they feel is right, and only what they can relate to gets preached.”
Another challenge in India is the lack of mentoring and teaching given to new converts. “They are given Bibles, but most don’t know how to read them. So we train teachers and equip them for communicating to an uneducated group. I also teach 21 different ways of communicating stories in the Bible, including singing the passages as a way to remember Scriptures.”
Jolly also uses various teaching methods to help people understand principles and faith stories in the Bible. “I use a lot of visuals when I teach. It really helps people understand the stories and principles of the Bible better. I use puppets, flannel graph, and PowerPoint slides. I love using The Navigators Wheel® illustration as it graphically demonstrates the essences of the obedient Christian.”
Jolly’s greatest passion is sharing the Gospel. “My passion is witnessing. I find that many Christians stop at reading the Bible and praying, and fail to witness,” Jolly says. “I tell people to go one step more. ‘You became a Christian, now what? What are you going to do about it?’ I recently met a Hindu lady at my church, and she now wants to be a part of the Bible study I have at my house. It’s amazing how God put her in our path. What a great opportunity to help her and mentor her. I help and encourage various groups to witness more.
“I believe in bold witnessing. I can freely do that here, but in India women find it hard to go out and witness. Someone we know in India wanted to do door-to-door witnessing, but was discouraged and told that no respectable woman knocks on people’s doors. Women there don’t have the freedom that women in America have.”
After a business transfer took Jolly and her husband to Australia, Jolly was able to expand her witnessing even further. “I was approached by an Asian woman after giving a presentation on discipleship at one of my church groups,” Jolly says. “I met with her a few times and she was so excited, she brought her sister and mother. Now that I have moved back to the United States, I will be discipling all three of them via Skype. As I teach these ladies, I use a language dictionary to help me translate specific words. It makes it easier to train and get beyond the language barrier.”
The women she disciples have asked her to bring the program to their home country. Jolly and these women hope to take a trip to Asia in 2013.
Seven years ago, Jolly left her career as a senior city planner and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) manager, to do ministry full time. Her husband’s salary supports their foundation and her ministry 100 percent. Although her many accomplishments include three masters degrees (one from India and two from the United States), her greatest joy is seeing women discipled and seeing people go out and spread the Gospel.
“I’m like Paul,” Jolly says, “I’m bold. I push forward. Life is not lived only within the four walls of your house. I encourage people to do something more. Go out, witness, start a Bible study. Don’t ‘hide your light under a bushel.’ ”
For some time, Asish has longed to serve the Lord with his wife full time. Now, after 22 years as an executive in the corporate world, he has accepted a role with a worldwide US-based Christian ministry to serve God full time.
“We both will be serving God as a team! What an opportunity to spread the Word! We are taking a leap of faith and trusting that God will put everything else in place” Jolly says.
Along with their trips to India and her upcoming trip to Asia, she is also planning to develop a discipleship program in India for women. As she gets older, Jolly Sinha isn’t slowing down but rather she is picking up speed, pushing forward to spread the Gospel in India and wherever she goes.