It has been my prayer and passion for a long time to start our church planting work in India.
In the past we have supplied Bibles to missionaries working there, but until now we were unable to bring our model to this vast nation of 1.37 billion people.
God, in his infinite wisdom, brought about the opportunity for us to finally kick off the work there in. In partnership with RIO mission two training conferences were arranged – one in Ranchi and one in Hyderabad. This followed months of preparation which included translating the first of seven books into both Hindi and Telegu and printing enough for the participants. Herman Roodt and I went to India after our China training.
India overwhelms visitors with sensory overload. Driving through Hyderabad at 2:30am was amazing. People were shopping, stalls were selling food and people were everywhere. Daytime driving is an experience in itself! There seem to be few traffic rules, yet the swirling mass of cars, people, tuk-tuk taxis, motorbikes and cyclists continually move like lava streams flowing down a mountainside. Unstoppable; intimidating yet exhilarating. Smells assault your senses. One moment the hunger evoking curries and biryanis make your mouth water and the next, raw sewage makes you hold your breath. Everywhere the kaleidoscope of colours draw your eyes to people of every background and stature. Its hard to know where to point your camera.
India is a complex society. There are 1652 languages spoken across its provinces of which 14 are major languages. Religious diversity and religious intolerance live alongside one another. Despite persecution, especially from militant Hindus, Christianity is fast spreading. The opportunity to spread the Gospel and to plant new churches in enormous. As in many places, there is a real need for trained pastors and leaders and there is the real danger of bad teaching and practises spreading through the many denominations.
The Ranchi training was a real eye opener. The hunger with which the pastors who were there embraced the strategy to plant multiple churches and to train a pastor locally for each of them was overwhelming.
In Ranchi I saw real commitment. As with all other kick off conferences we did the Heart of Man evangelism training. We had the participants practice on one another through role play and prepared them to go out onto the streets to preach the gospel.
As we made ready to go out, the national leader, Pastor Yehoshua, turned to me and said “you realize that we are out in a radical Hindu area. If we go out now, we will have to end the conference today. People will be attacked.” I realized that we do not always fully comprehend the situation on the ground. I stood up and asked those assembled. “You have been trained and have made ready to go. I know that danger lies behind the fence of the conference centre. It may cost you your life. Who is willing to go right now?” I already knew that I would not be sending them out but I wanted to see their commitment. Immediately many stood, and then, one by one others joined them until almost everyone was standing. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart ached as I realized that before me were true disciples of our Lord. I came back with a burning question in my heart. Would the members of my church back home have stood? Would I have stood? Would you?
The second conference took place near Hyderabad with Telegu speaking pastors. Again, we were deeply moved by their willingness to take the Kingdom forward. We met amazing people, already doing amazing things for God, but willing to do even more.
In all, over 250 new Hub Leaders were appointed and commissioned. Burch and his team will now take up the challenge of returning a further seven times to each venue over the next three and a half years to fully train these pastors in the Hub Model and in the Harvesters Bible School training material.
Already Pastor Yehoshua is planning another 8 additional training venues and we are seeking out translators to translate the books into all 14 major languages. The next training will be in Mumbai and the translation required is Maranthi.
God has done and is doing awesome things. It is a great privilege to play a small role in His vast Kingdom plan.