6th August 2015
Greetings to you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I hope the Lord has been leading you in this past month, as he has been leading us, in your varied ministries in the cause of Christ’s mission.
In early July along with my wife I attended an International Gathering in Chiangmai, Thailand where the mission I worked with as a missionary in Thailand, celebrated its 150th Anniversary. It was a joyful occasion for us to meet with former colleagues. We also met with respected Thai Christian Leaders in Bangkok who were once young students I worked with 40 years ago! I praise God for the privilege of seeing the fruit of my little work blossom out in Thailand.
I also presented a paper on “Leadership Development in the Hindu Context” in the conference of Asian Society of Missiology held in Bangkok on July 7-9, 2015.
In the IMA Vision City campus in Hyderabad we had two good consultations in July. We also had two other programmes elsewhere.
Even as I write and send this letter, the Training Programme on “Persecution and Legal Issues” is going on In Nagpur (Aug 5-7). This is a partnership programme of India Missions Association with the National Christian Council of India.
IMA Annual General Body Meeting: This will be held on Friday 11th Sept from 2 to 5 PM at the Global Learning Center, # 3-36, Jodimetla Village, Pocharam Road, Medha Servo Drives, Ghatakesar Mandal, R. R. District, Hyderabad-500088, Telangana.
Please Pray for the following:
1. IMA AGM 2015 on Sept 11, 2015 from 2-5 pm
v For all Mission Leaders
v For good proceedings
v For the New General Secretary’s installation
2. The financial Needs of IMA
v For staff salaries
v For running expenses
v For the programs
I am looking forward to meeting you at the Ethne’15 Conference and the AGM next month. Please continue to pray and support the ministry done through IMA.
God bless you and your ministry!
Yours in His Service,
R. Theodore Srinivasagam
General Secretary, India Missions Association
THEME: ‘GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS…TRIBES, PEOPLES AND LANGUAGES” (MATT.28:18-20, REV. 7:9)
7. “MAKING DISCIPLES OF ALL ‘ETHNE’….” IN GOD’S MISSION
‘Ethne’ is a Greek word meaning ‘nation’. It means an ethnic, language, tribal, caste or people group.
We live in a world of 7.2 billion individuals and reaching them looks like a near impossible task. But as we look into how they are connected, we find they are grouped into about 16,000 people groups or ‘ethne’. We praise God that after 2000 years of Christian ministry about 10,000 have viable Christian communities among them. But another 6000 groups remain least reached.
This means that these 6000 people groups do not have an indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers or resources to evangelize their own people.
Where are these least reached People groups living?
These groups are found all over the world. But most of them are living in our own continent of Asia. Further, the vast majority are living in South Asia comprising of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives (SAARC countries). They are as follows:
Hindu People Groups of South Asia: 2086
Muslim People Groups of South Asia: 543
Buddhist People Groups of South Asia: 120
As far as India is concerned we have 4693 for main communities, sub-groups and territorial units (K S Singh, Anthropological Society of India). Of these only about 340 have significant Christian population. So the rest still lack penetration of the gospel into their societies.
The majority of the unreached People groups in our country are Hindu accounting for 3539 groups, followed by 584 Muslim groups. So the greatest need is to reach these unreached People Groups.
What are the hindrances in reaching out to these varieties of People Groups?
Whatever be the barriers, we need to find ways to overcome them, so that the Gospel will penetrate into every community of people. This is our mandate. Unless we make a concerted and united effort, India will continue to be a largely unreached country.
Jesus asked us to go and make disciples of all ’ethne’. Are you willing to take up the challenge of reaching the unreached ‘ethne’ in our country?
AND EVANGELISM – THE PRIMARY TASK OF THE CHURCH
Our God is a sending God. Mission arises out of the nature, not of the Church but of God Himself. His love is always reaching out to others in self-giving service. He sent forth Abraham (Gen. 12:1), promised to bless him and to bless the world through him if he obeyed. He sent Joseph (Gen. 45:4-8), Moses (Exod. 3:10), and the prophets with words of warning and of promise to his people. Then at last, ‘when the time had fully come “God sent forth His Son.” Now, the Son sent us as He is sent, – “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn. 20:21). Therefore, our mission, like his, is to be one of service. He supplied us with the perfect model of service and sends His Church into the world to be a servant Church.
The world is the context of mission; the Church is the instrument of mission; the Bible is the basis of mission and the liturgy should be the inspiration of mission. Missionary education is the compendium of all the four, the constant bringing of them together, showing their relationships and the bearing of one upon the rest.
There are millions today living in spiritual darkness and alienated from God and they will stay that way unless someone cares enough for them to go and lead them to the Light. Paul did not see evangelism as the job of slick professionals, but as the work of every Christian called of God (Eph. 4:11-13). One of the most tragic phrases in the Bible is in Psalm 142:4 which states, “No one cares for my life.” Do I care? Do I care about and love those who are dying every day without Christ? Success in evangelism depends not so much on talent and ability, not on special theology and not on correct words to win people for Jesus; but on whether or not we really love and care for them. Do you and I really care about people? Personal evangelism is all about you, your own self; with all your strengths, your weaknesses, your fears and your gifts, sharing with others so that they can have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Church’s liturgy ends with a benediction bestowing the peace of God as we go out into the conflicts of the world – “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Those who have been busy with liturgy must become busy with mission for the end of liturgy is to release the sacred into the secular. The men to whom the Lord said “Do this...” were the same men to whom a few weeks later he said “Go into all the world.”
Mission and evangelism as Jesus intended, is to meet people and win them for the Gospel on their own ground, at their businesses, in their homes, in their offices, the bus stands and the streets during routine and recreational hours. When all the principles of effective mission and evangelism have been written, the decision to take them up and use them lies in you. Are you going to be effective in mission and evangelism? You can be – the choice is yours.
It was in the ritual and liturgy of the temple worship that the young Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And before he left the temple, he had replied, “Here am I, Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Our God is still calling today. How will you respond to the call? Will you also say, ‘Here am I, send me’?
* Rev. Lal Rinmawia is the former CEO of Zoram Evangelical Fellowship based in Aizawl, Mizoram
About 40 leaders participated in the 3 day consultation on July 15-17, 2015 that was held in the IMA Vision City campus to expedite the work among the unreached peoples and geographical areas so as to establish relevant churches.
Participants at the CHURCH PLANTING AMONG THE UNREACHED consultation
Engaging devotions in the morning, precious presentations on various aspects of the church planting among the unreached along with table discussions to ponder over the nuances and develop strategies for effective ways of church planting and a concerted prayer after dinner for an hour on the days happening, were the activities of the consultation, each day.
The resource persons were Rev. Vasantharaj Albert of Church Growth Association of India, Mr. Ninan Varghese of India Campus Crusade for Christ and Dr. Theo Srinivasagam of IMA.
Table Discussion in Progress
Much of the time was on the table groups, as they discussed on pertinent issues and evolved with suggestions and ideas. The summarized version of the overall discussions is as follows.
Participants praying during the consultation
IMA Church Planting Network: By keeping all the above discussions in mind, a network was formed under IMA with an aim to coordinate the church planting activities among all the unreached. The ad-hoc committee members are:
· Rev Dr Wati Longkumer, IMA General Secretary Designate
· Mr. Sam Jose, Director, India Campus Crusade for Christ
· Rev Leslie Nagarajan, General Secretary, ICGM
· Bishop D B Hrudaya, Director, Orissa Followup
· Rev. Dr. Rajasingh, Gen. Sec. Designate, IEM
In conclusion, Dr Theodore Srinivasagam motivated the participants to take new initiatives in mission.
Dr. R. Theodore Srinivasagam, IMA General Secretary
7 leaders met for the Research Workers Consultation at the IMA Vision City Campus, Hyderabad on 14th July 2015 and discussed about various aspects of Research work in the context of Indian missions. Rev. Vasantharaj Albert, Director, Church Growth Association of India, Chennai was the resource person.
Some of the topics discussed were –
· Urgent research needs of Churches & Missions
· Why do we need research? – the present trends
· What kinds of Research do we need in India?
· Training for research work
· Levels of Research work
· How to help people by research work?
· Funding for research
The participants discussed in detail on doing research primarily for Field purposes. Some of the areas that were identified to do research were, status of Christianity in India, status of Unreached People Groups / Harvest Fields / Transformation Fields, status of resistant and receptive groups, what is the kind of harvest force that we have – transforming force, what resources are available, socio – economic research, health care research and others.
On the training aspect, it was felt there was a need for an orientation for today’s churches & missions on the importance of research work, as most of them lack information gathering mechanism. The participants discussed on the kind of people to be trained and various methodologies that one should adopt. We further dealt with on the need for 3 types of training.
1. Field level training: For local enumerators for will be for 3 days.
2. Field Directors training: Mainly for projects for 1 or 2 days.
3. CEO level training: For 1 day.
Further we also dwelt on tapping into into Secular research work for various needs of information and decision making. We dialogued in detail on the various issues relating to the funding for research projects as it involves different levels. aspects and steps and also much man power.
Eventually, we felt the need for forming 3 levels of Research to assist missions and churches in offering proper information. They are –
Missions and Churches must involve themselves in research work as it will help them to be effective in doing mission work. It should go along side church planting. For better research regarding missions, partnership is essential at all levels.
A seminar was planned by the India Missions Association in partnership with Churches and organizations in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on 25th July 2015. About 80 people attended the seminar from CNI, Methodist and Alliance churches from across Gujarat. Further there were representatives form 14 different organizations. IMA General Secretary Dr. Theodore Srinivasagam and Associate GS Rev. Dr. Wati Longkumer were the resource people.
Participants in the meeting
The seminar started with by reading from Philippians 1:1-9 and Gideon Peter welcomed the people and shared the importance of this seminar. He mentioned the challenge and need of partnership in the present environment to reach the people with the Gospel of Christ. After welcoming both the resource people, it was their time to speak.
What is IMA?
Dr. Theo started the session with information about IMA. He mentioned that IMA was a facilitation body that unites the Missions in India. There are over 240 member organizations in India. This has helped in reaching varieties of unreached people and avoided duplication of work. IMA continues to seek new strategies of reaching people and communicate it to their member organizations. They also provide training on various issues including how to manage their organizations well and keep up-to-date with government regulations.
Dr Theo presenting information about IMA
Then he started his session on Reaching the Hindus called the ‘Bandhu Seva’. He gave some over all history on Hinduism and how it progressed and what the situation is at present. One of things he emphasized was to challenge people to understand the person with whom they are talking, so that based on this understanding the gospel can be shared. He mentioned that in most cases we do not have enough understanding and information about the person we are witnessing to and that is why our gospel presentation doesn't produce any result. He mentioned that there are about 3539 Hindu people groups in India and only about 600 of them have some kind of Christian presence among them. Of these about 100 PGs have some good number of Christians. With such a large number of unreached UPGs, we need to learn more about them and their beliefs before we can share the gospel to them effectively.
He taught about the development of Hinduism down the ages. From there he went and spoke about the Caste system among the Hindus and how it affected their belief and a desire to be born in better system before they get Moksha. Everyone wants to break the cycle of rebirths and get Moksha. For that they do all kinds of religious work to please the Almighty. There have been various approaches in the past to reach people, but that did not see much success. But now with newer approaches such as contextualization and holistic approach to a community the results are much better.
He mentioned that this program normally takes five days, but he is doing it in less than five hours. God willing we will organize another longer programme in the future.
Current Trends in Global Mission
The final session was taken by Dr. Wati Longkumer on the "Current Trends in Global Mission". It was encouraging to see how God is moving in the world, but was also discouraging to see the declining numbers of Christians in western countries once known for their belief. He said that in years to come Christianity will increase in Global South. While Missionaries sent from the west are decreasing, there is a significant increase in sending of missionaries from Asia, Latin America and Africa. This trend will continue. The era of Missionary movement has moved on from Coastal movement to Inland movement to now the UPGs movement.
There is also a great shift towards holistic transformation and House churches. Further there is a need to concentrate on urban evangelism. Today you find people moving to the city from all kinds of backgrounds from the rural areas. You can find many ‘Ethne’ in the city itself.
If we as churches and missions want to be effective in our approach with the result in mind, we need to stay focused, stay united and move forward together.
Finally Gideon Peter again thanked everyone and the seminar came to a close with prayer by Rev. Jagdish Kharadi.
For further information please contact Mr. Gideon Peter at mobile no. 09724022448.
NEWS FROM INDIAN MISSIONS
Installation service of Mr James Ragland as the new ED
On June 26, 2015 WCOI installed Mr James Ragland Sundararajan as the new Executive Director for the ministry. The event was well attended by various Christian leaders and supporters of this ministry. This is the first significant change in leadership since Rev. P.A.Sundara Rajan founded this ministry in 1980. As a ministry that pioneered the field of Audio Scripture recording and distribution in India, WCOI has currently recorded over 90 Indian languages and has partnered with many wonderful organizations in getting God’s Word into the hands and homes of those who are non-literate, blind, or belong to oral communities. Later endeavors have helped paved the way to get God’s Word into leper colonies, and into homes for the destitutes and orphans. Audio Bibles have been placed in tens of thousands of villages and homes around India.
Installation service of Mr James Ragland as the new ED of WCOI
BHATS OF INDIA
The Bhats are a caste of bards, genealogists and chroniclers. Their name comes from “Bhata”, “Bhatta” or “Bhatri” which means a nourisher or protector and can be applied to mendicants and learned Brahmins. They memorized facts, stories and poems in the days when writing was unknown.
The Bhats are an offshoot of Brahmins, as their name is merely a corruption of the term Brahmin. They have produced many great and learned men and reference to them occurs in the Mahabharata and other ancient Hindu books. There is a saying "age Brahman pichhe Bhat take pichhe aur jat" which means first comes the Brahman, then the Bhat, and after them all other castes." They were a group of Brahmins and shared power and sometimes office with the Charans, who were king among poets, and with whom they are closely related. The Charans who were from the upper castes were esteemed highly by the lower caste Rajputs and placed on equal status with the Brahmins. This is because they look to them to pass on their heroic deeds. They carry a dagger, which is the special emblem of the Charans.
Bhats are divided into, Brahma Bhat, Bahi Bhat and Rani Manga Bhat. The Brahma Bhats (Rajbhats) claim descent from Kavi, a son of god Brahma. The Bahi Bhat owes their origin to the Rajputs whose customs and manners they mostly follow and have various gotras (sub-divisions.) They generally keep the family record of the Rajputs and preserve their genealogies. The Rani Manga Bhats keep the genealogy of the females of the Rajput chiefs.
LOCATION AND LANGUAGE
They are found in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The Bhat community speaks over 40 languages depending on where they live. The Muslim Bhats live in Jammu & Kashmir and Bihar and speak Kashmiri and Urdu. The Bhats are also conversant in Hindi.
LIFESTYLE AND CUSTOMS
The Bhats marry within their community. The Hindu Bhats are monogamous and Muslim Bhats permit polygamy. The married women wear sindur (vermilion mark), toe-rings and bindi. Dowry giving is common in most places except in Maharashtra where the groom pays. Divorce is permitted on grounds of adultery, maladjustment, impotency and insanity. Remarriage of widows, widowers and divorcees is socially allowed now.
Literacy is very low among the Bhats, particularly among women. Women have specific roles in the social and religious areas and have a say in the family finances. They are generally bold and vocal.
The Bhats have oral traditions about their glorious past. They sing folk songs and also dance at weddings.
The Hindu Bhats cremate their dead and immerse the ashes in a river, except children under five years who are buried. Muslims bury their dead.
Those who did not treat the Bhats properly incurred their wrath. They would fix the effigy of the person who ill-treated them with a slipper at the end of a long pole until the person paid for the cessation of the ignominy and ridicule.
They had a reputation of sacrificing their lives by the rite of “Traga” (suicide) if what was entrusted to them was lost or looted. On the dark side, many used blackmail and even murder to extract payment.
The Bhats of some regions have a panchayat (council) that is headed by a few members to solve their disputes and irregularities.
They are mainly a land owning community. They work in temples as priests who sometimes read the Puranas. Some have become professionals, government officials and businessmen.
Some of the Hindu Bhats are strict vegetarian while some do eat meat. Other Bhats follow the food rules of the castes they serve. But they don’t eat beef due to their Hindu beliefs. The Muslim Bhats eat beef but not pork.
Rice, wheat, millet and maize are staple cereals. Pulses, seasonal vegetables, fruit, milk and dairy products supplement their diet. They do not drink alcohol.
The Hindu Bhats worship all the major gods and goddesses and celebrate all fairs and festivals. Muslim Bhats (making up to 10%) adhere to the tenets of Islam and observe Id and Muharram.
- from different sources
UPCOMING IMA EVENTS & PROGRAMMES
IMA Annual General Body Meeting:
This will be held on Friday 11th Sept from 2 to 5 PM at the Global Learning Center, # 3-36, Jodimetla Village, Pocharam Road, Medha Servo Drives, Ghatakesar Mandal, R. R. District, Hyderabad-500088, Telangana.
Please apply to Mr. Solomon Babu, IMA Training Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
EFFECTIVE SPEAKING IN ENGLISH
Seminar in Hyderabad
(organised by IYFC Youth Development Centre - Hyderabad)
This 3 day seminar is designed to cater to the needs of those involved in communicating the Gospel, teaching & preaching. It includes lectures & interactive sessions.
Date: 27-29 August 2015
Place: Seva Bharat, Ashirvad Global Learning Centre, Jodimetla Village, Ghatkesar Road, Hyderabad. Telangana State.
Registration Fee: Rs.1200 (Accommodation & Food - Rs.1800 extra)
Payment Mode: DD or Cheque in favour of YFC YOUTH DEVELOPMENT CENTRE-HYD
Contact: Mr Sunil Devulapally, Ph. No: 9849531825
NEEDS OF IMA FOR YOUR PRAYER & SUPPORT
The following are the needs of IMA:
For details you may write to Ms. Sharon Solomon at email@example.com
HOW CAN YOU CONTRIBUTE TO IMA?
Please inform us by email/post after you send your contribution to help us send you a receipt.
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