6th December 2014
On behalf of IMA I wish you a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015. May the Lord make this Christmas season a time of rejoicing for his Blessings for the past year and a time of Hope for the New Year.
The month of November was very busy for all of us in IMA. I shared about IMA in NEICOCIM in Guwahati from Nov. 4-7; participated in the round table meeting organised by NCCI in connection with their Centenary Celebration in Nagpur on Nov. 10 and we exchanged mementos on that occasion. I was involved with discussions with EFICOR on their Training Programmes in New Delhi on Nov. 28.
Dr Wati, AGS, was involved in ministry in Nagaland and Manipur, and Mr Prakash Nayak in Tamil Nadu.
Gift of a laptop to IMA General Secretary
I am delighted to announce that the Madurai-Trichy area missions in central Tamil Nadu, presented a beautiful new laptop to the IMA General Secretary on Nov 20th. I thank the missions for their generous gift to IMA.
Programmes conducted in November
We had three excellent programmes in the IMA vision city campus. They were –
1. Partnership in Mission Workshop on Nov 12-14. 25 participants from 15 missions participated. Dr Rio Sibarani from Indonesia, Mr Prem James and Mr William Paul from Inter-dev, Bangalore led the sessions.
2. Seminar on Governance, FCRA and IT rules was held on Nov 14-15, and was ably led by Dr Manoj Fogla, finance and legal expert, Rev Kennedy Dhanabalan of EFICOR, New Delhi, and Mr Anbu of CIM, Chennai. 33 participants from19 missions greatly benefited from this seminar.
3. Advanced Neighbours Training for those working among Neighbours was conducted on Nov 18-22 and 35 from 14 missions participated. Rev Walter Eric, Dr Mobin Khan and others were the resource people. Those who got trained were issued with certificates.
I thank all the resource people for giving their time and expertise to help Indian Mission leaders to acquire and upgrade their skills.
New Programmes in February 2015
EFI Prayer Year 2015
EFI is making a nation-wide prayer initiative called “Ask 365”with the emphasis that every Christian prays for India. Prayer is the backbone of missions and so I fully endorse this initiative of EFI. I request all missions to select one person in their mission to be their Prayer Coordinator to whom prayer points can be sent every month from EFI and who then can disseminate that information to all workers in their organisation. I would be grateful if his/her name and e-mail id be sent to me as soon as possible.
IMA finance continues to be low. In spite of that, the Lord has helped us to pay the salaries of our staff every month, take care of the travel expenses and to meet the financial needs of the IMA programmes. I praise God for this. However as we are on the threshold of 2015, kindly pray that the Lord will be gracious towards IMA and provide the necessary finance month after month. I will be grateful if you kindly send
At this time of Christmas I would be grateful if you would consider sending a Christmas gift for IMA missionaries and staff working in Hyderabad. This would be much appreciated by those who have worked hard and faithfully during the past year. You may send the gift to IMA designating it toward staff Christmas gift. Thank you for your consideration.
Secondment of staff
We are in need of qualified and suitable staff to take care of the various needs in IMA. If your mission is willing to send a staff member to IMA on secondment for a period of 3 years paying their salary and expenses, please write to me (IMA General Secretary).
May the Lord continue to lead and bless you in this Christmas season and in the coming year.
Yours in His service,
R. Theodore Srinivasagam
General Secretary, India Missions Association
PART 6 – PARTNERSHIP IN THE GOSPEL
PARTNERSHIP IN SUFFERING AND TROUBLE (PHIL 1:29; 3:10;4:14)
Suffering was nothing new to the apostle Paul. In fact in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he gives a catalogue of his sufferings for Christ and the gospel, so that no one else could boast about their own sufferings. Further, he goes on to say in his different writings that they were nothing compared to the suffering of Christ for our salvation.
There are various kinds of suffering. Some of them are –
Paul experienced all these at various times in his ministry.
Paul was able to face these sufferings because of two main reasons –
Paul was extremely grateful for those who were sharing in his suffering and trouble. There is a comfort beyond words, when those close to us stand with us in times of adversity.
This was what Jesus longed for in the garden of Gethsemane when he went to pray with his disciples before his crucifixion. But they were of no great help to him at that time. Similarly Job’s friends instead of understanding his suffering and perplexity gave inappropriate advice to him at the time of the greatest calamity he faced in his life.
One of the tests of the reality of partnership is when facing conflict, trouble and suffering. A partnership may move along well when things are going smoothly. However, when a partner faces problems of various kinds including persecution and suffering, the natural tendency for other partners is to distance themselves from that partner in case they also get affected. But in real partnership partners stands alongside each other and help one another even at times of adversity. They are not fair weather partners. What kind of comforters and partners are we?
The partnership of the Philippian church with Paul was genuine. In time of trouble and suffering the Philippian Christians stood with Paul, without hesitation and not counting the consequences of their action. This church had seen the suffering Paul underwent in their own city of Philippi when Paul came there to preach and they also had felt the repercussions of it (Acts 16:19-24) . That is why Paul is deeply appreciative of this church standing with him at the time of his trouble (Phil. 4:14).
In our country we are learning to understand the value of this partnership in persecution and suffering. When Churches in the Dangs and other districts of South Gujarat were burnt by anti-Christian forces and terror unleashed against the tribal Christians, particularly in 1998, it was wonderful to see that Christians of all denominations rallied round and came to their support resulting in halting that wave of persecution. Similarly, when Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt alive in January 1999 in Odisha the Christians and Churches across the country rallied round his wife Gladys Staines and their daughter Esther and showed that they were not alone. Later in Kandhamal district of Odisha, when Christians were killed, their properties and the churches burnt and destroyed, churches across India rose above denominational and regional barriers and supported and helped them. We praise God for this and we need to learn continuously how to support each other at all times and levels.
How can we help and support those who suffer? Here are a few ways –
May the Lord make us sensitive to the needs of those who are suffering and be true partners to them.
MISSION - LITERACY
A consuming passion for liberating the non-literates across India has characterised much of my ministry life. This journey has been as much a challenge as it was fascinating.
Many years back in the year 1984, when I was just initiated into my first assignment as a mission worker, I saw many women in city of Chennai enter a church service, each with a Bible in their hand. My first impression was that here were women who can read the Bible! WOW! But it turned out to be misleading as none of them could read. They carried it along because it was the Word of God. They could not read the scriptures because they were not literate. That was when I realised that to build the communities of faith, members should be able to read the scriptures.
The importance of literacy especially among those who failed to get any formal education became my mission and I have spent these many years in designing the tools and programs that shone the light of literacy to those who missed the bus the first time.
In the many villages I traversed, I dreamt of seeing it transform through the medium of literacy as ‘a literate village in a literate India’. But this is not as simple as gathering a few people and giving them literacy. It is much more.
As part of Seva Bharat ministries I spearheaded the Adult Literacy program with the aim of transforming the non-literate. The first challenge was to figure out what method suits adult andragogy. We found that Picture-Word method was the fastest way to make them proficient in reading and writing.
Further the Literacy Program we devised has five goals:
Since the adults did not have much time to spare we built the curriculum from scratch to span one year’s teaching. This also had to cover various subjects that would meet the five goals. Constructing Literacy Primers was the major component we accomplished and through these we were able to bring them up to Class-5 level in one year.
One challenge that has brought me immense joy in fulfilling was that of making these primers available in 32 Indian languages. It is no exaggeration to say that where dialects change every 100 kilometres piecing together the subject matter in their mother tongue and teaching in their heart language needed the utmost effort. We conducted workshops in several regions, followed the National Literacy Mission (NLM) norms, took the services of State Resource Centres, involved subject and language experts, not just translated but constructed the lessons, updated and made them current.
A Chinese proverb goes like this:
The destination is still far off and we are heading in that direction. Meantime the journey itself has become the means of discovery and satisfying for me. I am blessed to be part of this enterprise to seeing a literate church in a literate India.
If you have a calling for or are involved in Adult literacy you may make use of these resources. This is an opportunity for member missions of IMA to contact Seva Bharat for further information. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Solomon Babu, IMA Training Coordinator
It was felt that there is a great need for missions to work together to fulfill the Great Commission. Therefore a 3-day workshop on ‘Partnership in Mission’ with Interdev-India was conducted at the IMA HQ Vision city Campus in Hyderabad on November 12-14, 2014. Participants from 13 member missions and 2 non-members attended this workshop. The purpose of this training was to create awareness and also share skills in developing a partnership.
The resource persons from Interdev were Mr Rio Sibarani from Indonesia, Mr Prem James and Mr William Paul from Interdev-India.
Resource people Mr William Paul, Mr Rio Sibarani and Mr Prem James
Rev Dr Francis Sundararaj, former General Secretary of Evangelical Fellowship of India delivered the key note address and emphasized the need to work together in order to fulfill the Great Commission.
The topics covered
Based on the learning for 3 days, each participant was asked to write a project as to what partnering effort they will be involved in. Also there were games, like Jigsaw, rope game, red and blue game to emphasize that “together” we can do lot more for the Lord than having an individualistic approach.
Participants discussing their plan of action
On the last day participants divided into five groups and developed a year plan to do partnership ventures in various programs. They even decided the dates and the program names as well. IMA will be following up with them to implement what they have planned for.
Many participants expressed that this is the first time they were having a teaching like this. They also expressed their commitment to develop their own partnerships in the areas of their ministry.
Participants praying for the plans they have made
Plans for 2015
We are planning to conduct one day seminars for mission leaders in six cities across India in June 2015. We will be able to have about 15 to 20 leaders come together in each of the cities for a Seminar on partnership. This will open the way for a greater impact on developing partnerships in the future.
Solomon Babu, IMA Training Coordinator
IMA organized a Seminar on Governance, FCRA and Income Tax Rules in partnership with Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief (EFICOR) and Christian Institute of Management (CIM) on 14th & 15th November 2014 at IMA Vision City Campus, Hyderabad. IMA is grateful for this partnership effort.
The seminar was well attended with 33 participants representing 16 member missions and 3 non-member organizations from various parts of India.
The seminar in progress
Dr. Manoj Fogla, Senior Consultant (Finance, Governance and Legal Issues), Cuttack, Rev. Kennedy Dhanabalan Director, EFICOR, New Delhi and Mr. J. S. Anbu Director, Christian Institute of Management, Chennai, took various sessions. The interaction and authoritative replies to pointed questions greatly benefitted the participants.
Dr. Manoj Fogla
The following topics were dealt with giving deep insight and the big picture to the participants.
· Biblical Reflections on Governance
o Leadership and Governance
o Transparency and Accountability in Governance
o Excellence in Governance
· Incorporation Laws and related Governance
· New FCRA 2010 - Existing Law, Practice and Issues
· IT Law - Existing Law, Practice and Issues - with case studies.
There were many group activities and much time was spent on interacting with Dr. Manoj Fogla, who patiently answered all the queries regarding FCRA and IT Law.
Finance leaders from Seva Bharat, Friends Missionary Prayer Band and India Church Growth Mission
On the last day, a token of appreciation was given to all the facilitators.
IMA and Partner organizations are happy to make this consultation available especially to member missions, at highly subsidized cost, to benefit the CEOs and their Finance personnel.
CIM, IMA & EFICOR leaders who partnered the seminar
Feed Back from Participants
Attention: Missions and
churches in North East India
Prakash Nayak, IMA Executive Secretary – South.
IMA SOUTH TAMIL NADU REGIONAL LEADERS GATHERING
IMA members from Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and Tuticorin met on 18th November 2014 at Indian Missionary Society’s office in Tirunelveli. There were eight leaders representing five member missions. Former Bishop of CSI Tirunelveli Diocese, Rt. Rev. Jeyapaul David shared the word encouraging us to be culturally sensitive and to redefine the mission approaches in order to be relevant.
IMA Chairman Pastor Paul Radhakrishnan encouraged the delegates and emphasized on the following four needs, namely, 1 New Task force, 2 Cultural and political awareness, 3 Influence the influencers and 4 the Diaspora.
Later all the member missions shared their ministry focus, challenges they face and prayer requests. We prayed for each other and closed the meeting. This was followed by lunch.
IMA is grateful to the Indian Missionary Society for hosting the meeting and providing lunch for all the delegates.
IMA CENTRAL TAMIL NADU REGIONAL LEADERS GIFT A LAPTOP TO IMA GEN. SEC. AT THEIR GATHERING
The meeting was held on 20th November at India Field Evangelism’s office in Madurai. 25 people attended this meet representing seven member missions for sharing, prayer and fellowship.
IMA Chairman Pastor Paul Radhakrishnan shared from the word and encouraged the missions to ‘finish the task’ while we are waiting for the Lord to come. He also emphasized the need for a Christian Legal Association to bring like-minded advocates to help the churches and missions that are facing persecution and harassment.
We at IMA want to express our gratitude to Madurai and Trichy missions for providing a much needed Laptop to the IMA General Secretary. May God bless their generosity.
Rev. Raja P. Ravi and Rev. Aruldoss Gnanamuthu presenting a laptop for IMA Gen. Sec. to Mr. Prakash Nayak & Pastor Paul Radhakrishnan, IMA Chairman in Madurai on 20 Nov 2014
After the meeting, India Field Evangelism hosted a Christmas dinner for all delegates.
NEWS FROM INDIAN MISSIONS
The Consecration of Rev. Dr. P. R. Parichha, Founder Director of India Evangelistic Association and Executive committee member of India Missions Association as bishop of the Community Churches of India took place at 11 am on 18th November, 2014 at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack, Odisha. The conference hall was packed with 300 participants from different missions and churches from across the state. They also had a few dignitaries, high level officials and a retired Justice of Orissa High Court. It was a glorious moment.
Rev. Dr. Pran Ranjan Parichha and his wife after consecration as Bishop
The function began with prayer by Dr. Mobin Khan followed by a welcome song by Agape Child Development Project. The four Bishops who participated in the consecration ceremony namely Bishop Mano Daniel, Bishop Jeyaraj Mark, Bishop D. B. Hrudaya and Bishop N. Bardha were honoured as per Indian tradition with shawls. The proceedings began by the Presiding Bishop Dr. Mano Daniel and the Consecration proceedings lasted for an hour and half. After the consecration ceremony, as Rev. Dr. Parichha responded to the floor, he was in tears with heartfelt gratitude to the Lord for this honour conferred upon him. He assured the gathering that he will continue to work for the church and the Christian community in Orissa in particular. Towards the end, well wishers and friends honoured him with flowers and a shawl as an expression of their love and respect for Rev. Dr. Parichha. The program ended with a delicious Lunch.
Rev. Dr. Parichha is the first Bishop of Community Churches of India of which he is the Founder-President. All churches planted under IEA ministry over the years have been named Community Churches and this is meant for effective functioning of the churches established over the years. Dr. Parichha continues to be the Founder-Director of the India Evangelistic Association. – From the Report of Program Director, India Evangelistic Association
UNION OF EVANGELICAL STUDENTS OF INDIA, CHENNAI: UESI started in the year 1954 with a vision to transform the students to impact the campuses and the nation as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It focuses on evangelizing post-matric students in India, nurturing them as disciples of Christ who will serve the church and society. UESI is celebrating its 60th Year of God’s faithfulness in Chennai from December 29th 2014 to 2nd January 2015. Please pray for the arrangements and God’s blessings on UESI.
INDIAN CHRISTIAN REVIVAL MOVEMENT, MYSORE: ICRM organized ‘30 days - 30 districts’, prayer coverage for revival in Karnataka Churches, which began on 1st November 2014 at Palace grounds, Bangalore. The final day of the programme was conducted on November 30th in Mysore. Believers came in large numbers and interceded for Mysore district in particular and also for all the 30 districts of Karnataka. Praise God for Rev. John Elangovan who initiated this prayer revival for the churches in Karnataka.
PRESBYTERIAN SYNOD MISSION BOARD, MIZORAM: The Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod constituted the Synod Mission Board (SMB) in 1961. Their work is spread across 17 states in India and in countries like Cambodia, Samoa, American Samoa, Bolivia, Wales, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. In October 2014, SMB commissioned 119 new missionaries, taking the total number of missionaries to 2,482 (as on 25 November 2014). Mission activities and missionaries are fully supported by the churches of the Mizo Synod. Handful of rice is one of the key factors of financial resources in the mission. Selling fire wood, eggs, vegetables, livestock etc. is a common practice in the community to support the missionaries. Praise God for rapid increase in giving for mission work.
RAINBOW EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION, MADURAI: The mission focuses on church planting, led by Mr. Sam Kiruba. They are reaching out to Dhobis, Yadav and Gounder people groups. They have 26 staff in 9 districts of Tamil Nadu. Pray for them and also for the need of 5 additional missionary families to work with them.
SINDHIS IN INDIA
Sindhis are a socio-ethnic group of people originating from the areas bordering the river Sindhu or Indus. Sindh is also a province of modern day Pakistan. The word “Hindu” has been derived from “Sindhu”. Sindhu culture is one of the oldest civilizations. Out of a total of 40 million Sindhis, about 5 million live in India, mostly engaging in business and trade. Sindhis are a peace loving people and one of the richest communities in India.
In the days when Abraham was called from Ur, another great city existed in the land of Sindh called today as Mohenjo-Daro, “Mound of the dead”. This is a significant archaeological site located in the Indus river valley of the Indian sub-continent. The Sindhis, claiming descent from this culture, look back with pride at over forty centuries of history.
After the partition in 1947, Sindh became part of Pakistan. Many Hindu Sindhis who had built Sindh and brought wealth as thriving traders crossed over to India and were reduced to penniless refugees. Along with losing their ancestral land and wealth, much of their culture and tradition also perished. But with much patience, perseverance and long working hours, the Sindhis captured local markets in India and emerged as economic leaders. Further they have established themselves in most major business centers in the world.
OCCUPATION AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE
It has been said that wherever you find a business you will find a Sindhi. They are a very resourceful people. They live together in separate communities within a city or town and the community area is often known as the Sindhi colony. Many Sindhis are educated and are professionals, politicians, and businessmen. They are found in big cities all over the world; many are owners of large businesses, wholesale businesses, and other industrial businesses.
There are approximately 5 million Sindhis in India which represents 0.5% of the population, but they produce 7% of India’s GNP (Gross National Product).
There is no caste within the group, but individuals are known by the region where their forefathers came from. The surnames end mostly by ‘ani’, such as Advani, Mirchandani, and Daswani. The Sindhi Hindus were preponderantly Baisyas, traders and businessmen. The divisions within their ranks were based primarily on sub occupation or territory.
There are 3 sub-communities amongst the affluent segment of the Hindu Sindhi community: namely, Amils, Bhaibands and Seths.
· Amils were originally administrators in medieval Sindh and its adjoining regions, advising rulers. They were educated and often addressed as “Diwan”.
· Bhaibands were the traders, typically involved in import-export trading. Originally working from Thatta in the Indus estuary, then moving to Karachi and Hyderabad, these “bhai” (brothers, brotherhood) became “Bhaibands”.
· The Seths of Shikarpur established a banking system in medieval Central Asia, backed by promissory notes known as Hundis. For centuries they financed commerce and the caravans of the Silk route between China and Europe across Central Asia.
The less educated, less affluent segment of Hindu Sindhi society was made up of petty traders and shopkeepers called hut vanias.
These different strata of the Sindhi society have a common language, but each section has its own characteristic dialect and proverbs. Political leadership has emerged at the regional and national levels. They view education, indigenous and modern medical care systems and family planning favorably. They are also exposed to mass media.
SINDHI CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
The identity of the Sindhi is defined by their language (Sindhi), history, traditional dress (shalwar and chemise), cuisine, form of religion (the cult of Varun and the river god Jhulelal). They are widely dispersed in the urban areas, especially in Mumbai, Saurashtra, Kutch, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and sporadically in Bihar, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. In most communities, they speak Sindhi and Hindi and use the Perso-Arabic and Davanagiri scripts. In Orissa they also use the Oriya script, in Tamil Nadu they are conversant with Tamil and in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana they use Telugu and Urdu for intergroup communication.
The community is non-vegetarian and enjoys chicken, mutton, fish and eggs. Their staple food consists of wheat, rice, bajra and dal. Men take alcoholic drinks occasionally.
Inheritance rules favor the eldest son. In Bihar, the sons inherit property equally. Women have a role in socio-religious ceremonies and mainly look after the household chores. Some women contribute to the family income by doing embroidery work.
Marriage among the Sindhis is considered a sacrament and intercommunity marriages also take place. There is an increase in the age of marriage and a significant decline in the incidence of child marriage, particularly among the educated Sindhis. Further, an increase in demand for dowry has encouraged their girls and boys to acquire higher education. The thread-wearing ceremony (janeoo) is performed before marriage. The marriage ceremonies consist of agreement (misri), dowry (saman), sampradan, seven pheras and Sindhoordan.
Jhulelal (Varun Devata) is the foundation and basic deity of Sindhis. It is believed that today’s Hindu religion is based on the foundation of Jhulelal’s contribution. Followers of Jhulelal believe that when there is a rise in sin on earth, Jhulelal reincarnates in one form or another. Once a year in July, all devotees and disciples of Jhulelal celebrate a festival for 40 days known as “Jhulelal Chalia”. On all the 40 days they perform prayers, sing hymns, worship, and give out prasad and serve food (Langer).
Deities: The Sindhis worship a variety of deities. Some of the significant ones are Jhulelal, Guru Nanak, Hindu gods and goddesses – Ram, Krishna, Shiva, Ganpathi, Hanuman and Lakshmi, Sai Baba,Gurus,Saints. They worship in Puskar and Ajmer (Rajasthan)and also in Vaishnudevi temple (Jammu and Kashmir).
Majority of Sindhis in Pakistan are Muslims. Many Sindhis follow Sufism, which is a blend of Vedantic and Islamic cultures. Some scholars would say that this is the true religion of Sind and of many Sindhis.
The festivals celebrated by them are mainly Holi, Ram Navami, Janmashtmi, Dussehra and Diwali. Both men and women participate in dance and sing folksongs on certain happy occasions. Traditional inter-community links are maintained through exchange of cooked and uncooked food and water with a few Hindu upper castes. They also share crematoria, religious places, etc. with others communities and also participate in their festivals and festivities.
CHRISTIANITY AMONG SINDHIS
There are estimated to be fewer than 20,000 believers among Sindhis in India. Work among Sindhis is complicated by the fact that there are two major religious groups with many differences between them.
HINDRANCES: Christianity is seen as a foreign religion and part of the Western culture. New followers of Christ face many pressures. There is an urgent need for alternative models of the church in which new believers can retain their culture and family loyalty, without compromising the Truth. Young people especially need help with issues such as marriage, fulfilling family responsibilities and their identity as followers of Christ.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHRISTIAN WITNESS: There are many opportunities to witness to Sindhis. Some of them are -
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