FROM THE DESK OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY
Greetings to you in the most precious name of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.
As we enter into the Christmas season, I wish to convey from all of us here at IMA office that we will be praying for you that God will bless you and further that you will be a blessing to at least one person this Christmas.
However, as I write this we are all saddened by the devastating floods in and around Chennai. Although not many lives were lost yet many have been affected severely. We are receiving reports from the member missions of damage to property, especially items like clothing, kitchen utensils, household furniture and books. We are also glad to hear that some member missions and other Christians are helping others, less fortunate than them, despite their own tragedy and loss. We appreciate their kind acts and praise God for this.
Most of us may not be able to go physically to help those in needs, as such, I appeal to one and all to support the relief and rehabilitation efforts through prayers and as the Lord leads to donate in cash. You may send it directly to people and agencies you may know or send it to IMA and we will re-direct it to member missions who are affected.
On a different note, the month of November was a busy month for me: We conducted the second seminar on “Persecution and Legal Issues” in Madurai. This was a programme jointly conducted by IMA and NCCI, and was hosted by the IMA members in Madurai region under the leadership of Rev Aruldoss Gnanamuthu. We are very grateful to them for all the hard work put into the programme.
A few leaders who are involved in Research work in India also met for a one day planning in Bangalore. The outcome of this gathering was the decision to organize a consultation and planning meeting in February 2016 in Hyderabad. At the month’s end I visited Madurai for Christmas Advent fellowship of IMA Member Missions.
The staff also got the privilege to go to the EFICOR office in Delhi for a time of training and orientation. We are very grateful to the executive Director Rev Kennedy Dhanabalan and his team for hosting our staff and lovingly conducting the training.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev I Wati Longkumer
General Secretary, IMA
THEME: ‘GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS…TRIBES, PEOPLES AND LANGUAGES” (MATT.28:18-20, REV. 7:9)
JESUS' ABIDING PRESENCE IN GOD’S MISSION
We now come to the end of the Great commission given by our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord who began the commission saying, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” is ending the command with the words "Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age”. In his conclusion he is emphasizing the power that is available to him is now available to all his disciples as he is going to be with them always.
There are 3 main aspects in his last saying.
There are at least 7 times the word “surely or “Lo” is associated with our Lord in the Gospel according to Matthew. ‘Surely’ has many varied meanings such as Lo. Behold, mark it well, carefully consider, joyously contemplate, be astonished, be amazed and bow in worship. In other word he is saying ‘get excited’. But what are we to be excited about? He is not sending his disciples alone into the world, but he himself is coming along with us. Do not say it is difficult to follow the command, but on the contrary, get astonished and be amazed at this fantastic fact that Jesus is going to be with us.
2. “I am with you always”
This promise was first made to Moses (Deu. 31:8) and Joshua (Jos. 1:5) when God said to them, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Now Jesus is repeating it to cover all his disciples!
He who said “go” to his disciples is now saying, ‘wait a minute, I am coming along with you’. Are we amazed that he is commanding us to ‘go’, not alone but with the Christ himself? He is to lead and we are to follow. The Lord of the universe is going to be with his disciples in fulfilling the commission of going, making disciples of all nations and teaching them.
Jesus knew that the apostles could not rely on their own strength to fulfill the great Commission. That is why he promised to be with them. The promise given at the time of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Emmanuel, God with us” (Mat. 1:23) is now fulfilled. He who said that ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me’ (Mat. 28:18) is going to be with us. He is not going to be with us temporarily, but always! He was to going to send the Holy Spirit to be with us (John 16:7) which was fulfilled in Acts 2. Jesus in his humanity will be with his Father in heaven, till his return. But his divine presence is going to be in heaven and on earth with all his disciples. God is going to be with us when ‘two or three come together in my name’ (Mat. 18:20), but also when we witness to others! With the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, what a great encouragement to all his disciples who go about fulfilling his commission!
What does this mean to our practical life?
· He is going to be with us at times of encouragement and discouragement
· He is going to be with us in days of strength and in days of weakness
· He is going to be with us when we have God’s power and when we face powerlessness
· He is going to be with us at times of victory and in times of oppression
· He gives us freedom to proclaim and is with us in times of rejection
· He is with us in safety and in peril and suffering
· He is with us in our successes and in our failures
· He is with us in times of peace and in times of war
· He is with us when his guidance is clear and when we are confused
· He is with us in health and in sickness.
In days of discouragement his encouragement, protection, sustenance, strength, power, comfort, and everything you desire is available to you. What an encouragement to know that our God is with us on good days and bad days, Sundays and week days, fair days and foul days and summer days and winter days.
3.”To the very end of the age”
The Lord Jesus Christ is not going to be with us temporarily, but we shall have his perpetual presence, till the end of the world. He is going to be with his apostles –
1. In their entire ministry and all their writings which form the bulk of the New Testament
2.With all their successors who will continue with the work till the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He provides pastors and missionaries to minister the Gospel to the people. Satan will never succeed in banishing the Gospel from the earth.
The presence of the Holy Spirit will be with his disciples and their successors till
* a great harvest will occur (Mat. 13:39-43)
* the wicked will be separated from the just (Mat.13:49) and
* when Jesus returns as the triumphant King.
Jesus is going to come again and we need to be diligent in doing the task that he has entrusted to us, namely to go and proclaim the gospel to all nations. Jesus has said, “Yes. I am coming soon” (Rev.22:20).
As we conclude the study of the Great Commission we can see its comprehensive sweep with the 4 ‘alls’.
1. Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth
2. He sends us to make disciples of all nations
3. He bids us to share all his teaching with the new believers
4. He promised us to be with us all the days till the end of the age.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN MISSION
Shivakumar a young man from the Hindu background came to know Lord Jesus while he was studying in Bangalore. He got a job in a hospital in Kohima, Nagaland. His heart was bubbling with the joy of salvation and he always wanted to share the gospel to someone. As he went to Nagaland, a thickly Christian populated state, he thought that there will not be any opportunity to share the Gospel. But, when he started working there in Kohima, he came across many Hindi speaking people who had come for job opportunities from Bihar and UP. His heart was burdened about reaching those people. Though he was not fluent in Hindi he started sharing about Jesus Christ to them and many started coming to know Jesus and churches were planted. A Tamil speaking person living in Nagaland, a Christian state, found opportunities to preach the gospel.
Unlimited opportunities for Missions
Opportunities are everywhere and in everything we do. We are living in a country where there are unlimited opportunities for missions. A God conscious country where many ‘isms’ were born, has 4635 people groups, 468 unwritten languages, more than 27,000 pin codes, and a large number of UPGs (Unreached People Groups) who have no access to the Gospel, brings unlimited opportunities to the church at large. Further, the progressive economic and social development of India has opened up plenty of opportunities for the Gospel. Natural calamities like earth quakes, floods and famine is ensuring greater opportunities for involvement with people for the church in India. One should have bright eyes to see, brave hearts to get involved and strong hands to take the risk of utilising these opportunities.
However, the sad part in this scenario is the church has lost many opportunities in the past! And we keep on losing them in the present as well. The Holy Spirit, who is the architect of the Universal Church, should move our dull hearts to hear and respond to His voice and His guidance. The Holy Spirit is at work in every province and people group of India. In spite of knowing the cost one had to pay, individuals and families are coming forward with boldness to accept Christ. Every day we are able to see these happenings in our mission fields. This calls for greater commitment of the church. The Great Commission, which is the unfinished task of the church, should be the top priority. Every day opportunities are knocking at the door of our church / mission and we are neither able to exploit the situation nor pass it on to someone else to do the job.
Seven keys to open the door of opportunities in every Church and Mission
Challenges in Mission
Every opportunity comes with a package of possibilities and problems. The church should not major on the challenges and the road blocks rather it should focus on the vision. When a church is able to see a clear vision, it overcomes the challenges and gets a road map. The problem with many local churches is that they do not have a clear vision. Many churches are running in a maintenance mode and enthusiasm and vigour is lacking. The church should not ignore the challenges, but be willing to face the challenges. With the help, guidance and the wisdom given by the Holy Spirit, the church should move forward every day from strength to strength.
Every church should be a missional church. A missional church will have active involvement with the local community in the proclamation and the demonstration of the Gospel. Proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel are two sides of the same coin. The goal of every church should be to ensure the total transformation of the local community. All the programmes, practices and plans of the church should create opportunities for the local congregations to get involved with the community. And this is possible when the church engages with the community by being the salt and the light to the community, which brings unlimited opportunities and challenges as well.
* Rev P John Wesley is the General Secretary of the Indian Evangelical Mission (IEM), 38 Langford Road, Bangalore-25.
IEM celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year with 940 mission workers, in 27 states engaging with over 110 unreached communities and people groups through evangelism, church planting, 17 Bible translations and 40 scripture engagement projects, church based literacy programmes and community development activities by working in close partnership with denominational churches, independent churches and Mission agencies across the Globe. To get to know more about IEM please ask for IEM OUTREACH and write to IEM, 38, Langford Road, Bangalore 560025.
IMA Staff along with their families, a total of 10 adults and 6 children, left for the hill stations of Shimla, Kullu and Manali in Himachal Pradesh for a retreat from 8 to 15 October 2015, which was a long due since 2010.
The main purpose of this retreat was as staff and families of IMA to have a time together away from the routine of work, to explore some new places and to have spiritual refreshment.
We started our journey from Hyderabad on 7th night and arrived in Shimla on 9th night and stayed at the YWCA guest house. For some the steep climb up was quite exhausting, but we managed it. The next day we set out to explore Shimla, the capital of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
left picture (Sharon, Theo, Jonathan, Solomon); right picture (Nathan, Deva, Sheeba, Sahna)
Some of the places we visited were Ridge Road (The Ridge is the hub of all cultural activities of Shimla), Christ Church (the second oldest church in North India) and the Nature Park (one of the biggest nature zoos in the state). The adventurous took a horse ride to go into the interior parts of the Nature Park.
On 11th Oct, early morning we left for Kullu and arrived in the evening. We were welcomed by Rev Ayo and his wife Avon, Pastor of Christ Church in Kullu town. It is the first and the only church in the Kullu town and it was established by the Indian Evangelical Mission (IEM), one of the member missions of IMA.
left picture (Prakash, Zohmingthanga); right picture (Sagar, Manu, Sunitha, Minu)
The next day, on the 12th, we left for Manali. On the way we visited a missionary family of IEM and also spent time at the hot springs of Manikaran. Some enjoyed taking bath in the hot springs. In Manali, Mr. Naresh Lal and his wife Shanthi, Chaplain of the Lady Wellingdon Hospital welcomed us and showed us around the church and the hospital. During the day we visited the Solang valley and enjoyed the beautiful views from the top of the ropeway and also went round the shopping areas of Manali.
Pratheek, Nathan, Minu & Manu
We also visited Dar-Ul-Fazl Home, a children’s home of Zoram Evangelical Fellowship (a member mission) and returned to Kullu in the evening.
On 13th, we visited a church in Shalwar village. They welcomed us with their cultural gifts. Kullu caps for men and stoles for women. We had a great time with the Church pastor, who was the son of one of the first believers, and other Christians. Dr. Theodore Srinivasagam spoke in the church and encouraged them with the word of God.
IMA Staff & Families at a Church in Shalwar village
We were also entertained in the home of Gajju Ram and his wife Rukmani who were early believers in that area where IEM worked. On the way back we visited another IEM missionary’s family and had a lovely meal together in a restaurant by the side of the river Beas (often described as heart of the Kullu valley).
In the evenings we had a time of devotion led by Dr. Theodore Srinivasagam.
The same evening we left for Delhi and arrived in Hyderabad on 15th night.
Retreat’s Effect on IMA Staff and their families
It was a great time of visiting new places and having fellowship with each other. Especially it was an encouragement to the staff to break from the busy routine life in Hyderabad and have a refreshing time. This retreat helped all the IMA Staff and their families to understand each other better and to work together for His glory with new zeal. We praise God for keeping us all healthy during this trip.
We greatly appreciate the IEM missionaries, Mr. Luke Titus for the arrangements made for our comfortable stay in Kullu and Mr. Pynshai who accompanied us in our travels. We are also grateful for Dr Theodore Srinivasagam who sponsored the whole retreat by taking care of all of our expenses from travel to accommodation.
3-5 NOVEMBER 2015,
A 3 day consultation on Persecution and Legal Issues was organized by IMA in partnership with NCCI from 3-5 November 2015 at Christ Community Ministries Campus, Madurai. There were more than 50 church and mission leaders who participated and shared their experiences and inputs in this consultation.
Issues dealt with on the first day were as follows –
· The Key note was on "A Relevant Theology of Mission Today"
· Contextual Scanning
· Indian Christian Mission Challenges
· Listening to the Mission Stories
Issues dealt with on second day were as follows –
· Code of Conduct for Christian Workers
· Introduction to Indian Constitution
· Mission Strategies
· Technicalities in Legal Proceedings
· How to Lodge Police Complaints
· Listening to Mission Stories
Issues dealt with on the third day were as follows –
· Bible Study
· Use of Social Media
· Plenary session
The church and mission leaders were greatly benefited with the presentations and there was plenty of discussion through which they found answers to their questions.
Rev. Dr Wati Longkumer, General Secretary of IMA and Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of NCCI were part of the resource team. There were also two High Court Practicing Lawyers whose sessions were filled with much interaction on legal matters. We are thankful to Rev. Aruldoss Gnanamuthu and other mission leaders who helped in the organization of this programme in Madurai.
7-11 SEPTEMBER 2015,
As a follow up of the Ethne 2015 meeting held in Hyderabad from September 7-11, 2015, an India Research Meeting was held in Bangalore in the premises of Trend Ministries on 14th November 2015.
The participants included Mr. Joshua Pillai (trend Ministries), Dr Theo Srinivasagam (IMA), Dr Wati Longkumer (IMA), Rajesh Tiwari (Create/ Global Mapping International), Shibu Mathew (Ethne Magazine), Warren Lawrence (OC International) and Tony Boyd.
The meeting began with devotions by Dr Theo Srinivasagam based on the book of Nehemiah. He shared the importance of survey, research and cooperation in accomplishing the God given task. With a concern for a need of contemporary research in India the leaders met to discuss various aspects of research work already under taken by various groups in India and to explore further research needs.
Various research gaps were highlighted during the discussions. Some of them were Church presence, Evangelism and Church Planting trends, Work among Peoples and Language groups, Cultural Zones trends, People Movements/House Church Movements/Disciple Making Movements, Lessons from past People Movements, Study of Mission organizations by IMA, Migrating Church and other Mission studies such as Property issues, Tent making, Business as Mission, Recruitment, Reaction to Persecution etc.
It was suggested that a ‘Core Team’ should be formed to take these concerns forward and it was recommended that a larger meeting be held on February 18-21, 2016 in Hyderabad and to invite more researchers and organizational information and decision-makers to that meeting. It was decided that some of the topics that could be discussed were past research, needs for research, research training etc. Dr. Wati Longkumer, General Secretary of India Missions Association will be the coordinator for that meeting.
BAGDI IN INDIA
Pop. in India: 39,13,000
Introduction: The Bagdis are traditionally fishermen and claim descent from a Kshatriya father and Vaisya mother. They are considered to have migrated from Bangladesh.
Location and Language: They are concentrated in the central and western parts of West Bengal. Their mother tongue is Bengali.
Lifestyle and Culture: They have numerous subdivisions based on territory, religion and occupation. In 1981 literacy was only 22% for men and 6% for women. Physically, they are belowaverage in height, round faced and broad nosed. Women wear vermilion on the parting of their hair, and iron and shell bangles are symbols of marriage. Dowry is paid at the time of marriage. Most Bagdi live in nuclear families and children help their parents in the fields. Caste disputes are settled by the panchayat.
Occupation and Food Habits: Their occupation is fishing, making fishing nets and agricultural labour. About 80% live in rural areas and most of them are agricultural labourers. The great majority do not own land. Duley Bagdis were palanquin bearers andTentullawork as masons and make lime. Their main cereal is rice. They are non-vegetarian but do not eat beef or pork and men drink alcohol occasionally.
Religion: Bagdi are Hindus worshipping Shiva, Kali, Lakshmi, Nabagvaha, Kulchandi and other deities. Brahmins officiate at important ceremonies and festivals such as Manasa Puja, Durga Puja, and Gajan.
UPCOMING IMA EVENTS & PROGRAMMES
URGENT PRESS RELEASE
TORRENTIAL RAINS AND FLOODS HIT CHENNAI – PRAY & SUPPORT
CHENNAI, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is the 5th-largest city and 4th-most populous metropolitan area in India and 36th-largest urban area in the world, is lashed by torrential rains, the worst in 100 years, and have brought the city to a standstill affecting the daily lives of people and all other activities.
Since 18th November 2015 Chennai was lashed with rain. On 1st December 2015, the situation became worse due to heavy downpour and the rising waters in many parts left the city flooded, leading to a huge crisis. Around 300 deaths are reported from the middle of last month. This rain also affected the nearby districts such as Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram and Cuddalore.
People are stuck without food, water and proper places to stay in many areas. Medical care is also under strain as some hospitals have run out of food, water and electricity. Patients are left stranded without doctors and nurses to look after them.
The Indian Army, Navy, Air Force and the National Disaster Response Force, the State Fire & Rescue Services, all political parties’ cadres, the Police, many NGOs and normal citizens have joined in rescue efforts and are helping as many of the flood affected victims as they can.
In many parts of Chennai, fellow citizens have shown much courage in rescuing people from flooded houses, offering shelter, mobile recharge etc. Schools, Colleges, Malls, Cinema theatres and offices have opened their doors to stranded people. The Government, NGOs and some Christian organizations and churches are distributing food and essential items. Telecom companies have offered free talk time to their customers. Social media has played a major role in rescuing the people.
It was heartwarming to see people inviting affected people to shelter in their homes and some have announced free recharge of mobile phones of people who were trying to communicate with their loved ones. Mass kitchens are being organized to feed the affected people. This gesture of good will is making a lasting impression in this NATIONAL DISASTER.
NEED FOR REHABILITATION
Some of the people from Chennai have compared this calamity to be worse than the Tsunami that affected the Southern and Eastern India in 2004. Unconfirmed reports estimate the loss and damages to thousands of crores* of Rupees and it may take years to rebuild the city.
The rehabilitation is going to be long term. IMA wants to mobilize the Member Missions to help the people affected in Chennai and the surrounding areas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Pray for the situation to turn normal and for speeding up of the relief & rebuilding work.
2. Support financially. Please send your donations. Kindly make sure to mention RELIEF -CHENNAI FLOODS while making your donations. All your support will reach the appropriate places by channeling your donations through credible IMA Member Mission Organizations.
HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT?
Please inform us by email/post after you send your contribution to help us send you a receipt.
Write to email@example.com for more information.
* 1 crore=10 million
NEEDS OF IMA FOR YOUR PRAYER & SUPPORT
The following are the needs of IMA:
- 2 days event for 35 people : Rs. 50,000
- 3 days event for 35 people : Rs. 75,000
- 5 days training for 35 people : Rs. 1.2 lakhs
- Laptops, LCD projectors & IT equipment : Rs. 4 lakhs
- 4-wheeler Vehicle : Rs. 8 lakhs
- IMA Accommodation & Conference facilities upgrading : Rs. 10 lakhs
- IMA Campus Farming : Rs. 1 lakh
For details you may write to Ms. Sharon Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW CAN YOU CONTRIBUTE TO IMA?
Please inform us by email/post after you send your contribution to help us send you a receipt.
India Missions Association, 5-47, Kundanpally Village, Keesara Mandal,
©2015 India Missions Association. All rights reserved