Dear friends and partners,
At the outset, on behalf of the IMA staff, and my family and myself, I extend a warm Happy New Year greeting with a prayer that our Gracious Saviour and Master will guide and lead you to be a blessing this year.
The beginning of a New Year is also a time of reflection on the past and making new resolutions or plans for many.
Here, at IMA office we the staff began 2016 with a reflection from the book of Nehemiah. We especially noted two points. First, Nehemiah’s concern for his people; even though he was holding a prestigious and comfortable office in the imperial court, yet, he had not forgotten his people. When he heard the sad news of the suffering that the fellow Jews were undergoing in Jerusalem, he was deeply distressed out of a concern for them. Then he fasted and prayed confessing not only his own but the sins of his nation, and decided to leave the comfort of the capital and go to identify with his people. Secondly, he knew that his God is a great God and a prayer answering God, and so he prayed to Him and asked for the almost impossible – leave of absence from the imperial court, safe conduct and premium timber for building the wall. And the inspiring point is that God did answer, indeed, with more than he asked for, cavalry as escort for him was added to his list of requests by the emperor himself (Neh 1-2).
Nehemiah accomplished great things for his people because he asked great things of a great God and relied on Him. This faith and commitment of Nehemiah has encouraged us to make a fresh commitment to be faithful and sincere like Nehemiah in our devotion to God.
As Dr Theodore Srinivasagam, has been mentioning, we have decided to conduct only need based programmes, be it training, consultation or seminars. And accordingly we have planned the following programmes keeping in mind the needs of the Agencies and workers. In fact, most of the programmes planned so far, are on the initiatives of the leaders of the member missions.
In January I will be traveling extensively, and would appreciate your prayers for a more effective ministry and safety in journey:
Now, as we begin a new calendar year let us be assured that “He who began a good work will carry it on to completion” (Phil 1:6).
Rev Dr I Wati Longkumer
THEME: MISSION IN THE BIBLE.
BIBLE STUDY 1
MISSION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
We often think that ‘Mission’ is confined to a few places in the Bible such as in the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 or Acts 1:8. So we think of mission as something like a pickle, which gives flavor for the food, but not really essential for a meal! However when we look at scripture the theme of mission is found throughout the Bible.
In this series of Bible studies I intend to bring out the importance of ‘Mission’ and show that from the beginning to the end the Bible has the theme of ‘Mission’ running through it. Mission should not just be the pickle, but the bread and butter or ‘rice and dahl’ or ‘roti and sabji’ of Christian life.
What is Mission?
Before we go further, it is important to define what we mean by ‘mission’ and ‘missions’.
God is a missionary God – in the Old Testament
We can look at this from different angles.
1. He is the Universal God.
God is a Universal God for all ages, regions and peoples.
a) The O.T. begins with the Universal God, not a petty god.
We read at the very start of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen.1:1). There was cosmos meaning beauty. We need to note the plurality of heavens and a single earth. Today scientists are still grappling with innumerable galaxies, stars, solar systems, planets, asteroids, cosmic dust and comets of our universe and still searching for life on another planet. But this is only one universe and no one knows how many universes there are. ‘Our universe is just one tiny bubble in a large froth of universes’. It is a great God who created them and no petty godling.
b) The OT begins with worship of one God by people of Israel while other nations followed geographical gods.
From the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and later the people of Israel, worshipped one God. But other nations worshipped various geographical and regional gods.
We live in a society where people do not know, how the world came into being and who made it. It is a great assurance for us to know that the God whom we worship is not only a Universal God but also a Creator God. His Word is valid not just in certain regions of the earth or among certain groups of people, but throughout the universe.
Further we live in a country where people worship a variety of national, regional, local, clan and family gods each with its own boundaries and jurisdiction. In this context the mission of God is to proclaim that the God is universal and the message of salvation is also universal.
2. He is the Creator God
Not only God is a Universal God, but he is also a Creator God. We see this in the following ways.
· O.T. begins with Creation, not with a piece of land called Palestine (Gen. 1:1). Very often we think that history of the world begins with Palestine. But in fact it begins with the creation of the world. In Genesis 1:1, we see that ‘God created the heavens and the earth’ with his Word, ex-nihilo, out of nothing – without any source of material or energy.
· O.T. begins with Human race, not with a chosen race -Israel (Gen. 1:26). We also note that the story of the human race begins with his creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden without any ones aid (Gen.1:27). It did not begin with Israel.
· O.T. begins with Adam the first man, not Abraham (Gen. 2:7). Further, the O.T. begins with Adam, the first man, with God breathing into him to give him life (Gen. 2:7). It did not start with Abraham.
So all of creation and humanity are subject to God.
(To be continued)
* Dr R. Theodore Srinivasagam is the Executive Consultant of the India Missions Association. He was formerly the General Secretary of IMA.
MAHARASHTRA VILLAGE MINISTRIES
The beginning was very humble. It goes back to the days when the Union Biblical Seminary (UBS) was in Yavatmal. I was studying there to equip myself for ministry in 1977. One of the emphases of UBS was to send the students to the villages during weekends for practical ministry. I along with a small group of students used to cycle for miles selling gospel books and preaching the Gospel. For the first time many villages around Yavatmal heard the Good News. This weekend ministry enabled us to see the great needs in the rural areas of Maharashtra and motivated us to start a small prayer group named UPHOLDING PRAYER RING (UPR). The aim of this group is to pray for the personal needs of the missionaries serving all over in Maharashtra and North India. We appointed a missionary to follow-up with the seekers in that area. We contacted many mission organizations to send some workers to the Yavatmal area, but many responded saying that they were short of workers. In this situation, God called me to serve Him.
I obeyed this call and committed myself for the cross-cultural ministry. The Maharashtra Village Ministries was founded in 1981 and was registered as a Society and Trust in 1986. We shifted our location from Yavatmal to Nagpur for better church relations, travel, and connections in 1987. We became a member of IMA in 1989. I married Faith in 1990 and she became part of the vision and together we served the Lord in different capacity in equipping the missionaries. With the passage of time, the Lord helped the Mission to grow.
MVM completes 34 years of ministry and steps into the 35th year in His vineyard this year. Our vision is to bring the people of the remote villages of Maharashtra into the fold of Christ, through the proclamation of the Gospel by word and deed. We have 180 grass root church planters working in the rural areas of Maharashtra. The state Maharashtra has 43,722 villages in 36 districts. We work in the districts of Amravati, Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Gondia, Nanded, Nagpur, Pune, Raighard, Thane, Wardha and Yavatmal. There are 305 different people groups in the state of which we work among 40 PGs, notably Kolam, Gond, Banjara, Pardhan, Pardhi, Mahar, Marathas, Varli, Teli, Kunbi, Madgi and Korku.
MVM is a Holistic Mission organization involved in some of the activities given below:
Apart from this, we have also started 3 English medium schools for the rural poor. We have built 3 Happy Homes to provide lodging and good education facilities to the children of the missionaries.
In the initial days, to be accepted by the locals was a challenge, as the cross-cultural work isn’t a red carpet. We consciously decided to train and send first generation Christians to their own groups. Of all the 180 workers we have, 95% of them are first generation Christians from Maharashtra itself. We didn’t recruit missionaries from other states to work in Maharashtra except for Education and Community Development activities.
Finance was a challenge from the start, but God helped us to carry on. There is stiff opposition from political groups, militant Hindu people and especially from the rural business community that exploits the villagers, since the community started to learn and read.
But in midst of this opposition, we have 300 worship groups or Prarthana Bhavans (Prayer House.)
Fishers of Men Training Institute (FMTI) situated at our Shalom Training Center.
This STC is located in Yavatmal. The vision of this institute is to give appropriate and holistic training, which is relevant to the rural context, Bible centered, Holistic and Missiological.
Most of our missionaries are first generation Christians who are trained in our training center for a period of one year. They spend their first 9 months at the school and the last 3 months with the existing missionaries in the mission fields for practical experience. So far we have trained 18 batches of grass root church planters with each batch consisting of 20 to 30 people. Once they become missionaries, we enroll them into B.Miss/B.Min and M.Miss/M.Min courses for constant learning. We follow CBTE curriculum of BILD and equip them in the way of Christ and apostles.
This center also facilitates to equip local evangelists and grass root church planters. Regular staff training like induction program, orientation and skills training take place here.
God willing, we want to replicate the same model in other states, that is, by using the locals (sons of the soil) to reach a particular state. Whatever we have learnt, we want to develop it in other places too.
Faith and I are at this point preparing the right leader to take over MVM from 2017. Then on, we both will be involved in teaching, training and counseling people.
Thoughts for Mission leaders
We had great leaders in the past, but today there is a dearth. Missions and churches must strive hard to develop the next generation of leaders, especially the younger leadership and equip them. They must also decentralize their ministerial functions and promote working as teams.
As leaders we must be aware of, how the nation perceives us as Christians, churches, missions etc. and find appropriate ways to bring change in their attitude and thinking. By keeping the above in mind, I’m involved in writing a book on BEST PRACTISES in Missions, Partnership, and Communication etc. We should come out of our boundaries and engage with people of all walks of life.
We as missions must revisit our mission and vision statement at least once in every 2 or 3 decades. We should keep revising our policies and functions according to the changing trends and time. We must be open for innovation and be ready to do things differently from what we were doing in the past.
We should go beyond the ‘numbers and members’ mode and create dynamic Christ like disciples and life style. We must leave a legacy behind for the next generation to be inspired and follow.
* Rev. Dr. D. B. Kulothungan is the Director of Maharashtra Village Ministries, Nagpur, Maharashtra. He is a member of the IMA Executive Committee.
IMA STAFF TRIP TO EFICOR, NEW DELHI –
MANAGEMENT SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
IMA Staff visited the EFICOR office in Janakpuri, New Delhi from 24 to 28 November 2015 for a time of developing skills related to Management and Organizational development.
Rev. Kennedy Dhanabalan, Executive Director of EFICOR and his team warmly welcomed us. We spent 4 days discussing and learning the skills connected with the management of Finance, Training, Budget, Projects and Human Resource Development. We too discussed on other leadership matters and issues.
IMA Staff with Rev. Kennedy Dhanabalan, Executive Director of EFICOR
We also spent time with different teams and interacted on the way they function. It was a great time of learning.
We are very grateful to Rev Kennedy Dhanabalan for hosting us with comfortable accommodation and delicious food. We too thank his team for lovingly conducting this skills development programme for us.
A Church Leaders Conference was organized by the Synod of the Church of North India (CNI) from 1st to 3rd December 2015 at Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
About 350 church and mission leaders participated. Most of them were from IMA member organizations: 100 leaders from FMPB, 25 leaders from IEM and 6 leaders from NMS. There were also representatives from the CNI dioceses of Amritsar, Rajasthan, Delhi, Chandigarh and few others.
This conference was about encouraging church leaders to get involved in integral mission. The following events took place during the 3 day conference.
Events of the first day:
· Keynote address was given by Most Rev. P.K. Samantaroy, Moderator of CNI
· Bible exposition by Rev. Dr. Sam Kamalesan
· Holistic mission in the present day context was presented by the World Vision Team
· Leadership and missions was presented by Mr. John Samuel, President of FMPB
Events of the second day:
· Bible exposition by Rev. Dr. Sam Kamalesan
· World and evangelistic view on mission in the present day context by the World Vision Team
· Praying for the nation and major mission challenges by Rev. Simon Ponniah, Gen. Sec., FMPB
· Challenges of doing missions in today’s context by Rev. Paul Swaroop
Events of the third day:
· Bible Exposition by Rev. Sam Kamalesan
· Group discussion on the theme
· Sharing by mission partners (FMPB, IEM, NMS, NPN, CNI)
· Way forward – Plan of action and forming Prayer network
Each morning and evening there were Bible exposition and encouraging messages led by Rev. Dr. Sam Kamalesan on ‘People who got Visions’ in the Bible and its holistic impact.
At the end of the program they formed a Prayer network and came up with a ‘way forward’ plan on how best churches can be involved in integral mission.
IMA CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS
IMA staff and former staff with their families gathered to celebrate Christmas on Monday, 21st December 2015 at the beautifully decorated hall in the IMA Vision City Campus. Around 50 people participated in this get-together.
The celebration began when Rev. Dr. Wati Longkumer, IMA General Secretary, warmly welcomed all the participants. IMA children performed a WELCOME dance and a few elders sang a Christmas song. Everybody was given time to introduce themselves. After that all of us had a great time of fun and fellowship by playing various games that were designed for adults, couples and children. All the ladies present distributed Christmas gifts to the kids.
Lastly Rev. Francis Sunder Raj shared the word of God. The programme came to an end with a delicious lunch. Throughout the program we were filled with joy and were constantly reminded to meaningfully celebrate Christmas.
NEWS FROM INDIAN MISSIONS
Indian Evangelical Mission was started during the EFI Annual Conference in Devalali, Maharashtra in January 1965. Its founder General Secretary was the Late Rev. Dr. Theodore Williams. IEM works in 29 states and Union Territories of India among 120 People groups. It celebrated its Golden Jubilee (1965-2015) with two major conferences in 2015. The first one was in Bangalore from 22-25 October 2015 for the General public and supporters, where Mr. R. Stanley of Blessing Youth Mission was the main speaker. The second one was in Hyderabad from December 28 - January 1, 2016 for all its 900 mission workers and their families when Bishop Robert Solomon of Singapore and Rev. Dr. Ramesh Richard of Dallas Bible Seminary were the main speakers.
On 30th December 2015, during the IEM Missionaries Family conference as part of the IEM’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in Hyderabad, Rev. John Wesley the General Secretary of IEM (2007-2015) handed over his responsibility to Rev. Dr. E.D. Raja Singh, the New General Secretary from January 2016. Rt. Rev. Paul P. Dupare , Bishop of Nagpur and Chairman of the IEM Board conducted the Dedication service of the new General Secretary assisted by Most Rev. P. K. Sumantaroy, Moderator of Church of North India and Most Rev. Dr. G. Dyvasirvadam, Moderator of Church of South India. Others who participated in the dedication service were the former General Secretaries of IEM, namely Dr. R. Theodore Srinivasagam (1990-99), Mr. Victor Sitther (1999-2002) and Rev. Noel Kotien (2002-2007). Several dignitaries were also present including IMA General Secretary Rev. Dr. Wati Longkumer and his wife. It was a joyful occasion for all who participated in it.
On 11 December 2015, the Board of Vishwa Vani installed Mr. W. Wilson Gnanakumar as the new CEO of the Vishwa Vani in Hyderabad. Mr. Wilson takes over the leadership from Mr. P. Selvaraj. Mr. Selvaraj has been recognized as a great mentor and a team worker with commitment to the Lord’s work. He will continue to be the Chief Mentor for the many different organizations began through the ministry of Vishwa Vani.
35th Anniversary Celebrations of Maharashtra Village Ministries (MVM)
It was started in 1981 in Yavatmal, Maharashtra with a vision to bring the people of the remote villages of Maharashtra into the fold of Christ, through the proclamation of the Gospel by word and deed. It is celebrating its 35 years of God’s faithfulness in its ministry. The celebrations will be held during their Annual Missionary Convention, 29th – 31st January 2016 in Pune. Please uphold this in your prayers.
110th Anniversary Celebrations of The National Missionary Society of India (NMSI)
It was formed in the year 1905 with an aim to reach India with the Gospel of Jesus Christ using Indian Men, Methods and Money. It is celebrating its 110 years of God’s faithfulness in its ministry. The celebrations were held on 9th January 2016 in Kolkata. Please uphold this in your prayers.
BRO. S. KASIRAJAN, Founder, Bastar for Christ Missionary Movement
Brother S.Kasirajan is the founder of Bastar for Christ Missionary Movement, a non-denominational organization functioning in the state of Chhattisgarh since 1987. The organization has an influential status in the state. It has close to 110+ congregations including 53 constructed churches, 9 Ashrams in 100+ mission fields and 120+ mission staff working with it.
Brother Kasirajan was born on 27th May 1952 in a faithful C.S.I. Christian family. In 1973 he got his degree in B.Sc. Geology. On12th September 1979, he married sister Manimegalai, who played an important role in bringing his life towards Christ.
In 1982, he had a severe attack of jaundice. It was then that He felt God’s call to him for doing His ministry. He then committed his life to God, saying that he will do His ministry if he is healed from that sickness. By God’s grace, he was healed. He then engaged himself in his church youth fellowship and started doing ministry with them. Being inspired for ministering in North India, he committed his life as a missionary to North India. In 1985, he joined I.M.S and they sent him to West Bengal. The very next year, he was sent to Gujarat and Maharashtra. At last, in 1987, he was sent to Madhya Pradesh to a field named Sukma in Bastar District (before Chhattisgarh was separated from Madhya Pradesh).
In September 1987, He felt God’s clear call for starting an independent evangelical mission among Bastar tribal people. Obeying God’s call, He resigned from I.M.S. and started his ministry independently. In 1991, with the vision for Bastar tribal people in Chhattisgarh he started Bastar for Christ Missionary Movement at Dantewada town, which is located 100 km away from his previous mission field Sukma.
He got a burden to gather children and give them love and care and ultimately shower on them the love that Christ. He started an Ashram and raised up many orphan children with good care and education and with good disciplined spiritual lives. The organization now manages 9 Ashrams in different mission fields, currently taking care of 202 children. He also served the society through day-care centres where 265 children are being blessed. In 2011, his wife went to be with the Lord, and he named some of the Ashrams after her.
On 22nd November 2015, he sensed that it was time for him to return to his creator. He called his helper and told that he is going leave this earth soon. He was unconscious for the next 5 days and was treated in a hospital using a ventilator in the ICU. He regained consciousness on 27th November 2015 and entered the presence of God on 8th December 2015.
He is not alive today, but his passion and burden for the people of Bastar is still alive in the hearts of Bastar mission staff and they are teaming up in taking the mission forward for Christ. Life story of Bro. S. Kasirajan is definitely a motivating story for all us who are all being part of the mission someway or other.
Coordinator, Bastar for Christ Missionary Movement
BAHNA IN INDIA
Pop. in S. Asia: 32,00,000
Introduction: The Bahnas are traditionally cotton carders or cleaners who use vibrations of a bow-string to separate fibres of cotton.
Location and Language: They are found in Gujarat, Central and Western Madhya Pradesh and in Karnataka. The major language is Marathi.
Lifestyle and Culture: Most Bahnas are Muslim. The Hindu Bahnas have scheduled caste status. Muslim marriages are performed by a Kazi. A new born child's hair is cut on the tenth or twelfth day and a lock of hair is left to grow on the head to ensure long life in the name of the saint Shaikh Farid similar to the Hindu "choti" or scalp lock. A widow can remarry. Divorce is permitted. The dead are buried with feet pointing to the south. Incense is burned for forty days after death, probably to prevent his ghost haunting the house.
Occupation and Food Habits: They are cotton carders, cotton product makers, labourers, herdsmen and cultivators. Now many are shopkeepers, bricklayers, peddlers, and oil extractors from seeds.
Religion: Most of the Bahnas are Muslims, but follow many Hindu
customs. They venerate Mohammed and Muslim saints or "Pirs". For
exorcising evil spirits, they write Koran texts on paper and burn them in
front of the sufferer. They have a priest
UPCOMING IMA EVENTS & PROGRAMMES
1. 18-20 Feb, IMA Vision City, Hyderabad – Research Network: A gathering for consultation and coordination among Research workers in Indian Mission Fields.
Who can attend:
CEOs or his representative of Mission Agencies involved in Research
work on India or have plans to do so.
2. 25th February, Chennai
– Church Planters Network: A gathering for consultation and
coordination on church planting strategy:
3. March: 9-11, IMA Vision
City, Hyderabad – Neighbours Training: An on-going training programmes
for workers amongst the Neighbours.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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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