01 June 2015
Warm greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The month of May was extremely hot in Hyderabad and rest of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. According to press reports over a thousand died because of the sun stroke. Further, the Nepal earthquake left over eight thousand dead and thousands injured apart from making thousands homeless and devastating large sections of the country. We need to pray for the bereaved families and help those in need in whatever way we can. I am sending out a letter written by Dr. Ebe Sunderaraj for those who want to help the victims of the Nepal Calamity. It is given elsewhere in this issue of ‘India Missions News’.
I attended several conferences in May. The first one was the “Vision Synergy” Conference (May 12-14) for network leaders in Barcelona, Spain, where I met my counterparts from some of the countries as well as those involved in global networks. Then I participated in the EFI Executive and Conference (May 19-21) in New Delhi and the Generosity Seminar (May 22-24) in Hyderabad. All these conferences helped me to learn new ways of doing mission and in making known IMA and its activities.
Dr David Ruiz, WEA MC & Dr Theo Srinivasagam, IMA
Dr. Wati Longkumer attended the Church of North India Consultation with Indian Mission Partners (May 13-15) facilitated by ‘Faith 2 Share’ and organized by Church of North India and then the EFI Conference (May 19-21), both in New Delhi.
IMA needs your constant prayer and financial support as financially it is very weak. So may I request you to kindly pray and give your yearly minimum contribution of Rs. 5,000/- and also give liberally towards its staff support which is Rs. 5,000/- per month and other needs.
Forth Coming Events:
Please do not miss these consultations and training programmes, which will greatly benefit your mission and its work.
With kind regards,
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)
“MAKING DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS….” IN GOD’S MISSION
The Great commission has 3 participles: go, baptize and teach. These three are dependent upon the main verb “make disciples” which is an imperative or command. So the Lord Jesus Christ has given us a method of making disciples, namely to go, baptize and teach.
But the Lord Jesus Christ did not want making disciples to be confined to one’s own language group, cultural group or race. He instructed the early apostles to make disciples “of all nations”. The word nation or ‘ethnos’ (Greek) means a multitude of individuals of the same nature, race or nation. So it indicates a large group of people who speak the same language, have the same culture, customs, heritage, geographical location etc. The modern term for this is ‘People Group’.
It is significant that Christ used the word ‘nations’ indicating that the goal of the Great Commission is not just a few individuals to be disciples, but eventually, whole groups of people and nations, are to be brought under the subject of Jesus Christ. This includes cultures, institutions and rulers and authorities.
God’s intended purpose for man before the fall was to develop a worldwide godly culture that honored and glorified God. This is why He gave the command to Adam and Eve to have dominion over the whole earth (Gen1: 26-30). But man’s sin and its consequence necessitated the need of a Savior (Gen 3:15).
The concern that God has for all mankind is not something that came with the Great Commission. But it has been inherent from the beginning as can be seen from the following references.
1. All families:
In the three fold promise to Abraham, God’s promise to Abraham was that "in you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Gen 12:3 NKJV). Abraham’s obedience to the call of God resulted in God’s blessing of all families who follow him throughout all generations even to the present day. It’s fantastic to think that God has blessed your family and mine because of the covenant relationship between God and Abraham.
2. All Peoples:
God’s concern extends to all peoples and this is seen from the following passages.
We note that King Solomon when he dedicated his new temple prayed to God in 1 Kings 8: 41-43, as follows: “As for the foreigner……when he comes and prays towards this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you …” In Psalm 67:3 we read the Psalmist writing with longing, “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you”.
3. All Nations:
There are number of references in the Bible about God’s concern for all nations.
In Psalms 67:2 we read the Psalmist longing “that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations”. In Isaiah 66:18 we see God promising to “gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory”.
4. All nations, tribes, peoples and languages.
We have a glimpse of what God has in store for all nations as we read Rev 7: 9-10. There we see “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb… And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God’”. So God’s ultimate plan for all nations, tribes, peoples and languages is to gather them into His kingdom.
God has therefore called us to make disciples of all ethne. Are you involved in discipling people of all cultures, languages and ethnic back grounds in the area that you are living?
I was born as the 8th child to my parents on 20th November, 1933. They would remind me often that it was God’s grace that saved my life during my birth and God has some special task for me. During my childhood my parents took me along as they travelled extensively to evangelize the rural areas of Rayalaseema. When I was a teenager I was exposed to communist ideology, which took me away from God. I praise God that my father, who in 1947 was consecrated as a Bishop of the newly formed Church of South India, was persistent in his efforts and led me to the Lord during an evening family prayer.
After my post-doctoral research as a Fulbright Scholar at Northwestern University, Chicago, USA, I returned to India. I joined the Osmania University, Hyderabad, to teach and do research, especially in the branches of Geology that were not taught in Indian Universities. I had also taken special studies under UNESCO program on Hydrogeology, particularly to explore and manage groundwater in hard rock areas.
In 1972, I got more involved with socio-economic development of the poor. My wife, Mary Chinthamani, and I, out of the concern for the poor people around Nandyal area, where our fathers and grandfathers were involved in church development, initiated two voluntary organizations. They are –
While my wife and I were busy with our respective jobs and raising our three daughters and son, God gave us opportunities to get involved with a number of Christian organizations and local church activities. Later with my father’s inspiration and God’s guidance we started a short term skill development school at our home. As the demand for the training grew, we registered the organization TENT -- Training in Evangelism Needs and Technology in 1985. Soon we purchased a land of about 12 acres behind a village named Kondapur on the outskirts of Hyderabad, to develop models of dry land agriculture, horticulture, etc. I thought it would be appropriate to name this campus as “Carmel” for the training of tent making missionaries.
A few years later we built the KING Centre, the main building with class rooms, library, staff rooms, computer laboratory, an auditorium and guest rooms. A dormitory for men was built next to it. A number of workshops for carpentry, electrical wiring, fabrication, non-conventional energy, mushroom culture, sheds for dairy cows, poultry and rabbits were constructed and developed for income generation and demonstration purposes.
At the age of 55, I took voluntary retirement from the position of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Geology, Osmania University. My desire was to devote the rest of my years in serving God by mobilizing and equipping grassroots workers to be tentmakers. A few months later, I joined the Partners International after the request of then President Rev. Luis Bush and worked as Regional Coordinator for South Asia for 12 years.
In 1993, there was a major earthquake in central part of India killing 30,000 people in about 45 seconds. This event was a clear sign to me of Jesus’ second coming was near as I read Mathew 24:14, “Gospel of this kingdom will be proclaimed to all the nations (people groups) as a testimony in the whole world and then the end will come.” Motivated by this verse, we started a training program known as Joshua Vision India (JVI) in April 1995. The goal of JVI is to equip theologically trained graduates, who know the Lord and have a calling for missions and development of the poor. After a year of training at JVI, they are sent out as Master Trainers who will equip others to plant churches among unreached people groups. Over the last 20 years over 240 men and women belonging to different missions and churches were trained and sent back to their respective regions.
In the year 2000, a 6 month training program named IWILL (Indian Women in Lord’s Labour) was launched for training committed, mission-minded women eager to work among unreached people groups. In addition to the above courses, a one month course for grass-root level women named Holistic Development Training was started. More recently a course for married couples working together as church planters has been started with the name Customized Orientation for Strategic Transformation, or COST.
By God’s grace most of those who have been trained represent a wide spectrum of Churches and Missions from all over India and are doing their best to carry on the ministry. The outreach and follow up department regularly visit and evaluate their performance. The data that is collected is used to update and redesign the training material used for future cohorts.
On the occasion of the 30 years Celebration, a research project named Preparing the Way was inaugurated. Case studies from the field will be analyzed for keeping it available for those missions/ministries interested in people group approach.
To God be the glory for the wonderful way He led TENT ministry during all these years.
1 Condensed from ‘The Story of Tent’- published by TENT, 2015.
2 Prof B. E. Vijayam is the Founder and Director of TENT (Training in Evangelism Needs and Technology) in Hyderabad, Telangana.
SUMMIT, BARCELONA, SPAIN, MAY 12-14, 2015
Vision Synergy, an international Partnership organization, formed by Phil Butler, held its 2015 summit in Barcelona, Spain on May 12-14, 2015. The 140 network leaders, from 42 networks, with several from India including Dr. Theodore Srinivasagam, General Secretary of IMA, who participated were greatly inspired with the stories of networks and partnerships working effectively in different parts of the world. The participants learnt valuable lessons and able to connect with likeminded leaders to further collaboration across the world for the extension of God’s Kingdom.
“Vision Synergy” Conference (May 12-14) in Barcelona, Spain
CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA
CONSULTATION WITH INDIAN MISSION AGENCIES,
From 13-15 May 2015 the CNI organised a Consultation with some of the Mission Agencies in India. The Moderator of CNI the Most Rev Samantaroy and Rev Simon Ponniah, the General Secretary of Friends Missionary Prayer Band were the key organisers of this consultation and Rev Mark Oxbrow of Faith2Share was the facilitator.
The meeting was attended by 13 Bishops of CNI, including the Moderator, Deputy Moderator and General Secretary, besides representatives from FMPB, IMS, NMS, WVI and IMA. The Bishop Charles Muturi from Kenya as well as Rev. Dr Sam Kamaleson and Mr Patrick Joshua were the other notable participants.
The three days consultation centered on the need for unity and cooperation between Church and Mission agencies for more effective witness particularly in the CNI region. Secondly, the consultation explored ways for the CNI churches to be pro-active in missions. Another, significant decision was the commitment made to organise a rally in Delhi expressing solidarity of all Christians irrespective of denominations.
FELLOWSHIP OF INDIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE, NEW DELHI, MAY 19-21
The Evangelical Fellowship of India held its Annual conference in New Delhi on May 19-21, 2015.There were representatives from several north Indian states at the conference. IMA General Secretary Dr. Theodore Srinivasagam and General Secretary Designate Rev. Dr. Wati Longkumer, participated in the meetings. Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, the General Secretary of EFI, who is recovering from his recent illness, gave the concluding address.
EFI Conference (May 19-21) in New Delhi
HYDERABAD, MAY 22-24, 2015
A Generosity Summit was organized by an organization called 'Flat Fish' and facilitated by Mr. P K D Lee in Hyderabad on May 22-24, 2015. The speakers Dr. L.T. Jeyachandran and Rev. C A Benjamin and many others shared of the importance of Christians, especially those in India, to be generous in their various resources such as time, talents and money. A book called 'We're All Game Changers' was released during the conference. Dr. Theo Srinivasagam, General Secretary of IMA was one of the participants.
Generosity Seminar (May 22-24) in Hyderabad
NEWS FROM INDIAN MISSIONS
INDIA FOR CHRIST MINISTRIES
Praise God for enabling IFCM to complete 27 years of ministry. Pray for the year ahead to be fruitful and a good harvest of souls. Praise god for the healing of Bro. Paul Devakumar. Pray for good health and for the Lord to continue to use him. Pray for Sis. Rebecca Devakumar undergoing dialysis and treatment for her kidneys. Pray for strength and recovery. Pray for the follow up work among children who participated in the Vacation Bible Schools.
-Rev Dr Paul Devakumar is the Director of India For Christ Ministries – IFCM Prayer Calendar June 2015.
KARNATAKA EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION
We come across certain communities in pockets which are very primitive and backward in Karnataka.
One such community is the B. B. Colony near Hosamane mission field. Our missionary Mr. David came across this community a couple of weeks ago. When he was passing by ,he got the news that a child died due to diarrhea. After a week another infant died due to diarrhoea and dehydration. This made him to be involved with the community. Primarily the community doe not have its own drinking water system. The people have to walk at least 2kms to get a pot of water. When they do not have enough water for drinking and cooking, bathing is out of question. In this regard, the nursing mothers, who were not in a position to bathe every day, were the source of infection for their infants. This has led to infant mortality. God has concern for such communities.
There is another community in Uttara Kannada district called Siddis. Siddis are of African origin. The Portuguese brought them to India as slaves to lay the railway lines in the 14th century. Some of them fled into the jungles due to the hardship faced by them. They eventually became a people group in Karnataka, who are living in the jungles of Uttara Kannada district. They are very primitive and backward; hunting and farming is their main occupation. They do not get any help from the government because they do not come under the category of scheduled tribe. Siddis are unscheduled tribes of Karnataka. They are the neglected people.There are many such neglected communities in Karnataka. Pray that God would make KEA as a channel of blessing to them.
– Rev Devanand Samuel is the Director of the Karnataka Evangelistic Association. – From KEA Enews Letter, May 2015.
MISSIONARY UPHOLDERS TRUST
This is a brief information about the MUT SCHEME is given below so that missionaries who are partners in this scheme will be aware of this scheme. There are many benefits in this scheme and we request all Member Missions who are part of MUT to benefit from it. Please also help your missionaries to make use of the various benefits in the scheme. The complete details are given below.
- Rev Isac S Raja,Gen. Coordinator, Missionary Upholders Trust.
NAIRS OF INDIA
Nairs are the upper caste Hindus from the southern Indian state of Kerala. The name, Nair, seems to be derived from the Sanskrit word Nayaka meaning a leader. They were warriors and carry arms with them constantly and were significant in the history of Kerala. Some also believe that it might have come from the word Naga or Naka (snake) which in due course became Nair. Kalarippayattu (ancient martial art) is associated with the Nairs.
There are many disputed theories behind the origin of the Nairs. Some say they are the descendants of Newars of Nepal, who later migrated to Kerala. This theory was supported by the distinct pagoda-like architectural style of Nair ‘tharavads‘ (households) and temples that are similar to both Nairs and Newars. Another myth is that Nairs are Nagas and were Kshatriyas belonging to the Serpent dynasty (Nagavansham) who removed their sacred thread and migrated south to escape the wrath of a vengeful Parashurama. The affinity of the Nair community towards serpent worship, their martial past, and the absence of the sacred thread lend support to this theory. For some, Nairs were Naka (snake) Lords who ruled as feudal lords in the Chera kingdom. Another view is that the Nairs and Rajputs (a dominant Hindu military caste in northern India) are related, and moving south became the Nairs. Many theories like these exist, but without enough proof to strongly consider their claims.
However it is clear that till the early 20th century, Nairs exerted their influence in medieval Kerala society as feudal lords and owned large estates. Nairs dominated the civil, administrative and military elite of the pre-British era in Kerala. Nevertheless this dominance started waning from the start of 20th century. Institutions like the sambandham and the matrilineal joint family system, which had ensured the strength of the Nair community earlier, now became unproductive and many evils emerged in the changing socio-political background of Kerala. The impact of the market economy, the disappearance of traditional military training, the absorption of new values through the new system of education, the self-consciousness being generated among the lower castes and their cry for equality and privileges brought about a decline of Nair dominance.
Social Structure & Customs
The surname Nair is commonly used by all sub-castes belonging to the Nair caste. They have numerous sub-divisions. The Nair class includes Menons, Panickers, Pillais Unithanz, Thambies, Nambiars etc. In the earlier days, they lived outside the town separate from others and when they went out, they would shout so that the peasants may move out of their path. If a peasant did not move away, the Nair could kill him with no imposition of penalty. If a peasant touched a Nair lady, her relatives would immediately kill her and the man. This was done to prevent mixing of blood.
A man’s estate is inherited by his sister’s children. A woman has to observe certain ceremonies during pregnancy such as puli-kuti i.e. drinking of tamarind juice, which is a must in the seventh month. During the eighth month, a ceremony called garb veil uzhiyal is performed by the Kaniyan (astrologer) to remove the effects of the evil eye. At childbirth, women of the barber caste officiate as midwives. Pollution is observed for fifteen days and every day the mother wears clothes washed and presented by a woman of the Vannan caste. All the members of the family observe pollution for fifteen days following the delivery. During pollution, they are prohibited from entering temples and holy places.
When a man is about to die, members of the household and his friends come one by one and pour a little water into his mouth over a piece of gold. As soon as death takes place, the corpse is removed from the cot and carried to vatakkini (room in the northern end of the house) where it is laid on plantain leaves. The bodies of senior members of the ‘tharavad’ are burned while children under two and people who died of cholera or smallpox are buried. Death pollution is observed.
Nairs are a caste or community of several distinct elements with totally different occupations. The original Nairs were a military body who were also land-holders; but the present community consists of people who are traders, artisans, oil merchants, palanquin-bearers and even barbers and washermen.
Food & Attire
Boiled rice and rice porridge known as ‘kanjee’ form the staple food of the Nairs. Coconut, jack fruit, plantain and other vegetable products are widely used in cooking. Coconut oil is widely used for frying. Fish is an important commodity, but beef is barred. Alcoholic drinks as a rule are prohibited.
The Nair men wear the mundu, a cloth wrapped around the waist and then left to hang down nearly to the ground. Silk fabric is used by the wealthy Nairs. Kurta would also be used to cover their upper body. Nair women wear the sari in a kaccha pattern, with one portion covering the lower body and the other the upper, or a nariyathu (upper-body cloth) paired with a red blouse. During festive occasions, the Pudava is worn which is a gilt bordered mundu, also known as a Pattukara.
Their main deity is Vishnu but they also wear the mark of the god Shiva on their foreheads. They worship the main Hindu deities, and other minor ones such as Matan, Yakshi, Chattan, Chantakarnan etc.
Some naga customs were found in Nairs, such as Naga (serpent) worship. Sarpa kavu (“abode of snake god”) can be found in many Nair ‘tharavads’ (joint family households) where naga devatas are worshipped. Most of them believe that these davatas are responsible for the fertility or barrenness of the tharavad women.
They believe in astrology and omens. Sorcery and witchcraft are believed to be potent powers for evil. Magicians are held in some fear and males and females wear talismanic amulets on the waist. The festivals celebrated are Onam, Tiruvathira (exclusively celebrated by women in commemoration of the death of god Kamadevan, cupid of Indian mythology) and Vishu (New Year).
- from different sources
UPCOMING IMA EVENTS & PROGRAMMES
IMA CONSULTATIONS & TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Please apply to Mr. Solomon Babu, IMA Training Coordinator at email@example.com
INFORMATION FOR INDIAN CHRISTIANS ON HOW TO HELP NEPAL RELIEF WORK
Dr. Ebenezer Sunderaraj, Former General Secretary, IMA
The following information will be of use to Indian Christians who want to help but are not familiar with or connected to any major Development and Relief organisation working now in Nepal.
1 United Mission to Nepal is an amalgamation of many international missions working in Nepal for over forty years extensively in Development and Relief with high credibility and accountability level. See their website for daily update on the relief work going on now.
2 National Christian Fellowship of Nepal is the federation of all the churches in Nepal. NCFN is now planning reconstruction of the churches that were destroyed by the earth quake. We have requested regular and comprehensive update on their website for donors on the progress of the reconstruction work.
3 Two major Indian Development and Relief organisations are working now in Nepal in partnership with UMN. They are EFICOR (Evangelical Fellowship of India Committee on Relief) and CASA (Churches Auxiliary on Social Action).
4 Besides the above there are a few international agencies working there on a small scale which you may be already associated with. You may send your help directly to them.
5 If you are not already associated with any national level or international level credible organisation send your donation to UMN or EFICOR or CASA. Do not send to individuals or independent organisations however emotional their appeal is. Route your donation through national level bodies to maintain accountability and avoid corruption. Donations to church reconstruction can wait till relief work is completed.
6 Individual Indian citizens can send small donations (of a few thousand rupees) directly to Nepal. See their websites for sending cheque / DD / online payments. As per law ( FEMA and Income Tax) registered Indian organisations (Trusts, Societies or Churches) cannot send money (outside India) to Nepal. Therefore they must route it only to or through an Indian organisation which works in Nepal. When you send, designate in writing for “Relief Work in Nepal”. If you have preference mention it, like Villages, Districts etc.
7 Insist on receiving official receipt. Individual donors will receive 80G Income Tax Exemption for the donation made to / through Indian bodies like EFICOR, CASA, World Vision India etc.
8 The above organisations in Nepal have informed us that they do not need volunteers right now, even medical volunteers. They will inform us when they do need them. Most of them do not accept material help like used clothes medicines etc. Check their websites before sending such material to them.
(Information issued in consultation with NCCI, EFI, IMA, CMAI and EMFI)
NEEDS OF IMA FOR YOUR PRAYER & SUPPORT
The following are the needs of IMA:
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.
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