Go to India, September 2016
Last year we began a three year partnership with Pastor Ranjit in India among his tribe. They are unreached. An unreached peope group is an ethno-linguistic group (think tribe) among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance. They do not have a self-propigating church movement. Pastor Ranjit invited our church through the recommendation of one of our missionaries to come and strengthen the existing churches, the few that there are.
Our humble little team traveled there to put on two one-week conferences on the purpose, health and function of the Church. Thank you DRC for sending us! We're now actively trying to put together a team for our second year.
If you are keen on learning more about our trip in September of 2016 there is a link below for you to fill out an interest form.
On that note, I want to share a story with you about a man who attended one of our conferences. I think it speaks much to what God is doing there, it speaks much about the challenges facing church leaders, and it speaks to the value of our partnership.
I don't have time at the moment to describe the setting. I would love to elaborate upon much of our surroundings and tell a full story. But my heart is fresh, memory full and I need to write quickly.
We are here in a little village doing a conference for church members and leaders. We've been talking about many things. Our topics have been the function and purpose of the church and from there we've moved into talking about leadership and membership, and how the two work together for the glory of God. We have covered a lot of ground and for some of the delegates it has pushed them to the limit. Our team has been pushed to the limit as well.
But there was this one guy I have noticed from day one. He seemed to be alive, his soul just jumping around as he listens. I could tell he was listening with intention. I could tell that he was there for a reason, that he had a conviction about him. His brain was working to understand and as one teaching I've been invigorated. I feel a burden for him. As I prayed about him over our first two days together I knew that I had to talk to him. I didn't know what I would say, but in my heart I wanted to encourage him in the Lord.
And so it was that after our afternoon session today I invited him to come and talk with me.
This is his story, as best as I can recall it through his English.
My father has been a pastor for many years now. He has suffered for it. Out in my community where we are living, he earns very little. But he is a man of God. He married very young. He was the youngest of five boys. All of his elder brothers served in the Indian military. His wife gave birth to my older sister, and two weeks after doing so she became paralized. According to the our culture she also became useless. We [the culture] don't value women as much as men. She begged my father to leave her and marry another woman who could bear him more children and serve him as a good wife.
But my father refused. He said that he believed that whatever lot he receives in life he receives it from the hand of God. And so, he trusted that God would care for them and provide all their needs. Doctors told them that she wouldn't be able to give birth again. But she gave birth to me, and then to four more girls. All the while my father was serving as a pastor and caring for my mother and the family. He is a godly man.
When I grew older, my father told me that I could go to bible college, and that he would pay for it. But I got upset at him when he mentioned it to me. How would he even find the money to send me to bible college? And why would I even want to follow in his footsteps? There was no way I could become a pastor, and as I became angry my heart not only turned against my father, it also turned against God.
At the time I lived a life of secret indulgence. I kept my ways hidden from my parents and my sibilings, but I began to party. I got into drugs and into alcohol. I did whatever I wanted to do, and I enjoyed it. I was careful however to make sure that I still paid my respects to my parents and attended church. I even served in the church while I did these things.
My choices caught up to me. I had been sleeping around. We come from a small farming community and my mistakes were about to finally come into the open. You see, I impregnated a girl. When my father found out he forced me to marry her. I wasn't happy, because I did not love her. I had another woman in mind. I threatened my father that if he was going to try and force me into this marriage that I was going to leave. He was trying to make good out of this situation. I'm his only son and I really did my father wrong.
I did it. I walked away and left everything. I didn't even care about anything that my dad might be feeling. I was angry and selfish. But my cousin contacted me and told me that my mother was very worried for me. She had not been eating. If I failed to return home in a few days, she would become severly ill over it all. My heart broke. The woman whom my father loved, the paralyzed mother of mine, wanted me home. So I went home. And I agreed to marry this woman.
I was an unsatisfied man. I did not like my wife. I continued on and we had children but nothing changed. My relationship with my father did not improve either. As the eldest son (and only son) it is my responsibility to care for my parents in their old age. At the least, when my father called me on the phone I answered him, and when he asked me questions I answered them. But I did nothing more. All the while I drank and did drugs when I had the money.
But a few years ago God addressed me. In my heart I had always hoped in God through all the years of my rebellious struggling. But now, He was addressing me. I realized that God is Lord and that he created me especially. When I thought about how my mother should not have been able to give birth, and yet how the faith of my father and the blessing of God worked in our family, I became thankful. Something changed in me. I grew less angry with my father and slowly more satisfied with my wife.
It isn't easy though. Things take time to heal. I'm still farming, trying to provide for my parents and my family. God has put in my heart to continue on in the work of my father as a pastor. I want our people to understand God. I want them to serve Him. This is why I'm here. I've traveled for days and I thank God for you and your team Adam from Del Rey Church.
My new friend continued to describe their situation. His village is remote and they're struggling with the growth of their church. In Los Angeles churches can get by without growth by conversion because we're saturated with believers. Even our church experiences the transfer of believers from other churches, and in significant numbers too. It would be easy for a church to loose sight of reaching unbelievers because the presence of transfer believers. The story for this man's church is quite different. Nobody new comes to live in their village. Hardly anybody leaves. Their inactivity in the participation of the gospel proclimation is painfully highlighted. And he is praying to God for that to change.
Before we left he asked me, "Who Adam is going to answer our questions about theology when you're gone?"
That question is burning within me. It makes me excited to return and see what God has been doing. It quickens me to pray for him and all the churches there to take up the charge of the gospel to preach Jesus Christ and make disciples.
Would you join us this year? Pray for a church-planting movement. Ask that God would provide their needs to be motivated and equipped for the work of the gospel.