||Gospel Missions of India Newsletter - MAY 2015
by Godly P.S.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
By George Mattackal
Greetings to all GMI donors in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
As you move into the summer season I would like to encourage your continued prayers and support for gospel work among the assemblies in India. While challenges abound, God’s work continues. India is a vast country and there is much to do to take the gospel into every corner of this great land. It is encouraging to see how God has worked over the years as part of his plan to further His kingdom. You may have heard news of increased obstacles to gospel work in parts of India. However, despite these hurdles the good news of the gospel is going out, souls are being saved and added to the church, and saints are growing in the Lord. As I have visited various places in India and been exposed to the work, or heard from others, I have learned that God works in the most remotest places and in the most unexpected ways, often using the most unlikeliest people to build a testimony for His glory. God has a master plan and He is building His church according to that plan. While we may not always see the big picture, it is our responsibility, regardless of whether we are dedicated to full-time service or not, to faithfully serve Him according to the call He has placed on our lives.
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to visit and encourage believers and workers in parts of Karnataka. It has encouraged me greatly to see the hunger for the Word of God among these very simple believers. God has raised up men and women as His laborers and they work diligently, away from the limelight, to reach lost souls and to build up the believers. There is a significant amount of focused outreach going on in various parts of Karnataka. An example is the sustained outreach in Bidar led by YMEF Karnataka. As a result of pioneering work by evangelists who came to the area many years ago, assembly testimonies exist in many districts and are being carried on by local believers.
I have also been able to witness first-hand the work in the Chambal Valley of Madhya Pradesh. This is another area, one of many, where a sustained work is in progress and first generation believers are being added to the church. God has raised up a team of some 18 full-time workers in the districts around Gwalior. The various efforts underway or to be started shortly include a small-scale Bible School to train young local believers in preparation for service to the Lord and vocational programs for women. God has given a burden for this area and a vision for ministry to a few brethren and they are faithfully engaged in moving forward the work.
I would like to share with you a few very broad areas of need which perhaps the Lord can use you to meet. These are not specific to an area of the country or a single ministry, but apply in almost every mission field in India. Nor are they all needs that can be met with just financial contributions.
Teaching – As I visit assemblies consisting of mostly new believers I have seen a great need for in-depth teaching. Gifted teachers are very few in many of these areas. The believers are very hungry for the Word and will sit for an entire day listening attentively, taking notes, and learning. If you have the gift of teaching, I encourage you to prayerfully consider visiting some of these mission fields for a week or two each year and conduct teaching sessions. The local evangelists will be happy to make all the necessary arrangements and can also guide you in what areas of teaching are needed. If you need help identifying specific locations we will be happy to direct you.
Health and education ministry – These are two areas which are very effective in showing the love of Christ by meeting the basic needs of people and they provide openings for the gospel. There are several such ministries that have been established in various places. However, many are not as effective as they could be due to the lack of qualified professionals. There is a vast need for committed, mission-minded doctors, nurses, teachers, and administrators. Even if someone is willing to go for a year it can make a big difference. I want to challenge all the young believers who are in the medical field to seek the Lord’s face to see if He may want to use you in this way. Similarly, young people who have just graduated from college could consider spending a year serving in some capacity in a school. We need to look beyond just using our education and training to support our comfortable lifestyles and to find out how the Lord wants us to use the abilities He has given us for His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.
Support for local workers – There are many local workers all over India laboring in the most difficult circumstances and facing many practical challenges. Some of them have very little financial support and are often supported by the senior evangelist in the area. I encourage you to find a specific part of the country, a state, a district and get to know the work and workers in that area. Build regular contact, make visits, understand the needs, and commit as a family to stand behind the work and the workers in that area. Such focused support and involvement will make a big difference to the work.
Building assembly halls – This remains a major need in many parts of India. Assembly testimony has been established in many places but the believers do not have a suitable place to meet. Often they meet in the small rented home of the evangelist which can create numerous problems. GMI has a long list of assembly halls that need construction. I know that there are many among you reading this that have the financial capacity to help purchase land and put up an assembly hall with your own contributions. Or perhaps you can take the initiative to reach out to friends and family to raise the funds for this purpose. This will be a tremendous blessing to the gospel work as well as to you family.
I pray and trust that God will use the above items to exercise your heart towards greater practical involvement in the work in India. As we hear increasing reports of many hurdles, I encourage you to pray that God would keep the doors open and would give our front-line workers the courage, strength and firmness of faith to persevere. No matter what the external circumstances we can be assured that God’s work will go on and His master plan to establish His church will continue to be executed. As His children we need to have an increased focus on standing behind the work in India through prayer, involvement, and financial support.
In closing, I want to thank each and every one of you for your continuing support for the gospel work in India. May God bless you for your kind and cheerful giving. It is our privilege and joy at GMI to stand with you and play a small part in God’s master plan for bringing many in India to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Yours in Him
STEWARDS ASSOCIATION OF INDIA (SAI)
By Raju Koshy
At the very outset, I, Raju M. Koshy, the new General Secretary of the Stewards Association In India, wish you all, my dear co-workers in the blessed work of our mighty God a wonderful, peaceful and a blessed year.
I wish to introduce myself in a few words. I was working in a senior management job with Govt. of India and retired after 37 years of service. My parents were teachers and provided me adequate environment for education. By the grace of God, I completed my Post Graduate studies in Statistics and a Masters in Law and later on a Masters in Theology as well. After retirement, I joined the High Court of Kerala practicing Law, specializing in the field of Human Rights. When the Lord called me to take up the task and serve as General Secretary of the Stewards Association in India, His call was very clear to me and my family.
SAI was registered as a Religious and Charitable Society in the year 1954 by missionaries and other godly men. The primary function of SAI in the initial days was to take over the Mission properties comprising of Assembly halls, Institutions such as Schools, Hospitals, Orphanages, Boys Homes, Girls Homes etc., either from the Missionaries or from Stewards Company Ltd., Bath, U.K. Thereafter, every year on an average fifty to seventy properties are added and the same are being acquired and registered in the name of SAI. Today we are looking after about two thousand properties in different parts of India.
Over the years SAI expanded its ministry and currently is serving the assemblies known as “The Brethren” in the following areas:
Extending “Roofing grants” for construction of Assembly Halls and other Institutions as the Lord provides.
Extending financial help to Evangelists/commended workers, especially to those who are not in the prayer list of major “Funds” among us.
Assisting “Retired Evangelists - “Retired” due to ill health or advancing age - who are in financial needs.
Assisting Widows of Evangelists and those in extreme need due to various reasons including natural calamities.
Promoting education of children of Evangelists and other financially poor believers who are not able to provide for their children’s education.
Promoting medical work on philanthropic lines and extending medical relief in an emergency and to the needy.
Sponsoring Boys & Girls from our Assemblies all over India for medical education such as MBBS inclusive of Post Graduate and Super Specialty Courses at Christian Medical College, Vellore in South India. This is done with a view to equip medical personnel to run our Mission Hospitals in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka & Kerala states.
Assisting and advising assembly based Institutions, to set up legal bodies such as Trusts, Societies etc. SAI also handles Secretarial, Statutory, Tax matters and other Legal issues.
There are many places in India where there is no assembly hall to gather on a Sunday morning to worship the Lord. In many parts of India, gathering for worship in homes of believers are declared illegal. Therefore, the need for building Assembly Halls has become a sheer necessity.
Many assembly based School buildings, especially the Noel Memorial Schools in Kerala State, are over 100 years old. There are 18 of those schools built by missionaries. They are not in a condition to receive “Fitness Certificate” from the state Govt. A large sum of money is needed for this. There is freedom to teach the Bible in those schools.
I have only touched the tip of the iceberg to create awareness among our believers around the world. These goals can be achieved only through gifts of believers who are blessed with financial resources. SAI will assure that the funds provided by the Lord through His people will be handled very faithfully and with transparency. We invite you to come and visit the work of God in India. Let me conclude with a request for fervent prayer for the Lord’s work in India, especially the tremendous task SAI is shouldering.
KERALA EVANGELISTIC MISSIONARY FUND (KEM FUND)
By PE Samkutty
According to the tradition in India, Apostle Thomas came to India with the Gospel during the first century. It was in the 17th century, the European missionaries came to India with the Gospel. Even though there were pockets of Christians and churches in different parts of the country, “Salvation by Faith’ was not preached at all. There occurred a revival during the latter part of the 18th century. Many in India believed and some obeyed. A few of them walked out of the boundaries of the traditional churches; they obeyed the Lord in the waters of baptism and remembered Him by breaking the bread.
On March 19, 1899, a group of four (late Rev. P. E. Mammen, P. C. John, P. C. Chacko, Kuttiyil Mathai) gathered together in the open under a tree and broke bread in simplicity. There were no church bells to sound, no ordained priests to bless; four believers remembered the Lord and they worshipped. This was the beginning and many others followed. Missionary E. H. Noel of England, K. V. Simon of Edayaranula and P. E. Mammen of Kumbanad spearheaded the initial movement in Central Travancore. God used Bro. Handley Bird of England and other men of God to prepare the ground beforehand. Many believers committed themselves to spread the Gospel around the land. Some of them left their ‘boats and nets’ and obeyed the Great Command “Go therefore and make disciples” of all the nations.
With the revival, came the challenges; especially support for the new Evangelists from Kerala who ventured out leaving behind everything to serve the Lord in different parts of India.
In 1943, Brothers G. L. Fountain, Dr. Churchward, K. G. Thomas and P. V. George met together and prayerfully decided to setup a Fund to support the Evangelists; named as ‘Kerala Evangelistic Missionary Fund’ or more commonly known as K. E. M. Fund. Brothers G. L. Fountain, N. J. Chacko, K. K. Thomas, C. T. George, A. A. Chacko, V. K. Mathew, Paul K. Thomas and Thomas Chandy served as secretaries of the K. E. M. Fund.
KEM Fund extends fellowship to more than 800 full-time assembly commended Evangelists laboring in North and South India, including some in Nepal and Bhutan. KEMF is a registered charitable organization that functions with strict guidelines, adhering to the laws of the land and spiritual obligations.
The needs of the Lord’s servants are exactly the same of any other believers. They have daily living expenses, children’s education, travel, and health care needs. The commending or serving assemblies cannot meet all their needs as many believers struggle themselves to meet the bare minimum need of their own family. So, it is our responsibility to pray diligently for our brothers who are in the battle front and meet their daily needs. For more information, please contact at: email@example.com or call at the KEMF office: +91-469-266-7711. The secretary can be reached at +91-9495204611
BELIEVER'S STEWARDSHIP SERVICES (BSS)
By Robert Sullivan
Estate Planning is not only for the wealthy; it is for everyone. It is simply the process of deciding where, when and how the assets entrusted to your stewardship will be distributed after your death. As Christians we realize that we are not owners of material assets, but merely caretakers or stewards of the Lord’s assets (Psalm 24:1). With that truth in mind, planning an estate to pass those resources on in a way that honors God and furthers His work is clearly a believer’s responsibility (1 Cor. 4:2). More than half of all adults in the United States do not have a Last Will and Testament.
Believers Stewardship Services (BSS) is an assembly ministry designed to help individuals with their estate planning, planned giving, and other stewardship responsibilities. If you have never heard of a Donor Advised Fund, a Charitable Reminder Trust, or Charitable Gift Annuity, BSS can explain how these tools may be of use in your stewardship. BSS offers these services free of charge to believers.
BSS also works directly with the individuals in providing investment management and tax counseling services. To get started using these services of BSS, contact Robert Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org or by dialing 888-338-7810. BSS is a partner organization and co-laborer for Christ with Gospel Missions of India
By Roy Daniel
In the year 1993 the Lord called us while we were living in Canada for a specific and peculiar ministry in India. The Bethany Gospel Chapel, Regina, Saskatchewan, where we were in fellowship at that time recognized the call and commended them for the ministry. It was the result of seven years of prayer and seeking God’s guidance. The burden the Lord gave us was to be a help to the national workers in India in some practical ways. With much prayer the Lord guided us to start a magazine called “Insight India” to begin within 1994 October. Through which we began to introduce the national workers to the body of believers for prayer and participation. For this purpose I traveled and met with the workers at their homes and interviewed them. This encouraged the workers in a great way and believers began to pray for many who were unknown till that time. This in turn encouraged the believers to contribute to their needs. Some of them asked us to help them to distribute the funds they have to the workers in India. So after two years we took up that challenge. In the year 1996 Operation Barnabas was registered with the Government of Karnataka as a religious charitable trust and is managed by six trustees.
We took up the responsibility of publishing a directory of all the Assembly commended workers and every three year we publish a new edition. This also turned out to be a great tool in encouraging believers to pray for the workers and systematically sending financial assistance to several needy ones. In our latest Prayer Handbook 2290 workers are listed.
This ministry grew and the Lord added much more responsibilities up on us. Believers from all over the world who wanted to help the Lord’s work in India began to contact us and requested our help in this area. So we prayerfully took up every challenge for the betterment of the Lord’s servants. We could provide financial help to construct meeting places for over fifty assemblies over the years. This was done mostly through designated funds for this purpose. In the year 2010 we also started registering land for Assembly buildings in the name of Operation Barnabas due to some new regulations imposed by the government. Rehabilitation of victims of natural calamities in different parts of India is one other responsibility the Lord gave us. Medical insurance for commended workers is the latest responsibility we took up. The Lord enabled us to insure 680 applicants for a cost of Rs. 50 Lakh. This has to be renewed every year. We call ourselves a service ministry and will accept every challenge placed before us by the Lord as long as it will be beneficial for the Lord’s servants. During the last financial year the Lord entrusted us with Rs.260,000,00 to be distributed for different needs such as Medical assistance, Children’s education, assistance for family maintenance, construction of meeting places and assistance to disaster victims etc.
Since I have traveled very extensively and met with most of the workers personally I have understood the situation and the needs in a greater way. One of the greatest needs in the church planting ministry is to build meeting places. Gathering in rented places and houses are becoming more and more difficult. Due to the pressure of the anti-Christian groups many landlords strictly instructed our brethren against any gatherings in houses. In Indian culture a place of worship is a holy reverential place where as a house cannot be considered so. Cast difference also makes it difficult for people to gather in houses.
Another problem is that, traditionally only the lower cast and uneducated are targeted for evangelism as it is much easier. The higher cast and the educated are considered to be difficult to reach and have never been a calculated attempt to reach out to them. Workers need to be trained and equipped towards this goal if the assemblies have to be sustained in India. Most of the assemblies formed among the villagers and tribal people remain in the infancy even after several decades of hard labor by the evangelist. Scholarly leadership is the spine of Assemblies. That can never be developed from the uneducated masses.
A third important area we should consider is of personal development. Re-equipping and recharging the workers and keep them focused is a much neglected need and a challenge. In fact, in the Indian culture these needs are not recognized and, therefore ignored. A deliberate attempt should be made in this area at the earliest. One sad fact is that though we have Bible colleges and several training centers within us most of the graduates from these Bible colleges with post graduate degrees and doctorates are pasturing on green pastures in Kerala and are not willing to go to the hard field in North India or other big cities in India to reach the educated and the affluent.
You can enjoy reading the latest versions of Insight India at the GMI Web site. Click here for more details. http://www.gospelmi.org/insight-india
ASSEMBLY WORKER'S WELFARE FUND TRUST
This trust is functioning for the welfare of Evangelists and their families in and around Tamil Nadu for the last 20 years. They support 270 full time workers with an amount of Rs 1500 to Rs 4000 every 2 months. In the beginning of the academic year they send education support to around 175 Evangelists. There is a great need to support the needs of these young children for their education needs. Please pray for this ministry and consider your support as the Lord leads. You can send your gifts to GMI designated for this need.
Canadian brethren can send their gifts through MSC Canada, 101 Amber Street, Suite 16, Markham, Ontario L3R 3B2, Canada for the tax receipts. Those who are in USA can send gifts to GMI, P O Box 1043, Warren, MI 48090. You may send designated or undesignated gifts.
If you have any questions, please call as us at +1 586-247-7924 0r +1-586-306-5669