In order to effectively
share the Gospel message with the target people group, a rapport needs
to be established with the people. No amount of missionary training can
help our missionaries to do this overnight. In order to break the ice,
our missionaries have to understand the people. This means learning the
language, culture, world view, customs, family traditions, view of God,
religious practices and so on. To do this, our missionaries have to spend
time with the people. House visits can be quite hilarious! Learning the
language by enquiry, trial and error can leave the people staring in disbelief
or roaring in laughter. It can lead to embarrassing situations and some
times misunderstanding. But keeping the ultimate goal in mind, our missionaries
press on untiringly. After a period of time, a bridge of trust is built.
The people begin to realise that the missionaries are there to help them
and not to hurt them. Once this happens, the Gospel can effectively be
One of the
essential ingredients of missionary work is `talking.’ Once the missionary
learns the `heart language’, he can reach deep down into the very hearts
of the people he is trying to win. His message is essentially about
Christ’s love for the world, the sinful nature of man and the salvation
by faith that is available to those who surrender to God. Evangelism
can be done in various ways. Open-air meetings, house gatherings, tract
distributions or even personal evangelism are some of the ways of talking
about Jesus. There are thorns along the path of evangelism. First, the
thorn of being misunderstood by the people. This is because certain
truths in the Bible are not in vogue in the culture of the people. Second,
the thorn of being accused of converting people from one religion to
another. Many fail to understand that conversion is the work of the
Holy Spirit. This can lead to physical assault or rumour-mongering.
But God is at work! He has given and continues to give our missionaries
utterance. People have responded to the Gospel message. The ministry
of evangelism began when IEM was born and continues unabated even today.
It is the primary objective of the Indian Evangelical Mission. To establish
a church where no church exists is the foundation of our ministry. This
ministry is as old as the Mission itself. Our missionaries are equipped
with language learning skills at the Outreach Training Institute(OTI)
when they join the Mission. This helps them learn the language(unwritten
in most cases) quickly. Coming from drastically different cultures, our
missionaries have to cross cultural, language and social barriers to make
contact with the people they are trying to reach.Their message is essentially
about Christ’s love for the world, the sinful nature of man and the salvation
by faith that is available to those who surrender to God. In the course
of time, the interested seekers are invited to a prayer meeting where
the Word of God is preached. When the people respond to the Gospel, the
church is formed. But the task does not end there. Potential leaders are
identified and trained to lead their own people. When the emerging church
begins to stand on her feet, the pastoral and administrative responsibilities
are normally handed over to the nearest evangelical denomination. `So
neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God makes
things grow’ (I Cor 3:7).
It seems strange
but one cannot deny the truth. In an urban area, where transportation
and medical facilities are available in abundance, the need for these
is not as acutely felt as in a rural area where these are almost absent.
In many mission fields, Malaria and Tuberculosis have yet to be eradicated.
For those who are ignorant or cannot afford treatment, the way out is
a painful and hopeless end. It was into this situation that IEM felt the
need to contribute in some way to help alleviate the suffering of the
people among whom we work. The Health care wing of the Field Ministries
department consists of one doctor-run clinic in Khammam district of Andhra
Pradesh with nursing and laboratory facilities and nurse-run clinics in
other mission fields. All missionaries are trained to deal with emergencies.
They are even involved in rushing seriously ill patients to the nearest
of our missionaries work in remote places where good educational facilities
are nearly absent. So when the people come to the Lord, they desire that
their children receive good affordable education. IEM leaders realized
this and decided to start hostels for tribal children. This was a bold
step because it meant taking the children out of their `home’ setting
and settling them in a town far from their homes and their people besides
facilitating their holistic growth. Like other ministries, we felt that
this could not be done alone. So IEM forged partnerships with other agencies
who even offered expertise on how to run these hostels. Right now, we
have hostels for boys and girls in Krishnagiri(Tamil Nadu), for boys in
Dangs(Gujarat), Koya(Andhra Pradesh) for girls and Mayurbhanj(Orissa)
for girls. The children are primarily from Christian homes. Missionary
couples and single lady missionaries run these hostels. They have a daily
schedule which includes prayer, Bible teaching, counselling as well as
academic coaching. The children are sent to nearby schools. As a result
of this ministry, many children have not only excelled academically but
also understood the love of Christ. After all, these precious lives are
the future pillars of the church!
When IEM started
sending missionaries into cross cultural situations, the missionaries
sincerely used the state language to share the Gospel. Gradually, churches
were formed. Our missionaries sincerely shared from the Word in the state
language, ignoring the `heart language’ of the people. Even the songs
were in the state language. The people could not understand all the truths
taught by our missionaries and therefore could not grow in their faith.
This opened the eyes of our missionaries. The Gospel must be shared in
their mother tongue. So this conviction led the IEM to start the translation
ministry in 1980. God has given us faithful men and women who have committed
themselves to this ministry. From the hand-writing era to the IT era,
God has enabled our Bible translators to travel a long and difficult path
because of the support of faithful prayer partners.
how can they read unless they learn the language? Go back to the time
when as a little child, your babbling turned into comprehensible sounds.
Then you graduated to small words and sentences and finally were able
to read and write well. It’s would have been a long and arduous journey
turning literate. But you went through the normal process. In other words,
as you grew physically, you also grew mentally, emotionally, socially
and so on.
most of the tribal people are illiterate. In other words, they did not
have the opportunity to be educated. Therefore even when they turned adults,
they were unable to read and write in their own language because their
language did not have a script. Therefore they could only listen and learn
which is not the best way to learn.So our missionaries not only translate
the Bible but they also teach the people how to read and write. We have
Adult Literacy Programmes in some mission fields. This is yet to catch
on in all fields. Once the people understand, read and write in their
own language, they can grow in their knowledge of God.
Our world is filled
with disasters. Most of them catch us unprepared and they leave us wondering
how to cope with such situations. In the course of our ministry, our missionaries
have discovered many disasters on the mission fields- some caused accidentally
(human error), others caused by people opposed to the Gospel and thirdly
because of natural causes like floods, earthquakes and so on. In any case,
the need to help the people is primary.
Take the case of the accidental fire which broke out in Kullu Valley area.
Eight houses were burnt amounting to a huge loss. One of the houses belonged
to the first believer in Kullu area. A partner-mission in New Delhi stepped
in and brought relief to the suffering people. Earlier an accidental fire
in Koya mission field led to the destruction of a number of houses close
to our girls’ hostel in Jaganathanpuram. Another partner organisation
intervened and brought relief. Some of our missionaries have received
timely and tested training to deal with disasters. This has led to the
formation of a team which will respond immediately to any disaster by
contacting the right relief agencies and rushing aid to the affected people.
On many of our mission fields, the tribal people have numerous festivals,
both cultural and religious. Many of them are harmless while some are
in direct contradiction to the Word of God. So when the people turn to
the Lord and want to follow Him wholeheartedly, they have to make the
difficult decision of breaking away from celebrating these festivals the
fun and frolic that is involved. Christianity is not a kill-joy religion.
Our missionaries teach them about the celebration involved in major Christian
celebrations like Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. Apart from these,
they also have Field conventions, Jungle Camps, Women’s conventions, Youth
conventions and so on where people come together for a short period of
time for fellowship, good singing and of course the teaching of the Word.
So even as the people enjoy each others presence, they are also learning
from the Word and thereby they are built up in their faith.
Term Bible School
One of the greatest
joys is to see believers take up leadership roles in the church among
their own people. But they don’t become leaders overnight. After they
come to know the Lord and the leadership potential has been identified
in them, they are selected to attend a Short Term Bible School(STBS).
Now this is not like our well-established Bible Colleges and Seminaries.
It is different and unique. First and foremost, the STBS is not held over
a lengthy period. It is organised at a time when the people are free.
Second, in many cases, it is held under a tree and not in a proper building.
Third, quite often the `students’ do not have the Bible in their hands!
They learn everything for memory. This calls for constant repetition.
But our missionaries’ efforts have paid off. When leaders are developed,
they are able to communicate better with their people and the church grows,
in some cases, very rapidly. While there are potential leaders in almost
every mission field, the STBS is restricted in terms of finance and availability
from Short Term Bible Schools(STBS), our missionaries are involved in
nurturing potential leaders. There could be a few who may have attended
a Short Term Bible School but are unwilling to take the plunge. Strangely,
the universal trend is a craving for leadership roles. But when it actually
comes to taking up the mantle of leadership, there could be a some non-starters.
Our missionaries are involved in encouraging them, teaching them, sometimes
even rebuking them and admonishing them from the Scriptures to be bold
and courageous. Quite often, these potential leaders are `thrown into
the deep’ so that they can swim! Gradually, they are lifted. Then they
learn from their mistakes and leaders are eventually `born.’
the Word of God is preached, the Holy Spirit works in the hearts and lives
of people, convicting them of their sin and leading them to repentance.
As this number increases, the people themselves feel the need to gather
at regular times for worship and listening to the Word. This happens over
a period of time. Normally the believers meet in the missionaries’ home.
Later it may move to a believer’s home. When the number becomes large,
they look out for a place or even build a church building where they can
worship the Lord together.
worship group may initially consist of our missionaries and one or two
believers. The rest of the people may be just seekers or interested people.
It is wonderful to see the number grow. First, we have individual believers.
Then we progress to whole families and then the families bring their relatives
to the Lord. This is how the worshipping group grows until it finally
becomes a full-fledged church.
to the children
Jesus said, "Let
the children come to me and forbid them not…" Children are the pillars
of tomorrow. How we teach them today will be seen in how they live tomorrow.
Our missionaries have recognized this and therefore are involved in a
special ministry to children. "I look at these children as MY children,"
declared one of our missionaries. And that is the relationship that binds
the missionaries to the children among whom they work. Further we have
discovered that they way to a man’s heart is through his children. Our
ministry to parents is often through their own children.
One of the primary ways of reaching out to children is through the Vacation
Bible School. This is proven to be a powerful way of generating an interest
in God’s Word besides delving into the lives of these little ones. And
little ones learn very fast…much faster than their parents. Little ones
also see the light of the Gospel much faster and respond to Christ’s love.
Another way is through free tuitions. These tuition classes begin with
prayer and a time of singing before taking up History, Geography, English
initiated this ministry in 1998 by sending seekers to our doorstep. He
reminded us of our call to be involved in personal evangelism. God himself
prepares their hearts and minds. All we do is to share the Gospel with
them. They started witnessing to their own family members and relatives
and even brought them to our Weekly Bible study, where they were led to
Christ. Thus far more than 260 people have accepted the Lord. A majority
of them come from Brahmin and high caste Hindu backgrounds. We also have
a few nominal Christians and Muslims who have accepted the Lord. God is
sending one by one to our existing Bible Study centre and home Bible studies.
Some of the pastors send the seekers to our home. We used to conduct 3
weekly Bible Study at believers home. We have started a Sunday evening
worship centre at Hanumant Nagar in Bangalore where many new seekers have
found Christ. New Believers are introduced to evangelical churches such
as Richmond Town Methodist Church, Koramangala Methodist Church. Some
people attend CSI churches too. We believe that since God initiated this
ministry, He will guide and lead us in the future.
If any endeavour has to be successful, it needs to be `surveyed’. Survey
can be likened to buying a plot of land. The aspect of the land needs
to be observed and measured. Documents need to be scrutinized and experts
consulted before the land is finally bought. Survey is vital to the selection
of new mission fields. Before a missionary is assigned to a new area,
a team of leaders visit the area, gather information like the geographical
location, religious background, culture and language of the people, number
of Christians in the region, churches (if any) and whether any other Mission
is already working there. Next, the survey team identifies a suitable
village where a missionary can be placed. Apart from church planting,
the team discovers whether the target people have the Bible in their heart
language. If the area is disease prone, the need for medical missionaries
and equipment is identified.
born as a result of partnerships. Our first partners were our prayer partners.
Since then we have enjoyed working with World Vision of India, Evangelical
Fellowship of India Commission on Relief(EFICOR), Church’s Auxiliary on
Relief(CASA), Discipleship Centre and so on. Having forged such partnerships,
we have found that the people are more responsive to the Gospel. For example,
when we dig bore wells in drought affected areas, the response is one
of gratefulness to us and thankfulness to God! In this way they realize
that we are interested in their personal well being as well as their spiritual
well being. When it comes to disasters, timely help can not only alleviate
human suffering but also lead them closer to the Lord. One of the high
points of our partnerships was when we signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU)
with the Khasi Jiantia Presbyterian Synod(KJP) of Shillong, Meghalaya
wherein they adopted the Tharu Mision Field in Uttar Pradesh. They support
the ministry there as a whole. Further, we make every effort to maintain
close relationships with mainline churches.
IEM is an indigenous Mission working in India with Indian missionaries,
we also realize that we are not the only ones doing the work. There are
many other Missions within India and around the world who are labouring
for the Lord in their own part of the world. And besides upholding them
in prayer, we are also invited to send missionaries to our partner Missions
. This is called 'seconding'. Indian missionaries are sent with a specific
purpose, to work among a specific people group in a specific region. To
be uprooted from one’s own land and live and work in a foreign land is
very difficult. Yet we have five teams work in Papua New Guinea, Thailand,
Philippines, West Asia, Ghana and the United Kingdom