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Departure into all the world

Who Cares? In the early 1990s, the mission scenario in India w as not very ideal. There w ere many mission agencies that w ere started but the personnel recruited by them w ere expected to sacrifice many of their needs. Young men and w omen enthusiastically left their jobs, extended families and culture to live thousands of kilometers aw ay, learning a new language, living in a new culture and struggling to communicate the good new s and disciple people. How ever, these young people did not realize that many times they had to deny themselves several basic physical, emotional and financial needs. Over the years these young men and w omen got married and raised children and their needs kept grow ing. The mission leadership overw helmed by the enormous challenges on the field and preoccupied w ith achieving the goals never realized the brew ing storm. It w as difficult to talk about personal needs, since the church and mission leadership assumed that their personnel have sacrificed all their needs and w as happy serving the Lord. They w ere often treated as spiritual heroes. Nobody realized that in some of the fields, a few personnel w ere no longer enthusiastic and had already left the field mentally, though they remained their physically. C. B. Samuel* says that caring according to Apostle Paul w as tw o-w ay. First, he received, feeling encouraged even by new believers. In his letter to the Corinthian church, he w rote that he w as refreshed in the company of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus. (1 Corinthians 16:17, 18) In his letter to the Romans he addressed Rufus’ mother as his ow n mother – a new family on the field. (Romans 16:13). The emerging church at Philippi gave needed supplies, and found blessings in return. Paul w as both relaxed and transparent in requesting his colleagues to get books for w riting and reading as w ell as w arm clothes to help him prepare for the w inter (2 Timothy 4:13,21). How ever, the second aspect, his care for them, is also clear. He gave of himself. W hen there w ere misunderstandings in Corinth (2 Corinthians 6:5-13), Paul honestly expressed his concern and affection for the congregation. In crisis, Paul restored relationships. For him member care w as both pastoral and holistic. Paul w as a care-giving and care-receiving missionary. W ho cares to follow Paul’s example? Eappen John* says that people on the field face much stress in ministry. There may be insufficient staff, a poor job fit, and even misunderstandings in a multi-cultural organisation. Limited cultural adjustment may surface over language, climate, cultural norms, chaotic administration or corruption. Losses may even go unrecognized – grief on separation from close family, loss of security, loss of familiarity, of possessions, of hopes, of stability. W ho cares to meet the needs of our front line personnel? M. C. Mathew * says that the pace and profile of urban life in India have changed. Young professionals in India move jobs to advance, moving up socially and economically. In three years, about 40 percent in any urban setting w ill be middle class people involved in competitive career grow th. But all this engenders stress on lives and life style, resulting in life style related diseases. Families become unstable; turning to substance abuse or descend into anxiety disorders – an epidemic of preventable diseases. This dynamic middle class sustains the prosperity of a society, yet they are lonely and isolated. Desperately they visit resorts and therapy centres, investing time and resources. So me churches keep their campus open for professionals to pray. Some organize social gatherings on Saturday evenings. Some ‘w atch’ families for indications of stress or need. Some Christian professionals serve as “pastors” in the corporate office and market places. We need more innovative ideas to meet these needs and disciple middle class people to follow Jesus Christ. W ho cares for such innovative ministry? Eappen John further adds that interestingly, many field personnel prove resilient in stressful situations, often thriving through their sense of call. Yet some become depressed or anxious leading to burnout and anger. Timely member care is essential. Care can revive motivation and efficiency, enabling them to stay at the task. Member Care should include the entire family including the spouse and children. This w ill prevent problems, restore confidence, nurture spirituality and develop resilience, skills, and virtue resulting in inner perseverance as w ell as external interpersonal skills. Do w e care for our people? Member care depends on all of us. God asks all of us to do it daily. ‘But encourage one another daily, w hile it is called today, lest any o f you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrew s 3:13).’ It is a “tw o-w ay” street: w e receive and w e give, and w e w ould hardly survive w ithout it. Rightly so Interserve India has made ‘Excellence in Member Care’ as one of its major goals serving those on the front line ministry as w ell as serving people in need. Let us model excellence in caring for one another! Compiled & Edited by Beulah W & J Amalraj

We are indebted to Interserve for providing us pastoral care. When we are out in the ministry field, knowing that someone is praying for us has given us a sense of belonging --Mr. Amzad and Mrs. Yoorila Decruz

(* Mr. C. B. Samuel, former General Director, EFICOR & former Chair of Interserve India Board, Mr. Eappen John, Educationist & Interserve Partner, Dr. M C Matthew , Developmental Paediatrician & Interserve Partner)

I start w ith a question. W hen did mission become a task only for 'missionaries' and 'mission agencies'? Let us look at the biblical history. God chose Abraham and through him Israel as an entire nation to be the missionary that w ould reach out to the w hole w orld. God sent prophets to remind them of their calling. Then, at the right time, God sent His son Jesus Christ as a missionary. Jesus w elcomed disciples to join that mission, "fishing for people". The first disciples w ere also missionaries, going about Judea announcing the coming of God's kingdom. After Jesus' death and resurrection, and most importantly, w ith the gift of the Holy Spirit, the mission exploded out from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, including India. W herever the disciples w ere (all the follow ers of Christ not just the apostles), at home or anyw here else, they told others about the Saviour they had met, the Spirit they had received, and the Father w ho loved them. Some spread of the gospel happened because of a deliberate mission thrust to take it to other places. This happened w hen people migrated to w ork, and during persecution. (This is probably how Christianity first came to India.) An example is that the church in Antioch assigned Paul and Barnabas to go to other lands to proclaim the message. How ever, an even larger part of the spread of the gospel happened because nobody then thought that only a few should proclaim the message of Jesus. Those w hose lives w ere transformed naturally told others in their neighborhood about it. This can still be our model in our ow n churches. Local churches can disciple and nurture those w hom God brings to faith in Christ. Later these too may nurture and disciple yet more people in their neighbourhood or further aw ay. Now let us look at Christian history. After Christianity became the state religion under the Emperor Constantine, the disciples of Jesus seemed to lose their missionary zeal. Later, during the crusades against Muslims and Jew s, a misguided perception of mission and Christian zeal bound church and state together in a w ay that tw isted mission into imperialism and colonialism w hich lasted for many centuries. Glimmerings of change show ed in the medieval era w hen a passion for missions emerged in some Roman Catholic orders, and monks like Francis Xavier w ent around the globe w ith the message of Christ. Designated missionaries like Robert de Nobili, Ziegenbalg and his associates w ere sent out w ith the purpose of communicating God's kingdom to 'the heathen'. The coming of W illiam Carey to India in the 18th century revived the passion for missions in its true sense. As a local Baptist pastor

Carey, felt that it w as the duty of every Christian to spread the gospel. He w as rebuked by his contemporaries, w ho felt that, “W hen God pleases to convert the heathen, He w ill do it w ithout your aid or mine” (John Rylond, cited in Timothy George, 1991:53). But Carey's example and methodology spread, and as a result mission-minded people began to set up organizations w hich w ould send out men and w omen to proclaim the gospel. Most established churches in India began through such efforts by denominational and interdenominational mission societies from the w est. Interserve (then Zenana Bible and Medical Mission) is is an example, founded as an inter-denominational society in 1852 to serve along w ith churches to seek and disciple new believers. Mission is not about keeping mission societies going, but about churches reaching individuals and communities around them. It is God w ho makes churches grow , and w e are His fellow w orkers in this process (1 Corinthians 3:7&9). And w hat does mission mean today? In earlier days, mission w as only understood geographically, joining mission societies and going to distant lands. That thinking, thankfully, is changing. Globalization has made mission possible both locally and across boundaries. We are recovering the true meaning of mission as God's w ork; w e are his disciples w herever w e are, participating in God's mission. Disciples learn from the master, and do as he does. As God is a missionary, his follow ers are also missionaries. As God's people belonging to many different local churches, w e are making disciples, w hether to our ow n culture or across cultures. At least w e should be! But most Christians still seem to be stuck thinking that 'the foreigners' are the real missionaries (even the South Indians in North India) and mission is their job. As a result, missions are left to those designated as missionaries. W hat happened to discipleship and w itnessing? Are not all Christians disciples? Have they not had their lives transformed by him? Should not the local church join in transforming the communities they live in? Should they not care for communities w ho live in distant lands? Every individual Christian and the local church is naturally a participant in God's kingdom mission! If the good new s has truly transformed our lives, w e must share it in w ords and actions. We all have a part to play. Mission can be the heartbeat of every disciple of Christ. We need to recover the breath and urgency of the early church, w here all w ere called to proclaim the message of Jesus. All of us in missions should lead our fellow w orshipers in local churches (that means everybody), to revitalize our thinking on missions. Teach it, preach it, run seminars on it, talk to people one to one about it. If every Christian in India took their role as a 'missionary' seriously, w e could calculate three missionaries (including children) for every one hundred people. And that w ould be a pretty good ratio for getting the message out to the w hole country! So, let us remember, you and I and our Christian acquaintances are Christ's missionaries here and now , in your place my place, and their place. Jessica D

Off the beaten path As I travel around the country for w ork, I have a strange identity crisis. I am a trained doctor and development professional and this is how I have alw ays know n myself. W hen w orking in secular institutions earlier, my principal identity w ith my audience w as my professional one-people knew me no other w ay. That has changed. During my first visit to Tezpur in Assam recently, a meeting w ith several Bodo pastors had been arranged. W hen my hosts at the hospital introduced me to the church leaders, a few said that they already knew me. I w as confused as this w as my first visit to this politically troubled area. W hen a church leader got up to introduce me, he did so not in terms of my professional identity or w hat I had come there to do, but as someone w ho w rote articles for some Christian magazines that he and his colleagues had been blessed by. I w as uneasy but also secretly pleased: uneasy because I w onder if I am losing touch w ith my profession and the identity and purpose it gives me; but pleased at the tangible success of my tent making that it is possible to have tw o equally meaningful identities and somehow integrate them. It is possible to practise a profession and also help in the task of evangelizing and discipling if not directly, then at least w orking alongside those w ho do. In this instance, I could never dream of doing anything purposeful among the Bodos, but the fact that w hatever I w as doing w as providing nurture to those w ho w ork and serve among them w as a great encouragement. The w ell beaten path of the modern missions movement is the road of the supported w orker. One often hears inspiring testimonies of zealous Christians w ho laid dow n their secular employment to enter missions “full time”. The professional missionary, w ith a Bible School diploma and technical training in development, is the epitome of a successful missions strategy. He or she is also the spiritual icon of the Church, held up as an example of counting the cost and a model of spirituality. How ever, in the history of the Church, the professional missionary is a recent phenomenon. During its first four hundred years of existence, the Church grew from being an obscure religious sect of Judaism to a dominant global religious influence, principally through people w ho lived their faith in the marketplace. Paul's missionary efforts had their greatest success among the middle and upper middle classes. The converts w ere like Lydia, a business w oman, w ho had the freedom to associate and to gather others to hear the good new s (Acts 16:15). It is likely that these Christians traveled as merchants and traders to new lands and introduced nations to the gospel as they plied their w ares. All around the w orld today, men and w omen are moving across cultures to use their professions and trades in the cause of w orld mission. There are several w ays of looking at this movement. Each may have some truth, but if taken alone can be misleading or even damaging because they are only partial. For example: Tent making is a substitute for explicit missionary w ork, necessary because of reduced freedom to enter countries as "missionaries". Tent makers are just Christians w ho are part of the w orldw ide movement of people in trade, service industries etc. Tent making is a cheaper means of w orld evangelism, because it is self-supporting. Each of the above can distort the true picture of w hat tent making is. It is inadequate to view tent making as simply a new response to the Great Commission of Matthew 28. It is something more. Tent making is one facet of renew al in the church w orldw ide, essentially a renew ed understanding of the priesthood of all believers. This ministry is not for “specialists”, but for every Christian. This is the road for 21st century missions. It is the obvious road of the future. It is the road once traveled w ith great success by the Church in its early history. It is the road the Apostle Paul exhorted the church to travel w hen he stated that the purpose of the church professionals prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers is to equip the saints to do the ministry rather than doing the ministry themselves (Eph 4:11-16). How ever, the influence of a Greek w orldview has sometimes caused us to separate ministry from w ork spiritual w ork from secular w ork and reserve the spiritual w ork for ministry professionals. It has also caused us to reserve ministry to church-based programs rather than seeing our secular w ork as a ministry. For example, tent making Christians are rarely asked to share about their ministry in the marketplace at church meetings but they are encouraged to “make time” for church ministry in the evenings and on w eekends. Those w ho are especially good at church-based ministry are encouraged to leave their secular employment and join the church so they can minister “full time”. Thus most ministries done by the church are church-based as opposed to marketplace-based, w hich distances them from the vast majority of people w ho live and w ork in the marketplace. God values secular w ork, not just so because Christians can w itness to unbelievers, but because, through transformed w ork, glory and honor w ill be brought into the New Jerusalem. All w ork has the potential for eternal significance. Tent making offers one w ay to learn how to become all things to all men, to introduce as many people as possible to the Lord. Shantanu Dutta

Departure into all the world W hen w ill w e stop being a universal recipient and move on to become a universal donor?” This is a question to be debated in India. Lakshmi Mittal, the richest Indian is feared by several European companies. His flagship company, Mittal Steel along w ith other Indian business groups like TATA and W IPRO are taking over businesses around the w orld. India is everyw here, from being the w orld's call centre, back office, bio-medical research centre, to being the w orld's largest democracy, the youngest nation, and having the maximum English speaking population. By providing the cultural richness through music, movies, and fashion, our country has entered the international arena in a big w ay. India has become a global consumer market. The w orld of Christian ministry has also undergone changes. Indians are in senior positions and even leading Christian ministries in different parts of the w orld. A country w hich used to receive funds and other resources has started sending personnel and is even financially supporting other Christian ministries in various parts of the globe.

financially supporting other Christian ministries in various parts of the globe. In the Scriptures w e read the mandate given to us, to “go into all the w orld and make disciples of all nations”. “All the w orld” does not mean only India. In Acts, the call is to be “w itnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” There is a w orld beyond the political boundaries of India, a w orld w hich needs Christ desperately and urgently. Of course, there is a lot of need in India. But, w e haven’t been called to fulfil all needs in our land before w e go out to other nations. A classic example is Paul, w ho w ent out to ‘all the w orld’ in spite of the real need in Jerusalem. Surely Paul w as the best person to reach out to the Jew s in Jerusalem, but he w as called to reach the Gentiles in Jerusalem and elsew here too. Since all the w orld is the Lord's and everything in it, and since He loves the w hole w orld and everyone in it, He may be calling some of us to move beyond our ‘Jerusalems’, cities that w e love and are concerned about, and reach out to the ends of the earth. There is no country in the w orld better equipped for this task than India. We have a rich heritage of being recipients of God's grace and his gospel. We Indians do not need any cross cultural training, since w e live in a culture w hich is a potpourri of hundreds of different cultures, religions, languages and tribes. Hence, Indians are among the most adaptable people in the w orld. The presence of NRIs in all corners of the w orld is proof for that! We Indians have been know n to travel far and w ide to find secular employment. As Christians, w e need to learn to merge that w ith God's call of global missions. As a matter of fact, w e do not even need to go to the ‘ends of the earth’. The w orld’s neediest places are part of our ‘Judea’ and ‘Samaria’. Our neighbours in South Asia, the Arab World, Central Asia, East and South East Asia are torn by political turmoil, civil w ar and poverty. There are millions of people w ho are hungry for the gospel of love and peace. Let us rise up and be the torchbearers of the Gospel in the 21st century. The w orld needs us Indians: are w e ready? We have been pioneers in cross-cultural ministry for the past 150 years. It is time that w e started a paradigm shift in cross-cultural missions - a shift from the traditional idea of the West reaching out to the rest, to Asians w ho have been blessed by centuries of mission w ork reaching out. To usher in this new era, Interserve (I) has included ‘Mobilising Indians to be Placed Overseas’ as one of its Strategic Goals for the next 5 years. In the past a few of our partners have been w orking in neighbouring countries. Some of them have been there all their professional life, some for a few years and yet others on short term assignments. We have started the process, and in the next five years are committed to turn it into a movement. Johns George

I can’t We Can Tw o common nets illustrate tw o important functions of netw orking - fishing nets that catch fishes and mosquito nets that protect from mosquitoes. Like these tw o, netw orking w ith one another helps us to fulfill common goals as w ell as protect us from common adversaries. Scripture exhorts us in Ecclesiastes that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. It has been rightly said, 'United w e stand and divided w e fall.' Similarly, alone w e can accomplish little but together w e can move mountains. The New Buzz Word Netw orking is now the buzz w ord in the business, economic, cultural and political w orld. It is important to us involved in missions as w e strive to fulfill the Great Commission. Netw orking evolves out of informal relationships, less structured and built on personal relationships that are strategic. We make links w ith others w ho have similar goals, for each connection counts. Each individual, organization, church or group can contribute something important to achieve common goals. Networking in History Early church history depicts valuable netw orking w ay back in the time of Paul. By netw orking, he established churches throughout Asia Minor, in Greece and even in Rome, often using his skills of tent making to build links. The Reformation Movement started by Martin Luther and others in Europe have many examples of individuals netw orking to fulfill their common vision, even though each one of them w ere great stalw arts in their ow n region. The father of modern missions, W illiam Carey netw orked w idely to achieve major breakthroughs in his pioneer ministry. He also netw orked w ith W ilberforce an evangelical Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom to bring social reforms like abolition of the practice of 'Sati' in India. The Indian mission movement w hich emerged in the late sixties and seventies saw success in reaching many tribal groups because of netw orking at various levels. In the last decade before the end of the millennium there w as a global movement of netw orking among missions w hich focused on the unreached people groups through the AD 2000 movement. Recently, the Global Day of Prayer Movement and other similar efforts have resulted in helping Christians around the w orld to pray together across all kinds of boundaries in a fresh w ave of revival. Network Works Now Netw orking is not controlling one another, hijacking ideas, stealing personnel, merging organizations or churches and starting new organizations etc. It is not superiority complex, crossing boundaries or margins and overlooking framew orks or guidelines. Netw orking is recognizing our diversity, learning to complement each other's strengths, enabling one another and including as many as possible to fulfill our common vision. The biggest threats to netw orking are individualism and limited vision. One example is churches that honor only their ow n denomination and forget that they are only one part of the w hole body of Christ. Some self-satisfied organizations do not look beyond their ow n w alls. Trends like these portray any organization in bad light. At the grass root level, staff may find it difficult to netw ork because they are compelled to seek approvals from their leadership. The lack of understanding of netw orking and the skills of netw orking can affect netw orks. A t times, the lack of champions, influencers, visionaries, leaders and facilitators can become a major stumbling block for netw orks to emerge. We can netw ork at local, regional, national and global levels. Staff of mission organizations, pastors of local churches, can meet together regularly for fellow ship, prayer and encouragement. These meetings can prevent competitions and promote pastoral care for one another in times of struggles. Churches and mission organizations can, for example, organize joint programs and projects, learning from one another's experiences, and sharing resources and information. Sharing of information is a major form of netw orking. Alone w e w ould overlook, fail to collect relevant information, or spend too much time and resources on getting it. Interserve and Networking In the year 1960, Interserve (then know n as BMMF) made a momentous decision to voluntarily hand over all health care and educational projects run in north and w estern India to the local leadership. Int erserve transformed itself from being project implementers to becoming people facilitators. Interserve netw orks actively by seconding its personnel to serve w ith the local Christian institutions, mission agencies, local churches and denominations. Interserve believes that it is called primarily to netw ork and partner w ith the global church to serve the needs of the peoples of Asia and the Arab w orld. Interserve India as part of fulfilling its various goals seeks to netw ork w ith like minded churches and mission mobilisers to recruit Indian Christians to serve across cultures w ithin India and beyond through w holistic ministry. We all have tasks both individual yet corporate. We can and must come together and w ork. We can together fulfill the vision of transforming individuals and communities in this generation. Rajesh Agarwal

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