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Impact of India

Impact of India

Thank you so much for praying for us as we had the privilege of representing Christ and Southwood in India for a couple of weeks. We can’t imagine the trip going any more smoothly and are grateful for God’s care and your prayers. Our mission partners at Reaching Indians Ministries International (t), also called Mission India, and their president, Saji Lukos, were incredibly gracious hosts.

They invited us into their Leadership Conference the first week with nearly 2,000 pastors, ministry leaders, and family members from all 29 states of India and several neighboring nations. Worship in Hindi and English, preaching/teaching through an interpreter, and praying with dozens of people and families were highlights of the conference for us.

The second week we stayed at the main Nagpur campus to teach and develop relationships with 23 second-year seminary students. The young men and women were an absolute delight to us in the classroom, at the lunch table, and around campus. Their hunger for God’s Word was inspiring as we walked together several hours each day through the Bible’s story, God’s covenant relationship with his people, and ways to preach Jesus from all of Scripture.

There is no way we could express the impact of our experiences on each of our lives in an article like this, but what follows are some key takeaways we hope will be an encouragement to you.

An Active Abba
First of all, we got to see how God is at work in India and Southeast Asia in really exciting ways – and we only scraped the surface! Story after story of conversions taking place, orphans being loved, churches being built, and cultures being changed in villages that had never heard the good news of Jesus were spiritually invigorating. While Hindus and Muslims make up nearly 90% of India’s 1.4 billion people, Christianity is growing rapidly, and we saw some of the evidence firsthand. Many churches meet in homes or temporary structures, but the power of the gospel is sweeping through India in fresh ways.

A significant part of this movement of God’s Spirit is the introduction to people of a God whom you can know, with whom you can have a real relationship as your “Abba Father.” Most people there have heard of many gods, have idols in their homes, or worship many aspects of nature. But they have also been told by religious leaders that gods are distant, that they are unworthy people of a lower class, or that love must be earned through ritual, sacrifice, and obedience. Into that context the story of a gracious God who comes to us and sacrifices himself to know relationship with us is life-changing.

A Missionary Mindset
Perhaps partially as a result of this remarkable shift in one’s understanding of God that comes to a Hindu who meets Jesus, these new Christians immediately seem to see themselves as missionaries. One student after another in our class spoke of the desire to go back home to his village to share the good news with family and friends. One young lady who grew up in orphanages is particularly passionate to start more such “mercy homes” where kids experience the love of Christ. Regardless of the particular circumstances, they view themselves as sent into the world on a mission from God, and we fed off their passion.

A Powerful Partnership
Whether it was this personal sense of transformation and mission, the reality of God answering prayer, or the powerful testimony of God’s Spirit in physical or spiritual healing, our new friends functioned from a deep experience of God’s presence and work. Whereas we are often able to explain from the Bible how God promises to work, we noticed quickly how weak we often are in our experience of that reality in our lives. At the same time, we have many more tools and resources for training in understanding God’s Word and theological instruction than almost any Indian pastor at the conference.

The outcome of these two realities meant that there was a beautiful partnership between RIMI and Southwood. In other words, it is not hyperbole to say we learned much more from them than they did from us. At the same time, we felt God used our presence, our time in relationship, and our teaching to equip workers for his kingdom in a valuable way. We left even more excited than when we went about what God might continue to do for his kingdom through this exciting partnership.

Meet RIMI President Saji Lukos and learn more about the kingdom of God in India at Southwood’s Express Grace Conference; January 27-28.