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Missions 101

Dependency and Missions – An Indian Perspective – Part 1

Jun. 28, 2016By: Vijay MeesalaAuthor Bio

Editor's note: Missiologist Craig Ott warns against supporting pastors in foreign countries. The pitfalls are many. We asked Vijay Meesala, an Indian ministry leaders who solicits support for pastors his take on this issue. 

I once received an email that read:

Hello Vijay,

 ……..As for more churches and organizations for support… I will think and pray and let you know if any come to mind.  However, I would also like to ask you if you have done your best to invite local churches in your area to contribute to your ministry.  Please don’t be offended by this question…. But I want you and the churches of your area to experience the blessing and testimony of 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.

Here is how I responded:

These following reflections are my general thoughts on the Issue of dependency and the Western Church. This gives me an opportunity to share my heart. Correct me if I am wrong, and we can continue to discuss this matter.  In fact your email made me prayerfully reflect on this issue of dependency.  I might state some sweeping generalizations, so please forgive me for that.  I am willing to dialogue, and likewise learn from you.  Thanks.

Surely, from your experiences you must have seen many examples where the Church in India and other parts of the world seek help from the West.  I have also seen this.  It is true in many cases that help is sought from the churches in the West, but I believe that does not mean there is practically no support given or raised from the local churches.  I think this is seriously misunderstood.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5—1We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.  3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints-- 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

I’m sure that the Church in India is not different from churches elsewhere.  They do give do God's work.  I am 100% sure that many of the churches in India are not receiving support from the West and are not surviving only because of the help from the West.  Indian churches do raise support locally for various things in small and big measures.  It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the Church in India experiences the joy of 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 maybe even more than most of the churches in the West. 

From my experience with some of our churches in some villages, believers support the church and pastor by bringing a glass of rice, a chicken or egg or some small amount of money, which is all they have.  Secondly, I only came to the US in 2005 for the first time and I have been receiving some support from the US since October 2006.  But I can testify to the ministry of our churches around me in India that they didn't have any support from outside, yet they still existed, survived, and gave birth to new congregations with the support of local churches. They did God's work in their own capacity just like it says in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.  This happens with most of the churches in India, which is very encouraging.

Regarding our own ministry experience with Reach All Nations – my father, with support of God and local churches, could establish about 30 churches without any support from West.  His support has been less than $5 per month.  And I could give you many other examples similar to this.

Here is an example of an average believer’s financial situation (of a farming village) and the contributions to church and mission work:

Average members in the family: 6-8

Average annual income (approximately) :  36000 – 50000 ($860 - $1190)

(Exchange Rate: $1 USD to 42 INR)

The contribution to Church and Mission work per year:

1

Tithes (Most of the believers bring tithes to the Church at least in our mission context):

3600 – 5000

$86 - $119

2

Other offerings per year to support pastor’s family (in the form of Rice, Chicken, lentils, paddy, etc.) and Sunday offering:

1000– 1500

$24 - $36

3

Church Electricity bill payment for the church per year:

100

$2.38

4

Support for other local Churches and other Church mission related activities:

600 – 1000

$14.28 - $28

 

Total

5300– 7500

$126.19 - $178.57

 

This table explains that the village church believers give to the church, pastor, and mission work more than they could afford, and they give it even from great poverty. That is such a joyful thing. If the churches were bigger, the missionary or the pastor would be receiving enough to support the family in an average means, but it is still not sufficient.  If the churches were smaller, then the missionary and pastor would have a very difficult time to taking care of the needs of the family.  In spite of these insufficient income difficulties, they continue to serve the Lord.  Praise the Lord for this.

 

Vijay Meesala born in to a family of Hindu converts. He became a believer in 1997 and decided to study theology. He began his seminary theological training when he was 17 years old. During his seminary days he received his calling for ministry in the form of a vision. He says, “ In the vision I saw a hand come from above and quickly draw a world map in the sky and a small box within the world map. Then I heard a voice saying, ‘Jesus is coming soon; be prepared and make many prepared’; then the vision ended. At first I did not understand the meaning of the vision. But soon I realized that it was the vision of 10/40 window.” This vision now serves as the direction for his ministry.

He is also a co-founder of an organization in India called Reach All Nations. RAN seeks to reach the unreached nations with the good news of Jesus Christ through training, sending and supporting native missionaries, and planting churches. Central to our mission is uplifting the poor through educational and community development initiatives. Though still in its initial stage, the organization has grown to train 83 native missionaries of which 28 of them are from the Church where his father is serving as Pastor and other are from seven different districts of Andhra Pradesh, and has established an Orphanage with 32 Children. Among several other evangelistic and philanthropic activities RAN regularly conducts conferences and training programs for Pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders. RAN also does community development programs and Relief and Rehabilitation projects based on need.

His formal educational background comprises of 6 years of Christian Theology and 3 years of Islamic Studies at various institutions in India and abroad such as the Gospel for Asia Biblical Seminary, India, the Andhra Christian Theological College, the Henry Martyn Institute, and Luther Seminary, USA. As a faculty member at HMI, he taught Major religions in India, Religion and Conflict, Academic Study of Religion, Islam: History, Faith and Feelings, Theology, and Islam in India. His favorite speaking subjects also include: Role of the Indian Church in Global Missions, Native Missionaries: A New Strategy for World Missions, Evangelism Among the Neighbors of Asia, Religious Fundamentalism and the Persecuted Church in Asia, Christianity in India, and Asian Church in a Pluralistic Context.

Vijay’s father serves as a pastor in a church in Andhra Pradesh. His mother, two younger brothers and sister help serve in the ministry. He considers it as a great joy and Lord’s blessing to serve the lord as an entire family. The family for the last 30 years has served the church with deep commitment to the Lord and His kingdom. 

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