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Missions 101

Dependency and Missions – An Indian Perspective – Part 2

Jun. 29, 2016By: Vijay MeesalaAuthor Bio

Editor Note: Monday we posted an article by Craig Ott that noted his caution on supporting national leaders and missionaries. Today's article continues yesterday’s post from Vijay Meesala, who works in India for ministry that seeks support for national Indian pastors and leaders.

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: 

At the most fundamental level there is little comparison between the typical Indian village church and a Western church.  Below are some areas of comparison. (The following is from a Westerner who was involved in the mission work for more than 30 years and gained much wisdom from the mission):

 

Issue

Western Church

Indian Village Church

1

Cultural Hostility                     

Little or none                   

Much hostility

2

% of Believers Employed     

Above 97%    

40% full-time employed

3

Level of Education                   

Nearly 100% high school graduates       

Very low % educated

 

4

Care of Widows and Orphans           

Little/none care given        

Much care given

5

Economic Situation                   

Wealthy

Hand-to-mouth existence

6

Spiritual Development             

Reflects society more than Kingdom        

Prays, fasts, active in evangelism

 

7

Church Outreach                    

Self-contained                 

Involved in starting new fellowships

 

I'm sure there are many other areas of comparison. 

I hope you understand my heart; I am not saying these things to judge which churches are superior and inferior.  However, there is a general misunderstanding from the churches in the west that we (Indian and Asian Churches ) only and always seek help from the West.  Yet this is not accurate for all the churches.  Indeed, it is an exaggeration.

I am not denying the fact that there are many who seek Western help, including our own mission work, and receive enormous amounts of generous support from the West.  Praise the Lord!  I also want to acknowledge that there is a danger of being dependent on the West.  But that the Church in India or elsewhere is existing only with the support of the West and there is no local support is definitely not true.  In our context in Andhra Pradesh rural area, I estimate less than 25-30% of churches only receive help from outside India.

The support that we seek from the West is to enhance and further the work of God more effectively  and faster. It is also because more than 75% of the wealth is in the hands of Western Christians (according to some mission statistics).  Someone has said that if the Church in the West thinks that she is doing a favor to the churches in developing countries by giving money and other things, then that is not a biblical attitude but an attitude of worldly superiority.  The Church belongs to God and God will build His Church.  But by supporting each other I believe we are doing our part in God’s family.

For these reasons I firmly believe that the Church in India enjoys the joy of 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 much like other Churches in similar contexts.  Believers in Indian villages give to the Lord out of their extreme poverty and they give it willingly as said in the Scriptures.

I hope to continue dialoguing about this, and I am willing to learn more as well.  I just wrote what is on my heart with much prayer and reflection.  These are my general feelings about the Church in the West but not against any particular individual or church.  Please let me know what you think of this.  I will be happy to hear from you.

My request is this:  Please does not generalize and make hasty decisions based on some past experiences or because someone said it was so.  Moreover, let the Western Church/Pastors/Mission leaders also examine themselves to see if they are too dependent and yet not seeing it, while they point fingers at indigenous missionaries.

One last thing, I am saying this with much caution and love: I am not sure if a Western Pastor/Mission Executive/Leader/staff of a mission of organization would continue to serve and minister in the same ministry/organization if/when he knows that the next months check/money/support is not going to come.  He would try to find another job placement because he has a wife and children.  (I am not seeking to generalize; there may be exemptions)….But I am sure that almost all the indigenous missionaries I personally know of in Asia or Africa would continue to serve the Lord no matter what may come…may it be persecution/famine/or anything.

Please do not mistake me for being harsh….  I would be happy to hear from you and learn as well.

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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