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Dependency and Missions - An Indian Perspective - Part 2

Feb. 4, 2015By: Vijay MeesalaAuthor Bio

This is a continuation of yesterday's post in response to this email question:

Hello Vijay, 

……..As for more churches and organizatons 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.

At the most fundamental level there is little comparability between the typical India village church and the Western church. Below are some areas of comparison (The following is from a Westerner missionary with more than 30 years of experience).



Western Church

Indian Village Church


Cultural Hostility                     

Little or none                   

serious differences


Level of believers employed     

high 97%    

Perhaps 40% full time


Level of education                   

near 100 % high school   graduates       

very low %



Care of widows and Orphans           

Less/no care given        

Cares for widows and orphans


Economic situation                   


Hand to mouth existence


Spiritual development            

reflects society 

more than Kingdom        

prays, fasts and actively involved in evangelism



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 church is superior and which is not. But 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. I don't believe this is true for all the Churches. Frankly, it is a great exaggeration.

I am not denying the fact that, there are many who seek help including our own mission work, and also receive unbelievably large and generous support from the West. Praise the Lord! I also want to acknowledge that there is a dangerous side of being dependent on the West or on some other. But to think that the Church in India or elsewhere is existing only with the support of the West and there is no local support - is something that I firmly disagree because it is not true. In our contexts - that is in Andhra Pradesh rural area - (I may not be very accurate on this but I am guessing in general) I suppose that less than 25-30% church only receive help from outside of India .

The support that we seek from the west is to enhance or further the work of God more efficiently and faster. It is also because more than 75% of the wealth is in the hands of Western Christians (according to some mission statistics about 5-7 years ago). Someone said that if the Church in the West thinks that they are 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. Church belongs to God and God will raise His Church. But by supporting each other I believe we are doing our part in God’s family.

From this, I am in strong faith that the Church in India enjoys the joy of 2 Cor 1:5 much more like other Churches with 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.

1509301_4680181a878de078I hope to continue to dialogue on this and am willing to learn more on this. I just wrote what is in my heart with much prayer and reflection. These are my general feelings about the Church in the West but not particularly against any individual or Church. Please let me know what you think of this. I will be happy to hear from you.

My conclusion is this, please do not generalize and make hasty decisions based on some past experiences or because someone said it so, but rather, let the Western Church/Pastors/Mission leaders examine themselves if they too are dependent. Perhaps they are not seeing while pointing fingers at the 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 or he will try to find another placement of job because he has a wife and children (I am not generalizing there may be exemptions)….But I know and am sure that almost all the Indigenous missionaries I personally know of in Asia or Africa will continue to serve the Lord no matter what may come…may it be persecution/famine/or anything.

Please do not misunderstand me for being harsh…I will be happy to hear and learn from you.

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Dependency and Missions - An Indian Perspective - Part 1

Feb. 3, 2015By: Vijay MeesalaAuthor Bio

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 theATO-ID-2014-6-financial-dependency Western Church. This gives me an opportunity to share my heart. Correct me if I am wrong, we can continue to discuss this matter. In fact, this email made me reflect prayerfully on this issue of dependency. There may be some sweeping statements and generalizations, please forgive me for that. I am willing to continue to dialogue and learn from you. Thanks.

Surely, many of you have seen many examples where the Church in India and other parts of the world are seeking help from the West and Europe and so on. I have also seen the same. It is true in many cases that help is sought from the Churches in the West, but this does not mean that there is practically no support given or raised from the local Churches. I guess this is dangerously misunderstood.

2 Corinthians 8:1–5 (ESV)
1 We 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 believe that the Church in India is not so different from Churches elsewhere. They do give for God's work. I am 100% sure that not all the Churches in India are receiving the support from the West and surviving only because of the help from the US or elsewhere. Indian churches do raise support locally for various things in small and big measures. I suggest it won’t be an exaggeration to say that the Church in India experiences the joy of 2 Corinthians 1-5 just like or maybe more than most of the Churches in the West.

I can tell from my own experience, that with some of our Churches in villages, they show their support of the Church and pastor by bringing a glass of rice, a chicken or egg or a little money from all they have. Another example, I came to the US only in 2005 for the first time in order to receive some support from the US, from 2006 October onwards. I can testify on behalf of churches around me, who have zero support from outside but yet they still exist, survive and give birth to new congregations with the support of the local church. They do God's work in their own capacity. Just like it is said in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. This happens with most of the Churches in India and it is very encouraging.

Speaking from 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 month. And I can share many more example of this nature.

Here is an example of an average village farming believer’s financial situation and contributions to Church and mission work:

Average members in the family: 6-8

Average annual income (approximately) : Rs 36000 – 50000 ($860 - $1190 - $1 counted for Rs 42)

The contribution to Church and Mission work per year:


Tithe (Most of  the believers bring tithe to the Church at least in our mission context).

Rs3600 – 5000

$86 - $119


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

Rs1000– Rs 1500

$24 - $36


Church Electricity bill payment for the Church per year:




Support for other local Churches and other Church mission related activities

Rs600 – Rs 1000

$14.28 - $28



Rs5300– Rs7500

$126.19 - $178.57


This table explains that the village Church believes in giving to the Church, pastor, and mission work more than they could and they give it even while they are under great poverty. That is such a joyful thing. If the Churches are bigger the missionary or the pastor has enough to support the family in a very average way, but not really sufficient. If the Churches are smaller, then the missionary and pastor will have a very difficult time to take care of the needs of the family. In spite of insufficient income difficulties, they continue to serve the Lord. Praise the Lord for this.

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Thoughts On My Right To Kill My Son

Jan. 23, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Two years ago my wife was five months pregnant. We were headed for an ultrasound to see the baby and have the doctors check to make sure everything was progressing nicely. We had done this three times before and were excited. All of our children were healthy and it never crossed our minds that the ultrasound would even take a long time. As we met with the doctor and ultrasound technician they referred to what they saw as "your child." They must have said it 50x during the ultrasound as they referred to "your child's hand," "your child's heart," etc. 

But then something changed. IMG_0192

Another doctor was brought into the room and for five minutes he stared at the baby's heart. The room was completely silent. I could tell my wife was becoming upset, but I was oblivious and thought she was overreacting. The doctor began to tell us that there was a tumor on our child's heart and started to run down all the scenarios we were now faced with. 

Then the doctor said to us: "If the fetus is abnormal and that is management problem for you, you have options." 

Let that one sink in for a moment.

The slight change in wording tells the story. I was in too much shock to respond, but later it dawned on me what he had done. The child my wife was carrying was only a child if we wanted to keep it. There were over 4,000 abortions in the US the day we were given the option to add one more. We had the right to determine whether this child would be allowed to live. If we did not want the baby, it was only a fetus.

There is of course, deep down, a selfish side in all of us. We tell ourselves we would never do "x" in any situation. Then you find yourself in that situation and your mind wanders. Kids limit us in many ways. A child with special needs - my life as I knew it would have been over. It was in that moment I understood for the first time in a real way that parenting is a joyful giving up of your time. Of course the rewards are great, but while having met many wonderful families with special needs kids, I wondered if I would be up for the task. Would I, despite my theology, be willing to murder my son? Would I reason that it wouldn't be a good life for him or that other children would be so negatively impacted, that my decision was really about management?

Three weeks later we came back for another ultrasound. The growth on the heart was not a tumor, but a normal variant. In the doctor's eyes, our child was a baby again. In our eyes, nothing had changed. I was never given the chance to truly choose life in a hard situation, but then again, it was never my choice to begin with.

I have pondered this event many times now that my son is approaching three. I am still in shock over it. Not a surprised kind of shocked. More of sadness and disgust. As my wife and I have considered that conversation multiple times over the years, we have felt a large pull to help the Right to Life movement. We however are handcuffed (in a wonderful way) right now with five children and are not able to do very much. Here are a few things for busy people to fight for the life of children not yet born:

1. Pray. Pray for the moms who are considering the abortion, the families who want to adopt the children and the doctors who want to murder them.

2. Engage. Take part in the Right to Life March. Engage your pro-choice friends in sane and calm arguments. Scott Klusendorf's book The Case for Life might really help you in this regard. The best argument to start is a simple one: Ask what the person you are debating what they think the mother is carrying. How they answer that question will guide your conversation. You never know how winning one person over to the pro-life side may impact the life of a child.

3. Make some money. Figure out a way to make more in order to buy an ultrasound machine for a pregnancy center or help a couple with the costs of an adoption. Continue to debunk the myth that Christians stop caring for babies after they are born.

4. Think about adoption. I have friends who adopted a child of a young teenager who, despite her parents wishes, carried the baby to term.

5. Love your own kids. They are sweet little image bearers in need of a great and merciful Savior. I don't want to be known as an advocate for an unborn child and not an advocate and provider for my own!

Is there more that could be done? Yes! Do we have the emotionial and practical time to do anything else? No. But it is a start.

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Are Ph.D.’s Necessary for Theological Education on the Mission Field?

Jan. 20, 2015By: Philemon YongAuthor Bio

While pursuing my doctoral studies, I was often asked this question by well- meaning people: “Why are you getting a Ph.D. if you are only going back to work in Africa?” This question assumes that effective ministry in Africa does not require a Ph.D. This is a false assumption. Here are four reasons I believe more people should pursue Ph.D.’s before engaging in theological education overseas.


1.  Guarding the truth of the gospel entrusted to us. Paul says to Timothy, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘Knowledge’” (1 Timothy 6:20). The deposit entrusted to Timothy is the gospel and he was to guard it against what is falsely called “knowledge” (false teaching). The gospel in most mission settings remains undefined and false teachings are rampant. We know that the gospel has its roots in the OT (cf. Gal 3:8). Jesus made the point that his life and ministry could only be understood from the OT context (Luke 24:25-27). In order to understand the gospel and guard it against false teaching, as well as preserve it for future generations, one needs to study the Scriptures well. The pursuit of a Ph.D. enables the church to continue to guard the gospel. While Masters degrees are sufficient for ministry, they do not necessarily prepare one for the kind of research and writing needed to guard the gospel and defend it against errors. A Ph.D. prepares for this task. We need people gifted in research and writing to help the church on the mission field to fully understand the gospel and pass it on to others, so that it will not lose its message, and so that people will neither add to nor subtract from it. While seminary education at the M.Div. level is good, we remain dependent on the work of those who have invested their lives in research and writing as a means of serving the church.

2.  Evangelical Christianity is lacking in higher education on the mission field. Judging by the publications available in a context like Africa, it is clear that evangelicals have a long ways to go in keeping up with the theological debate that has been ongoing since 1960. There are endless number of books on African theology, Afrocentric hermeneutics, liberation hermeneutics, feminist hermeneutics, black theology etc. Many of these volumes carry teachings that are contrary to Scripture. Yet, there is no ready response to the arguments made by these liberal scholars. We end up with publications on African theology and interpretation that are not helpful for the church. Why the absence of a response? The authors of such books are Ph.D. holders, trained in the West, who have returned to Africa to make their contributions. They are the face of African theology from a liberal perspective. How is the evangelical church going to respond to this situation? It will take African evangelicals who have pursued graduate studies and are able to research and write in response. At the very least, we need Ph.D.’s on the mission field to respond to the growing scholarly contribution of liberal Ph.D. holders. We cannot possibly expect pastors, many of whom are holders of a bachelors degree, having been trained by missionaries with masters degrees or less, to engage the highly trained liberal scholars on the continent. Can we?

3.  The church in America proves that Ph.D.’s are needed if there are to be strong churches on the mission field. What do I mean? If there were no Ph.D. holders in America, what would the state of the church be? God has graciously provided us with gifted men and women who have invested their lives in studies so that they are able to do research and write on matters of Scripture. Their work and their publications are used by pastors and lay people for preaching and teaching in the local church. Take all of these men and women out and the evangelical Christian literature will shrink. Those with Ph.D.’s are helping the church to continue to hold to the truth of their faith. Commentaries, articles, and devotional materials are written by many who have pursued higher education. Seminary graduates, pastors, and other Ph.D. holders depend on such works for ministry. If this is necessary for the church in America, how much more for the church on the mission field?

4.  Leadership development. There continues to be a cry for well-trained leaders for the churches on the mission field. This absence of leaders is embarrassing given the long history of missionary presence in those areas. Yet, one can understand why such scarcity of leaders exists. It takes well-trained leaders to provide leaders of such quality. The absence of Ph.D. holders on the mission field meant that less-qualified missionaries were left with the task of building the church and preparing future leaders for the churches. That is an impossible task. If leaders of high quality and education are to exist in any context, it will require others with higher education to prepare them. How can a missionary with a master’s degree possible prepare scholars for the church in his area of service? Such scholars are sorely needed.

I would hope that the question will no longer be, “Why are you pursuing a Ph.D. if you are only going back to Africa” but rather, “Why are you going to Africa without a Ph.D.?” The church on the mission field needs Ph.D. holders who will prepare future leaders of the world-wide church, who are able to guard the deposit entrusted to them.

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Dear Brothers, Disciple the Nations

Oct. 29, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Dear Pastor-

I know you are busy, but I am want to plead with you - disciple the nations.

There is one formally trained pastors for every 450,000 people outside of the United States.  That does not mean that all of them are not trained.  There are plenty of people who have been trained without going to school. 

I have met many good men around the world who have a significant portion of Scripture memorized and have very little understanding of what it means.  I have heard sermons that do not resemble anything Christian (of course, this happens in the United States!).  I know a pastor of 20 years who asked a friend, "When was Jesus converted?"  I have seen churches who act as if the OT was written after the NT.  When a church does not have a pastor that can rightly handle Scripture, that church is in peril.

Consider the beast of the earth and sea in Revelation - a terrible picture of how Satan attacks the church.  The first beast kills the saints.  This seems clear enough and there are large Christian organizations that focus on relieving our brothers and sisters in hard places.  The other beast deceives the saints, looking like a lamb but speaking like a dragon.  You only know it is a beast by what it says, not what it looks like.  

Now, which attack is harder to deal with?  It seems pretty clear when Satan is attacking the church by sending saints to heaven.  We can see it happening with our own eyes and mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters.  But when it comes to false teaching/teachers, we can hardly agree!  

So brothers, let's get people overseas who will disciple the nations.  Pastors - free up your week of meetings and go teach people how to preach.  Turn off your blog and Google reader to teach our brothers biblical theology and give them the tools to understand the Scriptures.  If you are reading this you have probably read more books on theology this month than most pastors I train in their lifetime. They need our help.  

I know being missional is important, but you can not ignore the explosion of Christian faith (however shallow) in the global south.  I know that some of you are reasoning that their are different nationalities right in your neighborhood and that is your way of reaching the nations.  But honestly, these people who live in the US have access to solid training.  You have lay elders who are more equipped theologically for ministry than most pastors overseas.  I think you can pass off some duties and take 2-3 weeks a year to impact entire congregations.

Just one last thing.  Don't go big.  Huge conferences won't help that much.  Who is taught preaching by a weekend conference with 5000 pastors?  Only those who already have a solid foundation to work from. Instead, take 10-15 guys and commit to them for a few years and help them understand their Bibles.  The impact will be felt in ways much greater than if you went to paint a house or dig a well. You have other church members that can do those things.  Go and teach.


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