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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:

1

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

Rs3600 – 5000

$86 - $119

2

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

3

Church Electricity bill payment for the Church per year:

Rs100

$2.38

4

Support for other local Churches and other Church mission related activities

Rs600 – Rs 1000

$14.28 - $28

 

Total

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 Our Right To Kill Our Son

Jan. 23, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Five 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 five. 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. 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 foster care or adoption. I have friends who adopted a child of a young teenager who, despite her parent's wishes, carried the baby to term. Our family has a beautiful little two-month-old in our home right now. She is our foster daughter, the second one we have had, as we debunk the myth Christians don't care for children once they are born.

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! As we mourn Row v. Wade, let us engage in a variety of ways to care for the unborn, to address the reasons people consider abortions, train apologists to defend the unborn, create compelling videos and print material, advocate for children who need to be protected, open our homes to orphans, vote for legislators who will outlaw murder,, and more.

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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.

Darren

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Context: Almost No One in Your Church Can Read

Aug. 6, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

What if only 13% of your church members were proficient readers?

As you prepared to serve this congregation, how would you craft the material you are teaching so that it could be understood?  Would you quote authors?  Would you reference books - especially since most of the books you read (assuming you are part of the 13%) are not being read by those you are teaching.  At what grade level would your vocabulary be as you spoke?

My guess is that if you were planning for a short-term trip in a cross-cultural context and heard this statistic you would take great care in your approach to teaching.  

But what if I told you that this statistic is from the Department of Education in the United States?   

Now ask yourself: Would you take the same care in preparing the message?  Would you argue that Christians need to think hard and therefore speak about issues and use vocabulary that are beyond your people in order to try to press them into deeper intellecutal waters?

It is a difficult dillemna, but one thing seems certain.  When Americans teach overseas, I have never heard them complain about the intellectual level of the people they are training.  Yet, I have heard many American pastors bemoan the fact that their own people have a hard time grasping what they believe is important. 

Are you considering your people when you teach in the place where you are from?

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A Series on Short-Term Missions

Jun. 28, 2012By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

If you are considering a short-term missions trip, here are three articles a recently wrote on the topic over at The Gospel Coalition to help you prepare and think through some issues you might not be aware of. 

There are a number of helpful resources I would commend to you for further study.

A Guide for Prayer

Books on Culture Learning and Interaction

Books on Follow-Up

Books on Organizing and Leading

Books on Money and Partnerships

Books on Support-Raising

Specific to Theological Education


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