This mission trip was very different from others. The entire time that we were in India (March 3 – 17), our schedule was jam-packed. Everywhere we went, we saw God’s wonderful accomplishments. Each day, our faith and hope were focused on not missing the next great things God would do!
Training with the Word Partners:
For two years, the leadership resource staff of Word Partners worked with these dedicated and committed pastors from North and South India to complete intensive training on expository preaching. Each was equipped with five books (four were from the Bible), so that these leaders would become skilled, faithful ministers to diligently teach the Word in their local churches. It also provided great opportunities for the Shepherding The Nations (STN) Directors and faculty groups to sharpen their own teaching skills. An extra blessing is that Word Partners is having some of the study material translated and printed in Telugu.
These intensive training seminars are held twice a year. Recently, a few leaders demonstrated outstanding skill development and were chosen to lead various sessions with the whole group. Two of them were our STN directors and three were from the STN faculty. (see photo above)
The Power of Sunday’s Routines:
For the past 19 years, STN International has played a vital role in the local churches, developing strong spiritual relationships within each church. These relationships provided opportunities to encourage, admonish, and minister more effectively to the saints. STN’s close ministry association with the local churches (now 57) has led to increased prayer and financial support. Some churches have even volunteered to host our study groups by offering their facilities and providing meals.
God Brings Strength in Unity:
God has united so many Pastors and churches. Pastor J. has been to El Shaddai church three times where Pastor P. G. is the shepherd. Pastor A. has been to Agape Prayer House in Hyderabad to support their Pastor, Bro. P., who is an accomplished civil engineer, an STN graduate, and a participant of Word Partners.
I personally had the privilege of visiting Bro. A.’s assembly (congregation of 500) in Sangareddy, to minister the Word by delivering three messages and spending time together around the Lord’s Table.
On the second Sunday of the trip, I was with a church in Vijayawada with seven hundred people. Preaching two messages and spending time with these saints has been a real blessing.
“…there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11 28
Teacher Training Workshop:
Seven key leaders from Nepal, North, and South India were selected to undergo the Teacher Training Workshop with CCI (Crossing Cultures, International). Praise God for the facility and lunch provided by Agape Church. One of the leaders, S., a theology graduate and a native of Odisha started teaching. This was such a blessing as we now have a person who knows the Oriya language. Brother N. in Nepal is another person who started teaching under J.S. After a brief training, N. will begin teaching on his own in different parts of Nepal. N. is a graduate of STN’s 2022 class. The great news is STN has expanded into different parts of Nepal with several classes.
Now, in 2023, our waiting period is over, and soon we are eligible to apply for our Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) status. Consultations and discussions have continued between V., our STN CPA, and me. We are now including J.S. on the team. J.S. is our treasurer on the STN board while V. takes care of the FCRA. He needs to understand the process, the functioning, and other implications.
STN’s India Board Meeting:
Conducting regular meetings of the board is a government requirement. The board meeting in March 2023 was important as we discussed certain changes in the board and issues regarding the FCRA. While a couple of board members exited, one new couple was added. We welcome Bro. P. and his wife S. to the STN board. The board proceedings are recorded for the STN office and to comply with government regulations.
Congratulations to two couples who graduated from STN in November 2022. A. & H., and N. & D. are now actively involved in church planting. I had the privilege of spending a few hours with them to encourage, fellowship, and record their stories. Do they have church buildings? The answer is NO. Are they supported by any organization? Again, the answer is NO. Being in remote areas where there is not a good economic structure, pastors often go through struggles. These limitations did not stop them from serving the Lord. By faith, they launched out! I witnessed their zeal, enthusiasm, and burden for perishing souls. These qualities will keep them pressing on with perseverance. Keep them in your prayers so that God will use them effectively for His service!
Going to your hometown and not visiting family:
Short term mission trips have always been busy times. I have rarely visited the homes of any of my family. Without complaining, but with great understanding, my sisters, nieces, nephews, and in-laws would attend the churches where I was preaching and meet me after the service just so we could have some time together as family. It was on one such occasion that I saw my younger sister, her son, her daughter, her grandkids, and my nephew with his wife. It was such a good time of fellowship together as a family!