Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Letter from an Indian Pastor

by Melissa Chang |

India, Stories from the Field

greetingsfromindia

Dear Missions Launch,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As you have asked about me, I want to share a small testimony of myself.

I came from a Hindu Religion Background, who worshipped idols and deamons. I am the only son to my Mother and I have no brothers and sisters.

In this worldly life I was enjoying all the evil things in my life, and one day (in the year 1992) I was fedup with all these thing in my life and decided to commit suicide. In that time a believer of Jesus Christ preached to me the Gospel of Lord Jesus, and in the evening of the same day he showed a film made on Jesus Christ named DAYASAGARA. As I was seeing the film I saw Jesus getting nailed for the sins made by us, and at the same time I confessed all my sins and accepted him as my Saviour and decided to live for Him.
After some days growing in Christ and in His word I got baptized on 10/03/1992. The Lord called me for His service when I was in prayer. He said:

“Do not make anything for yourself in this world but hope for the reward in the Heaven”

Then I came to know that if I win souls for His Kingdom I will get a greater reward in Heaven. At this time of calling I was just 15 yrs old.

A preacher told that he will take me to a Bible college and took me to a place where many of them were distributing the literatures of Jesus and showing the films based on Jesus but not to Bible college. Glory be to God that He used me mightily there for 3 years. later in 1995-1996 I got an oppurtunity to study in a Bible college. I completed my Bible College and I was praying for which place I shoud go to preach the gospel, and I was praying that it should be a place where the word of God has not yet been recieved. Then God guided me through His visions to go to Holenarsipura in 1997.

When I came to this place not even a single home was available for me to stay but there was a small congregation of believers. I went to them to ask for help to preach the gospel but they created a oppositional environment for me in such a way that I will not get any chance to preach the gospel there. So I went back to my hometown and prayed with fasting for this place to be reached by God and to get a rented home for me to stay in this place. Then God said to Me that “Human is equal to a piece of grass why are you afraid of him?” These words encouraged me a lot and I decided that it will be for His sake if I live, and if I die it will be for His sake. And keeping faith on Him I packed all my luggage and went to Holenarsipura.

By His Grace and Mercy it has been 13 years I am serving  Him in this place in spite of many struggles and problems. God has increased by ministry and there is a congregation of (400-500) rural people who came to know JESUS in this place. God has led us so gracefully that we have been able to heal devil spirits and bondages by His power and many are healed.

We also run a Sunday school which helps us in making children equipped in Jesus Christ. The Lord has also helped us in conducting women fellowship in which every women is helped by the word of God and has been able to preach a few things about God and lead others to Jesus Christ. Also we are able to provide food to some beggers and poor in our area by His grace.

By the help of God and  we have a land to build a church. In it we need a church to be built of around 8000 sq ft area and we are praying for that.

So do please pray for our ministry and for the church building. It would be helpful to us a lot that we will be introduced to your readers and they can pray for us.

Note: I am sending some photos of the Congregation gathered in a prayer meeting, Sunday school children, and baptisms.

I will always keep praying for you and for you ministry.

Please pray for My ministry and for My Family.

Your prayers are very precious for us.

Your Brother

Pr.Vasanth

baptism in India

vasanth in prayer

Indian baptism

Contextualization in South India

by Heather Carr |

Contextualization in Missions, India

flameChristians have long expressed thanksgiving and praise to our God through worship. The Father is often glorified with shouts of “amen,” and “hallelujah.” Times of prayer and reflection offer us an opportunity to consider the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. Offerings are also typical, but do not always require a checkbook. South Indian Christians have found new ways to adapt some old customs into their worship of the Lord.

In South India, some Christians have adapted the traditional Hindu act of worship known as Parikrama into their worship services. Christian worshipers walk slowly around a mandala, which is a space decorated with flowers and stones traditionally used as an aid to meditation. Once a symbol of the universe, the mandala has taken on a new meaning among the South Indian Christian community as a representation of the Holy of Holies.

The people of the congregation walk meditatively around the mandala, holding their heads slightly bowed in honor of the divinity that is in our God. Their hands are held clasped together in a traditional salutation known as the sign of Namaskar.

Gifts are left in offering as a part of the Parikrama ceremony. Flowers or other representations of God’s beautiful creation are left around the mandala. The Christian community in South India has successfully married tradition and truth through the modern Parikrama. Thanksgiving, praise and offering are raised to the Lord through this unique act of worship.

Photo by ms Belvedere

How to Reach India – From Someone who Knows

by Beverly Cooper |

Famous Missionaries, India, Strategy

revolution in world missionsEver wondered the best way to reach certain countries?  Well, it seems like the people who live there might be the ones to ask. 

K. P. Yohannan grew up in a small village in southern India and accepted Jesus at age 8.  He is the author of “Revolution in World Missions” and is a life-long missionary. Yohannan is well known for his passion for spreading the Good News of Christ to the peoples of Asia. Yohannan credits the prayers and fasting of his mother with the heavy influence missions now has on his life.

When you read K. P.’s writings from any of his many books, you can’t help but understand the love he has for his country. One of Yohannan’s approaches applies his belief in the importance of Indian people hearing this message from other Indians. He believes that it is easier to convince Indians of who Christ is, if the messenger is one of their nationality.

Yohannan doesn’t discourage missionaries of other races or nationalities, but promotes the training of those men and women from India, who feel called to this assignment. K. P.’s belief was so strong that in 1979 he resigned from his pastoral position in America to work full time in missions. Through his work thousands of missionaries in 11 countries have been trained to minister to those needy and suffering in the world.

One of the trademark teachings of Yohannan is that the physical needs of the people must be met, if one hopes to have them listen to the message. So a large part of this work requires funding to provide such things as food, water, clothing to potential hearers of the Gospel. Yohannan’s philosophy is that one would have to ministerto the body in order to focus on the soul.

To read a copy of Yohannan’s book, “Revolution in World Missions,” you can purchase it at Amazon.com along with his many other books, as well.

How far should you go to fit in?

by Melissa Chang |

Contextualization in Missions, Hindu Contextualization, India

 Puja ceremony

When in a  new culture, there is a great struggle to figure out how much of that culture to fit into without “watering down” what it means to truly follow Jesus. Where do you draw the line? 

I myself had a struggle with this issue on a recent trip to India with a devout Hindu family. I wanted to respect them and find a place of connection with them. I was hoping to do this with as much respect and common ground as possible while staying true to my own beliefs. I certainly didn’t want to offend them, but I was hoping to somehow talk to them about my own beliefs. But, once I got there and was faced with their Hindu ceremonies, the issue of where to draw the lines in my own life became very real to me.

ganges offering

Before you read the examples, you should also note that I don’t really know that much about the Hindu religion, so I was at even more of a loss.

-To wash away their sins, they would bathe in the Ganges river. That one was easy for me. I was already washed in the blood of Jesus, so I didn’t need my sins washed away.

-But what about placing gifts of flowers onto the river to send their prayers to their God? I mean, it was very moving and beautiful. Couldn’t I place an offering to send down the river as a symbol of my prayer to my God? Well, I decided not to because I didn’t really understand the meaning of the ceremony and didn’t want make my hosts mistakenly think I was Hindu. So, I gracefully bowed out.

-Another situation I faced was that every morning my hosts would pray in the morning in front of a small alter in their home, and then put some ashes on my head so I would be protected all day. When they did this they would kiss my cheek and tell me they loved me. I decided that it was an expression of their love for me so I just smiled and said Thanks.

-After going to a temple to pray and make an offering they brought out some candy, that was like a blessing from their gods, as far as I could tell. This time I just told them that I followed a different God and didn’t want to make Him jealous.

Ganges Bathing

So, did I do the right things? I am sure I made many mistakes. However, these questions are really worth considering, especially when figuring out how to portray the basics of following Jesus to those of a different culture. I think good advice would be to research and learn from those that have experience in all these things, and look to God Himself to guide you.

Offering photo by judepics
Bathing photo by A. www.viajar24h.com 
Puja ceremony by
orange tuesday  

Elephant Festival in India

by Melissa Chang |

Cultural Sensitivity, Festivals Around the World, India

When entering a new culture, one way to learn a lot about the people there is to visit a local festival.  Festivals can revolve around the seasons, religion, politics and much more. One famous festival in Southern India is the Elephant Festival.  Elephants are decorated in colors and gold, and the festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the god of destruction. The elephants themselves are seen as the incarnation of the elephant god of luck and prosperity. During the festival the elephants parade through the streets of the village to the temple. The festival is celebrated in late April or May.

India: Etiquette, customs, facts and vital information

by admin |

Asia, Clothing, India, Travel Health & Safety

INDIA FACTS & STATS

Location: South Asia, bordered by Pakistan, Myanmar, and China in the North, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Bay of Bengal in the East, Sri Lanka in the South, and the Arabian Sea in the West.

Capital: New Delhi2-8-2011 3-45-13 PM

Climate: Highly variable depending on region. Hot, dry summers in the North followed by cold, dry winters. The South experiences hot, wet summers with tropical rainfall known as monsoons. The winter months from November to February have warm, humid days and comparatively cooler nights.

Population: 1,129,866,154 according to July 2007 estimates. The Indian economy is set to rise and is counted as the 12th largest in the world. 25% of the population live below the poverty line and this is a whopping figure when seen as a quarter of a billion. Unemployment rate is calculated to be close to 8%.

Ethnic Make-up: There are about 2,000 documented ethnic groups in India. It is a multicultural diversity that defies description.

taj mahal archReligions: Hindus 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, Others including Jews, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis 2%. Being a secular state, there is freedom to practice any religion. There is no present ban on evangelism, though some state governments have begun to note the disruptive forces that cause communal tensions due to conversions.

Language: Hindi is the national language, but there are about 22 other languages also recognized as official at the state and national level. In addition to these, about 200 other languages and their dialects are spoken by large communities of people. English is widely spoken and understood.

Government: Democratic Republic

Travel Issues: You require a valid visa to visit India and this can be obtained from an embassy in your country. You need a valid passport, a completed application form, two passport sized photos, visa fees, and a self-addressed and stamped special delivery envelope

Health & Safety: You need to immunize yourself against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis B, MMR, Malaria, Tetanus and Diphtheria. If you plan to spend time in rural areas, Japanese encephalitis and rabies are recommended. Take precautions against traveller’s diarrhea contracted when eating from roadside stalls.

 varanasi, india
Varanasi and Taj Mahal photos by  amanderson2

SOCIETY & CULTURE

The People: Indians are generally very traditional, conservative people who are very family-oriented. Religion is a way of life and they hardly begin any activity without first offering prayers. Though one country, the people of various states have distinct modes of culture, language, dress, rituals, food, and even behaviour patterns. Respect for elders is a given and so is tolerance for other religions.

shiva statueThe Religion: The major religion is Hinduism with about 80% followers. It is more a way of life that permeates all aspects of life. There are about 33,000 gods in the pantheon, each having patronage over a distinct aspect of life. They believe in karma and re-incarnation.

Role of Family: Extended families have given way to nuclear families, especially in the cities. However, family bonds are revered and elderly parents are respected and taken care of. In villages, the extended families in large compounds still hold sway, with a patriarchal elder in charge. There is a bias against the girl child, while a yearning for sons to populate the family tree is intrinsic.

India family Jammu
Indian family in Jammu – photo by babasteve
 

Ancestors: There is enormous respect for the dead. Lengthy rituals and ceremonies are conducted for the welfare of the dead. There is a strong belief in re-incarnation depending on the merits acquired in the present life-time. This varies depending on culture, religion and community.

Recreational Activities: In rural areas, there is a range of recreational activities and games that have been handed down by generations. City kids have their playstations, and computer games. Cricket, hockey, football, chess, and tennis and badminton are all popular in that order.

Anything else important for this culture: Generally referred to as a poor third-world country, the wealth of certain strata of society might come as a surprise. Though there is a vast swathe of population that can barely afford one meal a day, there is an upper middle class with affluent life-styles that will not take kindly to being clubbed with the rest.

It is considered fine to be curious about personal details such as marital status, lifestyle, and other things you’d rather not talk about to strangers. Be evasive yet pleasant. Being unmarried might trigger efforts at matchmaking as singleness is considered “pathetic.”

 kids in rickshaw in india
Photo by mckaysavage

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

Meetings & Greetings: The traditional form of greeting involves holding your palms close before your chest while saying Namaste, which roughly translates to: I bow to the divinity in you. Hand shakes are acceptable among both genders in business circles. If a woman decides to do the traditional greeting, go with it.

Always greet and address the senior most person in the group first. Use appropriate title with the family name, rather than the first name. The suffix ji added to a name indicates respect.

Gift Giving: This is big business in India. Gifts are exchanged for the hundreds of festivals and holidays, births, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other occasions. When visiting or invited to dinner, it is customary to take along a suitable gift. This is normally something sweet packaged with aplomb. Gifts are put away and not opened in view of the guests.

You do not gift leather products to Hindus, or alcohol to Muslims.

Women in IndiaDress Code: This is an extremely conservative society, especially so in the northern states. If you were dressed in shorts and an old t-shirt, you would be taken for a poor person who can’t afford full pants. It is important for women to be fully covered. An Indian salwar suit is ideal to beat the weather. The cities are more forgiving and anything decent is acceptable. However, women should still avoid short shorts and mini skirts as harassment on the city streets is quite common. For business meetings, a suit is appropriate. For men, a business suit is mandatory.

Dining Etiquette: Indian food is best enjoyed with your hands, and cutlery may not be provided in most places. However, in upmarket restaurants, cutlery will be provided and you will be expected to use it to keep the upmarket image intact. If eating with your hands, it is important to not sully the entire palm area, but use only the fingertips to convey food to your mouth. Lowering your head may help you achieve this without too much trouble.

 south indian food
Photo by roland

You do not serve beef to Hindus or pork to Muslims. It is best to avoid alcohol in mixed company. Most North Indians are vegetarians and it would be rude to ask for meat when dining with them. Wait for all to be served before commencing to eat; normally in family situations, everybody waits for the elder to begin before they do. You are expected to finish everything on your plate, though some communities leave a small handful to go back to nature.

man in indiaVisiting a home: Visitors are welcomed even if they drop in unexpectedly. They are immediately invited in and made comfortable. You will be offered plenty of food and drink no matter what time of the day, and it is your job to eat what you possibly can. You will literally be treated like a god, according to traditional norms. Leave your footwear outside, even if they say it’s alright not to. Take a gift along for the children in the form of chocolates or candies.

Communication Style: This is a wee bit complicated since Indians almost never say no or contradict outright, as this is considered insulting. So while they may not commit to anything they’re not ready for, they might not tell you directly, giving you the impression that you’re half-way there when you haven’t even started.

Dos and Don’ts: Public display of affection is frowned upon. If you inadvertently touch anyone with your foot, apologize immediately as this is considered insulting. Beachwear is appropriate on the beach, but don’t even walk to your room without a robe or a towel wrapped around you. Getting agitated over delayed trains or bad roads will not get you anywhere as this is a way of life, and not considered an undue cause for inconvenience.

Photo of women in red clothing by Koshyk
Shiva photo by mattjkelley
Indian man with smile by zedzap

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