News Report on the Current Situation in India
1. Number of Churches - 14 Churches; 3 Prayer House; 4 Places of Worship
2. Number of Believers - 1383
3. Number of Ministers - 10 Deacons, 4 Deaconesses; 5 Preachers
4. Number of REU students - about 476 (with 46 Teachers)
India Coordination Board remains weak. Organization is managed by men. Here in India we lack committed & spiritual leaders that the churches are able to look up to. Although efforts are put into development of these leaders through trainings and seminars but leaders are not developed intellectually. It is the spirit in a person that counts. Stronger and more developed churches are not able to receive assistance from ICB. Further these leaders are not exemplary that the churches can look up to. Only weaker and newly established churches look up to ICB for assistance and advise.
Pastoral & Evangelical
Pastoral & evangelical works were carried out by the local churches with support from ICB. 50 were baptized for the year 2015-16 (3.8%) [30 were adults and 20 were infants / children]. Although their plans and system may not seem to be good but they are not lacking in the spirit. Visiting & concern for its members are what the churches have been doing. This especially came forward during the disastrous flood that happens in Chennai at the end of 2015. We see members coming together to support those who are in need. Even though our preachers are having a low living allowance, yet during the flood our preachers decided to offer one month allowance to assist our members affected by the flood. Evangelism is in the heart of the church and its members. It is just part of their life to testify of Christ.
Youths & Educational Affairs
We have been spending a lot of efforts in the development of children and youths for the past 20 years with a hope that we will have a local generation of capable and spiritual members who will be able to take over the responsibility of the ministry in India. We must say that we still cannot see this coming soon. But we thank God, we are able to set up a system and pass on some of the development work to the local churches.
Training remains the main aspect of our work in India. We have said earlier that we have literally let our members in India know how they are to grow up spiritually & to prepare themselves for the work ahead. But knowledge itself does not seem to change their spirit and heart. We have to review this & look into correcting our flaws. Recently, we are posting our senior ministers to India to lead them in the work. In addition to giving lectures, we need to lead them and show them by example.
Though some local churches are able to be financially self-sufficient but their support to ICB is weak. Most look into their own needs above that of ICB. But we must say they have spent their finances in divine work as well. Time will tell. We hope after the local churches have settle their own needs, they will give strong support to ICB. At the meantime, we need to support them and help them to manage their finances.
This year, India Coordination Board is responsible for 100% of the Training Center maintenance cost, 50% of STTC Training expanses & 40% of the preachers’ and full time workers living allowance.
We have revised the long-due living allowances of our workers in India (their salary is still under the poverty category of the India Government salary scale).
Pioneering work in North India.
We have been visiting NE India for some time. Prospects changed from time to time. We have identified that this is because we do not have a worship point & resident leaders. Our infrequent visit added to the problem as well.
There are some who are moved by the Holy Spirit but yet to be baptized.
In Kolkata, evangelism is carried out with a Bengali family and we are continuing contact with the Chinese community at the China-Town. We are extensively utilizing the assistance of volunteer workers for the work in these pioneering areas.
We are continuing with our work among the individual pastors in the Darjeeling District. Some are receptive. Presently our work is focus in the towns of Bagdogra and Mirik.
Contact with Ps. Alexander started 6 years ago. He and his family may be baptized next year.
We have some members from the south who have moved to Delhi & Bombay. We hope to be able to organize ourselves to look into pioneering into these areas as well.
Missionary visit was carried out by ICB personnel Dn. Mark Sunder and Pr. Andrew Nickelson from 25th Feb to 5th Feb (till date, this is the fourth visit to Sri Lanka). Pastoral and evangelical work carried out in Jaffna and Colombo.
India Preachers and wife Spiritual Nurture and Fellowship
Ordination of Bro. Thomas Selvakumar from Bangalore Church as Dn. Matthew