This month's Monthly Missions Focus is on India. At the end of September, three Ethos staff members got to visit and spend time with our seven Ethos India churches. Over the next couple weeks, as we head towards Birthday Sunday, we'll hear from each of them about their experiences and how they saw God at work. Up next we'll be hearing from Nana Muir...
Looking for the Light
"My return from India has brought a whirlwind of emotions. During our time spent with our brothers and sisters, I was challenged, encouraged, and strengthened. As I reflect on the churches we spent time with and their leaders, my heart swells with love, joy, conviction, and expectation as I see their faith and willingness to share the Gospel no matter the cost.
The majority of India (95%) remains unreached — meaning they have never heard the Gospel of Jesus before. During my time there, it was easy to be overwhelmed by the darkness. I remember one day walking through the heart of Kolkata to a Hindu temple. We passed thousands of people standing in lines to pray to their gods and give them offerings. People were bathing in a pool purifying themselves before they could approach their gods to pray. Starving, sick, and dying people lined the streets while elaborate makeshift temples were being constructed for people to give their money to.
In moments like these, I began to feel helpless I couldn’t do more, guilty for the privilege I was born into, angry at the injustice, and grief for the physical and spiritual poverty that seemed to surround me. In the midst of this, I felt like I heard the Lord tell me, “Look for the light.” I was reminded of John 1:5 which says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
And as I began to look for the light, I saw the presence of Jesus amidst these people...His people, whom He cares deeply for. So, for the rest of the trip I decided that I would look for the light. And let me tell you, the fingerprints of Jesus through His faithful followers are everywhere. By far, the clearest way I saw His presence most clearly was through His faithful workers. One of our purposes for visiting our church family overseas was to help encourage and equip their leaders (His faithful followers!).
We spent a few days training and worshipping with 45 church planters from the Kolkata region and beyond, followed by another three days of gathering all of their churches together for a retreat. Seeing the faith of the church planters boldly leading their churches was incredible. They are dedicated to the Word, prayer, fasting, and sharing the Gospel.
For our brothers and sisters in India, many of them face persecution for sharing the Gospel and becoming Christians. They take the commands of Jesus seriously and are willing to face persecution and trial for the sake of the Gospel. Because they really believe the Good News is exactly that: GOOD NEWS. They are eager to share with the many people in their lives and communities who have never heard it before. During my time with the churches, I often heard statements such as:
“I don’t care if I am persecuted, I will bring the Gospel to my village.”
“Even if my family forsakes me, I will still choose Jesus.”
“If we don’t feed the children, they won’t eat. God has given them to us so we can care for them and share Jesus with them.”
“God has placed a great dream on our hearts. And even though we don’t have the funding, we will be obedient anyway and trust He will provide.”
“I am willing to suffer and even die for the Gospel, but I want to make sure there will be others to share it when I am gone.”
I was amazed by their faith. We ended up spending much more time learning than we did teaching. There’s so much we can learn from our brothers and sisters. They are starting churches in homes, slums, villages, and more. They notice those who are overlooked. They serve as advocates, counselors, teachers, and spiritual mothers and fathers. And because of this, because of the work of the Holy Spirit among them, His church is spreading like wildfire. Despite physical and spiritual poverty, the Lord is using our brothers and sisters in India to expand His Kingdom in mighty ways in unexpected places.
God is placing incredible vision on the hearts of these leaders. Dreams for how to help lead the next generation out of poverty. Dreams for how to equip and empower women and men. Vision for future church plants. Ways to creatively share the Gospel. How to raise up new believers and disciple them into Kingdom advancers. And they are doing this right now. Thousands upon thousands are being affected by the outpouring of the Gospel through these churches and their tireless work to bring the Good News of Jesus into their country. For whatever reason, God has chosen our church to walk alongside them in this endeavor. Not only to help provide financially, but to both teach and learn from them. I consider it an incredible and honor and privilege to help play a part in the advancement of the Kingdom in India.
While in any culture or country we can look at the injustice, poverty, and corruption and see darkness, we must choose to look for the light. In 1 Peter 2:9, we are told that as the church we are to be, “...a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
This is the call that we all receive. What a joy and an honor it is to be a part of this calling here in Nashville, across the world in India, and everywhere in between.“
To read more of the India Experiences written by our staff, go here.