Our partners in India are relentless in mission!
Elim’s partnerships in India continue to expand and inspire. Missions Director Iain Hesketh discusses his recent trip with General Superintendent Chris Cartwright
It’s hard to think that a little over four years after the formation of our Movement – which had set its aims as reaching the whole of Ireland for Christ – Dollie Phillips became our first missionary in India.
You might well recognise the surname if you have any historical understanding of Elim: Dollie was the sister of EJ Phillips, one of the most significant figures in our history.
We know little about Dollie Phillips, but what we do know is that she inspired many other Elim people to follow in her footsteps in cross-cultural mission. Of the 200 long-term missionaries, we have sent out during the last 100 years, over 40 of these have gone to India. We have a long history in this magnificent nation, and I’m convinced more than ever that we have a strong future through relationships with our incredible global partners. Mission to the nations has always been the thing for Elim people – and long may it continue!
It was a joy to be joined at the centenary celebration by our General Superintendent, Chris Cartwright, and Regional Leader, David Campbell, as well as Elim Sound and Elim Missions’ very own Bobbie Tinnion and Linda Murray. We were also joined by Boyd Ratnaraja, Elim New Zealand’s National Leader and Luke Brough, the senior pastor of Elim Christian Centre, Auckland.
With such a large team, you might wonder – how would it all work? Well, it just did. Why? I think it was because no one was there to serve their own agenda but to serve our hosts well, listen to the Spirit and learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s amazing what unity is possible when the posture of our hearts is service to others.
One of the best things for me was meeting some of the incredible people that I had heard so much about from others. We would be joined by several global partners and Elim pastors at each location for the celebration service, leadership seminars, ladies’ conference and worship leaders’ training seminars. Beyond these events, Chris, Dave and I had the opportunity to talk with our partners to learn from each other as Elim Global moves forward.
Our hosts whilst in Chennai were Pastor Reenu Kumar (Rock Eternal Church) and Dr Finney Joseph (Maranatha Full Gospel Association). Both are at different stages of their ministries, but it was evident that Pastor Finney had invested so much into Pastor Reenu and the honour and respect between them were clear to see.
Pastor Reenu has pioneered a contemporary church in the heart of Chennai while Pastor Finney has pioneered the Maranatha network of churches, made up of thousands of people. Maranatha is currently running training for 200 new church leaders and planters.
From Chennai we flew to Patna followed by an adventurous three-and-a-half-hour bus and car journey to GEMS at Dehri-on-Sone. Whilst at GEMS, Rajesh Duthie, a key leader in the GEMS organisation, enabled us to catch a glimpse of the scale of their work. The space in this article doesn’t allow me to expand on the plethora of ministries they run, which are bringing transformation to communities and the hope of Jesus to hopeless situations, but we were so impressed by their laser focus on living out the Great Commission.
At GEMS – when people come to faith (and they do so regularly) – they aren’t just discipled to live a Christian lifestyle and attend church, but they are discipled to lead people to Jesus. This is in the DNA of the organisation because it is in the DNA of their founder, Dr Augustine Jebaku- mar. It was an honour for us to spend time with him on our last evening at GEMS as he shared wisdom from his many years of experience. It is clear he is still as passionate about serving Jesus and leading people to Christ as when he first started!
More than 50 people responded to the gospel when Chris Cartwright preached at Grace Gospel Mission
From GEMS we flew to Bangalore, where we were given a wonderful welcome by Dr Arthur Paul and his sons, Pastor Samson Paul and Morris Paul. It was a full weekend of ministry with Grace Gospel Mission culminating in a seven-and-a-half- hour worship service on Sunday with 5,500 people present. This is a church known for signs and wonders and salvation, so it was amazing to see 50+ people respond to the gospel following the message delivered by our GS. One memory that will stay with me for a long time is serving 5,500 people communion.
Like our global partners in the other locations that we visited, Grace Gospel is active in church planting in villages and is starting to reach into other nations too.
What did we learn?
David Campbell preaching during the visit
Our global partners in India are relentless in mission. I don’t think this is a culture thing – well, in some ways it is, it’s a kingdom culture thing. I think this is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus: to be captivated by Jesus, obedient to his ways and committed to making his ways known on the earth.
Each of our global partners is focused on reaching people for Jesus, and everything they do flows from this passion. It is clear the expectation is that everyone will be involved in making Jesus known. It got me thinking about what might happen if Elim people were discipled for mission through all of life.
The next 100 years?
Celebrating Elim’s first 100 years of missions
I don’t know what the next 100 years hold, but my desire is to set us up to send more disciple-makers as cross-cultural missionaries than in the previous 100 years, following in the footsteps of all those who have gone before.
Our brothers and sisters in India are working hard to reach 95 per cent of the population who have not heard the good news of Jesus. Did you know that there are 7,000 unreached people groups on the earth? Let’s play our part in reaching the unreached with the gospel and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).