Thursday, October 25, 2007

RIMI - Mission India

Back in 1984-86, when I served as a missionary volunteer on board Operation Mobilization’s ministry ship, MV Doulos, there were several things that deeply impacted my life. One of them was the weekly Thursday nights of prayer, in which we would pray for the needs of countries and ministries around the world. In addition to the blessing of praying so intensely and regularly, I was very impressed by the fact that, on so many occasions, the prayer requests were not just centered on the ministry of Operation Mobilization, but rather, as well, on those of many other sister organizations and ministry efforts.

During my time on the ship, one story was relayed to us that brought home in a very poignant way this significant principle of unselfish cooperation and solidarity in the Body of Christ. Back in the late 60’s, the leaders of both Operation Mobilization (OM) and Youth With A Mission (YWAM) were praying and seeking God’s provision for their first ship to launch in ministry around the world. YWAM had received significant donations, had their eyes on a particular ship, and were involved in initial negotiations to purchase it. When the deal fell through, though, the leaders of YWAM felt led by the Lord to transfer the money they had received to OM, enabling them to buy the MV Logos, the ship that would end up becoming the pioneer vessel of world missions ship ministry. Now, years later, as many of you are aware, both OM and YWAM have several different ministry ships.

As a missionary of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, some might question why I am writing to plug the ministry of another mission organization. However, it is in the spirit of what I learned years ago during my time with OM that I want to share about the strategic ministry of a wonderful organization with which I had the opportunity to partner on my recent trip to India: Reaching Indians Ministries International (RIMI), or Mission India (as it is known within India).

According to RIMI’s web-site:

RIMI is an international, interdenominational, evangelical Christian missions agency, established in 1993, with the compelling vision of glorifying Christ by training national (indigenous) leaders who plant reproducing churches in India and beyond. This is implemented by the PARTNERSHIP of God's people everywhere.

RIMI's India based ministry is called Mission India which is located in Nagpur, Central India. Today we have over 980 church planters with over 4,000 house churches, a leading theological seminary in Nagpur with 22 satellite training centers and many compassion projects including 20 Mercy Homes, which serve over 500 children. This year about 850 students will be trained to become tomorrow's influential leaders for Christ's Kingdom.

Mercy Home Kids

During my time in India, I was able to observe first-hand how RIMI/Mission India is doing everything they say here and more. Many times, it is difficult to know, when dealing with national indigenous ministries, whether the money donated is really being used wisely or not. I am happy to say, though, I was extremely impressed by the servant heart, responsible stewardship, and personal integrity I saw exhibited by the various members of the Mission India leadership team with whom we were privileged to work during our time there. I was able to see first-hand the magnificent seminary and ministry center in Nagpur, as well as the satellite training centers in Warangal and Goa. I was able to fellowship, work, and pray together with a good many of the Mission India national leaders on a close, personal level.

Mission India Leadership Team, Nagpur

The scope of the vision of RIMI Founder and President Saji Lukos, and the rest of the Mission India leadership team, is enormous. They are very close to fulfilling their goal of having a Ministry Training Center in each of India’s 28 states. They are providing valuable training for national pastors and church planters, and preparing them to reach out in obedience and faith to the unreached millions scattered throughout India. They are doing a fantastic job of ministering the love of Christ to the needy by way of their Mercy Homes and many other compassion projects.

I absolutely love RIMI/Mission India’s Core Values Statement, which I found, by experience, to be more than just mere words, and which reads as follows:
  1. Christ before Career: We have absolute trust and faith in the Word of God, and we are committed to honor Christ by obeying everything that He commands us to do, and living humbly and sacrificially.
  2. Character before Ministry: We are committed to develop Christ-like leaders through various innovative programs so that the people will see Christ and want to follow him personally.
  3. Unity before Growth: We are committed to being truly evangelical, inter-denominational and multi-cultural.
  4. People before Program: We are committed to build people on the basis of their specific call and gifts in order to develop various ministries to meet the needs of people in the community. Disciple making is the number one priority of RIMI churches (Faith Gospel Church).
  5. Ownership before Organization: We are committed to establish autonomous and self-supporting churches and church-based projects. This is ownership, and avoids long-term dependency.
  6. Unreached before Reached: We are committed to reach the unreached strategically, region by region with the help of local trained leadership.
  7. Integrity before Popularity: We are committed to practice absolute integrity and accountability.
I could say more, but I will leave you to visit the RIMI web-site yourself, and learn more about what they are doing, and how you could play a part in helping to support the vision of this wonderful, God-honoring ministry that I whole-heartedly recommend.

Seminary Class

Mission India, Warangal

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute" in India

Pastors Training Conference in Mission India Seminary, Nagpur

During the last several years of my father’s life, he set as a major goal to mentor and train younger pastors, sharing with them the wisdom that God had given him through his more than 50 years of ministerial experience. Together with my brother Steve, who assisted with logistical and technical aspects of the ministry, he put together a three-day conference for pastors in the States entitled What Every Pastor Ought to Know. They decided to call the ministry the Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute (PTI).

In the following months, God allowed them to put together several different Adrian Rogers PTI events around the country that were a real blessing to the hundreds of pastors who were able to participate. Six months before my father’s death, and one month before he was first diagnosed with cancer, Steve had the idea to professionally video-tape the entire conference. As a result, we have a high quality 10-DVD set of the entire 21 hours of teaching done before a group of about 100 pastors in Memphis, Tennessee. Steve has since edited the materials, put together a workbook, and packaged them attractively in a box, so that the What Every Pastor Ought to Know course is now available by purchase for pastors in the States (see

Since my father’s death, several one-day, condensed version, What Every Pastor Ought to Know conferences have been organized and carried out in various places around the States, by way of DVD large-screen projection before a live audience. Thus far, the response to these events has been very positive. Upon praying and reflecting on what might be the best stewardship of these materials, though, Steve had the idea to make them available free of charge to pastors around the world, who, so many times, have very little access to training materials like these. As he began to publicize the availability of this key resource, various Christian ministries from around the world got in contact with him, inquiring about the possibility of holding Adrian Rogers PTI conferences in their countries.

Back in February of this year, the first international Adrian Rogers PTI conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya with a group of about 200 national pastors. Despite the cultural differences, and the fact that many of the attendees had never heard of my father, the overall response was extremely positive.

Among the other invitations that Steve received, two came from the country of India: one from Pastor Saji Lukos of Reaching Indians Ministries International (RIMI)/Mission India, and another from Pastor Sudhakar Rao of Newlife Ministries in the city of Hyderabad. After a lot of soul-searching, and not knowing quite what to expect, Steve began to make plans to travel to India, together with his wife Cindi, from Sept. 21 to Oct. 10. About a month before leaving, they suggested I might want to accompany them; and three weeks before leaving, I made the decision to go along as well.

I am very grateful to the Lord, Steve & Cindi, RIMI/Mission India, and Newlife Ministries, for the opportunity to participate in this tremendous venture. All told, we were able to share a condensed version of the What Every Pastor Ought to Know video-course with some 1,200 pastors and Bible Institute students in 6 different events in 4 cities in different parts of India.

The challenges were enormous, but the blessings were well worth the effort:

*We brought with us two DVD players, a projector, and a portable large screen. We used the local sound equipment. In spite of all the precautions we took, it was practically always a challenge getting everything set up and running on time. On several occasions, we had power outages. It was hard to explain to our local hosts, in way that they could understand it, exactly what we wanted to do. But, in the end, after a bit of fretting and running around, in each occasion, the “show did go on.”

*Although English is widely spoken in India, we found the language barrier to be bigger than what we had expected. In each different state we visited, there is a different main local language. Although we had capable interpreters, with the teaching on DVD, it was not practical to do simultaneous interpretation. The solution we found was for someone, at the end of each 30-60 minute teaching session, to give a summary in the local language of what had just been said in English. In spite of drawing out the time quite a bit more than we had anticipated, the listeners were very patient, and did not seem to mind at all.

*Culturally, we wondered how well the concepts originally directed toward a group of American pastors would prove to be relevant in India. It is certain that a number of the jokes and anecdotes my father told in the original setting did not make much sense to the majority of the Indians. Also, the general context of the churches and ways of doing things made some of the teaching less applicable than in the States. However, if we were able to read correctly the reactions of the audience, they found the basic material to be extremely helpful. As we were presenting a condensed, one-day version of the 21-hour course, we were able to pick the sessions we felt would be most relevant and helpful for the Indians in their particular context. It was interesting to learn that many Indian believers and church leaders are exposed to a steady stream of Christian television from the West, a large part of which is comprised of “health and wealth” prosperity teaching. The teaching of my father on topics such as integrity in ministry, proper priorities, and a biblical view of spiritual authority, were very well received. The comments of the attendees were very encouraging.
From a missiological point of view, one of the biggest questions is what will happen on an on-going basis, as a result of our visit, after we are gone. We are very pleased that the leadership of Mission India has taken on the vision of helping us to translate the materials into several local languages of India, beginning with Hindi and Tegulu, and continuing on with others, as the Lord provides the means. We were also able to leave the DVD players and screen with them, as well as train Mission India’s Director of Conference Ministries, Jesroon Levi Polepaka, in technical and practical aspects of the ministry. We are thrilled that Mission India has plans to take the DVDs to many places around India in the near future, and make the teaching a vital part of their on-going Bible Institute training and Conference ministry.

Jesroon Levi Polepaka, Sudhakar Rao, Ebenezer Rao & Me

Overall, despite the challenges and difficulties involved, it was incredible for me, as a veteran missionary, to see how God used this training in the lives of so many different pastors in such a strategic way. I am pleased that my father’s ministry continues to impact lives, even beyond the United States, to the far corners of the earth. I am also proud to be able to support and partner with my brother Steve, and the ministry of Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute, as he continues to work towards the global advance of this exciting and fruitful vision. Plans are already underway to take the training to pastors in places such as Russia, Nepal, South Africa, and Latin America. We would appreciate your prayers and support as God continues to open doors to use this training to bless pastors and believers among the nations of the world (for more information, see

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mother India

After three life-changing weeks in India, I am now back in the USA. During this time, I had the very special privilege of visiting the cities of Delhi, Agra, Nagpur, Warangal, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Goa, and Mumbai.

India is a land marked by stark contrasts. There are so many things I could say about this trip. Here are a just a few of my first impressions (more to come in upcoming posts)…

  • Sumptuous palaces, modern hotels, and luxury shopping, side-by-side with unspeakable filth, squalor, and poverty.

  • Enormous cities, with millions and millions of inhabitants, many of which I had never heard before. And yet, 70% of Indians live in the rural areas and the more than 550,000 villages.

  • The bright, vivid colors of the saris and salwar kameezes of the Hindu and Christian women, and the monotone burqas of the Muslim women.

  • The spicy, pungent panoply of multi-faceted flavors that make up the standard bill of fare of the tasty Indian cuisine.

  • The lovely, polite, hospitable Indian people who are proud and eager to show off the beauty of their native land, but who, many times, are very difficult to understand.

  • The dusty, serpentine streets that weave endlessly through the booths and tiny shops of local merchants.

  • The insane traffic, replete with high-octane aggressive taxi drivers artfully dodging their way through the daily obstacle course of cows, rickshaws, motor scooters, bicycles, pedestrians, and other assorted items.

  • The "330 million gods" of Hinduism, the "one true God" of Islam, and many, many spiritually open people, hungry for the truth.

  • The amazingly intricate tapestry of humanity made up of people from a vast array of different ethnic groups, languages, castes and religious beliefs. It is incredible to think that the thousands and thousands of people we saw personally on this trip are only a drop in the bucket of India’s more than a billion souls. Although there are many Christian churches, and evangelical believers, India is home to 70 % of the unengaged, unreached people groups in the world, and 50% of the total of unreached people groups.

    Truly, my life has been greatly impacted from the time I have been able to spend in India. The song "Mother India," by Caedmon's Call, from their phenomenal missions-inspired album Share the Well, expresses well my own thoughts and emotions…

    Mother India

    Father God, you have shed your tears for Mother India
    They have fallen to water ancient seeds
    That will grow into hands that touch the untouchable
    How blessed are the poor, the sick, the weak

    Father, forgive me, for I have not believed
    Like Mother India, I have groaned and grieved
    Father, forgive me, I forgot Your grace
    Your Spirit falls on India and captures me in Your embrace

    The Serpent spoke and the world believed its venom
    Now we're ten to a room or compared to magazines

    Father, forgive me, for I have not believed
    Like Mother India, I have groaned and grieved
    Father, forgive me, I forgot Your grace
    Your Spirit falls on India and captures me in Your embrace

    There's a land where our shackles turn to diamonds
    Where we trade in our rags for a royal crown
    In that place, our oppressors hold no power
    And the doors of the King are thrown wide

    Father, forgive me, for I have not believed
    Like Mother India, I have groaned and grieved
    Father, forgive me, I forgot Your grace
    Your Spirit falls on India and captures me in Your embrace