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


    blampp said...

    David.... We prayed for you guys... and your ministry! Thanks for the pictures and reminder of the impact of being there! Glad you're back, and I'm sure you are anxious to return to your field of ministry! Blessings..... barrett

    Eric said...


    We lived in India for 4 months and can completely understand what you are saying here. You have done a very good job describing the incredible diversity of sights, sounds, and especially smells.

    We, too, were overwhelmed and changed by our time there. I've heard it said, "As goes India, so goes the Great Commission." Although I don't like the limitations that statement places on the sovereignty of God, I do see the truth in it. The task of getting the gospel to all of the UPGs in India is an amazing one.


    Jeff Greathouse said...

    Thanks for sharing some highlights and photos.

    Tim Patterson said...


    I can appreciate the description of your time in India. The peoples and places are incredible, and the challenge for fulfilling the great commission there is tremendous. Makes me a little "homesick" and ready to go back this next year.

    Bryan Riley said...

    Wow. Makes me want to go there. Great post, David. How long do you plan on being in the states? Is it difficult?

    David Rogers said...

    Barrett, Eric, Jeff, Tim & Bryan,

    Thanks for your prayers and encouragement.

    Eric & Tim,

    Having had the privilege of being there for 3 weeks, I feel I was able to have a small glimpse into what you were able to experience for a longer period. I have utmost respect for those who plant their lives for the sake of the Gospel in places like India.


    I'm sure you were reminded of your recent time in the Philippines as well. We are planning on being Stateside until this coming summer. We are still seeking God's confirmation regarding our next step, which may well be returning to Spain. I am learning the important thing, wherever God has you for the time being, is to be "all there". He is able to use us for His purpose anywhere at anytime. But we must remain totally available for whatever He chooses.

    wlh said...


    Great post. I want to respond to just one thing because when I read it, it piqued my interest.

    You said that India is 70% rural!, right?

    I understand that current IMB strategies are urban-centered. However, I have been doing some reading on the Nevius Method, most successfully propagated in Korea. John Nevius saw that in China, ministry was urban-centered by the missionaries, only paid evangelists/helpers would go out into the villages. So he concluded that there was an error in centering 80% of ministry in the city while 80% of the population was rural.

    I wonder if we are missing something in these contexts by focusing on the cities. Hoping the city to reach out to the countryside.

    I know this is a little off your discussion, but I want to know your opinion, since you have both theological and methodological ground to have a good one. Thanks for allowing me to sidetrack your post.


    David Rogers said...


    Sorry, I never answered your question till now. I don't know if you'll check back and see this, but, just in case, here goes, finally...

    I am sure there are great, valid reasons for emphasizing urban areas. To a large extent, the urban areas are home to many, if not most, of the most unreached in the world. Traditional missions has not done a very good job of reaching urban dwellers. Undoubtedly, it is a good thing to place a major emphasis on seeking new and better ways to reach the unreached in the major cities of the world.

    At the same time, I agree with your suggestion that we need to be careful, at the same time, to not neglect the millions of unreached in the rural areas, and smaller towns.

    The best way to do this, though, and the best way to use wise stewardship in the allocation of our resources, will no doubt vary from country to oountry, and context to context.

    Wesley Handy said...

    David, thanks for the response. Fortunately, I have been unable to check for the response until now, so I did not miss it.

    I appreciate your response. I think you are right that we have to adjust our strategy from country to country and from context to context.

    (I'm not trying to stir up anything, but...) Do you find that this type of contextualization of strategy is going in IMB missions? Is it possible?

    Perhaps it would be permissible in western, even eastern, Europe, South America or Africa, but I wonder about South or East Asia.

    David Rogers said...


    I am trying to understand better the context of your question. Are you speaking from the point of view of an insider, with personal experience with the IMB in South/East Asia? Do you have specific evidence to suggest the IMB is not doing the best job they could to contextualize strategy?

    Sorry to be so vague in my response, but, without a more specific context from which to address your questions, all I can see is, that, though we all have room for improvement, I have not been able to observe personally the problems you seem to allude to.

    I will say that, it seems to me that things that have "worked" in East Asia and South Asia have sort of become models for IMB work in other parts of the world. Perhaps even too much so.

    In Spain, the "mission field" I know better than any other, I indeed have been a bit concerned that we may be doing an overkill on the "urban emphasis." But, I think the pendulum is already swinging a bit more towards the middle, though.

    Wes said...


    I have no insider knowledge. I have friends with insider knowledge, and I can only peice together what I hear from them. My question about the Asian regions is only a question, because, like you said, strategies from those regions are being packaged and mass-produced. But even this is hearsay on my part.

    I was just wondering your opinion. Here's where I am coming from:
    I have been educated at SEBTS in missions history and strategy. I have been fed contextualization and CPM methodology. Contextualization I love, CPM has grown on me slowly. It initially came across as man-centered. I was unwilling to buy into it. Over time, I have come to appreciate many of the things that are being said. Some theological development and historical research is needed, but I think if properly contextualized, then there may be something to it--if God so chooses to send revival on a particular people.

    (we can talk about that qualification later).

    Really, my question is, and this may have to be answered differently for each different region: is there freedom to contextualize methodology?

    I have spoken with so many people from Central Asia about house church methodology and I personally think they are swimming against the current. At least in Kazakhstan, places of worship are the norm. Only cults meet in houses. What does that make house churches look like? So does house church methods break down barriers to the gospel or create them? I say create them. But the company men are towing the line. Are they missing out?

    Would it be permissible for IMB people in this context to go against the grain? Perhaps a Central Asia leader would have to answer that question.

    If it is not possible, I could not be an IMB worker in the place to which I feel God has called me. It would violate my conscience. And it is a shame when a Southern Baptist can't serve his own people over this type of issue.

    So, I'm not trying to stir anything up, this is very personal for me. Thanks for your thoughts.

    David Rogers said...


    While I would be less than honest to say I have never observed the tendency on the part of some to regard house church methodology as the "one-size-fits-all" answer to the multiplication of disciples, I myself have sensed nothing but freedom and encouragement to think creatively about strategy in my particular context.

    While I do not see the IMB dropping the whole emphasis on house churches, especially where it is showing good results, I do see an increasing openness towards considering other methods, and encouraging the need for healthy contextualization.

    I'm not that familiar with what may be going on specifically in the Central Asia region, though.

    Wes said...

    Brother David,

    Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Thank you for your encouraging words. I also appreciate your wisdom in not speaking for another region, that displays much of your integrity.

    Over thanksgiving, I spoke with a good Presbyterian friend who has partnered with the IMB in Kazakhstan and he very much encouraged me to speak to some people there directly to get a better picture. His advice, combined with your counsel, leads me to think this is the best course of action.

    Nonetheless, you candid repsonses have eased my fears/anxiety greatly.

    Thank you

    David Rogers said...


    Kewl. Glad to hear it was helpful.