Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend some more time with Bimal, the pastor who has planted a church for the deaf. Watching that service was such a blessing that I wanted to learn more about it.
But, before I continue I want to share something that I learned on this trip. Over the years I have met many Christians in India – pastors, church planters, and believers in general. They have shared with me about their lives, ministries, and needs. I have often asked, “What will that cost?” On this trip, Athem told me that asking that question often gives Indian people “false hope”. According to Athem, that leads people to believe that my purpose for asking is because I intend to pay or help pay.
Back to Bimal
Back to Bimal… I told him what a blessing it was to visit the deaf work. I asked him if he has what he needs to do the ministry. Interestingly, he never mentioned the need for personal, financial support; which, I know he needs. The reason: Those working with Athem have not been “conditioned” to look to foreigners for support. They are encouraged to develop income streams to support themselves. I prefaced my question by saying, “I don’t want to give you false hope. I am not looking for something that I can pay for.” He said, “Pastor, we are praying for a piece of ground to meet on. If we had our own piece of ground then no one could bother us.” He went on to explain to me that there is a constant pressure from the Hindu community that comes upon whomever they rent from. He told of a Christian who tries to minister in the area and rents a room there. A short time ago, some troublemakers showed up and tried to create problems. If you have your own place, however, they are much less likely to do that.
I then said to him, “Well, you would also need a building on the piece of land.” He said, “We will build a bamboo hut, little by little. My wife, family, and I will live in the bamboo hut and the church will meet there.” This was the first time in thirteen trips to India that the need for a building was mentioned and the answer was (in essence): “No. We can do it. We can get by with little”.
I said, “I don’t have, and I am not going to try to raise, the money you need for a piece of land, but, I will pray and trust God to do a miracle.” He said, “Thank you, Pastor”; and, he did not have a disappointed look in his eye that he was not going to get something from me. It was all about the foundation upon which the work here began, and, the way the pastors and church planters have been taught. In three trips up here I have not been asked for anything.
I have made many mistakes in this area, but, thank God that I am learning how to best help national pastors for the long haul.