Supporting India!

By Evan Bartholomew, Lead Minister.

“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NIV).

Join us in our effort to help support India by supporting “The Macedonian Project!”

Descriptive words like “rich,” “wealthy” and “extremely fortunate” are rarely used in our society as words to describe ourselves. We tend to think of ourselves as people that “need” so much, and that we are somehow lacking because we don’t have that same “so much”! I once saw a preacher stand in front of a bunch of college students, whom we would typically consider to be poor. He wadded up two $1 bills, and threw them out into the audience! The bills soared out over the heads of the first few rows of students, and then suddenly dropped to the ground! The preacher paused for a second, then the students also paused with anticipation of what the preacher would say, and the two bills just rested on the floor. The preacher went on to say that those two $1 bills are equivalent to the average wage of what 53% of the world’s population makes in a single day, and not one of those “poor” students even reached for it. “Rich” is exactly what we are compared to most of the world!

On Saturday, August 23, we joyfully announced at our church workshop, “In The Hands Of God,” our decision to support a full-time ministry couple in Chennai, India. For the past eight months, Raja and Debby Rajan have been leading the Chennai International Christian Church while working a full-time job and taking care of their family. Raja was baptized in 1989 after a life of practicing Hinduism. At the time of his baptism, Raja’s decision was so radical that it prompted his father to come down to the church and drag him out of the church building by his hair. Raja’s father then proceeded to beat him with his slippers, and forced him to strip off his clothes. He claimed that the clothes were his own because he had bought them! Withstanding the persecutions, Raja and Debby met, dated, and finally married in the Kingdom. In 1994, they were called by God to go into the full-time ministry in the ICOC. They led for about 14 years! In 2002-2003, devastating changes were made throughout the ICOC, causing most to lose their faith and the vision to evangelize the world in one generation. At the beginning of 2008, because the churches had fallen so far away from what they once stood for, Raja and Debby decided that they could not continue on leading in the ICOC with a good conscience. Once more, they were forced to make a radical decision. They resigned from their ministry positions, took a secular job in India to support their family, and began the Chennai International Christian Church!

Raja and Debbie Rajan with their children Ashwin, Shefali and Isheeta!

Currently in India, there are four churches in the new Sold Out Discipling Movement: The Chennai International Christian Church, the Mumbai (Bombay) International Christian Church, the New Delhi International Christian Church, and the Bangalore International Christian Church! India is a nation of over 1,000,000,000 people, and is over four times the size of the United States. It the second most populated country in the world next to China. God has truly blessed us here in Hilo with the ability to help with such a vast mission field, and by His grace, we would like to imitate the Macedonian Church’s “rich generosity.” In October, we will begin sending Raja, Debby, and their family $1,000 a month so that they can be in the full-time ministry. It is our privilege to be able to share in this service to these incredible saints! However, also like the Macedonian churches, we will have to give “even beyond [our own] ability”! With the demands of supporting myself in the full-time ministry, and now also a family in India with such a small church and limited funds, it will require a special level of sacrifice from every member of the congregation!

Paul goes on to say, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.”(II Corinthians 8:13) It is imperative to understand that Paul’s admonishment to the Corinthian church was not to deplete their resources while helping others, or to be foolish about giving what you do not have, but simply to provide equality throughout the brotherhood of churches. It is with this heart that we will begin, on September 14, the MACEDONIAN PROJECT! Although we are going to try and support India for as long as possible, the project will be a six-month effort and campaign, through sacrificial giving, fund raising, and special donations, to help fulfill this commitment to the Churches in India!

The Chennai International Christian Church holds its first church service!

I urge you and remind you, as Paul did to the church in Corinth, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (II Corinthians 9:6) Let us sow, unsparingly, faithful seeds of service, generosity, love, sacrifice, and of course money, so that the promised harvest will be as glorious and pleasing to God as the Bible describes it! As Paul later finishes his request to the churches in Corinth by saying, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” (II Corinthians 9:10-13)

Mahatma Ganhdi, perhaps the most influential figure in India’s history, once said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” We should pray that God will use our small body of determined and faithful believers to help altar the course of history for India – and for the world! Only then, can all men “praise God for the obedience that accompanies [our] confession”! To His glory!