When ITMI partners, Paul and Molly returned home to India recently, they made some waves with other local pastors. Good waves.
Their curiosity was piqued, their cultural paradigm challenged by Paul and Molly laying their own benefits on the line to follow Jesus.
It was in response to Paul and Molly’s plans to launch a new church plant in a slum in south India this fall.
“Why would anyone plant a church in the slums when they’ve had the best training in America?” they ask each other, about Paul. “Why return to India at all? Why not at least plant in a wealthy area?”
No one understands why you would choose to plant a church in the slum when you’ve had training in America.
1. Paul and Molly care about the people living in the slums, regardless of the Indian caste system.
The Indian caste system offers no respect or value to those living in the slums. They are a part of the lowest caste, and are treated as such.
Paul and Molly have a different perspective.
Paul and Molly are in India to serve, not to be served. God has given them a great love for the people He has called them to. Glory to Him.
2. Paul and Molly aren’t planting a church for their own benefit.
It’s not uncommon for an Indian pastor to use his position to be important or to be served.
Some even travel with an entourage of people who serve them. One carries their Bible, one opens the door… They simply don’t know better.
No one has taught them that Jesus’ teachings in the face of their caste-based, Hindu culture – where leaders act important and powerful.
In fact, when an ITMI team supported Paul’s ministry by training a group of Indian pastors in early 2012, they were so relieved that they didn’t have to be like this.
Many pastors repented and abandoned the model of leadership they’d brought with them from their Hindu background. Many changed to a more Christ-like model of leadership as a result of that conference.
Many pastors repented and abandoned the model of leadership they’d brought with them from their Hindu background.
Paul and Molly’s example of planting a church without regard to their own social status is setting a shining example for other Indian pastors.
3. Paul and Molly see where the Spirit is working and are joining Him.
By the grace of God, 50 living in this slum were recently saved. Now they need a community to be a part of.
Preparing for a Monumental Task
Planting this church won’t be easy. No one knows that better than Paul, whose father planted the church he grew up in.
But they are prepared. And they know God is going ahead of them.
In preparation for the new church plant, Paul participated in an intense church-planter’s training in the US last year. Paul and Molly felt this was an extremely valuable time of training. They are eager to implement what they’ve learned.
Facing Challenges Compelled by Love
Paul and Molly are swimming upstream in a lot of ways. One of them is the fact that there isn’t much in Indian culture that helps the people understand concepts necessary to discuss the gospel.
In the West, even someone who has never heard of Jesus would understand what is meant by “creation” or “forgiveness.” But unlike our Western culture, most in India have no knowledge of basic concepts needed to discuss the gospel.
Planting a church, then, requires many meetings, patience and explanations of basic concepts. It means constantly fighting the doubt that could arise when others don’t immediately jump on board with what you are doing as a leader.
But for Paul, this is a labor of love. Love for the church he shepherds. Love for the slum he longs to see reached with the gospel.
“It’s overwhelming to know where to start with these dear, broken, confused people. They have never heard of the basics we’ve heard most our lives such as the story of creation, the principle of forgiveness, the mystery of the Trinity. We start simple and give them a taste. The love of the Father compels us. Whole families listen together, weep, and share their suffering and their bewilderment in our interest of them.”
Paul and Molly are bringing the gospel and community to those overlooked and stripped of their value by the caste social system.
“The love of the Father compels us.” – Paul