India (MNN) — Graduation is associated with the beginning of a career and a time to begin making one’s mark upon the world. That’s all good in itself, but it’s not everything. Christians must ask themselves if they’re ultimately following their calling and making their mark for the name of God.
Far Corners Missions recently saw two separate classes from two schools in India graduate with their eyes set on Jesus.
The first school is Word of Life Bible College where 24 pastors graduated the program. Gary Bishop of Far Corners was there. He says, “What a great time to be there to celebrate with them, to acknowledge their hard work, and to just rejoice with them over how God’s prepared their lives to go make a huge difference in a village.”
The curriculum is comparable to what a bachelor’s Bible program might look like in the U.S. The 2-year program prepares the pastors to plant churches in unreached villages.
Bishop explains, “We’re not targeting a village that already has a church in it. We’re only going to places where you don’t have any believers. They would, for the most part, be villages that are dominated by Hindu believers.” There are Muslim communities where these pastors will be working as well.
After the pastors graduate, Far Corners supports them for 5 years so they can focus on planting the church.
Bishop shares a story about one graduate. When asked what he needed most now that he is graduated, he said “prayer.” He explained that he needed courage to go back to his village where everyone–his family included–is Hindu and resistant to Christ.
People who feel called to sponsor one of these pastors will soon have many options. They can commit to supporting a pastor through schooling for two years. The sponsorship covers all the pastor’s immediate needs.
Sponsors can also focus on graduates for five or seven years. “They’re going into…an unreached village: there’s no church there. There is, in most cases, not even one believer in the village,” Bishop says.
The cost is $65-$75 a month. While this may be difficult for one person or family to do, it is a great commitment for groups of people to make. “Any church, or small group, or Bible class can come alongside these guys and be the support for them. The great thing is they get to hear from him regularly. We get quarterly reports from these guys, whether they’re in school in the field, and all the sudden the church forms a real bond because he becomes their guy in the field in India, planting a church.” Sponsors are essentially planting a church in India.
While in India, Bishop witnessed the graduation ceremony at The Self-Help New Life Center. The center is a vocational school that provides practical skills training for victims of society. This includes women and girls rescued out of human trafficking, orphans, and oppressed individuals of the caste system.
“We have nine skill areas that we teach in our vocational school,” Bishop explains. For prostitutes, slum dwellers, and dump scavengers, this is an opportunity to earn a living outside of the cruel worlds they have known.
“Often people are trapped in the poverty and oppression of the untouchables and the ‘have-not’ of India. One of the best ways we can help them is to offer them some skills training.”
These skills include sewing, garment piecing, typing, computer processing (data entry), and small appliance repair.
270 students finished six months of training. These graduates can now look at the world around them with the hope for a new life. Bishop says, “Not only do they get skills training, but they become aware of a Savior that loves them so much.
He continues, “They hear over and over again in that six months why it is that somebody would provide this kind of help for them, and it is through the love of Jesus. They get multiple chances to hear the Gospel.”
Even sweeter than seeing these classes graduate, Bishop also witnessed nine baptisms: three children from the orphanage, three children of staff members, and three ladies from local churches.
While the hand of God is clearly moving strong in India, there is increasing governmental opposition. Far Corners asks you to pray that the doors will stay open in India for continued Gospel work.