we leave tomorrow morning for a 16 1/2 hour flight from l.a. to dubai, then hop on another plane for a few hours to delhi, india.
i’m all packed.
i’ve actually been packed for a couple weeks (#traveldork) – taking things in and out of my suitcase as i kept changing my mind and thinking of more.
i’ve made lists. and lists. and lists. every day i made a list and crossed things off and added more to the list. i am down to just a couple things.
people keep asking me if i’m nervous.
not nervous about going, about flying, about leaving the kids.
a peace about it all has been poured over me and only excitement is here!
the one thing i am nervous about: needing to share a quick message of encouragement at a moment’s notice to women in india. that freaks me out. what do i have to share with them?! they are sacrificing more than i ever have, are living out the gospel in a way i never could. and i am supposed to encourage them?! praying for God to speak through me, because He know i don’t have the words on my own!
before i get to india and post updates about what we’re doing over there, i want to give you a little more background on empart, the organization we’re traveling with, and going to support.
empart exists to ignite church planting movements among unreached people, on track to achieve its goal of planting 100,000 churches in asia.
how are they doing this?!
by training up young men, indian men, in transformation centers. empart transformation centers provide an intensive 1 year course designed to train local church planters who are passionate about transforming communities. they currently have 21 transformation centers across asia. each center has a max of 25 students per year who are handpicked by their churches as men of God who have already made a commitment to church planting.
the students live and work together in a transformation center with an empart coordinator and his family. this exposure to the leader’s personal life, family and ministry is a life-changing method of instruction and discipleship. other teachers also come in and have extensive experience in church planting and evangelism. apart from their studies, priority is also given to personal character building, practical experience, and prayer. each center is located right on the mission field so students are given lots of opportunities to minister and gain valuable experience in evangelism, preaching, and all aspects of church life and ministry.
most of our time in india will be spent visiting these transformation centers, meeting the students and finding ways to give them some encouragement, and learn more about the way they do ministry in india.
the results of these transformation centers are amazing:
– over 8,400 churches have been planted
– 187,000 previously unreached people have been baptized and now attend church regularly
– 6 education centers have been built that teach a total of 1,800 students who would have otherwise never have been given the chance to learn basic skills. (remember, india is still very much practicing the caste system, even though it was outlawed years ago)
– 306 orphaned children are being cared for and loved on by empart church planters through the empart children’s home programs (i’ll tell you more about this later)
– over 1,000 women have been taught to sew and were given a sewing machine as well as heard the gospel message through the empart sew & sow program (aaack! this is so exciting to me! i can’t wait to tell you more about this and how WE are going to give this ministry!)
operating a transformation center has its costs and so does church planting. thats where we come in. but empart doesn’t want the churches and students to rely entirely on western assistance. the have developed a financial support structure so the church planter gains financial independence over the course of 7 years. for the first 3 years (beginning with training) each church planter receives 100% support. then over the next four years support is progressively scaled down to zero. this gives the church planter time to disciple his people so they accept ownership of the church and responsibility for their pastor’s welfare.
to help, christians and churches in the west can sponsor a church planter monthly. we can also support in more tangible ways, like by giving a gift of a pastor’s book kit for $50 – each kit contains 20 books on leadership, bible commentaries, bible reference and so on.
all church planters travel from village to village by bicycle and it is a necessary tool for spreading the gospel in india. giving the gift of $125 will buy a bicycle for a church planter.
a gift of $550 will get a church planter everything he needs to begin his ministry: a bicycle for travel, a carpet for people to sit on during meetings, a gas stove for cooking, 20 bibles to give to new believers, and an indian drum and tambourine for worship.
i know thats a lot of money. i know. but imagine if you gathered 4-5 friends and you all agreed to each set aside $25 a month for 4 months… you could easily support a church planter and give him what he needs to spread the word of God to people in his village and nearby villages. you could have a hand in spreading the gospel in the most unreached area of the world!
clearly, i am supportive of empart and what they are doing, and i hope you are getting a little of that, too.
i have been told that i should have internet access at most of our hotels, so i’ll do my best to post daily, but just in case i can’t i have a few posts at the ready for you while i’m gone.
please pray for the safety of our team, for lives to be transformed (ours more than any!), and for the care of our families while we are gone. thank you!