Mid-India Church Partners operates a training program for a select group of pre-qualified individuals. Upon successful completion of the program, church planter candidates continue to be mentored by the experienced church planting staff at MICP. Once the leadership has been able to affirm a candidate’s calling to plant a church and verify their preparedness for the work, they are sent into the field to begin sharing the Gospel with people. The stories of the men who have completed this training and entered the field of pastoral ministry are inspiring.
Rajiv grew up faithful to his cultural, religious and familial heritage. As a young adult he started to align himself with extremists and became known as a terrorist. He was frequently taking stands for his beliefs and acting aggressively. Toward those who accepted Christianity he was more than threatening in his behavior – he was downright violent.
Rajiv’s son became ill and proper medical care was difficult to obtain where they lived. It was more difficult because so many feared him. People were afraid Rajiv would seek vengeance if his son remained ill or his condition worsened. It was during this time in his life that a Christian Pastor, despite fears of his terrorist reputation, helped Rajiv get the necessary care for his young son. He also encouraged him, prayed with him and followed up to see that their needs were met.
This experience changed the course of Rajiv’s life forever. It betrayed everything he thought he knew about Christians and opened the door for him, not only to know Christ, but to begin to serve Him! Rajiv not only made Jesus the Lord of his life, he eventually began to study and went away to be trained so that he could become an evangelist. He wanted to see other people’s lives changed in the same way that Jesus changed his life.
In the book of Acts, we read about a first century terrorist named Saul who persecuted Christians. After he encountered Jesus, he became an evangelist and God used him to change many lives.
In a similar way, Rajiv now pastors a growing church in India. While he had to move – for his own safety and for the safety of his family – he is faithfully spreading the Gospel and caring for a growing congregation. The vast majority of those that he is pastoring are first generation Christians. Many people are hearing about Jesus because of one pastor’s faithfulness to show the love of Christ to this one violent extremist. Now, Rajiv is the latest terrorist to be transformed into an evangelist.
Harpal was an evangelist serving in an area of India that was traditionally hostile toward Christians. He hadn’t grown up as a Christian, but was reached by an evangelist working in his area. His decision to make Jesus Lord of his life wasn’t received well by his family or his friends. There were frequent threats against him – demands that he renounce Jesus and return to his religious and cultural roots. Harpal was unrelenting and God was using him to reach people. While his family rejected his decision, his younger brother Rajendra clearly saw changes in him. He became open to some of what Harpal we preaching.
Soon after getting Rajendra’s attention, Harpal went missing. Eventually, his slain body was discovered on the banks of the river. In the aftermath of Harpal’s death, Rajendra made a decision … he sought out those who took care of Harpal’s corpse, those who were working to pick-up the pieces of his work spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rajendra was so impressed with the love he saw these people demonstrate, so inspired by his brother’s changed life, by his devotion to the people he was pastoring, that he not only became a Christian, but set out to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
Today, that’s exactly what Rajendra is doing! He is pastoring the congregation that his brother had first started to minister to years ago. He’s leading and nurturing them as believers and he’s working to continue to tell people about Jesus in the same area that his brother first started working as a young evangelist. Most of the people that Rajendra is leading are also first generation Christians. Their decisions to follow Jesus have also been met with conflict, rejection and even hostility. While things in this life may be difficult, these people are living with the hope of heaven because, like his brother Harpal before him, Rajendra is faithful to his calling to love people and tell them the Good News about Jesus.