Chris and Deb Hindal flew out of Newark, N.J., on Monday, Oct. 6, for a monthlong international ministry. Chris is director of GARBC International Ministries. He and Deb visited associations partnering with the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries in three countries in Asia.
Three States in India
The Hindals’ first stop was the Northeast India Regional IPFBM Leadership Conference in Imphal, India, on the evening of Oct. 8. Chris and Dr. H. C. Stephen, chairman of the IPFBM Council of Eight, held a session with the officers of the four associations, casting vision for the cooperative efforts as well as listening to the interests of each association. The regional association is interested in pursuing a publishing effort in conjunction with Regular Baptist Press.
For the second leg of the trip, the Hindals flew to Aizawl, the capital of the Indian state of Mizoram. Dr. Stephen excited them by asking for participation in a publication steering committee to initiate a possible RBP Asia.
After a six-hour drive to Pailapool, Assam, headquarters for Bibles International, India, Dr. Stephen and the Hindals met with two partnering associations the next day. Leaders from the Fellowship of Baptist Churches and the Regular Fundamental Baptist Churches listened intently to the overview presentation of the IPFBM. Chris fielded several questions.
Silchar, the largest city near Pailapool, is just a 45-minute drive from Assam. Chris spoke on Friday morning, Oct. 18, for the Northeast India Baptist Bible College and Seminary chapel; 82 students attend the school.
Gospel Literature Services sends both Sunday School and Vacation Bible School materials into Northeast India. The Fellowship of Baptist Churches conducted a three-day VBS program, with a high attendance of 360 on the last day. Sixty-five individuals made professions of faith. Chris spoke at the closing program. The VBS leaders expressed their appreciation for receiving the VBS materials on CDs.
In Phnom Penh, the Hindals met with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism team leader, Rob Cady, and his wife, Kristi. Rob works primarily with returnees to Cambodia whose families sought refuge in the USA from the atrocities of the Communist slaughter under the tyrant dictator Pol Pot in the 1970s. After these families relocated to the USA, their children grew up in project-type living conditions in California. Young men and a few women joined LA gangs and ended up in prison for felony crimes. The US government deported them to Cambodia, their residence according to their parents’ residency, but where none of them had ever lived. They arrived in Cambodia alone, unable to speak the language, and with no knowledge of the culture. Chris spoke to a small group of them whom Rob had led to Christ. God’s redeeming power is transforming these people, tattooed and rough around the edges, into trophies of grace. The Hindals witnessed this power of God up front and personal. Rob inquired about RBP materials to be used in discipleship.
Ministry in Cambodia is not for the faint of heart or the success-oriented mind. Anyone looking for ministry in a hard place where lost people abound, Cambodia may be God’s appointment for you.
The Chin Tribe in Malaysia
Pastor Hoi Cung, president of the Chin Baptist Convention in the town of Hakha, Chin State, Myanmar, an IPFBM partner, invited Chris to be the speaker for the Leadership Conference Oct. 30–Nov. 2, hosted by the Chin Baptist Convention, meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Chris spoke eight times, including a presentation of the IPFBM during the Saturday afternoon business session. The daytime sessions were set up as teaching sessions, each followed by a question-and-answer time. Daytime attendance averaged 100. Local Chin attended the evening sessions, swelling the attendance to 350 each evening. For the Sunday morning service, the last session of the conference, people sat on the floor to accommodate the crowd of 500.
While obstacles to evangelism and church planting exist in much of Asia, God continues to build His church, and in some places with much fruit. The IPFBM partners in India plant churches by starting ministries in areas where believers live but have no church. Local church pastors are willing to send their own members to form the nucleus of the church plant. One pastor in Myanmar told Chris, “Our people are sacrificing and have saved the equivalent of $10,000 USD, but the land keeps going up, and it currently costs $20,000. We can’t save fast enough to reach the rising cost. If you could help us with land, our sister churches will help us erect the building.” What a wonderful expression of fellowship for sister churches to pitch in and build the new church building.
Gospel Literature Services fills a tremendous gap by providing Sunday School and VBS curriculum particularly in Northeast India. The Hindals discovered that help is also needed in Cambodia and among the Chin in Myanmar. Translators are stepping up to make these resources available in the heart languages of the people. The dream of an RBP publishing arm in Asia is taking focus with a publishing committee to be formed by year’s end.
The IPFBM injects hope into people who feel isolated. To realize that there are 10,000 churches like them in doctrine and in commitment to the Great Commission is like the revelation to Elijah that there were 7,000 people who had not bowed the knee to Baal. The churches’ dreams are enlarged as they consider what could be done through collaborative efforts. More prayerful and creative thinking must address the huge vacuum of quality education, especially beyond the basic Bible institute or undergraduate level.
The global assignment of the Great Commission will not be accomplished by any one missions agency, parachurch organization, megachurch strategy, or association of churches. Sanctified collaborative passion for the people groups of the world must overcome fortress mentality, maverick strategies, and all forms of provincialism. Let’s keep the glory of God as our ultimate goal.