Seventy-five representatives from eight states in India plus Myanmar, Nepal, and the United States gathered for the first regional conference of the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries on Feb. 8–12 in Meghalaya, India. Planning for this conference originated after the IPFBM Council of Eight decided at the partnership conference in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2009 that regional conferences should be planned every two years.
The theme, “Equipping for the Work,” from Ephesians 4:12, provided a platform for addressing three relevant topics of village evangelism, church planting, and training. Dr. G. Jaya Sekhar, from Secunderabad, India; Pastor Hoi Cung Tum, from the Chin State, Myanmar; and Dr. S. Sathish Divakar, from Bangalore, India, addressed the three topics each morning. Following the session each morning, the conferees discussed the subject in a strategy/application workshop in the afternoon. The attendees’ active participation enabled both the north and the south to hear each other express their opinions and viewpoints. This north/south collaboration is an important bridge in uniting partners across South Asia. Simultaneous to these strategy sessions, the ladies studied under Deb Hindal, GARBC/USA; Hangshing Chingboi, Manipur, India; and Padma Kumar, Secunderabad, India.
- To learn about the ministry of Padma Kumar, read “Teach, Pray, Love” from the March/April 2011 Baptist Bulletin.
In the mornings, representatives from each association reported on their various ministry endeavors, such as church planting, Bible colleges, orphanages, widow care, Christian schools, and medical work. Most of these ministries, though limited in their resources, are reaping a fruitful harvest due to their commitment level. Their reports demonstrated that God is saving souls and building His church in this otherwise dark part of the world.
Prior to breakfast and before the evening service, united prayer epitomized the common bond of faith and partnership. Musical selections in each language accentuated the diversity of the people groups yet expressed their shared joy in Jesus Christ. Preaching in the evening sessions complemented the schedule with Scriptural challenges by Pastor H. C. Stephen, from Manipur, India; Dr. Steve Overholt, from ABWE/USA; and Chris Hindal, from the GARBC/USA. Chris Brown, TechPartner/USA, handled the media issues of the conference and led a workshop titled “How can technology help your ministry?” Through a USA donor, Chris distributed USB memory sticks filled with ministry resources such as a Bible program in various languages, backgrounds for PowerPoint, a Bible story coloring book, and other helpful software.
This regional conference forged some new initiatives in the progress of the partnership. Representatives contributed names and contact information on the Bible colleges across the region in order to begin a database that will lead to an educational summit. The intended purpose is to provide a venue for Bible college presidents and leaders analyze and identify the training gaps. Second, the partners expressed a felt need to meet every year in different parts of the region to strengthen the network and their relationships. The reporting sessions highlighted certain expertise, producing invitations to speak and train across partnership lines. The ladies’ meeting sparked an interest in a pastors’ wives conference to encourage women in ministry, who sometimes feel alone. When the partners heard the report about the devastation in Haiti, they spontaneously decided to receive an offering for their suffering brothers and sisters. That night they collected 6,170 rupees, the equivalent of $155 USD.
- Watch the International Ministries video “Hope for Haiti.”
The partnership is beginning to connect ministries in corroborative efforts that further enhance the effectiveness of each association. It illustrates on an international level the often repeated proverb by GARBC National Representative John Greening, “Together we can accomplish more.”