On November 18, 2016, the nineteen students of the fall class of Asia Soul Winners’ School of Mission were awarded certificates of completion after a three-week term of concentrated study provided by Macedonian Teaching Ministry, of Chiang Mai, Thailand. As a guest teacher with MTM, my wife and I were privileged to participate in this time of training for young pastors, evangelists, and emerging leaders.
The School of Mission was our introduction to Southeast Asian culture. Asia Soul Winners is headquartered in the city of Dimapur, India, a city of three hundred thousand in Nagaland, in Northeast India. Dimapur is a typical Indian city, throbbing with the vehicles, fumes, and dust of the commerce that supports this region. Tucked away on a hillside along a tree-lined, cobbled lane is the Centre For Asian Cross-Cultural Missions, a three-story, partially-finished building, but completed enough to host the School of Mission. Dorms on the second and third floors were bare rooms with concrete floors on which the students spread their blankets.
Restrooms are unfinished, so students used temporary facilities nearby. Meals were provided a short walk away, at the location at which the MTM team stayed in a private house. The students, representing various different NE India tribes, arrived primarily from the neighboring states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. We were, in the words of ASW director G. Khing, “Focusing on the focused.” That is, providing an opportunity for a group of committed workers who otherwise would have limited training available.
The graduating students as well as the MTM teaching team. Front row L-R; Merle & Judy Flory, Barbara Ann & Paul A Miller, Raymond & Naomi Burkholder, Hisule & G Khing (mission school director)
Raymond and Naomi Burkholder and Merle and Judy Flory began the term, with Paul and Barbara Ann Miller joining them after the first week. Raymond taught a course on “World Evangelism,” a study of the Book of Acts, chapters 1-13, focusing on the emergence of the Church in Antioch as the first missionary sending church, under the leadership of Barnabas. While many of our young students are already active pastors and evangelists, this teaching helped them develop a theological understanding of the biblical basis for missions, and provided renewed inspiration and vision for their evangelistic labors among the unreached people groups in their areas of ministry.
Merle Flory taught the students “The History of Missions,” detailing how other missionaries have tread this path in years gone by, taking a charitable but realistic look at the things that went well and not so well, and what we might learn from their experiences. Lessons were offered in Kingdom theology and practice, and family life for those in ministry, working to shore up areas of historic and cultural weakness for missionaries.
During the second week, Paul A Miller began teaching on “Servant Leadership,” a series of lessons about first learning to lead yourself, in preparation to lead others. In the concluding days, Raymond and Paul in a team effort provided an overview of Paul’s Missionary Journeys to round out the Book of Acts teaching, emphasizing to these current day missionaries how in time the Apostles obeyed the Great Commission Jesus gave them, carrying the gospel far beyond Judea and Samaria, to the “ends of the earth.”
Graduation exercises were held on Friday morning, coordinated by G. Khing, the director of Asia Soul Winners, and attended by numerous Dimapur pastors and other supporters. As the director of MTM, Raymond Burkholder gave the commencement address on “Three sending Truths”, focusing on the call, the commission, and the cost. At the end of the message the students responded to the call by kneeling in front as the pastors prayed, “sending” them forth into ministry in their respective home areas. As evening fell, the students and teachers gathered around a bonfire for a time of singing and rejoicing for all the Lord had done during this School of Mission.
So three weeks of teaching was completed, commitments made, prayers prayed, and laborers in God’s Kingdom returned to the fields white unto harvest. Many of these pastors and evangelists went home to Hindu towns and remote villages where no one heard the name of Christ until their arrival to continue the harvest of souls. Only God knows the impact upon their lives of these three weeks of study, and the eternal difference it makes. The planting has been done in the hearts of these Naga students. The watering continues throughout the Hindu towns and villages of Northeast India. And God gives the increase. 1 Cor 3:6.
Editor’s Note; The above article was submitted by Paul A. Miller, Pastor of Crosspointe Mennonite Church, Baltic, OH. A very special thank you to Paul A. & Barbra Ann Miller for giving so graciously and generously unto the Lord of your time and resources. Our prayer is that the Lord will reward you openly for your labor of love.