A Note From Chris July 22, 2021

With news of a COVID variant circling and businesses and schools everywhere trying to determine their best next steps, I am continually prayerful for the church and the impact we are able to have in good times and in bad. I’m so grateful, as I know you are, for the ways God continues to move powerfully in our midst. He is so faithful.

In India, God is moving in almost incomprehensible ways. While the virus seems to have dissipated somewhat currently, India has been impacted incredibly and seen almost unfathomable loss as a result of crowded populations and limited medical care. However, not one of the challenges COVID presents surprises our God. He continues to move and work and make His way to the lives of those furthest from Him.

Our ministry partners at Central India Christian Mission were working hard to decentralize their Bible college (called CIBA) training curriculum prior to the pandemic. They have seen and we have been part of some incredible accomplishments through CIBA over the years, with an average of 150-200 students from some of the most challenging situations training for ministry every year for decades. With the expansion of the curriculum combined with the inability to host students on campus during COVID, CICM reacted quickly, translating the curriculum into multiple other languages, and empowering regional facilitators across the country to train students for ministry. Instead of a couple hundred students with an impressive annual church planting rate of around 300 churches per year, God has taken the ministry to incredible new levels.

To date, there are 8,126 students enrolled weekly in ministry training. Part of their completion to graduate will be to plant at least one church with plans in place for that church to multiply and plant a new church itself. Think of it…instead of the typical 300 churches planted each year, even if ½ the students graduate and plant a church, that will be over 4,000 churches planted in 2021 alone. As of today, there are already over 1200 churches planted from within this group since the new year, an astronomical new record for the mission, and its only July. How incredible is our God?

During COVID, CICM launched an online ministry platform called “Hindi Church,” essentially to get the gospel out digitally and allow Christians around India to be able to connect and study God’s Word each week. The leadership team humbly prayed for 200-300 people watching each week for edification and growth. But God had other plans. At the time of this writing, Hindi Church Online has reached over 3 million different individuals in 81 countries worldwide. The overall number of Hindi speakers worldwide is around 640 million people, so in one sense, that is still a relatively small number. But it is also an overwhelming celebration for brother Ajai Lall and his team, who prepare each week to share the gospel and celebrate all God is doing. In a nation and among a people where there is little hope, the gospel shines even brighter than ever before. Please celebrate with me all God is doing through our Global Partners like CICM.

This weekend, we are blessed to have Kevin and Sara Griesser, global partners from Turkey, with us at church. Kevin will be preaching and sharing about their ministry in Turkey. Their family will also be available for a Q and A session at the Shiloh campus on Sunday at 12:30pm. No registration needed. I hope you will join us for what promises to be an incredible weekend of worship and celebration together!

Yours and His, 
Chris VandeLinde

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