A Note from Chris - November 4, 2021

While the pandemic has been especially difficult on the work force (people are now calling it the Great Resignation), all the layers have also made ministry difficult for churches and many of our global ministry partners.

One of our primary global partners, Central India Christian Mission, was on lockdown for most of the months of 2020-2021. They just recently allowed people out of their homes again in India to move about in their communities freely. That meant a few really discouraging things for them:
  • They could not continue their Bible college training in Damoh or Darjeeling, which typically housed over 100 students combined. Each year, CICM was planting 100+ churches all over India. Because of the pandemic, the in-person colleges were closed indefinitely.  

  • They could not host their annual youth conference. Typically, just short of 2,000 students gather in Damoh for the largest Christian youth event in the country (as far as we know). Out of 1.3 billion people, very few ministries exist for young people in India. CICM is the exception. That event was not able to happen in person in 2020 or this year like it did in the past.

What that meant was our ministry partners would have to get creative and see what doors God was opening despite the shutdown. What has transpired is nothing short of incredible. If you are standing, you may want to sit down as I share this with you. Our God is incredible and never stops surprising us in his goodness.

In 2019, CIBA (Bible college) graduated around 120 church planters and started over 300 churches, an incredibly fruitful year by any measure. Most church planting organizations would consider that an incredible year no matter the country.

So due to the shutdown, CIBA took their classes online and produced an experience-based certificate program to train Christian leaders. The curriculum leads people through various parts of the Bible, teaching them to study, interpret, and teach it to others. Part of the requirement each year will be for the student to plant their own church. It’s experiential and personally challenging.

People started hearing about it. They expanded it beyond Hindi into another language. And then another. And then another. Eventually, the new training curriculum was translated into 15 languages and was spreading far beyond India. People from all over the world were contacting them asking to be trained in the Bible to lead churches and teach people to make disciples.

To date, there are over 6,000 students registered with the decentralized program in multiple countries. They just received their 3rd quarter report, which shows that over 1,500 house churches have been planted and 10,000 people have come to Christ in 3rd quarter alone through the program! 2,700 churches have been started in India and beyond in 2021 alone. Incredible!

The youth conference similarly went digital, taking the conference to local churches all over India instead of one location in Damoh. Cornerstone started personally sponsoring the conference in 2017, and we have prayed and celebrated each year as around 1,000 new decisions for Christ are celebrated each October. This year, after learning how to better produce the conference digitally, CICM is expected to have more than 8,000 young people in every state in India tuning in.

Once again, Cornerstone is sponsoring the event. It began today (and all weekend) in Hindi, next weekend in Nepali, and the following weekend in the language of Tamil. I preached a message for the conference and am so honored that we get to be a part of something so uniquely awesome. Will you please join me that God does incredible things in the next few weekends?

God never ceases to amaze me! Let’s keep serving and giving and praying to see God do incredible things in our lifetime through us for his glory!

Yours & His,
Chris VandeLinde

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