India (MNN) — India’s recent bout of persecution underscores the need for well-equipped church leaders who aren’t afraid of opposition. Gary Bishop, President/CEO of Far Corners Missions, says now that their Bible college expansion is finished, they can focus on sending more pastors to unreached villages.
“We have documented 1,250 villages that are ‘unreached,’ at this point, in our part of Andhra Pradesh, India,” notes Bishop. Thanks to the recently-completed expansion of the Word of Life (WOL) Bible College, “We can now add 25 students, and our recruiters are out doing that right now.
“These young men launch out with their training to go make the Gospel news available and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The only thing holding back adding some of them is that they require support.”
Equipping the local Body of Christ
Andhra Pradesh is included in a region known as the “Hindu Heartland” of India. Oppression is on the rise in this state, and attacks against Christians often turn violent: stabbings, murder, church arson, and life-threatening beatings.
Into this daunting landscape Far Corners sends its WOL graduates. The ministry has been used to do great things in Andhra Pradesh over the past few decades, Bishop adds.
“Far Corners has been in India for 47 years now, and we’ve planted 1,100 churches,” he says. “God’s opened the door; we are able to [plant churches] in almost any village in our part of India.”
Of the 1,100 churches mentioned above, 800 are completely “self-sustaining.” This means the congregation can support their pastor without help from Far Corners. Bishop says once a pastor is trained and begins work in an unreached village, his church will be self-sustaining after a couple of years.
“[Sponsoring a pastor is] a great, great investment in the Kingdom,” Bishop states. “It’s such a small amount, when you think about education in the United States.”
According to CollegeCalc.org, the average total cost per year for a two-year Bible/Biblical Studies associate program in the U.S. is $21,258. The average total program cost amounts to $42,516.
In comparison, sponsoring a pastor until he completes WOL’s two-year program costs $1,560. Based on Far Corners’ past experiences, it takes about two years for a village church to become completely self-sustaining, which translates to an investment of roughly $3,120.
A pastor would need to be supported by sponsors for over 27 years in order to equal the cost of one year’s tuition at the average U.S. Bible college.
“For $65 a month, you pay for the complete education [of a WOL student], the living expenses…all of their supplies, three meals a day, and all their practicums of getting prepared to go out into the field and become a village pastor,” notes Bishop.
Could you and your small group help an impoverished believer reach his people for Christ?
“Once you engage, it’s a whole lot more than just writing the check. It’s praying for him, it’s knowing how he’s doing, it’s understanding the challenges he may be facing.”