The challenge of bringing a church-planting pastor from India to Liberia (see “Hard, Hard Ground – Part 2“) was tough enough.
But the effort seemed to have only begun once Pastor Martin touched down in Monrovia, Liberia.
He gave $200 to our team. These funds were his personal tithe to the work that helped to offset the cost of bringing him from India to West Africa. For some of us $200 might not seem like a lot, but for him it was two months of his family’s cost of living.
After a short rest and time of prayer, the team embarked on a long arduous journey overland to the remote, distant village in the Lofa County area.
In the Lofa region there are two main people groups. One group is the Loma tribe (Lorma); the other is the Mandingo (Manya) tribe. The Loma had been reached with the Gospel; the Mandingo had not been – this tribe was listed on the completely unengaged and unreached people group* global list up to the time CIC went into this region for the first time just 6 months before. These two tribes were known for constant tribal conflict. Since the Liberian Civil War and before that time, these two tribes had been violently fighting back and forth.
The article on the right is an excerpt from a book on West African violence that describes the feuding relationship between these two tribes.
Testimonies of what happened to these feuding people groups after CIC entered the region in May, 2015, can be read in more detail in the upcoming blog article “Feuding Tribes Find Peace in Christ.”
Pastor Martin was certainly used to this kind of hostile context. In his own home region, which some who know India well have nervously called a ‘religious powder keg,’ Pastor Martin knew what radicalization and hostility truly looks like. Despite our Liberian team and Pastor Martin knowing what they were up against, they were undeterred. They hung onto the promises of God, knowing that He had led us to go. And feeling His peace, which surpasses all understanding, they began their journey, knowing He was going before them to continue to melt hearts and prepare the land for His good seed.
The journey was not easy.
It was more than 8 hours of travel overland, on ground that was often hard and impassable with a vehicle. Our mission-focused brothers took to walking.
The travel was arduous but the Lord carried them safely through every danger.
A comforting verse for many of us in CIC is Paul’s summed-up travel blog written to the church at Corinth:
“. . .on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches….” (2 Corinthians 11:26-28)
And as Paul did, so we boast in Christ, who works in and through our weakness and in our own afflictions, for His glory and His Name’s sake.
Pastor Martin from India journeyed through it all with not one complaint.
Despite being in a completely new environment, with food that was unlike anything he had had before, with malaria-carrying mosquitoes, with rough terrain, with all kinds of traveling challenges including blisters on their feet and headaches from the sun, he rallied on with our team to reach the goal.
The team arrived at their destination. As Martin joined the meetings as a fellow attendee, never having been trained by CIC before, he began to further understand how the ministry model of reaching children actually opens doors into places that are normally shut to the church and missionaries. By reaching the unreached children with weekly open-air CIC Clubs, which minister to these precious children with the love of Christ, children’s lives are transformed. They learn Bible lessons starting from the Old Testament, they discover that there is a heavenly Father who made them and loves them, and He can be their Father too. And within the CIC Club model of loving, discipling, and empowering, children become living proof of the living water – the transformational Gospel. They also become multipliers amongst their peers, families, communities and even their nations. And as these children’s lives are transformed, the community opens its heart up to the living Truth that is the true source of transformation, hope, and abundant life.
We held both a Pastors Mobilization for the churches nearest to the Mandingo people. And then we held a CIC Mentor Training, which trains those whom the pastors recommend for children’s ministry. Over 60 people attended both of these trainings combined. All of these attendees signed a CIC Volunteer Contract, as Pastor Martin had done. (Even our CEO has signed a CIC Volunteer Contract and serves as a volunteer.)
At the the end of the trainings, we asked Pastor Martin, “What was the most interesting insight for you as you listened and participated in these trainings?”
And Pastor Martin replied, “Sister, I think the most striking thing of all was the model of CIC, which is the order of the club and how it is done. CIC does it this way – Joy & Fun & Love first – then Teach & Pray and then Joy & Fun & Love end. In India, we are very serious. If we try to teach the children even in our own church, we do it this way: ‘Serious – Fun – Serious’ –but I now see that it is the Joy and Fun and Love which draws the children in. This is why we do not attract many new children even to our church. And it cannot work in unreached places. But with this model, the children come and they are ready to learn and be ministered to. This is one of the biggest lessons from my time. It changes everything. Now I am ready to go and start CIC Clubs in India in these hard ground places – where the most extreme Hindu villages are near my community. I believe this will work and it will open doors that have been shut to us before and we will see much fruit and many will come to receive His grace and truth in Jesus’ Name and for His glory.”
With the trainings complete, the team journeyed back to Monrovia, traveling as they did before.
But they left with even more joy and hope in their hearts, thanking the Lord for their safety, thanking Him for bringing so many people to the training, and thanking Him for the testimonies of fruit and opened eyes. The pastors and volunteers were inspired to go and reach the rest for Christ. It is with thankful hearts that we know our labor and sacrifice was not in vain.
Back in India
Having returned to India with CIC trainings complete, Martin cast the vision to his church. Soon volunteers came forth, eager to begin the outreach ministry. Each one took a different village and region, where the Gospel had not been preached, and CIC Clubs began to sprang up in these villages. In just one month there were 3 new clubs.
Two months later, Pastor Martin and his church hosted a CIC-based Pastors Mobilization and Volunteer Training. These trainings had over 50 Indian pastors and local church volunteer attendees come from multi-denominations and local indigenous churches throughout the broader geographic territory. The funds for this training were indigenously collected and raised by Pastor Martin and his team, with CIC only providing them a free electronic copy of our training manuals and Bible curriculum.
The pastors loved the trainings, but at the end of the training they one by one announced that while CIC Club is a good model, they will not go to these extremist villages: “We like this model very much, but we cannot go. We will be stoned and killed by these people and what will become of us? You go if you want. We will stay.”
Though the words reminded us of the spies who scouted out the Promised Land and feared for their lives and their families’ lives, we couldn’t in all good conscience push them to go. So Pastor Martin stood up and said, “My church and I will go then.”
Two months later, over 121 children from these Hindu villages have heard the Gospel and been taught about their Heavenly Father and Creator. One child, a girl who is 10 years old named Sharanya, has joyfully and fully received Christ as her Lord and Savior and is now asking all of us to pray for her family and her friends.
Would you join us in praying for this courageous little girl and all of Pastor Martin’s church for continued protection, wisdom, and boldness to share the Good News with these children who so desperately need the hope and eternal life of Christ?
If you would like to help partner with our indigenous churches and CIC teams to take the Gospel to the unreached people, CLICK HERE for ways to partner.
*NOTE: Unengaged and Unreached People Group (UUPG) is defined as an ethno-language people group with no known missionary organization reaching them, no known believer, no known church, and often no scripture translated in their language. This global list is published by Finishing the Task (www.finishingthetask.com), which consolidates all known missionary activity amongst all participating missions organizations, and creates a list of those still completely unengaged. The heartbeat of CIC is to inspire and equip the African indigenous church to realize its unique giftings and strategically unique position in the Kingdom and empower and equip them to reach the rest for Jesus Christ through the open door of children.