The State Missions Training Camp (SMTC) was held from October 15th to 17th 2010 at Mankulam, Idukki. The venue of the camp was Mr. Arun’s home, a local missionary. 22 students, studying in various colleges of Trivandrum, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Thiruvalla and 6 graduates attended the camp. Mr. Regi George, his wife Saju and Mr. Samson Philip were the staff with us. There we met Mr. Anil George, who used to be an EU student, now working with NLCI as a Bible translator. We could see that the host family, the graduates and the staff worked hard to make the arrangements and the camp a success.
We had 4 special invitees during the camp. The fi rst two were Mr. Murali and Mr. Sathish, teachers appointed by the government for tribal people. Their story was awe-inspiring. To reach the tribals, they walk for 2 days through thick forest, in which elephants, wild buff aloes, tigers etc. live. Once they reach the place, they stay with the people for the next 25 days or so. They shared their experiences – times they had narrow escapes from wild animals and the diffi culties of working among the tribal. They spoke about people who joined them, but quit the job the very next day due to the diffi culties and risks involved. They are working among the tribal people for the past 11 years, with their families. By the way, they are not believers as we understand. They took up this job for the salary, but they became committed after realizing that education can change the lives of the tribal people.
One afternoon, we visited a settlement of tribal people (Kozhiyala-kudi), 15 kilometres from the campsite. It took 3 hours to reach the settlement, through the forest. We drove, and sometimes walked through thick forest to reach our destination. For many of us, it was the fi rst time that we were into such a remote location. Many pondered whether they would continue to love the Lord if the comforts of urban life were taken away from them.
The third special invitee was Mr. Johnson, along with his wife. Mr. Johnson is an evangelist from CSI who works among the tribals. The couple shared their experiences – the language barrier made things diffi cult in the initial days, the approaches they adopted, their perseverance, the adjustments they made in their lives to win the hearts of the local people.
Mr. Mathew Varghese from Delhi was the main speaker of the camp. He discussed about God’s viewpoint on creation and God’s plan to reconcile all creation back to Himself. During the missions survey, we were exposed to the things happening around us that are breaking the heart of God: including activities like ragging, smoking, drinking and drugs, sexual immorality, divorce, strained parentchildren relationships, hatred between groups/ communities and nations, injustice and exploitation of the weaker people, corruption, dowry-related deaths, female infanticide, poverty, environmental problems. We were convinced that the only antidote is the gospel, which is the power of God that transforms a person. We imagined men and women, with the Spirit of Christ living in them, depending on the grace of God, living among the unreached people groups of our nation, working as nurses, teachers, pharmacists, civil suppliers, traders, police, lawyers, journalists, industrialists, PWD engineers, doctors, and politicians.
As Jesus has commissioned – “Just as the Father send me, so I send you”, we were burdened to go to the unreached people groups in our nation to do the ministry of reconciliation Christ has entrusted with us. Prayerfully, learning about the needs of the people, making use of our skills, building God’s Kingdom…
The final slide of the Mission Survey read like this – Why should we disciple the nations? Not because it is our duty, though it is. Not because it will bring eternal life to many, though it will. Not because it will improve the living conditions of the poor, though it will. Not because it will improve stability in the world’s institutions, though it will. Not because it will improve environmental stewardship, though it will. Not because we will be rewarded, though we will. We should disciple the nations because Jesus is worthy to receive their honor, glory and praise!