“At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.” Mother Teresa
SAMARITAN STRATEGY PROJECT IN TRIPURA, INDIA
Establishing self-sustaining Samaritan Strategy teams in new areas
Elly Oliveira, Global Field Coordinator
We invite you to imagine Christmas in Tripura, North-East India, a land-locked state nestled at the foot of the Himalayan mountains. The place is blessed with natural beauty — gorgeous landscapes, crystalline waterfalls, awe-inspiring mountains, and dense forests. Its multi-linguistic population of over three million celebrates religious festivals wearing colorful costumes, selling artistic bamboo products, and enjoying delicious food. Tripura is more than just its natural beauty, it is an illustration of a long and varied legacy of history and tradition. The desire to impact this legacy and the people with the love of Jesus, led Harvest Associate Timothy Das to coordinate a Samaritan Strategy project in the capital city, Agartala, and below is his story. As you prepare for Christmas, take some minutes to read it and get a feeling of how the Kingdom that Jesus inaugurated has spread from Bethlem to remote areas of India.
The Samaritan Strategy (SamS) program helps churches demonstrate God’s intentions in every area of life. It uses step-by-step applications called “disciplines of love” and “seed projects” to disciple people in practical ways, following the biblical model of Jesus’ growth. A SamS project has four phases: (1) network, (2) training, (3) coaching, and (4) commissioning.
We thank the Harvest team and the participants of the SamS project in Tripura, India. Their vision and dedicated services blessed many people. We thank the donors who so generously contributed to this project. We would not be able to do it without their help. We praise the Lord for His provision, guidance, and protection, and pray that SamS projects may be multiplied for His glory.
INVITATION TO COLLABORATE
Harvest Staff and Associates are volunteers who sacrificially give of themselves to this ministry. We welcome your participation to help them financially. You can write a check to «Harvest» and mail it to P. O. Box 2670 – Phoenix, AZ – 85002, or click on the «Donate» button on this page for a credit card donation. If you would like to designate the gift to Timothy Das or any other Harvest staff or associate, please write the name of the recipient on a separate note added to the check or on the suggestion box online. Thank you!
ILLUSTRATION OF HARVEST’S MINISTRY FROM ONE OF OUR FIELDS – INDIA
Timothy Das, Harvest Associate, [email protected]
Contact and visit (June-July 2017)
I contacted various church leaders in Agartala (Tripura), India, through phone calls and e-mails, offering them the SamS training. Some leaders showed interest and we decided to meet. I traveled 970 miles from south Kolkata to Tripura to hold two vision casting meetings and explain details about the project.
The first meeting was held in Sabrume, a hill area near the Bangladesh border. On a rainy day we started our journey. In spite of many inconveniences, the Lord made it possible for us to reach the area where eleven people were waiting for us. They were church leaders from various denominations, such as Emmanuel Baptist Church, Evangelical Church Fellowship, Tripura Baptist Church Union (TBCU), Presbyterian and Viswabani Churches. These leaders had real hunger for God and to know His Word. One of them was an auto driver and he gave rides to people to go to the meeting. All of them expressed that they had never been exposed to a training like SamS before. The Lord really challenged them, and they were full of enthusiasm and wanted to learn how to serve in a broken world as Jesus served in His time. Many of them had tribal background but all were able to speak, read and write in Bengali.
Later, we organized a similar meeting in the plain area of Agartala, at the Trinity Worship Center. The fifteen participants were leaders representing more than twelve denominations and parachurch organizations. I am thankful to Pastor Bhola Nath Dey who called these Christian leaders for the meeting. I was asked to share the vision of the Lord for the SamS training and handed out the materials I brought for them. I had the privilege to meet Rev. Dr. Debbarma, the General Secretary of TBCU, who wanted us to teach the SamS lessons to a group of over seventy Baptist deacons.
In both places, Sabroom and Agartala, the leaders wanted to have the SamS training. We were unable to do both and sought God’s guidance to decide where we should serve at this time.
Basic training (September 2017)
After much prayer, we decided that Agartala was the place to start. I went to Agartala for the first SamS training with Pastors Sanjay Thul and Jayanta Das. As soon as we reached the airport, heavy rain poured down until we arrived at our lodge. We asked the Lord to stop the rain, and He answered our prayers. In the next morning there was no rain. The meeting was held at the Volunteers Health Association and most participants came on time. The group included pastors, Bible teachers, evangelists, and sisters who ministered among women. All the participants attended all the sessions for two days, and we experienced the presence of the Lord among us.
What were the immediate responses to this training?
Brother Kanchan donated a small gift to the trainers, giving a testimony that the Lord taught him to give his shares to His servants.
Sister Merry brought us tea powder and we talked about her desire to reach her own tribe.
Pastor Khagen studied theology in the Bible School for three years but had never had this kind of training before. He was very much grateful to us.
Pastors Subrata Ganguli and Bhola Nath Dey would like to do the follow up work with the participants, since everyone assured us that they would practice disciplines of love at home, in the church, and in society.
Please continue to uphold these brothers and sisters in your prayers. It was a team effort to prepare and teach the six Harvest lessons in Bengali. We translated the PowerPoint presentations and additional notes, which can be used in provinces of West Bengal, some parts of Assam, and in Bangladesh. Pray for the Bengali pastors, there is only a handful of them, many are tied up with church rules and rituals and still do not have a vision to reach out to their own communities.
Advanced training (November 2017)
I traveled from Kolkata to Agartala with Pastors Amit Adhihkary and Jayanta Das and reached safely to our destination. Unfortunately, due to sickness and lack of transportation, some participants could not come, but thirteen participants were there on time.
We had a time to report disciplines of love:
With his church members, Pastor Khagen cleaned and repaired a village path that led to the church building.
Sister Merry started family devotions every day, with family members taking turns to lead the devotion.
Brother Kanchan is an area manager for alo fruit products (juice with Aloe Vera). He shared the “blessings of giving” after the Harvest training. He decided to distribute products to poor children for free. After that, his sales increased, and he was promoted to a higher position.
Brother Kanchan and sister Merry expressed their love for the trainers by giving them small gifts –homemade food, tea leaves from their tea garden, and alo juice.
Pastor Subrata Gunguli and his leadership group met in homes every month for fellowship, prayers, and to share blessings. Although they came from various denominations, they found that they could be united for the sake of the gospel and prayers.
Pastor Subrata Gunguli led the seed project discussion. With twelve participants, they collected approximately $53 and decided to buy and donate items to a nearby orphanage at Usha Bazar. There were nine orphan children in the hostel, who received blankets, pens, pencils, slate boards, cakes, apples, chips, and Aloe Vera fruit drinks.
Training of Trainers (TOT) and mentorship (January 2018)
Pastor Jayanta Das accompanied me to Agartala, where we met with eleven mentees. During the mentoring sessions we reviewed Harvest core lessons with focus on “Disciplines of Love” and “Seed Projects”. We had a wonderful fellowship. Pastor Nagendra Debbarman shared how important the SamS training was for his ministry. The participants created a Whatsapp group, the “Harvest Bible Training Group”, to pray and express their love for each other, share experiences, and update ministry news. We also planned vision conferences in three different churches of Agartala.
Observation and commissioning (April 2018)
We praise God for His faithfulness in the successful completion of the SamS project, building a self-sustaining team in Agartala. The project took ten months to be completed. The highlights were three vision conferences in three different churches. It was a blessing to see how the pastors caught the vision, which was evident in their teaching. They were respectful and grateful to the Harvest staff who were present, saying that they received vital tools for their ministries and learned from experiences.
The first vision conference was held at the Unity Community Hall, in Bhati Abhoynagar, thirty-one miles away from the main city, inside the Assam Rifles security area. That is the area where only forest security forces live, some with their families. Nearly thirty-five people participated. The second vision conference was held in Daya, about twenty-one miles away from the city, in the hill area, where fifteen people participated. The third vision conference was held in Ujjan Abhoy Nagar, in the Jesus Calls Heaven Ministry Church, where twenty-five people participated.
In conclusion, the five trained pastors were commissioned to carry on SamS projects in their respective areas and committed themselves to plan seed projects. A follow-up meeting will be done to evaluate their progress.
We THANK the Harvest Foundation and the sponsors for their generosity, prayers, and support. We give all the GLORY to God for His grace, protection, provision, and wisdom.