The Department of Mission and Evangelism of the Church of South India (CSI) Synod along with the department of Mission and Evangelism Vellore Diocese has organized a two-days missionary conference on 10th & 11th November 2020 at Zion Hills- a renowned and indigenous pilgrim centre of Vellore Diocese under the leadership of Rt. Rev. H. Sharma Nithiyanadham, Bishop in Vellore Diocese. The conference was based on the title “MAITRI MEET”.
"Live out the Gospel of Christ and make our life as a living example", said Bishop H. Sharma Nithiyandham during his Mission Talk in the conference. Bishop has made a clarion call for inclusive transformation. Unless and until we are transformed, we can't transform the world, Bishop stated. Further, he added about the three dimensions of Mission as Spiritual, Economic, and Social Dimension. He urged the missionaries to work faithfully and nurture spiritual life through maintaining prayer life and meditation of the word of God. Discriminate the difference between greed and need and as missionaries, we must always meet the needs, not greed. Interact with the society is indispensable in doing mission. Through our missional engagements, we must work for the inclusive community where all people can live and act harmoniously based on the gospel values, Bishop added.
The meeting was started with a Bible Study led by Rev. Maxcin John, Synod Mission Director. During the Bible study based on Luke 10: 25-37, he was stressed that the focus of the mission is to declare our solidarity to the most vulnerable people. As missionaries, we need to engage ourselves in respective mission fields like a Good Samaritan. Missionaries are needed to be in solidarity with the suffering communities, and to be taken care of the needs of the victims of oppression and subjugation, and to be shown God’s love in action and compassion. He appealed to the missionaries to get inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and tried to be more and more like Jesus in missional engagements.
“We are called not to be at centre but to be at peripheries," said Rev. Jared Isaac Jebaruben during his session on Mission. He further stated that God has created each one with a purpose. He exemplified the life of Abraham (Genesis 12) and Jacob (Genesis 33) who became the blessing of many. Similarly, all missionaries must be a blessing to many. Not baptizing, but making disciples of Christ is important in doing mission. As missionaries, we must reach to the people and be with the people. The good news is not only preaching, but be in solidarity with the people, especially the most vulnerable, he added.
“Mission is not activities of the Church, but the action of God," said Rev. Rajendran during his session on what is Mission? based on 1 Kings 17:1-24. Furthermore, he pointed out the three major aspects of mission as ‘Mandate for the Mission, Message for the Mission and Model for the Mission’. Our mission mandate is to go to unknown places, and face all challenges by depending on God's providence. The sense of direction-where to go as well as what to do in a specified time frame is very important in doing mission. There will be dry-brook experience and starvation, but without wavering our faith we should moving towards the direction which God appointed for us. Regarding the Message of Mission, he highlighted that the message of hope and abundant life is the message of mission. We must radiate hope in hopeless situations and affirm life in life-negating circumstances. Furthermore, the model of our mission is a liberative model. It is exemplified in the suffering Christ. Therefore, the mission is involvement with commitment in the struggles of people for their radical liberation, he stated.
"Our Commitment and team-spirit are very essential in the missional engagements", said Rev. T. Augustine, the former Mission Director for CSI Synod during a session based on "Commitment towards the Mission". He further added that commitment with companionship is an inevitable factor in doing mission. He has exemplified the life of Elijah and Elisha based on 2 Kings 2. Our walk and talk must go hand in hand. We must be ready to come out of our comfort zone and ready to be with the struggling people. Moreover, our life must be a role model for witnessing the gospel of Christ, he added.
"Day to day dialoguing the gospel through our lives to the community is very crucial in doing mission", said Rev. Paul Robert Kennedy during his session based on "Mission in Pluralistic and COVID19 Contexts". He added that we must be positive and trust in God like Joshua and Caleb in the Old Testament. Daily propagation of gospel is needed in the day to day life (Acts 1:17). He urged the participants to be disciplined in all the aspects of life and adhere to the COVID19 protocol given by the government without any fail.
“Missionaries must be like the people who have taken the paralytic to Jesus “, said Rev. Isaac Fernandas- the Presbyter in Charge for Zion Hills while he was leading a devotion to the missionaries. Everyone must be firm in their mission to bring holistic healing to the needy and marginalized, he added.
“Mission Movement must be contextual and dynamic”, said Rev. George Edwin during his session on Mission based on Mark 6:7-13. He added that the Church is the instrument in God's mission. God gives each one of us opportunities, if we reject it, God will make use of others. We all are called to carry the pain and burden of the people because God is with the suffering humanity. He urged the participants to Come out of comfort zone and fundamentalistic ideology, on the other hand moving in love and compassion.
Rev. D. S. C. Menon-Mission Director for Vellore Diocese has conducted a detailed study about the book of Habakkuk, Haggai and Malachi. Through these studies, he urged the missionaries to maintain the prayer life like Habakkuk and be ready to listen from God always. Furthermore, firmly uphold our faith even in the midst of disappointing circumstances. Like Haggai, Missionaries must speak to the people in time to time and make them active and fill them with a sense of responsibilities in their daily life. Moreover, like Malachi, as a missionary, we must be the caretaker of the people of God and the environment for the well-being of everyone, he added.
The “MAITRI” concept was explained by Rev, Maxcin John, Synod Mission Director. He highlighted that as Missionaries, we are invited to be a channel of “MAITRI”-Mission Accompaniment towards Inclusive Transformation through Radical Intervention. Therefore, our personal transformation is more inevitable so that we may able to transform the living surroundings through our life examples, he added.
The conference was creatively arranged by the Vellore Diocese under the leadership of Bishop H. Sharma Nithiyanadham and Rev. D. S.C. Menon; Mission Director, and Mr. Sigamony; Mission Coordinator. Necessary Local arrangements were made by Rev. Isaac Fernandas-presbyter in charge of Zion Hills in Nagamangalam Pastorate along with Karuna who is the caretaker of Zion hills Mission Compound. The conference was the venue for Missional learning and listening as well as mutual fellowship and empowering in the midst of COVID 19 pandemic.
Rev. Maxcin John
Director, Department of Mission and Evangelism,