I had the privilege of attending a church, FBC, in one of the more impoverished areas of Bangalore this past Sunday. I have fond memories of speaking to their youth group a few years back, and these memories kept flooding back as we swerved our bikes through the narrow lanes that were covered with rubble from construction, laundry hanging out to dry, fruit cart vendors peddling their wares, and loud speakers blaring everything from Kannada cinema music to empty promises made by area politicians.
We got to church at 9:30 AM. FBC is a very simple church in a tiny building. The area where they meet is a small room where most people sit on the ground on straw mats. There is a modest pulpit and microphone up front where the Pastor and Worship leaders help in worship. They sing songs in Tamil, Kannada, and occasionally English. The Pastor, a tent-maker, works full time with the Telephone company in Bangalore.
We were there because they wanted to bless us. After the singing, we were invited up to receive from them a check for Rs. 63,000 ($1400). This was the first installment of their gift to us. They want to give Rs.100,000 (roughly $2200) toward the recording of Scripture in an Indian language where audio Scripture is not available.
This is by far, the single largest donation given by anybody within India. There are many factors that make this quite significant. The pastor shared with the church his bank balance, which had less than 1000 rupees ($25). And he was probably the richest person in that church. The people in this church are construction workers, auto rickshaw drivers, fruit vendors, etc. They are mostly daily-wage earners who dont earn more than a few dollars daily.
And yet they gave! This little church, where the pastor is not even able to be paid by the church, gave out of their hearts. The parable of the widow’s mite kept coming to mind. However, unlike the widow, these believers gave more than the big churches in the area even think about giving.
My father has spoken and challenged the church over the years to be more mission minded. When I spoke to their youth a few years back, they took my dad’s challenge and told me proudly that they were supporting 12 missionaries full-time! Most churches in Bangalore, or even in the US cannot claim that. It was impressive. However, on Sunday, I learned to my surprise that 12 was just the beginning. Today, this little church supports 100 missionaries and mission organizations! 100! The other missionary with us on Sunday, remarked to us that even mission-sending agencies, cannot do what this little church is doing.
We talked to the church on Sunday and told them that they now need to not only support missionaries, but to send some of their own. Again, to our pleasant surprise, the pastor remarked that currently 43 members at this church are training to be missionaries!
FBC has a goal. By the year 2020, they want to support 500 missionaries! Lofty? Maybe, but I’d like to think of it as an extreme act of faith. How they can manage on their budget to faithful support the missionaries monthly is beyond human comprehension.
One of the best things I heard was what happened on Mondays. Every Monday morning at 5 AM, they all gather back in the church to pray for the missionaries they support. They pray till 6:30 AM. Then they go to work and school. They lead hard and tough lives, making ends meet is a daily struggle for these gentle people, but they pray for us!
FBC, is to me, what a church needs to look like. It is a church that obsesses about the mission field, gives everything it has to grow the harvest, and God is blessing them as a result. Their story makes me long for more churches to live with a heart that is intent on reaching the lost for Christ.
We are privileged to partner with them!