Had a Facebook video call with a friend in Pune, India, this morning. He was one of a number of key younger leaders I had met at the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Jakarta last year. He was originally from Mumbai but had been sent by his group of churches to plant a church in Pune. I was very encouraged by their church-planting approach. They were not into chasing large numbers quickly through programmes. They let relationships lead the way. His church was not yet a year old and had about 20–30 members.
I affirmed him again in his commitment to a relational approach to church planting. I knew this would be slower and messier, but it should bear stronger fruit in the long run. He agreed, but said it would be nice to have a slightly larger group with more resources to impact his community. He said that all his current members were not native to Pune but had come from other parts of the country to work in Pune. He was hoping that he would get a larger group from Pune to impact the town more effectively. Church planting is tough.
He is married and has one almost-year-old daughter. He shared that his daughter had had two major health crises and that had taken a lot out of him and his wife. I was reminded that we minister in the context of the realities of life. But in facing the crises with faith, he and his wife were modelling for his church how we exercise faith in the face of life’s challenges, and I suspect that the crises also helped to bring the church closer together.
I asked my friend if he had a time frame for his mission in Pune. He said that some time periods had been mentioned to evaluate how things were going, but as far as he and his wife were concerned, they were there for the long haul. “I am prepared to be here for 30 years,” he said. “I am prepared to retire here.” My friend is 30 years old.
Bernice and I do a lot of ministry with young adults. Often we come across sentiments like: young adults are the “strawberry” generation, easily bruised; or that young adults are impatient, they don’t have the commitment to stick it out if they don’t get the results they want. I thought of my friend and his commitment to devote his whole life to his mission and realised that it is just not true. I believe that young adults are capable of long-term commitments to sacrificial service. But they need to understand the “whys” and, like all of us, they need encouragement.
Indeed, I wondered, if I were in his shoes, would I have the courage and faith to commit myself to a ministry for my lifetime. I was supposed to be his mentor but, in truth, I had so much to learn from him. The best mentoring is mutual and I left the conversation with fresh encouragement to be true to my own mission. I can’t wait for our next chat.