REPORT ON THE GLOBAL MISSION BOARD PILGRAMAGE TO SRI LANKA AND INDIA

Submitted by LaVerne Thorpe, Global Mission Board Member
Allbyhand313@yahoo.com | 313-407-4951

First let me introduce myself, I am LaVerne Thorpe a long time Disciple woman.  I have served in many ways within the church at all levels from the local, regional, national and international levels.  From kitchen clean up and cook to representing the church at the world conference in Brazil and serving as Vice President of the International Disciples Women’s Ministries.

In 2018 I was nominated and accepted the call to serve on the Global Ministries Common Board.  In that position I was honored to be invited to be a part of the Global Ministries Pilgrimage to Sri Lanka and India in September of this year. This trip is part of the kick off for the South Asia initiative to learn about our mission partners and to generate support for our Christian brothers and sisters in that part of the world.

I am available to share this information with you and your church in any format you require.  Possibilities include a women’s meeting, during Sunday morning worship, or during the Sunday School hour or perhaps as a bible study.  If this is something you would like to schedule feel free to contact me at 313-407-7951 or email me at allbyhand313@yahoo.com.

Our Pilgrimage started in Colombo Sri Lanka with the Church of the American Ceylon Mission.  We were warmly greeted by Rev Sullivan, church leaders and members.  The church leaders gave a presentation on the history of the church and an overview of the political situation in the country, the many mission efforts and their hopes for future projects.  There have been dramatic consequences from the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings by unknown ISIS suicide terrorists that killed 290 and injured 500 people.  Christians were targeted at the three churches, three hotels and two guest houses that were bombed on Easter Sunday in three cities.  Many people have left because of fear of further violence.   The church has to contend with real and dangerous religious discrimination in a mostly Hindu country.  After the bombings the church has worked hard to initiate gatherings of inter-faith groups to promote peace and the freedom of religions or beliefs and the rights of all persons.  In spite of the challenges the church is thriving and serving the communities with day care centers, career training centers, efforts to prevent human trafficking and homes for orphan children.  I am truly impressed with the scope and breadth of the church’s mission work.  In light of the hardships they have faced from a painful church split, religious discrimination, racial discrimination and fallout and fear resulting from the recent bombings they are serving the needs of their communities in meaningful ways in 67 churches and church centers.  They are determined to heed and follow God’s word to “feed my sheep” and to be peacemakers.

The next leg of our pilgrimage took us to New Delhi, India and to the Church of North India.  We were again greeted warmly by the church leaders and members. We were in time for a morning worship service and served tea and cookies after service.  We were give an in depth overview of the church history, goals, mission work and challenges via a power point presentation.  In 1970 six churches, the Council of Baptist churches, the Church of the Brethren, Disciples of Christ, the Church of India, The Methodist Church and the United Church of Northern India all joined together to form the church of North India.  The church currently has 27 dioceses.  Being a minority religion in a Hindu country they also have huge problems with discrimination and persecution.  It is not unheard of for Christians to be martyred for their faith in horrible ways.  Over a period of several months in 2008 hundreds of Christians were killed, houses burned and women were raped for refusing to denounce Christianity in favor of Hinduism.  This practice has decreased but it has not stopped.  Another huge issue the church is working with is human trafficking.  They have several programs to educate people about this crime and also try to stem the tide of people being pulled into modern day slavery.  Recovery efforts are also done when possible to rescue persons trapped in slavery.  The church also operates a hospice, a health and wellness program, a school of theology that has trained 430 evangelists, a strong women’s program, job training and a comprehensive youth program.  Again this church is also heeding God’s word to “feed my sheep” and to be peacemakers.