When I finished my Bachelor degree in 1989, I got an award from Serampore university. I was the first person to get this “gold medal” for my college from Serampore university. Two of the other colleges offered me scholarship to pursue my higher studies and I was interested in doing so. Then I wanted to consult the man of God, Rev.Dr.D.Sunder Singh, who taught me how to study the bible and how to do ministry. He told me that it is better to go to the field first and plant churches for few years, then probably would be good to go for higher studies. I did not expect this but obeyed him, as I have high respect for him. I knew whatever he says would be good for my life.
I went to Ambernath, a suburban town of Bombay, as directed by the Church to plant new churches. During our colleges days for 4 years, during weekends, between the semesters for 10-15 days and during the summer break for another 10-15 days we as a group, have involved in planting number of new Churches. This experience has given us both biblical and practical knowledge. When I went to Bombay this training has helped me in planting a Church. And by God grace, He helped me plant another Church among the most backward people of this town. I stayed there for three years before I went to do my higher studies in one of the prestigious institution in India, Union Biblical Seminary, of Pune.
Dr.Sunder Singh, who was a practical man, who loved Jesus and His people, presented a paper on Theological education and Church Planting in a Mission Conference in Chennai in 1992, where around 2000 Christian workers attended. In his paper he said that the Bible colleges in India are not producing Church planters and hence he proposed the following 7 recommendations to change this.
1. Let us train as many as we can, engage as many as we can, win as many as we can, when doors are open for the preaching of the gospel.
2. Let the seminaries be the “task force” in a given area in fulfilling the great commission of our Lord, carrying the gospel to the un evangelized towns and villages of India.
3. Enroll only those young men and women who are called and committed to the cause of evangelism and Church Planting.
4. Appoint faculty members who have gone through the exciting experience of giving birth to a Church themselves.
5. Make sure that seminaries are idea factories and research centers which produce men of action and not just institutions of mere academic pursuit.
6. Establish more regional and rural bible schools and offer certificate level courses, for 80% of India’s population live in 600 thousand villages.
7. Establish a clear and closer link and tie with the Church. Seminaries should serve the Church and not the vice versa.
Today when I look back my life, I am so happy for the counsel of this godly man. What I am doing now is the exactly the same 7 recommendation he had in 1992, for the Bible colleges and theologians. I started doing this from 1996 and by God’s grace I could train Church planters both within India and in foreign countries to plant around 2000 Churches till today. One man’s vision changed the destiny of many. Glory to God!