Field Story: Learning the True Purpose of the Church
Growing up as a Christian in South Asia was unusual for someone like Sundar. Families in his region practiced animism, worshipping stones, plants, and the sun. But when Sundar’s grandparents became Christians, it had a ripple effect on his family. Soon, his parents also chose to follow Christ, and Sundar’s earliest memories were of being raised in a Christian household.
Sundar’s parents became heavily involved in the church and incorporated spiritual disciplines at home, such as praying and reading the Bible. Sundar participated in these activities without hesitation, but it was mainly because it was what the rest of his family was doing.
In college, Sundar was introduced to a broad world of beliefs. He had classmates who were Hindu, animist, Muslim, and Christian. Being exposed to so many beliefs, he was suddenly faced with an uncomfortable question: Did he truly believe what he said he believed? That night in his dorm room, Sundar knelt by his bed and prayed for God to reveal to him the true gospel. After praying, he got up and wrote his mother a letter, saying, “Tonight, I became a true Christian.”
That night was the first step in Sundar’s transformation. With a true understanding of the gospel, Sundar eventually enrolled in seminary and became a youth pastor at his church. His faith was genuine now, but his eyes were about to be opened to a greater calling on his life.
The church Sundar grew up in was sending a short-term mission team, and the church leaders asked Sundar to lead the team. Sundar agreed and met a national partner with East-West on the trip. During the trip, Sundar’s view of ministry was challenged. He thought ministry was only about serving in the church. But he soon realized that the purpose of the church is to gather people, grow them in their faith, and send them out to reach more people with the gospel.
When Sundar understood Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations, he knew he wanted to be a part of it. He joined the East-West team in South Asia after learning the basics of field ministry and quickly learned the cost of taking the gospel to unreached people.
One of the first communities he and his team reached was a people group on an island in a river. These people lived largely isolated from the mainland and were generally unwelcoming to outsiders. But when Sundar and the rest of the team told a local island doctor about Jesus, the gospel began spreading like wildfire across the island—but it was also met with opposition. One of the first men to become a believer on the island was found martyred on the banks of the river. Some people did not want Jesus on the island.
But the gospel prevailed, and Sundar witnessed the entire people group turn to Jesus. The last family to trust in Christ donated their land to plant the first church on the island.
Since then, the island church has evangelized other unreached people groups and seen churches planted. Sundar and the rest of the South Asia team have also continued traveling to unreached areas to share the gospel and encourage the multiplication of disciples and churches.
Today, Sundar is one of East-West’s field leaders for South Asia. He has seen the gospel work grow and prays to one day see every corner of his country reached with the good news of Jesus.
Pray for national partners like Sundar:
- Pray for the church in South Asia to prioritize sending out believers to reach the unreached.
- Pray that South Asian believers are protected from persecution.
- Pray that God would break down barriers to reach the hardest-to-reach places in South Asia.
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