Partnership in Asia

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What can $4,000 do? In North America it can buy a 1999 Ford Escort with 100,000 miles on it. In Asia it can send two nurse-missionaries to Nepal for a whole year.

Earlier this year Christian Reformed World Missions sent international program director Joel Hogan and Asia program director Albert Hamstra with one other staffer to Mizoram, a state in northeastern India that requires entrance permits even of other Indian citizens.

They went at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church of India, Mizoram, to explore opportunities for the two denominations to work together in missions.

The result was a partnership in which CRWM provided grants to send two Mizo nurses as missionaries into neighboring Nepal. The mission agencies are also discussing the possibility of working together to train missionaries for assignments in other Asian countries, such as Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The nurses that CRWM sponsors are only two of 15 that the Mizo church sends, and those are a small fraction of the 602 missionaries, 346 short-term missionaries, and 454 field workers in the Mizo mission, which includes other parts of India as well as Madagascar, Nepal, and Wales.

The Mizo church spends 36 percent of its annual budget on missions, Hamstra said. “They have about 5,000 converts entering their church [annually]—and these are not Christians transferring in.” The denomination has a total membership of about 500,000.

The connection with CRWM came about when the Mizo synod sent a pastor to Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich. This pastor studied under Gary Bekker, then dean at Calvin Seminary, now director of CRWM.

With solid theology, an excellent infrastructure and an impressive mission budget, what could the Mizo church possibly need from the CRC?

“What makes us attractive to the Mizo church is that we have more experience in global missions,” Hogan said.

Hamstra said the theological compatibility and vitality of the Mizo church makes this a healthy partnership. “With a partner like this we can have real mutuality without a huge imbalance of power.”

About the Author

Mariano Avila works for Hope Equals. He is married to Kate Avila; their daughter is Isabel Paz.

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