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The Missional Passion of Baptists

The Missional Passion of Baptists in the North East, India

Asia is a continent filled with so much cultural diversity that it will take years to learn the cultural uniqueness each tribe represents and celebrate the differences God has bestowed upon Asians. But how exciting it is that there is more of Asia that we can learn and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is never a dull moment visiting the different tribes spread across Asia which reminds me of the picture Revelation 7:9 provides when a great multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages will stand before the throne of the lamb and worship God. Indeed God is marvelous and what a privilege it is in all its uniqueness of culture that there are thousands of opportunities for Asians to look at the possibilities of missions amongst the vibrant ethnic groups spread across the Asia and the yes, the Pacific.

From April 12-27, Rev. Ronnie Chiu, APBAid Chair, Rev. Kabi Gangmei, APBAid Director and I got
the opportunity to meet and engage with three major Baptist conventions in the North East of India namely Evangelical Baptist Convention in Churachandpur, Manipur, Manipur Baptist Convention, Imphal, Manipur, and Nagaland Baptist Church Council in Kohima and Dimapur.

Evangelical Baptist Convention (EBC)
EBC in Churachandpur, Manipur is a member body of APBF with 216 local churches and mission
points, 53,000 baptized believers. A young convention that EBC is, has stood up to the call of the
Great Commission by sending and setting up mission points/stations in proper Manipur state, Karbi Anglong in Assam, Dhemaji in Assam, Himalayan Mission Field including Nepal, Sikkim. According to Rev. Chinkhengoupau Buansing (Pau), the EBC has a working partnership with OMF in Thailand, and WEC/IMM in Thailand, Vietnam and China.

Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC)
Manipur Baptist Convention is a member of APBF. MBC is comprised from 29 Associations, has
1,407 local churches with 2,06,342 baptized members. Rev. & Mrs. William Pettigrew first brought Christianity to Manipur in 1894. The gospel spread through to the hill areas to the multi-tribe groups. The Convention who celebrated its 125th year jubilee on February 5-7, 2019 is passionate and continues in the outreach mission to the Meiteis of the plains of Manipur.

Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC)
Nagaland first received the Gospel through the work of Rev. Dr. E.W. Clark, pioneer American
missionary, and with the help of Godhula, an Assamese in 1872.

NBCC, a member body of APBF has 1,661 local churches with a strength of 6,34,536 baptised
believers. 20 member Associations, 4 associate members comes together into the organization of
NBCC.

According to Nagaland Missions Movement, the NBCC records around 700 missionaries being sent by Naga Churches. Naga missionaries have been sent to the 27 States in India. God is also using NMM to send its missionaries to Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, China, Thailand, Mongolia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Krygyztan, Philippines, Estonia, Uzbekistan, East Timor, U.K, USA, Singapore, and Japan.

While Ronnie, Kabi and we were able to cover only three conventions during the period of two weeks, towards the last week of April I had the privilege to attend the 69th Annual General Meeting of the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India, held from April 26-28, 2019 in Diphu Baptist Church, Karbi Anglong, Assam. The assembly was hosted by Nihang Karbi Baptist Association, Karbi Anglong Baptist Convention. All CBCNEI member bodies are member of APBF. The Council of Baptist in the North East of India, (CBCNEI) brings together six regional conventions, (minus Baptist Churches of Mizoram, Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Churches, Lower Assam Baptist Union and Boro Baptist Convention), and has 1.2 million baptized members in 7,516 congregations. During the 69 th CBCNEI Council, CBCNEI bade farewell to the outgoing General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Solomom Rongpi and installed Rev. Dr. Akheto Sema as their new General Secretary.

Due to time constraint and distance challenges, the APBF/APBAid team to North East India was not able to visit other member bodies of APBF (APBF hopes to visit them soon). Nevertheless, in light of member bodies in the North East India, here is brief update of the conventions.

Assam Baptist Convention (ABC)
The Assam Baptist Convention consist of 6 Associations, with 340 local Churches 34,673 baptized members and 39 full time workers. The first missionary sent to the Nagas was an Assamese by the name ‘Godhula’ a member of Sibsagar Baptist Church, Assam. Assam remains the most un-reached state in North East India. 67% of the population are Hindus and 28.43% are Muslims.

Arunachal Baptist Church Council (ABCC)
The ABCC, formed in 2009, is the youngest in the APBF family but it is the fastest growing despite
persecution and hardships. It is now estimated that 35% of the population are Christians. More and more ethnic tribes in Arunachal Pradesh are coming to Christ. The ABCC consists of 19 Associations, 1129 local churches and 13,2287 baptized members.

Baptist Churches of Mizoram (BCM)
Jacob Cobtea, the newly elected Vice Chair of APBY informs, "Rev. F.W. Savidge and J.H. Lorrain, were the first missionaries in Mizoram who were firstly sent by Arthington Mission in 1894. They left Mizoram in 1897 by handing over the mission field to Welsh Mission only to return back as BMS missionaries to Mizoram in 1903."

The BCM now counts 1,20,129 baptized membership within the BCM with 968 full time Missionaries sent to Kenya, Thailand, Ghana, Cambodia, Arakan (Myanmar), Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Bhutan.

Boro Baptist Convention (BBC)
Based in Assam, India, BBC has more than 52,000 baptized believers with 354 congregations as of 2014. The Boro Baptist Convention is headquartered at Harisinga in Udalguri District of Bodoland, Assam. Boro Baptist Convention is a member body of APBF.

Garo Baptist Convention (GBC)
The Garo Baptist Convention has 18 Krimas (Association), 2,536 local churches, with a baptized
membership of 3,26,075 and 93, 512 Christian families. 82 local evangelists, 142 cross cultural home missionaries, and 20 overseas missionaries supported by GBC.

Karbi Anglong Baptist Convention (KABC)
The Karbi Anglong Baptist Convention, comprises of 13 Association with 335 local churches and
baptized membership is 37,481. KABC is a member body of APBF.

Lower Assam Baptist Union (LABU)
Reports made available by Rev. Prosenjit Basumatary, President of LABU states that LABU has 335 congregations, 33,785 baptized believers, 123 missionaries of which 61 are home missionaries. 

Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Churches (LJCBC)
A member of APBF, Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Churches reports a total of 29, 277 members
(19,407 baptized believers, and 9,858 associate members). LJCBC’s has a total of 117 churches with 181 missionaries. 12 overseas missionaries sent to Myanmar, Bangladesh, China and Ghana. 13 missionaries sent to India, and 65 native missionaries.

Tripura Baptist Christian Union (TBCU)
Tripura Baptist Christian Union which came into being in 1938 has a total of 1050 churches with
80,000 baptized members within the Union. Rev. M.J Eade from New Zealand Baptist Missionary
Society is known to have been the first missionary to the Tripura Baptists.

North East India Baptist’s Mission Passion
Talk about Baptist passion for missions. There was not a single doubt that the conventions we visited were any less passionate in the work of the proclamation of the Gospel. The conventions were more than willing to look at how they can be potentially engaged to send more missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission. Talk about human resource. It is not just hundreds, but thousands who are ready and willing to go. How can we strengthen the local conventions to send their missionaries to the rest of the World?

As Rev. Ronnie Chiu reports, “The few conventions we visited are ready to be engaged to do more than what they are currently doing.” He adds:

Every convention has their own theological seminary and their lecturers are constantly 
being upgraded in various overseas/local seminaries. There is a pool of potential already 
qualified personnel that could be invited/mobilized to help play a role in APBF Theological training and equipping. In terms of mission work, the conventions are already very active in the local and overseas missions. Given their geographical location, there is a lot of potential to engage them for missions work in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, and maybe even in the Yunnan (China).

As Jesus prayed for unity of his followers in John 17:11, “that they may be one as we are one,” it is the prayer of APBF that the 63 member bodies of APBF will not waver from this unity Jesus so
desirably prayed for us. The phrase of APBF ‘Stronger Together’ seeks unity in the work of the Lord; that we are stronger together when we work together.

Our goal as APBF in visiting member bodies in the North East was to introduce the APBF/APBAid to convention leaders, share the vision of “Stronger Together,” and to identify potential partnerships that will ultimately strengthen both APBF and local conventions. But as we went, we were more than challenged to just share the vision. We were challenged in the face there is a ‘Baptists’ force ready and waiting to fulfill Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

There is an unwavering faith and an unbeatable passion that is ready and willing. Asia Pacific is not just the mission field but also the sending force that when strategically engaged there will be an unimaginable harvest awaiting. As Jesus commissioned His disciples to go, we, APBF, who calls ourselves His disciples must ‘GO’. ‘GO’ into all the world and preach the Gospel of Christ.

by Vee Tetseo & Ronnie Chiu