The national worker is a critical partner in our ministry. They are the ones who are doing the work of soul-winning for the Lord at the frontlines. To ensure that their basic needs are taken care of, we have set up the national worker sponsorship fund. This fund will do much to allay any worries about their basic living expenses so that they can concentrate on their ministries and serve the Lord.
Equipping is a very important component of our ministry. Just as Jesus mentioned in Luke 10:2 – “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field…” We need to work with the local theological institutions to equip those disciples who are willing to be used of God, so that they will be able to meet the needs of the harvest field and bring the gospel to their own people. Some Bible colleges have many students but lack teachers. So we have to sponsor not only Bible school students, but also Bible school teachers.
In the far East, there are many minority tribes living in various parts of the mountainous regions. Because these places are so far away from the towns and cities, they are really inaccessible. Travelling to some of these tribal villages is challenging by foot because the roads traverse difficult terrain and some roads are in such terrible conditions that travel by car is not possible. Hence it is really not easy to reach these minority tribes living in the mountains. Christianity has come to the Far East for more than a hundred years; among the minority people groups, though believers number about 800,000, there are still many unreached people groups in these mountainous regions who have yet to hear of the gospel. Many young believers have committed their lives to reaching out to these groups of people. However, after they have been sent to Bible schools to be equipped, they still face enormous challenges trying to meet the needs of their basic livelihood. Any church planted in these mountainous regions would have limited resources and would not be able to effectively and fully support the pastors and workers who serve in their midst. The Philip Fund has been set up with the purpose of supporting these young pastors to continue in their pioneering work in the mountainous regions among the unreached people. May the Goodnews of God reach all the tribes in the mountainous regions through these pastors and workers who have availed themselves.
Besides a shortage of pastors for the 800,000 believers among the minority people groups, about a quarter of the pastors that they presently have are already well advanced in age. Hence the need for pastors is going to be more pressing. East Asia is a region with many mountainous areas and plains and flat terrain are uncommon. Many of the minority tribes live in areas spread out over the mountains. Even from one village to another, the distance is considerable. Hence home visitations involve journeying through very difficult terrain. Some treks along mountain trails may take hours. This would be difficult indeed if one is not physically fit and healthy. Based on surveys done in these areas, we found even if the churches in these mountainous regions were to send their young believers to be equipped and trained in Bible schools, they would not be able to sponsor them fully. There are many Bible school students who are young and have received a high school education. They have dedicated themselves to return to their own villages and serve in their indigenous churches. Yet these very students are virtually unemployed the moment they graduate from Bible School because the churches in the mountains have limited resources and are not able to support and hire them. As a result, these Bible school graduates end up having to make a living in the city, or they would return to their villages as farmers. Yet the churches have no one to shepherd them and many a sheep have been lost or have joined heretic cults and left the church. This has created a situation where the church has become just an empty shell of its former self and many of its members have very low morale. The Titus Fund has been set up to enable these young and passionate Bible school students to return to pastor the churches in their own villages. It is hoped that the return of these young pastors will revive the church, feeding them with truth and strengthening their faith, so that the church will be a beacon of light to the surrounding villages as the Gospel is brought to these places as well.
The Timothy Scholarship was started in 1998, mainly to facilitate the continuing training and theological education of the local pastors and workers. This is important as they will be more effective in their ministry and better equipped to train others upon their return. To date, 15 local pastors and workers from East Asia and Myanmar have been sponsored by the Timothy Scholarship to study in the Singapore Bible College, or Bible colleges in the Philippines and India. For example, Shwe graduated from the Asian Theological Seminary in the Philippines and obtained a Masters in Christian Education. Upon her graduation, she returned to Myanmar. She grew up in the Grace Haven and was one of the first few among those from the home who dedicated herself to serving God fulltime. Presently, she and another recipient of the Timothy Scholarship, Rev Leim, who also studied in the Philippines, are in charge of training ministry workers to reach out to the Bama with the gospel in the Lashio Discipleship Training Centre. The Bama is the largest unreached people group in Myanmar.
The main objectives of this project is to GO: to save a people group, to change their destiny and to pioneer an indigenous church, in order to fulfill the Great Commission. The idea behind this “Adopt an Unreached People Group” Project is derived from the traditional Chinese chess game of ‘Go’. Many of these ‘unreached people groups’ do not live in isolation. Rather, they are in constant contact with other races and people groups.
We should therefore reach out to these unreached people groups through the networks which they have already established with the other surrounding communities. We should mobilize the believers in these communities to bring the gospel into the unreached people groups. In order that the evangelists from these communities are able to strategically gain a foothold among the unreached people group, a fund has been set up to facilitate their setting up of small businesses, such as internet cafes and tea houses, in the area which serve as platforms to connect with the people and to bring the gospel into the unreached people group.