Planes, Trains and Automobiles, is the title of renowned children’s author Richard Scary’s book about Busy Town, but is also is the culmination of the fifteen days we spent traveling to India and Sri Lanka. Because of the gift of your prayers and resources my Dad and I had the opportunity and privilege to travel on ten planes, spending countless hours each day in Jeeps and vans and many mornings of waking up attempting to remember where we were and what the agenda for the day was. But with as much travel as we did, we also had the privilege to meet thousands of our brother’s and sister’s in Christ who live in places where living out the Gospel is very different than in the context many of us live in. We were honored and privileged to see God at work through his Church.
One of the many joys we had was traveling with eight talented people from around Indiana. Along for the journey was, Pastor Kim Schuessler, the talented videographer Vence Vida, emerging leader Libby Parker, and the incredible Alanna Story; Ally, Anna, Ben, Joel and Stephen. Each weekend we traveled to partake in youth gatherings, joining with thousands of believers and others who were hearing the message of the gospel for the first time. We saw how the Holy Spirit moved through the preaching of Kim and my Dad and the powerful worship through song led by the band. The culture of the people in Meghalaya (pronounced Meg-a-laya (like the ending sound of Himalaya)) was what caught my attention. As a student of Intercultural Studies (how cultures interact) I was fascinated to see how people would receive the tall, white Americans. But almost everywhere we traveled we were shown the upmost respect and hospitality. Even with just a moments notice a home would be prepared to welcome us with milk tea and treats, even if that is all the food they had for the day.
After the first youth convention my Dad, a national leader from the church in Meghalaya, Borman Roy Sohkia and I traveled to Sri Lanka to lead a leadership training for the pastors there. It took us two and a half days of travel to finally arrive in Norton Bridge, where the theological school and training center is located. For a day and a half we shared with 24 pastors about the Five Principles Training focusing on the five areas of Leadership, Visioning, Spirituality, Knowledge & Culture and Relational Connectivity. The pastors were tentative students; engaging with us and considering the words of truth we shared. Sri Lanka is a pluralistic context, recovering from years of civil war, with two languages and multiple people groups, religions and extreme poverty, the church in Sri Lanka faces a great many challenges. One of the topics that the pastors engaged with was the session on Knowledge and Culture. As the culture is a pluralistic society it is difficult for the church to know what is acceptable contextualization for the church. We talked about the wisdom of God and if we know God and His word, then we can better know what cultural forms are acceptable for the church. This topic was greatly engaged with and the church leaders were very eager to seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
One of the other joys we had while traveling was to be hosted by the incredible Syiem family. We met this family through our dear friend Bakryman who spent many days in our home in Anderson while working on his doctorate at Anderson School of Theology. Bakryman is married in to this incredible family. His wife is one of ten children, many of who kept us well fed, warm and safe in all of traveling. One of these was Pyniaid. Pyniaid was one of our drivers and coordinators, helping us get where we needed to be. He is also a young man who seeks after Christ and is looking to serve in the local politics. He could claim his birth heritage as a Khasi royal, but instead he is seeking to get elected through honesty and hard work. Honoring the Lord who he has given his life too.
Pyniaid, Ba Bakryman, Ba Borman and so many others not only helped us to see the Lord’s faithfulness and work among the Khasi and Sri Lankan’s but also at work with in us. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to pray and support our family. We are so thankful for you. Our Lord is so faithful and we have observed that through your gift and blessings.
Thank you. Kuple.
Burom I’u Trai (Glory to God)
Gina Shaner & Mark Shaner
To whom it may concern,
It is my great honor to endorse Helping Him Ministries and the incredible work and ministry that they are engaged in throughout Haiti, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. They are a servant based ministry that is committed to the great commission through the local church. They facilitated this group of ten and another group of three to another part of India in the same two week window. All of those who journeyed on these two trips speak very highly of the work that is being accomplished in the name of Jesus.
Whether it is through giving or going to see for first hand where the Kingdom is flourishing in these days, I would recommend Helping Him and the incredibly vast ministries they are doing.
They truly are partners who come alongside the body of Christ.
Pastor Mark N Shaner
East Side Church of God
Pastor of Students and Missions.