CGI's Early History Related to Reaching India
(Content below was last updated in 2009 when ChristGate was solely focussed on India. See the blog for fresher 'aboutisms')
Although this site is about the building of a growing ministry to India, it is inseparable from my own story, and my desire to take an active role with a core of friends to continue building a lasting work. Some of you who may chance upon the reading of this page are looking for certain comforting establishment lingo that proclaims that CGI is a large 501(c)3 charity with boards of directors and a large staff. I can offer you no such comfort.
What I can give you instead is a legitimate treatise on the need for individuals like myself to prioritize worldwide evangelism and discipleship either directly or in league with other partners... Hopefully within the ministry of a local church family. I hope to do that by example, so that many can see and follow a clear path, and hopefully say to themselves... "If that guy could do it, look out because here I come!"
My road to getting involved with ministry in India is much more about willingness than about ambition. I became a born again, Spirit filled Christian in 1982 when I was 19. My girlfriend at the time liked what she saw and got saved as well, and 10 months later became my wife. We grew and matured in the Lighthouse Church, having kids in 1983, 1985, 1988, 1990 and 1996. We were also very active in the biblical vision of the church to evangelize, make disciples and plant churches wherever God led us to do it. Our denominational affiliation through all this, was a mixture of The Church of the Four Square Gospel, as our primary denomination, and also with an offshoot from Four Square called Christian Fellowship Ministries.
From 1992 to 1995, we attempted establishing a church in the desert town of Apple Valley CA, helping people as much as I could, and learned a great deal. After returning to our home church, we struggled with if we would ever work again in pastoral ministry, but we simply just kept the idea open and tried to keep our intentions true. After some time a couple in our Church started to stir up some excitement regarding sending someone to India to plant a new work. We stayed on the sidelines and watched to see who would respond. Almost two years passed.
Then at a great pastoral conference in the year 2000, I heard a simple sermon about letting your life be poured out like a drink offering to the Lord. Richard Rubi, as he spoke, also poured out a glass of water onto the floor in front of him, for 1000+ to see. I looked at my wife, and we both agreed to volunteer for the call to India. My pastor took a chance on us, noting that our past experience (and heartbreak) in Apple Valley prepared us well for the road ahead.
We defied the demographic. Missionary couples are supposed to be childless, or at least have young kids, and be devoted to financial leanness long term as opposed to being tentmakers. They should also be people who dont mind living with a bit of dirt at hand. Being a rugged individualist, I naturally asked, WHY? The rules should change as the world is changing, and the fields are not what they used to be. if we are to reach the world, why do we encourage only a small segment of the church to consider church planting overseas? Anyway, back to my story... We had 5 kids, 3 of which were teenagers. I owned a small freelancing business. My wife hates dirt and likes fashion.
-- I say all this to say that there is a place for you overseas if you are called by God to go!
So, we arrived in India in Jan 2001. While running my small programming business and planting a church, not to mention acclimating my family to the changes in life and culture, I learned numerous valuable lessons. Chief among them was that the frontier of human souls in need would continue to unfold before me for the rest of my days, and that the life I should now live must be to minister and encourage others to step into this same kind of wonderful life. For a Christian, I believe there is absolutely no better life than to put yourself on the line and discover your purpose as you seek to reflect Christ in a totally unfamiliar situation. What better way to break with the familiar than to spend time in India, fulfilling the Great Commission!
We were committed for a minimum of two years, and the Lighthouse Life Centre grew to a solid 40 or so people. My wife and I really enjoyed our life, but the stress was greater on my teenage kids. They are heroes in my book for supporting us and having a great attitude in a world that had very little interest for them. After time had passed however, we realized we should bring them back home and hand the church over to another pastor. The transition went well and the church is going strong.
Upon returning in March 2003, having given up nearly all worldly possessions, we arrived back in LA. We soon realized that we needed to get settled in a more affordable place, so we moved up to Vancouver WA and remain to this day. Although that season of pastoral ministry was over for me, the vision of a bridge stretching between the US and India stayed in my heart. I kept good contact and relationships with many leaders in church and business in Chennai, and working with Joshua, who is also now the general manager of our Indian office, we prayed for new open doors. Since our return in 2003, I have been back to India 3 times, preaching and working and seeing new doors open up.
The vision is slowly being realized, and I am confident that with the partnership of old friends and new looking at the opprtunities that lie before us, we will be able to send people to plant new works, support excellent ministries, and encourage small churches to band together to see their community transformed.
Please take in the spirit of this classic poem:
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."
by Will Allen Dromgoole