Short-term diaries: India and Pakistan

Robbie Strachan

As I write this, I am sitting in the sweaty monsoon heat of New Delhi. Rickshaw horns blare through the windows, the air is heavy and there is a faint waft of the dhaal someone nearby enjoyed at lunch.

So far the trip has been eye-opening. Delhi is a massive city, with a larger population than the whole of Australia. It is chaotic, noisy and, during the monsoon season, sometimes very muddy. 

Delhi Bible Fellowship (DBF) is a large network of churches with around 3,000 people who gather in dozens of small ‘cluster’ congregations. Most services are traditional and conducted in Hindi, but there are also more contemporary English services for younger people. In one of these churches, led by Pastor Devender, around 80% of the congregation are first generation Hindu converts.

Pastor Devender explaining how NIBT works

Pastor Devender is the longest-serving pastor in DBF but, alongside this, he runs North India Bible Training. NIBT runs training workshops and conferences for church pastors in North India. Pastor Devender spent an hour this morning explaining the intricacies of the network and how it trains new church planters without plucking them out of their own contexts. Next week I will participate in one of these courses.

Preaching Club

I’ve also had the chance to attend a Preaching Club. This is an informal meeting of around 12-14 pastors from the DBF network to hone preaching skills. Someone will teach a short slot on homiletics (e.g. how to work on application) before two preachers deliver their Sunday sermon. Others then wade in to provide feedback. I say ‘wade in’ because, in comparison to similar things I have experienced in the UK, Indians do not hold anything back! Feedback was very vocal and ranged from posture, to specific words used, to bigger questions about understanding the passage correctly, as well as more humorous comments (‘You look like a T-Rex!’). It was exciting to see a culture of growth and a willingness to keep improving, even from those who’d been in ministry a long time.

Read part 2 of Robbie’s short-term diaries here.