How going to India changed my church

After his involvement in mission forums last year, John Onelum, Pastor of Hampden Chapel in London went on the trip to India with other ministers, and found it a transformative experience not just for him but for his church at home too. At this year’s India forum he was back to report, and we found out some more…

Sometimes pastors and leaders can be bogged down by the routine tasks, but feel a hunger, a sense that something is missing. This was the case for me before I went to India; I was doing the customary things: I was praying, doing church services and everything, but there was a sense that there was something missing. And when I went to India I realised that it was the mission field. The only way to satisfy that hunger was to go out of the ordinary.

The quality of disciples in India inspired me; we came across some modern day apostles with a heart to serve and a vision for their nation. They wanted to see growth and expansion and to raise other leaders as well, which amazed me in a developing country. They didn’t give us an impression of wanting anything of us; they were getting on with it and it was amazing to see! They were leading and had a vision, they didn’t want to get out. This inspired me hugely to invest in our next generation of leaders when I returned.

For all the pastors who went it was such a powerful experience. Whilst there we found that we started preaching without our notes as we were so inspired. And also being in a context where you have another religion as the prevailing one, and the challenge of communicating the gospel to another culture and being sensitive to that difference. Then whole idea of going as a team and networking with other pastors that built great relationships was also really helpful. 

The changes didn’t stop on our return. My willingness to go on mission started a fresh move of God. My church changed because of what had happened in me; my preaching changed and I had grown in confidence, and people were suddenly more inspired. The atmosphere of faith in our church was transformed, and it’s not changed back.

I felt God set some exciting things in motion as I decided to go. Soon after my return, a girl felt God tell her very clearly to come to our church. She brought her boyfriend and they have become part of our church, and are getting married very soon. Whilst we were on mission I also met someone who is launching a social enterprise helping teenagers across London, and wanted to start in my borough of Hackney. When we returned, he was told that he could get funding if and only if he would start in one particular place - Hackney. The project is launching in the New Year, and the fiancé of the girl who cycled past is going to run it. There is no way that I could have planned this, it’s completely God!

It was great to be at the mission forum again, to speak about my experiences and to hear what other organisations and churches are doing in India. The trip made an indelible mark on me and my church.

There are so many great opportunities for mission and partnerships - to find out more come to one of our mission forums coming soon!