By Christopher Noel, April 2019.
The celebration of Easter on April 21, 2019 will be remembered as a historical event in the Indian Church of Christ, Bangalore as three elders were appointed before a congregation of 1,400! Ben D’souza, Joseph and Santhosh were appointed as elders with the support of their wives, Jessy D’souza, Kumari Joseph and Shanthi Santhosh respectively.
THE SHEPHERDING TRAINING
The need for elders has been increasingly felt over the past few years in the Bangalore Church. The church has completed 30 years of its planting in India by a handful of mission members from London and has grown to a congregation of nearly 1,400 today. The church has witnessed the service of the team of evangelists and other full time staff in identifying and trying to meet the myriad needs of the church, but it became evident in the last two years that the church needed elders to rise from amongst the mature parts of the body of Christ to co-partner in the stewardship and the shepherding of the church along with the team of evangelists. The team of evangelists had to select by prayer and fasting a few couples from the congregation to be trained as shepherds for a period of two years. With constant teaching, discipling, openness times and spiritual insights by the couples in training and also from visiting elders and evangelists from other congregations within and outside of India, a decision was made to present three couples as elder-nominees before the local body of leadership first and then to the congregation on the 24th of March 2019.
After having debated and addressed issues of objections raised by some members, the elders were appointed on April 21 by Mike Fontenot and Dinesh George (lead evangelists) along with the other evangelists Mark Pichamuthu, Shaijus Philip and Roger Matthew.
ABOUT THE ELDERS
Ben D’souza and his wife Jessy have been disciples since 1992. They were both government employees and one of their children Kevin D’Souza was also baptised in 1994 as a teen in the Bangalore Church. Since then they both have been passionate about serving God and his kingdom. They have moved from Bangalore to other parts of India to serve and support the mission. Ben is known for his active role in the work of HOPE worldwide and how he continuously serves the mission work. They have four grandchildren and are very active in balancing time for their family, while not neglecting the ministry of the word. Their son Kevin and his wife Shwetha serve the singles ministry and their daughter Remita and her husband Twain Taylor serve the campus while holding secular jobs.
Joseph became a disciple in 1993 while his wife Kumari has been a disciple since 1989. Joseph has been instrumental in many of his family members accepting the Lord as their Savior. They have a daughter, Sarah, who is active in the campus ministry. Joseph has stood strong and faithful in the Lord and as a couple both are strong examples of perseverance and they continue to serve and co-lead a sector. They both are known for their humility and passion to care for people. They both work for HOPE foundation India.
Santhosh and his wife Shanthi are synonymous with their names. Santhosh means joy and Shanthi means peace. They have a great reputation not just within the church but also with their employees and within their neighborhood as servant leaders and as peacemakers. Their two daughters Sandra and Susan serve in their respective singles and campus ministries. Santhosh and Shanthi became disciples in 1994. Santhosh has grown to be a man of conviction and faith. Despite the fact that Santhosh has a very successful construction business, he makes time to serve the church by leading a zone of over 70 and overseeing one of the language worship services on Sundays. Their passion for the lost continues to inspire many around them.
The elders, along with the evangelists and many in church realize the importance of their role in being a great example. The church needs more such elders and those who have this calling will be looking upon these pioneers for inspiration.
The team of elders and evangelists have chalked out an intentional and clear plan of co-operation and partnership in shepherding the church.
They will be as a team involved in the following things:
Elders appointed and prayed upon