A BRIEF HISTORY OF AME-INDIA

Psalm 118:23 – This is the LORD’S doing, and it is marvellous to see.

AME-India originated in the mind of God in eternity. But as the scripture says, that there is a time for everything, God patiently waited for the appointed time for creating AME-India.

In the year 2004, God brought Rev. Karla Cooper as an exchange student to India for a brief period, to a theological college here. She was paired along with Rev. Sarah, an Indian student from the same theological college. After Rev. Cooper returned back to America, the Lord burdened her for India, she proposed if Rev. Sarah and her husband Rev. Abraham were willing to help with the ministry of AME in India. The Indian couple prayed over the matter and made themselves available for the ministry of AME in India. Rev. Cooper happened to be a clergy of the Fifth District of which Bishop John Richard Bryant was the ecclesial leader then. She played a significant role in connecting the Indian couple with Bishop John Richard Bryant, The Presiding Prelate of the Fourth Episcopal District and Rev. Cecilia Williams Bryant, the Episcopal Supervisor of Fifth Episcopal District then. They listened to her and prayed over it and took the initiative in this direction.

In the meantime the Lord had been preparing the Indian couple Rev. Sarah and Rev. Abraham over the past years to help in establishing the ministry of AME-India. In the year 2006, there was an AME delegation from the USA to India. Bishop John Bryant, Rev. Cecilia, Rev. Brenda Hayes and Rev. Karla Cooper visited India to see for themselves the possibility of extending the ministry of AME to India. In the meantime the Indian couple had set up some prayer cells, and also invited some independent churches (established as a result of Rev. Sarah’s father Mr. VRT Arputharaj in the Chengalpet region of the Kancheepuram district of Tamilnadu, India) to join in praying for the ministry of AME.

In the year 2007 we had the first AME-India convocation. 100 guests came from different countries to the city of Chennai, where 300 Indians had gathered from different parts of India. The AME-India convocation was held from 14th to 18th November 2007. It was a historic event in the history of India and it’s Church. The convocation was organized at the historic location, the Santhome Cathedral Basilica, Mylapore, Chennai, South India. The significance of the location is that it is commonly believed according to the tradition of the Church in India, that the Apostle St. Thomas had initiated his missionary work, and built a church at this place 2000 years ago and now after 2006 years AME has initiated its mission work from the same location.

Bishop John, Bishop Vasti Mckenzie, Dr. Jamal Bryant had moved the gathering with their powerful words of encouragement. The teachings and instructions delivered by: Dr. Floyd Flake, Dr. Harold Mayberry, Rev. Regina Groff on the Foundations and Teachings of the AME Church, Dr. Harold Mayberry, Dr. Darryl Ingram, Dr. James Wade, Dr. Carey Anderson, Presiding Elder Booker T. Guitone, Dr. George Flowers on the Doctrines and Disciplines of AME Church. Rev. Terry Marks, Rev. Leslie White, Joyce Johnson, on the sacraments and practices of the AME Church, Sister Richelle Fry Skinner, Dr. Jamesina Evans and Rev. Beverly Thomas on YPD and WMS had been very informative, educative and spiritually refreshing. The paper presented by Dr. Louis Logan on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was very enlightening for the Indian delegates.

In the year 2008-2009 we had a setback in the ministry for a brief period due to unavoidable circumstances, but the Lord heard our prayers and we were back on the track again in 2010, because of the initiative to Bishop John Bryant, The Presiding Prelate of the Fourth Episcopal District and Rev. Cee, The Supervisor of the Fourth Episcopal District. Over the years many Pastors and the churches joined us. This was God’s doing. Today we have 123 Pastors serving with AME-India, spread across the country, in six different states. In the year 2009 the church in India underwent waves of persecution from the rightwing Hindu fanatics. Some of our Pastors also had to bear the brunt of this, but the Lord protected them and saved them and their congregation.

The AME church was drawn to come to India to share about the fullness of life and their experience of liberation that they found in Jesus while they as African-Americans were slaves under the rule of the white supremacists with the Dalits in India. Most of our Pastors are from Dalit background and except a few from the high caste. We thank God for this, because this is the Lord’s doing. We give all the glory to God, for God alone deserves it. Let us continue to uphold each other in prayer and join our hands to build our share of the kingdom of God here in this country. Who knows God might even raise missionaries from AME-India to reach out to the other unreached parts of the globe. Going along with William Carey, “Let us expect great things from God and let us attempt great things for God”.

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO INDIA

INDIA: As of 28th May 2015, the population of India is 1.28 billion. The sex ratio being 943 females to 1000 males. 50% of the current population are below 25 years of age. 72.2% of the population live in the 638,000 rural villages. India has the largest illiterate population in the world. The literacy rate of India as per 2011 Population Census is 74.04%, with male literacy rate at 82.14% and female at 65.46%.

India is a country where people of different faiths live together. Christianity is only 2.5% (2.5 million) of the total population. Christianity came to India in the 1st Century A.D. but the progress of the church has been very slow. Until the 19th century, we have had much freedom for the Gospel. Of late due to the domination of the Hindu Fanaticism the Christian minorities became the persecuted lot.

The Church in India is also a divided body based on Caste System. Caste System is the social stratification of the Indian society. It is a hierarchical structure, in which the top place goes to the Brahmins-the priestly class, next to them are the Khsatriyas- the royal ruling class, then the Vaisyas-the business class, at the bottom are the Shudras-those in servitude of the upper three. Apart from this four-fold structure, there are a large group of people who are known as the Panchamas (fifth class) and they are the untouchables. They are the socially ostracized. They are supposed to do all the dirty work of the society and dwell on the carcass for their sustenance. They are known as the Dalits. The Dalits are doubly discriminated, and more than that the Dalit Women are in the bottom-line, with absolutely no rights whatsoever. Most of these Dalits live in the villages and they are below the poverty line. They have suffered untouchability for centuries together. Since they are the untouchables, the people belonging to the high caste have no social interaction with them. Despite all the development and modernization of the nation, untouchability is still practices in many parts of the country.

There are six different discriminations that the Dalits suffer, based on Mathew 25:31-46. They are:

			Economically     -   	Hungry
			Politically	    - 	Thirsty
			Socially	    	    -  	Naked
			Religiously	    -	Strangers
			physically	    -	Sick
	                Culturally	    -	Prisoners (under bondage)		

These people need to be liberated and we believe the gospel has the power to liberate them. But it is unfortunate that the Church in India also follows the caste system. The AME Church believes in her ability to distinguish herself in bringing liberation and freedom to the Dalits in India.

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