I’m Guna Raman, CEO of the church planting network City to City Asia Pacific, a CSPC missions partner. This is how I’m living deeply.
It takes detailed work here to get church planting right. There are 4.8 billion people in Asia, which includes everywhere from China to the Middle East; 48 countries. It’s very diverse culturally, historically, and politically, which makes it very challenging. The gospel is common to everyone, but it has to be contextualized. You cannot repeat what you do in one place in another. Culturally or linguistically, it just wouldn’t work. We have now worked in 153 cities all across the Asia Pacific region. In each, we have people we’ve trained who are committed to the work of bringing the gospel to their own communities, and God is moving in some exciting ways. One example: Before we started translating our training modules & teaching materials into local languages, about four years ago, they were only in English. Then we started our first translation into Taiwanese & Chinese, then into Japanese, then into the Indonesian language, and now into Thai and Russian for Central Asia. (And more are in the pipeline, including Urdu for Pakistan and Bengali for Bangladesh.) Whenever we get these materials translated, it’s a huge milestone- we can suddenly offer the training program in the local languages. That’s dramatically scaled the number of church planters we train- from about 25 or 30 a year, to 70. Obviously the more we train, the more leaders are equipped to plant churches. That’s really exciting because Asian cities are just booming and growing so fast that we do need a lot more church plants. The only way to do it is through translation. When people hear the gospel, when these church plants hear the gospel in their own heart language, it makes a lot of difference to them. They learn how to contextualize it better and make it more relevant to their community. We’ve even launched a contextualized training for those in more dangerous areas. Church planting there is a completely different thing than planting in those non-persecution contexts. I’m more encouraged in the Lord daily as all this takes shape.
You should also know about some of the places where we’re seeing the encouraging fruit happen. Nepal is one of those countries where people are coming to Christ in big numbers. God is calling a lot of young people to plant churches there. Training them and especially getting the training in the local language is another challenge we’re addressing. In Cambodia, there’s a revival going on among young people. There are so many university students coming to Christ right now and awakening to the gospel, and it is simply a move of God; beautiful to watch. We get calls sometimes, like a recent Macedonian call: ‘Would you come and train us, please?’ Sometimes they don’t have enough training; sometimes the training they’ve received is just not theologically sound enough. They need the good Reformed teaching and training City to City is able to provide. So these are some of the exciting places where we are seeing God move by His sovereign power.
Here’s how you can pray for us: Yes, the need for more church plants is great and we’re trying to speed up translation of our training materials and curriculum, but the DNA of the gospel must NOT get lost in translation. We have to make sure each translation is accurate and that when it’s contextualized, it doesn’t become something else. The theological quality can’t be compromised. So that’s one big prayer. The other, of course, is that the Lord will continue to provide resources. As we keep expanding, we really need more of everything- for training & coaching leaders, for helping new church plants explore & share the gospel, all that. God loves cities and calls us to love cities. Because cities are centers of power, culture, entertainment, education, and health care, if you can touch and bring impact to a city, it impacts the whole country. God continues to show us this in new ways, and we treasure what He’s doing.