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An appeal to support the independent church of India

An appeal to support the independent Church of India during the covid crisis

Over many years the EMW and AECW churches and members have supported the Independent Church of India (ICI). ICI is based in Manipur, North East India, close to Myanmar/Burma.

They minister to tribal peoples in Manipur and across India. The older members of the church remember visitors from Wales with warmth and appreciation from many years ago. This is hardly surprising as the church was founded by a missionary endeavour led by a missionary pharmacist from Caernarfon in North Wales – Watkyn Roberts in 1910.
The relationship between ICI and Wales has continued due to visits from India over the years, and has been refreshed during the past almost 20 years. Rev Gareth Edwards and his wife Ceri, together with David and Pat Norbury, Peter and Rhiannon Harris, Pastor Stuart Dainty and Rev Matt Francis have become actively involved with various aspects of the ministry of ICI on behalf of EMW/AECW.

Much of the focus of our visits has been on the Bible College in Seilmat – the education in some of their schools, but mainly supporting the students in their theological education. There has also been an effort from a small number of churches in Wales to support the very significant projects for women across Manipur in their very specific and significant needs, together with developing projects which are seeking to significantly improve methods of sowing, growing and reaping harvests.
Following their kind invitation to attend their centenary celebrations in 2010. We will never forget their central choir singing “Here is love vast as the ocean” linking their blessings to Welsh ministry and revivals in one of the main centenary celebration meetings. The nature and intensity of the cooperation has increased since then. Two of their General Secretaries have visited us in Wales, attending some churches and the Aber Conference.

Rev Matt Francis managed the most recent support we provided. The library needed to have 10,000 theological books in order to ensure accreditation for certain further degrees through the college. Matt was to send them thousands of books – which eventually arrived safely – and featured in the opening of their new College library.
That is a little of the background.

Recently, they have been hit very hard by the covid crisis – closing all their churches in order to safeguard their people from the spread of the virus. As a result, not only do they face the impact of the virus – but also the severe reduction in income from their members not being in attendance. We received the following from Rev Dr Joe Louis recently:

“We are in such a very fragile situation. If you can do something to assist in any way it will be greatly appreciated and amazing at this crucial time…No church services are taking place so our church finances are critical… Prices of essential items keep on increasing as the overall situation in the country continues to be grim.

Under the strong wave of Covid 19 blowing all over India, our situation particularly in North East India, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram is still grim and hard to bear. Every day people die and more infected persons are being treated. Our Civil Hospital has no spare beds for the patients.

If you can possibly raise some financial donations towards easing the suffering of our church people that would be indeed amazing and meaningful in this critical situation.”

Consequently, we are doing something which we rarely do – we are launching an appeal for funding to help ICI in its hour of crisis. The funding will be used to meet the needs of pastors and their churches across ICI – and thereby across India.

Will you and/or your church help?

Dr Dave Norbury (Chair of the trustees of the EMW)

You can give financially in three ways:

  • Use the online form below
  • Send a cheque to the North Wales Office of the EMW (please make cheques payable to the ‘EMW’, ensuring that you state clearly that the gift is to be allocated towards the ‘ICI appeal’. (EMW North Wales Office, Manna Christian Centre, 31 Holyhead Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2EU)
  • Contact Trish Layton to receive our bank details to organise a direct bank transfer here.

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A further letter from the ICI

Love greetings to all the brothers and sisters under the Evangelical Movement of Wales in the name of our Almighty God. The Covid- 19 pandemic has changed the structure of the World. Many countries greatly suffered and as you are aware of it, India is one of the greatest hotspots in the World. This had untold hardships, sufferings and great difficulties for the whole population. In order to curb the rapid transmission of the virus, the government has imposed a series of curfew and long total lockdowns. This led to shortage of food items supplies, soaring prices and job loss. In the meantime, our poor faithful Church members are being infected and treated and some of them succumbed to death. There was no more Church Services and this further stumble the financial incomes of our Church. While sharing our acute problems to Rev. Dr. Gareth Edwards, Dr. David Norbury, Rev. Matt Francis and Mr. Peter Harris, they directed us to write an Appeal letter after their conversation. Thus, the Independent Church of India leaders had decided to promote the following needs if any financial support can be provided to us:
RELIEF FUND: The second wave of the Covid- 19 pandemic led many families living in the towns and interior villages greatly suffered hardships and great difficulties. Majority of our Church members under the Independent Church of India are farmers, daily wage – earners, carpenters, brick-workers and welders. Due to curfew and total lockdown, many of these people could no longer continue their works. They had a hard and difficult family life and greatly need to get dry ration relief. Our Church initiated some small relief works amongst the poor members from some friends and well wisher, the photo is included for your kind information.
IMMEDIATE NEED OF THE SIELMAT BIBLE COLLEGE: The progress and development of the Sielmat Bible College at this present juncture is mainly due to the love contributions from the Evangelical Movement of Wales. The Library Building, the huge Library Books, students Scholarship supports and sets of Computers for use by the students may be cited. The M.Div Programme had been introduced since last year and due to financial shortage the College could not purchase a Canon Xerox Machine IR Class which approximately cost INR 190,000 lakhs which has been in great demands by the student community and the Faculty. Our Library books are limited and to get good books within India is a big issue. If there can be a big Xerox machine, students will avail to copy their book requirements and there will be no confusion for the Library Department in the College. A short video clip of the Sielmat Bible College buildings and library is attached in the ANNEXTURE- II for easy reference.
MARRIED QUARTERS FOR MISSIONARIES AND PASTORS AT THE SIELMAT BIBLE COLLEGE: The Sielmat Bible College is the main centre of theological training for our Missionaries and Pastors under our Church. Our Missionaries are selected by the Mission Board and the Pastors are selected by the Pastoral Committee every year for further theological training at the College. Many of the selected students are married and they often struggled with the place where they will keep their family. If, at least three new quarters can be constructed immediately, with approximate cost of INR 800,000 lakhs per one building, there will be a great relieve for the students and the Faculty. Some photos of the make-shift quarters allotted to the married students is enclosed herewith in the ANNEXTURE- III for your kind information.
The above three points are forwarded for your kind moral, physical and prayers supports.