News and Updates

02.May.2016 North East India Link

ICI are very familiar initials that are about to take on a new meaning for AECW churches. No, we haven't entered into a sponsorship deal with the industrial giant Imperial Chemical Industries but are forming a spiritual partnership with the Independent Church of India based in Manipur, North East India.

In 1910,Watkin Roberts from Caernarfon became the instrument of God in bringing the Gospel to the Hmar people and so began a link between Welsh churches and believers in North East India that is now being revived. Having received an invitation from the Independent Church of India, AECW was able to send Gareth Edwards to visit Manipur in February this year as the first step in forging the link between the two church groups. This was followed by the visit to Wales in August of Rev Dr Joe Louis Songate, the Executive Secretary of ICI. Joe and his wife Lali attended the EMW conference in Aberystwyth and then spent two weeks travelling and visiting a number of our churches throughout the Principality. They were greatly blessed by their time here and wish to thank all they met for their kindness and fellowship in the Lord.

ICI has a total membership of 26,000 people scattered throughout North East India. There are 129 local churches served by just over 60 pastors, many of whom operate in isolated hill villages in the jungle. The lives of the people are marked by material poverty due to a lack of development and political instability. Yet, they know spiritual blessings that we in our affluence do not. They have an evangelistic zeal that has seen 85 missionaries sent to various parts of the region including into the nearby Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan. Giving in support of these missionaries is truly sacrificial and the goal of ICI is, by God's grace, to have a further 15 missionaries in the field by their centenary celebrations in 2010. The people are lively in their worship, warm in their fellowship and earnest in their prayers. As Joe told us, dependence on God is a daily reality for his people. Whereas we in Wales, blessed as we are with all that we have, often pray from the throat, their prayers truly come from the heart!

Having established initial contact it is now hoped that the relationship between AECW and ICI will develop for the glory of God in both lands. A selection of 13 books is being prepared for dispatch to Manipur to be given to each pastor, missionary and Bible college student within ICI. This will be an invaluable resource for men who have very little access to literature that can help them in their ministries. It is also hoped that there will be a regular flow of prayer requests between our two church groups so that our congregations can pray for each other. In addition, it is likely that AECW will receive a further invitation for some of our men to visit Manipur next year to help

ICI in its pastors’ training programme. It is our privilege to share in the work of the Gospel worldwide and particularly to have been granted by God this link with the Independent Church of India.

Gareth Edwards

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