Known for its natural beauty and tea plantations, Assam province is located in northeast India. Created while the country was under British rule, this area is known around the world for its tea production. Referred to as the Tea Tribes, many of the people who live here are descended from the original tea plantation workers. With religious traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism, and challenges such as elephant stampedes and a lack of financial resources, is it possible to be a Christian missionary here?
It had been a really frustrating time for Executive Assistant Pamela Sola. As the person responsible for preparing visa papers for OMSC’s international visitors, she took visa denials personally. Most of those who applied for the study program had received visas and were already attending the seminars. But there was one application that had been denied. At community worship Pam asked everyone to pray that the visa would be granted. After making this request, a missionary from Guinea-Bissau pulled her aside and said, “I don’t think you should have made that prayer request.”
Could friendship be a Christian witness in a Muslim community? For Martins, a 2008-09 resident at OMSC, that question came out of a real life situation. Martins is a Christian missionary living in a predominantly Muslim community in Nigeria. He applied for a sabbatical at OMSC in order to have an opportunity to become both physically and spiritually invigorated for his ongoing work, and to meet new friends who challenged his Christian life. Blessed with a personality that radiates joy, he makes friends easily. But, was befriending the son of a very wealthy Muslim chief testing the bounds of friendship?
It was the Fall of 2008 and Professors Sherwood and Judith Lingenfelter had been invited to be Senior Mission Scholars at OMSC. In this capacity they would act as mentors to a group of international missionaries and teach a one-week seminar on Leadership. During their four-month sabbatical they were also planning to do some research and reflection. So, how did their seminar for church leaders from Nigeria, Uganda, Madagascar, Palestine, India, Indonesia, Burma, and Korea lead to the birth of a new course in a doctor of ministry program?
They weren’t missionaries. They had very little overseas experience. They weren’t international. In fact, they were about as American as you can get – a family from the Midwest with three little girls. So why were they living at an intercultural center in New Haven, Connecticut, with Christians from Tanzania, Indonesia, Myanmar, and India?