Establishing self-sustaining Samaritan Strategy teams in new areas.
The “Samaritan Strategy” (SamS) program helps churches demonstrate God’s intentions in every area of life. It uses step-by-step exercises called “disciplines of love” and “seed projects” to disciple people, following the biblical model that we see in the life of Jesus. A SamS project has four phases: (1) network, (2) training, (3) coaching, and (4) commissioning.
Harvest has done over seventy SamS projects around the world, and in Suri, northwest India, Pastor Timothy Das coordinated one of these projects. Sometimes, a SamS project gathers people who speak different languages, as it was the case in Suri. Therefore, Timothy and his team translated the training materials from English to Bengali to better communicate the lessons in a common language. Here is their story.
PHASE 1 – NETWORK
January 2016 – Contact
I contacted 25 church leaders and pastors from Suri, using e-mail and phone, and asked about their interest in the SamS training. All of them responded positively with excitement. Although Suri is a mix of people who speak Bengali, Santhali, and tribal dialects, all can read and write in Bengali. Pastor Sanjay Mondal (Brethren Assembly) took the leadership to organize the event. I mobilized a team and my church members to pray for this project.February 2016 – Visit
There is a great need for leadership training in the tribal belt where Suri is located. Jayanta and I travelled from south to northwest Kolkata, Suri, to meet Pastor Sanjay Mondal. We had three meetings with other pastors, speaking about the role of the church in society and casting the vision for the SamS program. They were challenged by the message and showed real desire to learn how to make disciples and obedient followers of Jesus Christ. Their response was great and they invited us to start the training soon.PHASE 2 – TRAININGApril 2016 – Basic training
In the first training in Suri, we had 21 participants and taught 6 Harvest lessons to a very interested and diverse group. They shared testimonies of victories and failures in their Christian lives. The work of the Holy Spirit was evident, convincing people of sins, and helping them recommit their lives to serve God and love His church. Most of them expressed their desire to grow in all areas of life, to practice giving, obedience, and servanthood as true followers of Jesus Christ. They planned to practice Disciplines of Love in their homes, churches and in the society, and to share their experiences in the next training session.July 2016 – In-depth training
In preparation for the second training, we translated our presentations and notes into Bengali, favoring the participation of 10 pastors and the teaching of 5 Harvest lessons. They were very happy and encouraged by learning valuable lessons. Some said that they have never heard before that the church should have a role in society. As testimonies, they reported that the first training helped them catch God’s vision, realizing that every individual is important to fulfil God’s plan. Some examples of their Disciplines of Love were to help wives washing clothes and dishes, and to feed little children. These are not common practices in Indian culture, especially with several generations living under the same roof, where the women help each other with their chores. One brother took leadership to clean a church compound. Finally, everyone decided to do at least one seed project before coming to the next training.PHASE 3 – COACHINGSeptember 2016 – Training of Trainers
In our training of trainers, Timothy taught the following lessons: “Small Group Leadership”, “A Competent Disciple Maker”, and “Discipleship and Planning”. Jayanta taught: “Discipleship and the SamS Program”, “What Kind of Disciples?” and “Training for Transformation”. The pastors and leaders understood the importance of being involved with their communities and influencing them with a godly nature. All of them dedicated their lives for the welfare of their communities, reflecting God’s image. The participants planned, did, and evaluated disciplines of love and seed projects, as for example, a church collected money, bought and distributed 15 blankets and clothes to a nearby “basti” –slum village—thus helping 15 families, and a brother distributed medicines to a government hospital.
November 2016 – Mentorship
Jayanta and Timothy did a two-day coaching module revising the lessons in Bengali. Once the participants were prepared, they decided to teach three modules in three different churches, Durlavpur, Imadpur and Majuria, Santhali village. Unfortunately, the Suri CPH did not accept our seed project, because it was “not something done by their own organization”. After consulting with team members and under the leadership of Sanjay Mondal, they decided to do something different and went to Chinpai, where they distributed notebooks, pens, rubbers, and 30 rupees for poor children.
PHASE 4 – MULTIPLICATION
February and March 2017 – Observation and Commissioning
Three Harvest lessons were taught on each site. The Biswajit team did a Harvest training at the Durlavpur Brethren Assembly for 20 participants, Sanjay Mondal’s team did a Harvest training at the Imadpur Brethren Assembly, and at the Majuria Santhal Village, brother Lal Ashis did the teaching. I observed them teach and was glad to see that they were doing excellent job. My observations were minimal, such as to speak slowly and make eye contact with the audience. They mastered the content and I am confident that they will be a great team. Most of the presentations and notes were in Bengali, so they did not have difficulties. We are grateful to Harvest Foundation for their prayers, teaching material, and financial support. We give all glory to God.