RICHLAND—Chuck Baker is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church here, a congregation of about 100 people in a rural Missouri town with a population of around 2,000.
“I’m amazed, and I rejoice at the fact that we could have a global impact with a minimal amount of financial support,” Baker said. “It’s definitely a sacrifice, in some ways, to go to another country and eat different food and all that sort of thing, but I sometimes ask, ‘How much do we really sacrifice in America?’”
The country that Cornerstone Baptist and Baker have chosen for a Gospel relationship is India.
“It’s basically been a dark nation, full of idols,” Baker said.
Enter Ron Herrod and www.rhemainstitutes.org. The Southern Baptist evangelist leads a ministry called the Ron Herrod Evangelism Ministry Association (RHEMA), which is training pastors like Baker to make a difference.
“We’re able to bring the light of the Gospel there and actually partner with him to see His Kingdom expanded, and it matters for eternity,” Baker said.
Baker just returned in September from his third trip to India. A former basketball coach, he first got a heart for India through sports evangelism in the south. On his second trip he headed north to the base of the Himalaya mountain range. This time he and some members from Cornerstone were able to see fruit from the second trip. Baker got to hand a diploma to a national pastor who had been discipled through a RHEMA institute.
“That was really exciting,” he said.
Baker served with a team of fellow pastors and evangelists in the institute as they taught national pastors through RHEMA at Goa, India. This year for the first time another school of learning was opened in Mumbai (Bombay). Baker flew out of Mumbai to Goa and was struck by how immense the municipality was.
“The lights are so vast because of the huge, huge population of Mumbai,” he said. “I believe it’s the third-largest city in the world. As I was looking, I kind of began to get a little teary-eyed. Most all of those people there, we know they are lost. That’s why it’s so important what we were doing on this trip—getting these local, national pastors trained to where they can equip others.
“If you take the entire state populations of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia, and you put all those people in (the city limits of) Knoxville, Tennessee, you have Mumbai, India. So it’s mind-boggling. That’s how densely populated it is. When you talk slums there, you’re talking real slums.”
Cornerstone Baptist has adopted the “hill people” as its unengaged, unreached people group in the greater Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)-driven contextualization of missional focus that is being unleashed. Baker noted that more than 200 of the 3,800 SBC-targeted unengaged/unreached are in India.
“India has the second-largest Muslim population, second only to Pakistan,” he said. “It has the 10th-largest Buddhist population, and it has the largest Hindu population in the world. There has been great darkness for years.
“William Carey, the great missionary, I think was there seven years without a single convert. He would be so excited and probably is so excited with what’s happening in India now because there is a hunger.”
If a Missouri Baptist church wants to go to India, Baker recommends going online and researching groups like RHEMA and Global Focus.
“Examine your body, look at the folks in your church, pray about it, and follow God’s leading,” he said. “He may not be leading you to India, but if He is, there are ample opportunities—probably more than there’s ever been.”
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor