The strategic focus of The Wesleyan Church in the United States is best summed up in the statement: “Celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies itself until The Wesleyan Church has a transforming presence in every ZIP code.” The focus is saturating our communities with the life-giving churches — here, near, far — no matter how hard.
One place that is far and hard is the city of Mumbai, India. Mumbai is the financial and entertainment capital of the second largest country in the world (think New York City and Los Angeles combined).
This megacity is home to over 23,000,000 people. Some report that over 25,000 people move to Mumbai area every day. The diversity of the city is striking. People from the multiple language groups in India move to Mumbai to find work, bringing with them a vast array of cultures. The world’s most expensive private home is in Mumbai — valued at over $2 billion U.S. dollars.
And yet Mumbai is also home to one of the world’s largest slums.
In this overwhelming sea of human need, how can the church hope to be a transforming presence? This is the question that the Gujarat District, one of the oldest Wesleyan churches in Asia, began asking in 2012. Its people sacrificed generously to launch three church planters in Mumbai. Led by Pastor Prashant Shinde, these pastors are reaching and discipling people across the city.
What is the Mumbai equivalent of having a presence in every ZIP code? Having a church by every local train station. Millions of people pass through the 107 Mumbai train stations every day. In a few short years, these passionate church planters have already established regular meetings at eight train stations. They are full of faith to multiply churches by the remaining 99 Mumbai train stations.
Here, near, far — no matter how hard. That’s the mission of the Church. And we are celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies, until The Wesleyan Church has a transforming presence in every ZIP code — and at every train station in Mumbai.
By Ben Ward, Global Partners Asia-Pacific Area Director