Dr. Andrew Lalhmangaiha
The motto of AICS is: Holistic Ministry. As our motto says, AICS emphasizes all round ministry taking both theory and practice seriously. Students of Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) and of Master of Divinity (M.Div.) are all required to do different types of practical ministry during their studies at AICS. Practical ministry is not only the emphasis of AICS, but also that of Asia Theological Associationfor M.Div. students, and it is one of the requirements of the Senate of Serampore College (University) for B.D. students to successfully finish their B.D. course. Although a lot of freedom is given to individual institutions and their marks beinginternally assessed, AICS regularly sendspractical ministry marks of each student to the Senate for their consideration and record.
From its inception, AICS has been organizing practical ministry for students in various ways. With the increase of ticket prices every now and then,AICS could cover only partial expenditure of the students.Each year students also contribute financially toward their practical ministry. With regard to the time and placement of their practical ministry, over the years few adjustments have been made for betteroutcomes. The followings are the pattern presently followed by students of B.D. and M.Div.
First Year Students (B.D. and M.Div.) : Social Centres (mostly NGOs)
Second Year Students (B.D. and M.Div.) : Mission Fields (Inside and outside Mizoram)
Third Year Students (B.D. and M.Div.) : Urban Ministry (New Delhi/Vellore)
Fourth Year Students (B.D.) : Weekend Ministry (Local churches in Aizawl)
Social Centres: First Year Students are divided into groups of four or five and are sent to different Social Centres within Mizoram for about two weeks during the month of November or December. The Social Centres where we engage our students more recently are: Calvary Hospital (TNT), MuannaVeng, Aizawl; Special Home (Remand Home), Durtlang, Aizawl; Rescue Centre (Sinners’ Friends), Sihphir, Aizawl; Blessing Home, Sakawrtuichhun, Aizawl; Peace Home (FIWDC), Durtlang, Aizawl; Agape Centre (Society for Community Care), Durtlang, Aizawl; Baptist Church Orphanage, Serkawn, Lunglei; Chhawmdawlna In, Melte, Lunglei. AICS is greatly indebted to these organizations for their deep dedications to host our students and guide them to be able to understand and empathize with people who suffer and with the reality of whatthese people have gone through in their lives. Students usually do not go to these Social Centres enthusiastically, but they often return with deep appreciation of other’s ministry, and with genuine humility.
Mission Fields: Second Year Students are sent to various mission fields again in groups. As most of our students belong to the Baptist Church of Mizoram, they are sent to BCM mission fields during the same time as above. If students from other denominations want to do their practical ministry in their own denominational mission field, arrangements are made for those students. We usually send our students to Bengal Field, Assam Field, Arunachal West Field, Arunachal East Field, Arunachal Far East Field, and Tripura Field of the BCM. Since we are quite limited with our budget every year, it is the generosity of the missionaries and the Field Directors that sustains our mission field practical ministry till today. AICS is wholeheartedly grateful to missionaries in the fields in this regard. Students are more enthusiastic than in their first yearto go to mission fields, and usually come back with a lot of happy and sometimes funny experiences.
Urban Ministry: Some students, if not most, have their education in Mizoram, and do not have the opportunity to see big cities in India. Not only that, since majority of the people in Mizoram are Christians, our students have little access to the cultures and practices of people of other faiths and of Christians from other traditions. Considering all these, we feel that it is good for them to visit one of the cities in India, and for the last few years we send them to the capital city, New Delhi. In their third year they go as a class during the same time as other classes and without dividing themselves into groups.We usually assign one faculty guide for this trip. Because of the high expenditure for this trip, students usually contribute extra money either for their one-way flight tickets or for better train tickets. Field Director of North India mission field (BCM) usually arranges accommodation and daily schedule for our students, for which again AICS is ever grateful to our field director(s). Students often visit Mosques, Temples, Churches, Works of NGOs, important government and historical places. Of all their practical ministries, students are most excited to do their urban ministry, and in most of the cases they come back with rich experiences and with a broader outlook.
Weekend Ministry: When students are in their final year, we send them for weekend ministry to different BCM local churches on Sundays. If students from other denominations want to do weekend ministry in their own denominational churches, we make arrangements for them. During July to September for about 10 Sundays, students visit these local churches on Sundays. Secretaries, and pastors of those local churches are requested to let our students involved as much as possible in their church services. Students often get the opportunity to preach, lead Sunday school, chair worship service, and sometimes write minute in their meetings. AICS deeply appreciates and treasures the contributions of local churches, especially in Aizawl City, in shaping our students to different types of responsibility in the church, and for doing it for so many years.
Summer Break Practical Ministry: During their summer break (in May), AICS expects its students to get involved in ministry as much as they could. There is no compulsory work assigned to students, but they are given a form to be filled by their local church secretary/pastor indicating their ministerial involvements during the break. When they come back to AICS, we conduct interview of the students with faculty council where they personally explain their activities during the summer break. Since types of ministry can range from visiting a friend to being a speaker in a crusade, students come back with variousinteresting ministries to report.
Now that we have students doing Diploma in Mission Studies (Dip. MS)and Master of Theology (M.Th), more concrete practical ministry programmesare yet to be assigned for these students. For now, their practical ministry is usually arranged by their deans.
Since last year because of Covid-19 pandemic, AICS has been closed most of the time. We are not in a position to do practical ministry as we usually did in the past. This year while they were here on campus for a few months, we arranged a movie night on 20th March, 2021 and watched together Romero, an inspiring movie based on the real life of Archbishop Romero who sacrificed his life for the service of God and his people in Latin America. AICS hopes and expects its students to live a life worthy of God’s love and goodness.
We thank churches for their immense contributions to the shaping and training of our students as they are realizing God’s call in their lives.