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More than twenty years ago, Brackenhurst Baptist Church began to leave a Great Commission imprint on the nation of India. By sending a young Gareth and Keri Franks to India, we unknowingly commenced what, over the years, would become a major missional, prayerful, sacrificial, and financial commitment to the cause of Christ in India, including sending two more families there. Through the efforts of these dedicated missionaries, three churches were directly planted with at least one other daughter church planted as well. Further, Alethia Publishers was established to provide affordable, sound theological books for believers in that land, and encouraging partnerships were established, which continue to thrive for the cause of Christ in that spiritually needy nation. Though, like Matthias (Acts 1:26), our efforts may not be noticed by most, nevertheless the Lord knows what is being accomplished as he uses these churches, pastors, and partnerships in the building of his kingdom—the city of God—in that part of the earth.

While we praise God for over two decades of fruitful and ongoing ministry in India, we are also aware that, in the providence of God, the doors were closed to our missionaries, and hence Gareth moved to Abu Dhabi and Tommie moved back to South Africa. And while we are grateful that we continue to support our Indian brothers and sisters through prayer, meaningful communication, the occasional visit, and financial support—with a firm commitment to continue to do so—nevertheless, the Lord has been moving BBC towards what I call a “new India”—that is, a new way for Brackenhurst Baptist Church to leave its mark in this world. This is happening through the ministry of Imprint. When the door to India closed, a wider door here at home was opened.

When Tommie returned from India, he initiated a discussion with the elders of BBC and brothers from other local churches, concerning the need for a ministry that would strengthen the health of local churches in Southern Africa through literature and training. To shorten a long (but really good!) story, Imprint was determined to be the answer to that need. It has proven to be an answer to the prayers of many.

The response to Imprint in such a relatively short time has exceeded expectations. Local churches, along with their pastors, have been richly blessed by affordable resources provided by Imprint. They have being strengthened by the training conferences, and most recently with a weekender hosted here at our church. Overseas, particularly in the USA, but also in Brazil, believers have gotten behind this ministry in a variety of ways, including financial commitments. In fact, apart from their financial assistance, Imprint would barely be off the ground. Publishers like Crossway, and ministries such as Ligonier, Desiring God, HeartCry, Truth for Life, Simeon Trust, and 9Marks, and several local churches, have reached out to form partnerships with Imprint. And all of this within a mere five years! To God be the glory, great things he has done!

I think of this ministry as a “new India” because, like our missions ministry in India for two decades, Imprint now looms large on the Great Commission landscape of Brackenhurst Baptist Church. I am persuaded that this ministry will be key to strengthening existing local churches in South Africa—in our region, and beyond—and I am persuaded it will be means to both church planting and church revitalisation. The numerous relational connections which are being developed through Imprint puts our local church in a unique position to help church planters secure partners for their ministry, including the vital need of financial support.

As I dream about the future of our church, I see the potential of interns being trained, undergirded by resources provided by Imprint, and then sent out to plant or revitalise local churches as they partner with Imprint’s partners. I am realistically dreaming about the weekender growing to the point where may need to have two of these each year. I am dreaming of a world turned upside down through gospel-centred ministers, churches, and ministries, whose hands have been strengthened through Imprint. What a way to leave a mark on the church, which, in turn, will leave its mark in the world!

Brackenhurst Baptist Church has, for a very long time, been a local church providing encouragement as well as financial support for other local churches, both in South Africa and abroad. But with the increasing impact of Imprint, we can do so much more with our partners as they spread the fame of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, while not at all minimising our ongoing commitment to our brothers and sisters in India, by God’s grace we can at the same time focus much on the “new India” of Imprint. Let us thank God for this ministry. Let us pray to God for the growth of this ministry. Let us be grateful that, when God closes a door in one place, he opens doors for ministry in other places. Praise God for a new India!

Excited, expecting, and therefore exhorting,