In the late ’80s, I got married, got on a plane to India, where my husband and had a one-week honeymoon. We then flew straight from our honeymoon to the city of Bangalore to start a church, along with our friend, Mohan Nanjundan. We were young, in our mid-20s, and our mission team members were all younger than us.

Through our faith and radical spirit (not so much through knowledge and wisdom), almost 150 people became disciples in our first year. Many of those people are now leaders in the Indian churches.

We faced a lot of persecution, and we made a lot of mistakes, but God worked in a powerful way.

Mark and Nadine Templer at the beginning of the Bangalore church planting

It was such an encouragement to go back this weekend and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Bangalore Church! The Bangalore congregation has 1,400 disciples, and dozens of churches have been planted all over South India through their efforts. This includes the Chennai church, which is almost 1,000 strong. It was so inspiring to see the children of the original disciples now lead in their parent’s footsteps.

Our own daughter went to Bangalore this past July on the HOPE worldwide Volunteer Corps, and the trip had a huge impact on her faith. We are grateful for the example of the Indian disciples.

Christians in India face persecution; life is not easy. I am in awe of their courage, faith, and resilience. Women are not always treated with great respect, yet the women in the church have fought to make a difference.

Going to India, and living there for over 20 years changed me; it changed who I am as a Christian. India taught me compassion, courage, and faith. The Indian disciples are my heroes. We have so much to learn from them. We may have gone there to plant churches, but they have become our teachers.