Posted on April 28, 2024 Cloud of Witnesses – Feature Barry Wilson Vinaya Kumar

Cloud of Witnesses – Celebrating 210th Anniversary of International Ministries

Dr. Barry Wilson Vinaya Kumar

IM Relief Officer of India



It gives me immense pleasure to share my testimony on the occasion of the 210th Anniversary Celebration, highlighting how the ABFMS (American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, aka International Ministries/ IM) has profoundly blessed my life. My family has directly benefited from ABFMS missionary works, with my forefathers being recipients of its endeavors. I am a third-generation Christian on my father’s side, who were elders in the Pentecostal Church, and a fourth-generation Christian on my mother’s side, with founding elders of the local Baptist Church. I had the privilege of studying at Preston Institute, Jangaon, during my 7th grade in school.

Originally, my aspiration was to become a university professor in sociology. During the gap period between my post-graduation and doctoral program, I worked with the Banjara Development Trust, an organization affiliated with IM. At the suggestion of my uncle, Dr. Chiranjeevi, I applied for a scholarship grant from IM for my doctoral studies. In November 1991, I received the joyful news that my application had been approved, providing crucial financial support for my family, as my father was the sole breadwinner.

After successfully completing my thesis in December 1993, I returned to my hometown and began seeking part-time teaching opportunities. Despite not initially heeding the scholarship director’s suggestion to return to serve the Banjara mission, I eventually felt compelled to express my gratitude to God and IM by rejoining the Banjara Development Trust for a two-year service commitment.

During a partners meeting in October 1994, I had the opportunity to personally meet Rev. Benjamin S. L. Chan, the IM Area Director for East Asia and India. This encounter marked the beginning of a significant relationship, as Rev. Chan consistently provided encouragement and mentorship throughout my journey. Additionally, the annual visits from Rev. Dr. Tracy Gipson further strengthened my resolve and skills, particularly in budgeting and reporting until his visit in 1999.

Remarkably, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chan officiated my wedding, underscoring his commitment to nurturing my involvement in missions. Over time, he entrusted me with a number of assignments, culminating in my role as IM Relief Officer-India in 2005, overseeing disaster relief efforts after the devastating Tsunami.

Throughout my tenure with the Banjara Development Trust, I have witnessed remarkable growth in various programs, including school project initiatives, medical outreach programs and camps, and children’s programs for over 1200 children partnering with Compassion International. As my responsibilities evolved, I transitioned into an honorary director role, supporting the newly appointed manager.

For the almost past 20 years, since October 2005, I have had the privilege of continuing my association with IM, supported by opportunities to attend conferences twice in USA and nine other countries and engage with Baptist leaders across India mostly from South and North East. In addition to my regular duties, I currently serve as an Associate Coordinator for the Telugu Baptist Samaikyatha initiative, promoting unity and fellowship among Telugu Baptist leaders and churches in association with Rev. Dr. David Vidyasagar, Consultant for India Development, International Ministries.

Reflecting on my journey, I am deeply grateful for the unwavering support of IM and the guidance of leaders like Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chan and late Rev. Dr. Tracy Gipson and his wife late Marjorie. Their faith in me has shaped my career and enriched my life, extending blessings not only to me but also to my family, evidenced by my children receiving scholarships for their higher education. I thank my parents for their invaluable support in my life and my wife Leena’s continuing guidance and encouragement.

In closing, I express my heartfelt thanks to God for His continuous grace and to the IM family, especially Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chan, for his invaluable contributions to my personal and professional growth.


*Ben Chan: Special thanks to Cathy Holmes for proof-reading the article.