Posted on February 20, 2024 Cloud of Witnesses – Feature Paul Vick

Cloud of Witnesses – Celebrating 210th Anniversary of International Ministries

Rev. Paul A. Vick. JD

Treasurer of International Ministries


Although not fully understanding the path on which God has been leading me, He led me to the Board of International Ministries (IM)/ ABFMS sixteen years ago.  I have served as Treasurer for the last twelve years.  When Ben Chan invited me to engage with our Indian partners facing critical challenges on many fronts, I knew this was the path that God had paved for me.  My wife, Joyce, a hospice chaplain and retired teacher, was a full partner in this decision, immediately touching the hearts, particularly of women and children, during our many travels to celebrations, church dedications and other gatherings in remote tribal communities over the years. Both my wife and I have been blessed by the hospitality afforded us, especially by those who have very little in the way of material goods. Yet they express profound joy in their communal settings, inviting us to share in that joy.  We have learned to accept with gratitude, meals prepared by those who often go without sufficient food and honors bestowed, not because of anything we may have done, but because of the transforming power of God’s love that has touched their lives resulting from the work of many IM Global Servants down through the years. We have been humbled by having our feet washed upon entering tribal villages.  We have been invited to share in the unbridled joy of tribal group dancing from remote tribal villages to major celebrations and gatherings.  We have witnessed perseverance in the midst of poverty, suffering and persecution buttressed by a faith that God is with them.  We have seen how one village when in need, was turned away by a neighboring Hindu village; responding to that same village by sharing water from a well when that village was in need.  We are blessed as God has opened a window to the transforming power of His love.

I believe it is no accident that I was brought to the mission field during a time of seismic transition in how IM can continue its more than 180 years of mission work in India.  Faced with unfaithful stewards of property once belonging to IM, new rules restricting how mission could be resourced, inability to send Global Servants into India, and historical distrust among peoples from different parts of India, IM sought to forge a new way forward.  I believe the experience I gained through my legal work and involvement with religious and not-for-profit organizations, have added value to creating the structures that builds for the future.  In 2014, an Indian Trust, the American Baptist Foreign Mission Legacy Trust (ABFMLT), was created to be a platform through which future mission initiatives can be implemented.  That same year, IM/ ABFMS helped bring representatives of all its India partners together for the very first time, resulting in the creation of the India Mission Coordinating Committee (IMCC) and its four working committees.  A legal team was created to respond to the many legal challenges facing IM, churches and partners.  In 2023, a consortium of theological educators from the nine theological colleges in Northeast India, the Northeast Christian University and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York convened in Dimapur, Nagaland to envision what collaboration among the colleges might look like.  None of this would have been possible without the presence of the Holy Spirit opening hearts and minds to the vision God set forth before us. There is no greater blessing than this.

I have been encouraged by many over the years, to share a story of God’s faithfulness in the midst of great tragedy.  In the book, Where The Cotton Grows, I tell of my parents, Robert and Dorothy Vick, who followed God’s call deeply embedded in their hearts, to share God’s love on the mission field in China.  While traveling to their first mission assignment in West China, their plane caught fire and crashed in a remote area of China, killing everyone on board, including my 3-year-old brother, Teddy, leaving me, at 16 months old as the only survivor.  Perhaps the greatest gift given to me is to have been born into a family with an unshakable faith in God’s love and to live into that love by serving others.