November 2003 : India
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I greet all of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords.
I begin with giving thanks to God and to all of you for your care for this ministry. I am reminded of the Song of David, found in I Chronicles 16:7- 36, which in part declares, “” Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Make known His deeds among the peoples”” The wonder of marvelous works never ceases to amaze me. I just recently returned from India. Arriving in India on November 4, I immediately was met by Pastor Philip Timothy who hosted me. We traveled to the Sura Tribal region in Northwest Andrah Predesh. There was such a sweet refreshing atmosphere among the people. They were excited to receive more of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit was wonderfully present and he moved mightily. We traveled by auto as far as possible then it was walking in to the village. Always it seemed these villages were built on the top of the mountain or at lease near the top. There are simple villages with small simple huts. Some of the villages we visited were totally won over to Christ. In other places some still practiced Animism. Pastor Timothy has done a good work. There are over 250 tribal villages in this area and since 1997 he has planted 58 Churches. He trains up those who seem to immediately demonstrate a zeal and commitment to the Lord. Then he releases them to a village to establish a church. It is not easy for those who come to Christ. The other villagers will beat them and treat them as out casts. They blame the Christians for anything bad that happens. They blame them for the children getting sick or dyeing, for poor crops etc. They say the demon gods they worship are angry because they have accepted another god. But the believers are not to be shaken; their faith in Christ is solid. Many times there will be the only person who is a Christian in the village and for many months suffer this trouble. While in the villages I was blessed to see the Lord do His wonderful work of transformation of life. One family received Jesus and then wanted to rid their home of the family idol god. This is no small thing. This has been a family god for generations. Yet finding the truth they wanted to be fully free. We took the items out of the hut and the believers in the village marched through the village singing praise songs to beating of drums that once pounded out the rhythms for demonic drunken dancing. In another village we baptized those who had received Jesus. There were 68. When they are baptized this is the final act of separation from all the old ways. They can never return. On man who was baptized was an Animist Priest. He was in his 60s. He had long hair that went down past his waist and when he would perform a ceremony he would whip this hair around and around chanting to the demon gods. When he received Jesus he asked for his hair to be cut off. The Spirit of God came upon him and he was down as a dead man for four hours. Many thought he was dead. I had the privilege of baptizing this man. The day that I left the Sura Tribal area we conducted a pastors training meeting. There I met all 58 of the pastors. These are wonderful men of God who are putting all they have into winning their entire tribe to Jesus. I say WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE
After leaving Pastor Philip Timothy and the tribal ministry north of Sirkakulam I traveled to Hyderabad. Upon arriving in Hyderabad my good brother Rev. M.N. Ashirvadam of Great Commission Ministries India greeted me at the station. What a joy to see him again. Last year we traveled to many Gypsy villages and preached the gospel at the bus stops. A great many people in those villages received Jesus. Ashirvadam and his wife Miriam began an orphanage giving up their own home to provide for the children. They now are caring for 30 children. We ministered at a new church planed last year in a slum area of Hyuderabad. The next morning Pastor Ileene Benjamin overseer of Calvary Commission India picked me up. We went immediately to his resident school and orphanage and shared in a special gathering of the school Children. 100 children that attend the school are orphans cared for by Calvary Commission. Another 85 are children from the surrounding area villages. It is here at this facility that Pastor Benjamin conducts one of the three Elijah Schools of the Prophets. In these three schools men are trained for the ministry. These men are committed to see the nation of India come to Christ. I was honored to teach them and local pastors for the day, 33 where present. There is such a great need for equipping the saints for ministry; people in the villages are coming to Christ daily by the simple preaching of the gospel with the demonstration of power. I was greatly blessed as we went to Lingampet a large village some 120 Km from Secunderabad. Pastor Francis planted a church here just a short time back and now many are in the church with more coming. We spent the day teaching more students of the Elijah School. That night we conducted an open-air meeting in the village of Komatipally. Many people responded to the gospel, 2 men who lost their hearing in one ear, now were hearing. Testimonies of other works of the Lord came forth. A woman with a tumor in her stomach declared the tumor disappeared. What a joy to see the Lord Jesus working today as He did in bible days. He seemed to always minister to people where they were, right out in the streets, in public view for all to witness. We stayed in Lingampet for the night. The following morning we taught more in the church and then traveled to Errarum a village 20 km away. It was unusual but we conducted and open-air meeting at noon. This is harvest season; it was not expected to see many people come. But praise God, more than 200 people in this village of 6,000 came. Once again the clear, simple message of the gospel was received by the people at least 150 people responded to receive Christ. We laid hands on many for healing. From the meeting we walked in procession singing praises to God heading for the river approximately 1 km away. There were 9 women who were to be baptized, from the witness of an Elijah School student coming to the village. When we arrived at the river, the water level was too shallow. But with a Whatever It Takes attitude, several men jumped in the water and quickly made a dam of rocks and straw. Along the banks were gathered most of the people from the meeting and many villagers who followed to see what was to happen. The nine women were baptized what a joy to be part of this. The following event was so exciting. As the pastor and the Elijah School student were in the water preparing to come out one man from the crowd said he wanted to receive this Jesus and be baptized. He had heard the message preached from beyond the gathering and followed to see what was to happen. Now seeing the boldness of these women he too wanted to commit his life to Jesus. Please understand that this is a major happening. For these villagers to be baptized it is a final separation from there past live and from the society of the village. This man boldly openly declared his renouncing of all other gods to receive Jesus and follow him. Then, are you ready for this, eight more men stepped forward, several were elders in the village and 3 more women in total 21 people were baptized on a Wednesday afternoon truly it is harvest season. We returned to the village to eat our lunch. After lunch I sat outside and soon several of pastors and students gathered around. By Gods grace a young man who was traveling with Pastor Benjamin and I spoke English, he translated for me. I informally taught these men of God the word of God. They are so hungry and thirsty for His Word. After about 30 minutes other people started stopping by. One woman stepped forward and asked for prayer. She had a tumor in her breast. God wonderfully took that tumor away. Them many started to come for prayer. It was as if it was noised about that Jesus was in the house. Three women were demonized and when the prayer of faith came and my hand was laid on them moaning and screaming they were set free. Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today, and Always and His gospel is the same and His ministry is the same. That night we conducted another open-air meeting, more people came to the meeting. After preaching the message more than one hundred responded to receive Jesus, many more came for prayer. At the conclusion of the meeting we presented the Elijah School student to the village as the pastor for the village. All were pleased. Now in the village of Errarum a new church was established with a beginning membership of 21 and more than 250 professing believers. Not bad! Yeah God!!!. We began the next meeting with testimonies. For the next hour or more, people spoke of the works of the Lord in their lives. Miracles healings of cancers disappearing, tumors shrinking, sight returning, issue of blood stopping, and miracle provisions of the Lords supply. These testimonies were concerning the work of the local pastors and the meetings of the day. I tell you I was sent to encourage but I believed I received more than they did. What wonderful faithful brothers and sisters we have in the remote villages of India. Saturday the 14th of November a travel day once again. I am off to Tenali, which is on the East Coast of Andrah Pradesh. My host for the next week will be Rev. JohnPaul Pinapati. He is the director to TEYO Ministries Tenali. We have been working together for over three years. He has been used by God to plant many village churches. He is using the Elijah School of Ministry International material to train up pastors and leaders for the work of the ministry. The material is useless without the men and women of God who have a burning in their heart to see the great commission completed. The next two days we conducted a pastors seminar. Each day men and women traveled some distance to come and participate. Some are blessed to have bicycles; others walk or take a bus. I feel very honored to minister to these men and women, in my opinion these are some of the others mentioned in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. These go out to the villages in the tribal regions, rural villages and places unknown. I see them as world changers. They go without pay, without expense accounts, withourt any compensation and without any notoriety. Many times they are rejected and ridiculed and even beaten for their efforts but they go preaching the kingdom of God is at hand. It is the love of Christ that compels them and the great commission their only directive. I am truly humbled in their presence. Yet at the same time I know my gifting and calling. For this time, not counting the Holy Spirit, I am the only source for their instruction. By Gods grace His anointing,which is more than sufficient the work of an apostle is being done. Foundations are being laid and the believers are being equipped for the ministry. Thank you for your prayers and the work continues.