2004 India Trip
Missionary Journal #1 – India – Aug. 25, 2004
I have had two meetings with the four leaders in the four districts of the BELC around Chennai. We work in close cohesiveness, with no westerner imposing his notions. As brothers we sit down and consider His work here and pray.
–We have decided in agreement with the MB to offer a congregation help once in its building whether in land or walls or roof or… Last Sunday (8/22) we had services at Katchur. Attendance was 90 in front of the church structure they had built to roof level. We will now help them putting on the roof. The land was obtained by the members with members also doing a lot of labor.
–There will be a printing of catechisms(1000) and other materials for distribution. Three hundred Tamil Bibles were purchased for distribution. The cost is 80 rupees with us trying to get members to pay 10 rupees. It at times is difficult as the people are so poor.
–Expansion is a continual ‘problem’, but what a joyful problem to tackle. At this time among these four districts there are 92 congregations. The BELC began in this area in 1990 with no members and now members over 4000. We have decided to begin meetings with pastors on the outskirts of Chennai. We have three pastors in our group and perhaps nine others are interested in finding out what we teach. The first one is Aug. 30-31. Another new center of teaching is at Vaniyambadi about 5 hours from Chennai. We go for two days of meetings with 12 pastors and preaching in their congregations Aug. 26-28. Pastors Sampath and D. Paul have been holding meetings there for one year. In addition to this we just concluded three days of meetings with the pastors already in our synod at Nagalapuram. There was an average attendance of 45 (out of 60). In addition to this there are a number of young men who have asked to have 15 days of classes with our lead pastors each month in order to become pastors! But this takes finances to take it on. But what a wonderful ‘problem’ to face.
–In the area of Sunday School we have not helped until this year. We will be buying a set of 40 OT Bible pictures for stories to supply in Tamil to the Tamil-speaking congregations. We hope to buy or print a set of Telegu Sunday school lessons for all Telegu-speaking congregations.
–Just a short time ago the BELC in this area had 25 VBS’s among their people. In a service at Mambakkam (8/24) the VBS children sang for us. The attendance was 55 and the VBS had 25 children. There are 47 members and land has been donated for a church structure. As of now they worship on the back veranda of a member’s house.
–How to support our pastors without making them dependent on us for a long time is a big question. We are proposing to the MB that we do the following to support these workers: loan 15,000 rupees per pastor (exchange rate is 45:1) to follow the example of Paul as a tentmaker, give a gift at Christmas of R. 1000 to each, give at this time one bag of rice to each for R. 1300 and then this each year (75kg costs R. 1300), help with medical problems among these 60 workers. Pastor Ohlmann will be bringing back all information on these to the MB.
–Other services that Pastor Ohlmann and I have had are:
—8/22 at Indira Nagar with Pastor Sampath. The attendance was 51. They have a regular church building 20 by 15. This is the kind of structure we hope to duplicate in many places for about R. 50,000. They asked for us to bring in an electric line which will be done. Imagine if you will, sitting in a rather closed building in 90 degree plus without a van. The electric line will facilitate a fan.
—8/22 at Voddlakuppam the ribbon was cut for entering the church. Your offerings paid for the completion of this building. Eighty-eight attended here. A point was made to thank the man who donated the land. There were loads of children as there is nearly everywhere. I think that way over half of India’s over one billion people are under 18.
—8/23 at Rajughandhinagar (and some people think German is bad at linking so many words together!) there are 20 members while 38 attended. Jachind is preaching here beginning the work last year. The people are scheduled tribes which means way down there in the Indian hierarchy of people. The village has about 1000 people with no other Christian church, although there is a mosque in the village. What opportunity to preach!
—8/23 at Arunjyothinagar Pastor Soma has had services here for ten years. They finally were able to put up a small shed for a little over R.5,000. We will likely help them build a regular church building for about R. 50,000. There were 40 squeezed into the little roofed area.
—8/24 Pastor Simpson does the Jesus film ministry, volunteering for this work when we gave the equipment last year. His son was having a birthday, so we gathered at Nagalapuram East for a service with 38 of the 60 members to celebrate this. Asirvatham is pastor here. Birthday’s are very often here in word only without much else.
Missionary Journal #2 – India – Sept. 1, 2004
Last November Pastor Sampath began meetings with interested pastors in the Vaniyambadi area. The number of men there is 12 serving 585 souls now. We have completed recent meetings in this area 5 hours from Chennai. Pastor Ohlmann and I taught morning and afternoon and preached in the evening. These men seem committed to our teachings. The expense was not born by the Mission budget until now. The mission board will now be asked to support the work there. Monthly meetings will continue in study of God’s Word. One of the pastors from there will attend our upcoming English Conference in Guntur. We work hard to teach fellowship in practice as well as in word. The following is a report on four congregations we visited in Vaniyambadi. We visit congregations to assess them and their work, to see how we might help (not make them dependent on us), to speak the Word, and to experience the joy of being with them.
· 8/26 At Kuttur, Pastor Daniel serves a congregation of 180 souls. The attendance was low at 38 due to early evening service. This happens so often as the field workers do not come in until much later from work. The village has a population of about 2000 with one other church. They were independent until coming to us. The building is of a permanent nature except for the thatched roof.
· 8/26 At Kadirampatti, Stephen Muthuswamy has been pastor for 11 years serving about 50 people now. In a village of 4500 there is no other church. The church of Christ was here, but closed. Our people worship in a house with 32 attending that night.
· 8/27 P. Ebinezer of Andiappanor was a pastor in the church of Christ, but now studies with us. They have about 50 members here in a village of over 5000 which has no other church. We gave out Bibles freely to the 25 who attended. Their church building is about 10×25 with cement plastered walls over brick and a thatched roof.
· 8/27 A Pappanoormedu the attendance was 33 to whom we gave out Bibles freely. With 60 members in a village of 5000 with no other church, they have built a structure of 20×30 but with no roof. There will be a request coming to us to help with the roof. Novakasi is pastor here.
For all the pastors who affiliate with us, we keep records to help us understand who they are and their background and such. It is necessary to help the memory as we are dealing with around 150 pastors in the BELC.
Before we had the disruption with Pastor Bas we did have meetings with Chennai pastors who were interested at Ambattur. The leaders here had asked me to start that again with our nucleus of three Chennai pastors who are with us. I had declined last year, though this year we took the leap of faith. A classroom at a school was given us for free use. The headmaster may well have converted to Christianity while we held our meetings. Faith carried us into the exploratory meetings. Besides 6 of us in fellowship already, we had a total of 21 others who came to find out about us! We presented our doctrinal position on a variety of teachings and will continue to hold meetings here with the prayer that many of these men see that we preach the truth. There were at least 5 men of Baptist background who heard clearly our Bible teachings on baptizing infants, the method of baptism, etc. Pray for the Word to work on their hearts. Many of the men were independents. One man was the son of a Baptist preacher who had attended the meetings previously with us under Bas. Déjà vu for him, but even better. Another man just might be material to send up to the seminary at Nidubrolu after he studies with us a year. What overwhelming opportunities to speak of the loving truth of God.
We are off to Nellore for meetings with the men who are already with us and for meetings with those who have been investigating us in classes for nearly a year. I have mentioned in the past that the BELC has five districts. That will likely be upgraded to seven districts with the growth. To labor among those who hunger and thirst for righteousness is a joy. Sometimes you can get well-nigh blinded by the whiteness of the harvest.
Missionary Journal #3 – India – September 7, 2004
Chennai District – We are asking the MB for $140 a month to support the meetings here.Our three pastors who are already with us will still attend our study meetings at Nagalapuram, as these Chennai meetings have different material to study, basically to find out about doctrinal agreement.
–8/30 We only had one service during these meetings.It was at Vivekanandanagar.They are Telegu speakers even though Chennai is Tamilspeaking.Here are many day laborers so attendance was only 21 since we had it about 5:30pm.I gave out small pictures of Jesus that change from Him in prayer to Him on the cross.Anything we can give them to help keep Him before their eyes is important.
Sri Kalahastri District – This is supervised by Pastor Bhaskar.We had thought about having him move to this area, but the expense was too great.So he will be using the motorcycle we bought to travel the distance.Services here were as follows:
–8/29 At Yadaam attendance was about 39 though the members number 28. Foreign missionary draw evidently.Fine, so long as we get them to hear the Word.Ashok Kumar is pastor here working for about one year.The village population is 350 with no other church.
–8/29 In a Sri Kalahastri ‘suburb’ we cut the ribbon on the church your offerings helped build.It is not finished, but very usable for worship.Pastor Rajamani serves here (there is more than one of the different guys in our fellowship with same names) with attendance at 72 which meant the place was packed.People at your feet as you preach, but a joy nonetheless.Rajamani was a South Andhra Luth. Church member before.So the liturgy was from that Luth. Church’s old hymnal.This is something we must do someday is work on getting hymnals printed, though first it is getting Bibles and catechisms out.
–8/29 At Ramapuram the attendance was 24 with membership of 35.The village has a population of 400. Ramesh has worked here for four years.The Church of Christ built a building and then closed up.Ramesh and his people did not overlook that opportunity, making arrangements to use that building.
Nellore District – Here all the pastors are in fellowship with us, both as we call them the ‘new’ pastors and the ‘old’ pastors.Here as elsewhere we have requests to start new meetings with new men, but have to hold off due to shortage of money.Services here were as follows:
–9/1 H. Amouse is pastor at Naidupalem.They built up the walls of a structure 10×20. We are asking the MB to pay for a roof.Attendance was 37.
–9/2 At Nernoor B. Prabhakar has labored faithfully and joined us.He has bad diabetes.Their building is 28×12 and your offerings roofed it for them.Here as elsewhere we do what we can to help.We will try to help pastor here with more assistance due to his condition.Attendance was 32.They offered us food, which I declined while Pastor Moses and our translator Sanjay did eat.It is wise for the western stomach to take precautions out in the villages in eating.Wise to be sure as Moses has been sick with food poisoning the doctor says.
–9/3 D. Simon has led the congregation at Mangalampadu for five years.Unless I heard wrong, they have 150 members with attendance of 34 that day.The electricity kept going out, so it is wise not to use a manuscript to preach from, but have it in your head and heart.The village has a population of 5000 with one other church.When Simon’s father died, Simon used the inheritance to build the church building up to roof level.We are recommending roofing it.This is a typical example of how the pastors dedicate so much to the work.
–9/4 Pastor Ravi Kumar has served at Ganddevarum for 3-4 years.There are two other churches in a village of 5000. Attendance was 48 under a thatched roof.Here as usual we say prayers for many individuals after the service specifically for specific needs or requests.A storm was approaching so the electricity bulb went out a couple times.
–9/5 Moses was sick so he just sat as his people gathered in the flat we rent for his family and meetings.There were 43 attended and a lot of Bibles in hand.In preaching over here, it is good to utilize Bible passages a lot and have people read them.
Last year the Nellore District had 93 baptisms.
Renigunta District – This is a new area as of last year.There are now 20 pastors meeting regularly with us, down from 38.We are asking for $80 a month to support these monthly meetings.We had some lively discussions on Baptism and Communion.What happens is that they have some poor or incorrect translations.For instance the Telegu Bible translates ‘wine’ as fresh grape juice!That sure helps a particular prohibitionist teaching, though a great disservice to the Word is done.That is only one example of several we came across.We give them the original meaning and use Scripture to interpret Scripture.It takes more than one presentation, but the Spirit is alive and active.Rains slowed our starting, though when we got into it, we dug deep in His Word.Here as elsewhere they are being taught the catechism and with it the Apostles’ Creed.Coming from Reformed churches mostly, they don’t use the Creed.We will also be giving all pastors copies of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds in Telegu and Tamil.
–9/6 The one service we had this time around was at one of five stations Pastor Benajie preaches at.Fourteen attended out of 20 members at Gajulamanyam.The work in this village has been going on for three years.Despite the well nigh overpowering aroma of cow urine, the Word was preached.About 100 people are in this village with no other church.During time here we also prayed for Pastor, his wife, four kids and pastor’s mother who live in what I would charitably call a hovel.Fifteen years of marriage was a time for them to celebrate nonetheless.
When the rupture occurred with Pastor Bas in January 2002 none of us would have prayed for it.God has though brought much good out of that traumatic time.One good is that there has been a devolvement.We have five solid leaders out in the eight districts of the BELC and more are rising in the work.We also have meetings each month with all pastors that stresses the study goes on until death.Sometimes it takes a while to get teachings done, but this theological education by extension allows us to train far more than in a seminary setting.To God alone goes the thanks for bringing good out of evil.
Missionary Journal #4 – India – September 17, 2004
I am now with the CLCI in India. These are some of their activities.
Gospel Meetings in the CLCI ‘04
Nireekshana Benjamin (Pastor V.S. Benjamins youngest son) has three of these a year and would like to increase to five.Pastor Nireekshana reports the following.
l. Machavaram meetings were held from April 17-19 with speakers – VS Benjamin, Jyothi Benjamin, Nireekshana and other local senior pastors.
–Time of Meetings (the same for the three sites)
Morning – 8-9 Prayers, Afternoon – 11-12 lunch, 12-3 Two Messages, 4-5:30 Procession and Special Prayers at houses along the way.Evening – 6-7 Prayers, 7-8 Dinner, 8-11:301 or 2 Messages, Active Songs, Witnesses and Special Prayer Requests.
–Nearly 500 Members attended every meeting and received the Word and blessings.Tracts and pamphlets were distributed, Bibles were sold at subsidized rates. Sunday School children performed the songs and gave a play on birth of Jesus.Some of the Hindu people came and purchased Bibles and song books.At the third meeting the Jesus Telegu movie was shown to a huge gathering.
–Highlights – An electrician arranged a 20 foot Jesus posture in colored lights in front of the meetings for nominal charges.This attracted many villagers.Five Hindu women and their children received Jesus as Savior.During the Procession through Hindu populated areas, many came out and watched.One hundred participants were in the Procession.The meetings also helped to strengthen the faith of members.
2. Sita Nagaram meetings were conducted May 4-6 with speakers – VB Benjamin, Jyothi, Nireekshana, Pastor Isaiah and some other senior pastors.
–At each site tarps, loudspeakers, chairs, tables, generator and other items are rented for outside presentation.
–Nearly 700 attended these meetings and most of them were tribal people and Hindu.Materials were distributed and Bibles sold.
–Highlights – About ten families of Tribals have received Christ.A special Procession was made in the tribal areas of the village.Some said they would come to church regularly.An old woman witnessed that her sons came to the meetings and was impressed.A Hindu woman employee received Jesus and decided to help the pastor of the church every month with financial support.
3. Vatticherukuru meetings were held May 20-22 with many of the same speakers and Pastor Israel.
–Nearly 1000 atttended and most were Muslim and Hindus.
–Highlights – Almost all the village was covered by our 500 members in Procession.Prayers were offered for people with problems.Some came to understand the importance of our doctrine and became interested in the Lutheran catechism.Some of the Muslim and Hindu people attending began to help in the meeting by giving vegetables, rice, milk, etc. for meals.
The highlight of the third day is the sharing in Communion.The men deliver their essays at times in an English that we would not consider ‘polished’, but it is still pleasing to the Lord. The reports given are exciting to hear as it is God at work.This conference is funded by the CLC/USA and though it costs about $18 per attendee, it is worth it.Fellowship is being developed between our two sister synods in India.The leaders of both churches are able to get together and learn from each other from the Word and in practical teaching, preaching and outreach.The men who give essays are careful to try to phrase what they write so that there is not misunderstanding.If there is a question or criticism, there is not debate, but willing acceptance of the correction, the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace at work.Another thing to take note of is the profusion of Scripture that is used.Of course for us of the orthodox way, this is not strange.It is not this way in many other churches.
The Athanasian, Nicene and Apostles Creeds
The Reformed churches do not use the Apostles Creed in their worship.We are working to bring this into our worship services here in India.We are also seeing that the other two creeds are in the hands of all our pastors in either Tamil or Telegu language.In introducing this to some new pastors, the question arose. “But you say there is nothing on an equal with the Bible.”We answered that that is correct.We use the creeds like we use a sermon, a product of man using the Word of God and explaining it, but not the Word itself.Perhaps next year we can have a study in the circuit of meetings on the creeds, beyond what we have in the catechism.
We will likely be getting another 2000 Telegu small catechisms for distribution in the new BELC districts for these next nine months.Another wonderful thing is that some, other than pastors, have requested the Kuske/Telegu catechism, which is bigger than the one we give out.This yearning to learn more is exciting to behold.We will not likely be able to satisfy much of this request at this time, as the cost is higher for this larger catechism to print.We will see though that all new pastors in the new districts of the BELC and the Nidubrolu seminary students have a copy of this.
We will be purchasing at least 2000 sets of Telegu language Sunday School lessons for distribution in the Telegu congregations of the BELC.This will have to be evaluated next year as to go beyond this initial distribution.The cost per set is reasonable.It is R. 15 per set, which is 33 cents.
Here is an interesting statistic.Pastor Victor reports the number of believers ready for baptism in the Cuddapah church is 102.
On that happy note, In Him, Dave Koenig
Missionary Journal #5 – India – September 25, 2004
Visitation of Congegations – Prayerfully, you will not consider this part of the report as minutiae but as an attempt to allow you to get a feel for the brethren over here who you support in prayer and offerings and the work of our representatives.
CLCI – At Yajali Pastor C.H. Yesudas, who has been in the CLCI for a long time, serves over 125 members.At the service which was out of doors, there were 81 in attendance.Serving the Lord is a family affair with Yesuda, as his brother and son are studying at the Nidubrolu seminary.In this city of around 100,000 there are several other Christian churches.This congegation has a number of recent Hindu converts.
–Sept. 17 – At Mamillapalli Pastor C.H. Prakashani has served for 5-6 years a congregation of 55.Attendance was about 48.In this city of 25-30,000 people there are several other Christian churches, but what is that small number among so many heathen?The service was out in the open again, a hazardous thing when the rains come.In this area the Communist Party is active in their anti-God way.Around the world the CP is losing ground or gone, but in India it is still a political force.In both this and the previous congregtion, they want to build ‘prayer sheds’ or in other words a place to worship.A thatched roof with open walls is basically what is needed.
–Sept. 18 – We did not go as it was raining heavily in the area of the congregation.
Cuddapah District – We held our studies in this new area with 16-18 men in attendance.A semi-open church building is rented.There was not arguing or questioning here on baptism and communion studies.These men are not to the point yet of membership.That will likely occur next year.With these studies the first of three circuits to the eight districts meeting in six places of study is completed.
Nagalapuram Study – Men from four of the districts meet here and a large to overflowing bunch it is.The second day had 55 men in attendance. We had accepted two new men about six months ago.One new pastor for study was accepted at this meeting.And even with these inclusions, we are holding back on accepting new men.This begins the second circuit of studies.At these studies we: reviewed the resurrection appearances of the Lord and their meaning, studied aspects of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds(with homework), continued our study of 2 Cor., and began with two demonstrations to see how to use flannelgraph to teach children.
Request – If any of our congregations have flannelgraph stories they are not using, we could use them.The sets we recently got were from a sister in Trinity/Spokane. And we could use more.You could send them to: David Koenig, Melody Hotel, 281 Pursawalkan High Road, Chennai 600007, India by air please.I leave India mid Nov.
–Sept. 23 – Six of us pastors and 71 members gathered for the dedication of this new church building at Katchur.Three of the four outside walls could not be plastered before the service due to heavy rains for several days.A ribbon was cut and we proceeded into the new worship center. Paul Kumar is pastor here.The pastors are very instrumental in carrying on most aspects of the work here.In this case Kumar’s house was mortgaged to get some money for the construction.
–Sept. 24 – Pastor Rajendiran has been working in Egua Puttur for five years.There is no other Christian church in this village of 500.Attendance was 48 for the service held on the road.Rajendiran spent R. 12,000 of his money to put in the foundation for a church building 28×17.We hope to help now with construction with your offerings when they come into the MDF.They have a sizable piece of ground(for them) of 12 cents.
On Sunday (26th) D. Paul, Sampath and I head out to meetings in the second circuit at Vaniyambadi which is about 5-6 hours west of Chennai
Missionary Journal # 6 – India – Oct. 2, 2004
As you consider these, remember that the work started in this area in 1990 with Pastor Bas.Then despite the rupture in our relationship with him in 2002, the work proceeded until now we work in eight of their designated districts with at least 5865 souls served by 135 pastors.To Him alone belong the praise and thanks to be linked with these brothers and sisters in His work.
DistrictNo. of PastorsNo. of SoulsSupervisor
Uthukottai 18745T. Sampath
(At Chennai on Aug. 30 we had 21 other pastors who attended.Over the year that figure will likely be reduced and stabilized as they find themselves either in agreement with us or not)
–Sept. 27 – The service was held at the foot of the Yelagiri Hills in a village, Kodayur, among the cotton fields.The pastor here, Daniel, started this mission in 2000 and now has 40 members.In the village of about 2000 there is no other Christian church.We worshipped Him on a back veranda as is the case so often, ‘even in the lowliest dwelling’.
–Sept. 28 – Paul Ezekiel has a couple new families of converts here at Mandalavadi.It is so rewarding to see them use the Bibles your offerings provided. Although this mission is only one year old, it has 66 members though only 19 attended.When we worship during the day or late afternoon, many laborers of course are still at work.Here the lady of the house (of one of the converted families) graciously offered me a glass of water.This I declined with a smile and prayer she was not offended.One knows not what wee beasties lurk in the water.In this village of 1000 and round about there is a strong presence of the RSS and such radical Hindus.To understand these radical groups think of Ernst Roehm and the brownshirts or the SS of the Third Reich.What a joy to pray for converts as we did in the midst of the devil’s sometimes virulent opposition.
Missionary Journal #7 – India – October 20, 2004
–Oct. 3 – Our service at the largest of the BELC congregations saw 105 in all.The church building was basically built with the majority of financing from the CLC.In this village of 1700 there is one other Christian church.D. Paul is the pastor here.
–Oct. 3 – Booshanathan has a population of 700, with the congregation numbering 55. Forty-seven were in attendance.The pastor here is Jayraj, who recently had surgery on a large tumor on his cheek paid by generous help from CLC members.He was glad to show me the scar on his cheek and is very appreciative.The 47 people crowded into a room that could not have been more that 8×8.Of course by sitting on the floor there is more room than if chairs were used.
–Oct. 11 – Isaac is pastor at Sarvepalli which has a church building on which they would like to raise a roof.That allows the heat to go up of course instead of being held down to where the people are.Isaac has gotten some bricks together and is asking us to help in this.The attendance was 47. As is the case consistently, individual prayers are said after the service for all who want, stating their prayer request, followed by my prayer.This takes time, but how valuable because we know it goes to the throne of grace and mercy.
–Oct. 12 – It is heartwarming to go to the service at Mudivarthi Palem especially for me, as that is where Venkataswari is.He is a young retarded man from Hindu parents who let him go to the Christian services in our church.Each year I give a gift to him through Pastor Malachi.Venkataswara looks thinner than previously, but still seems healthy and is Johnny-on-the-spot when the service is to start.I was privileged several years ago to attend the wedding of Pastor Malachi and Maria.She has since lost one child, has one and is pregnant with a third.All through ceasarean.She is weak and not eating well.Here again is one of those cases where we must help.Pray she has a second child safely.On going in the modest thatched roof, it was obvious the roof was collapsing.There is so much to do to help our brethren
–Oct. 13 – On this day your offerings paid for a celebration in handing out certificates acknowledging the pastors’ completion of the catechism study and written and oral exam.A good time was had by all.
–Oct. 14 – Thukivakam has a village population of 750 with about 50 members in the congregation.One other church is in the village.P.V. Moses Chowdury has worked for one year here gathering the congregation from converts.That there were converts was evident with many of the children still bearing the names of Hindu gods they had been named after.Attendance was 35.
–Oct. 15 – This is in a factory area, Lamco Factory.The people meet with permission in a large garage type structure of three walls.It was good we were not out in the open as it rained that night.Three hundred people live in the village.Paulson has been preaching here for nearly four years and has a congregation of 21, with attendance tonight of 19.Here they sang a hymn to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.I don’t hear very often any tunes familiar to us.
–Oct. 18 – M.V. Shekar has a congregation in this village of 40,000, numbering 56 souls.This is a heavily-populated area of this village of Madha Varam.There is one other church, a Roman Catholic.As a matter of fact, the 53 people who gathered in worship gathered in a classroom of the local Catholic School.I knew we had some in attendance who were Catholic, so I made a point of stressing free forgiveness, without works; but then when don’t we.Seven of our pastors from our studies also attended so that the music was large in volume.
–Oct. 19 – It took us a long time to get here, but when we got to our destination it was truly a joyful time.From tar road, to gravel, to dirt, to narrow walkways we traveled.The congregation at Uputuru has a church building and was in the South Andhra Lutheran Church.Their pastor, Y. Bala Sundharam, is attending our studies to see if we agree and can join together.Bibles were distributed and printed materials.Our worship could not go too late as we had to go back on some of those roads in the dark before we got to good roads.The village has 1676 people with the congregation numbering 115, most of whom were there for the service.Pastor has worked here for 4 years taking over the work from his father.The children here were very attentive.I prayed for a deaf and dumb boy after church.
–Victor is in charge in Cuddapah and has started a monthly publication, “Living Light”, which we pray he can continue.This idea of a monthly publication is new in the BELC.Like many other things, it will have to depend on our financial support for a while at least.Keep our brethren in your prayers, especially those reported on in this journal.
Missionary Journal #8 – India – October 30, 2004
Dedication – Through your offerings the second floor hostel to house sem. students and male orphans has been finished.We dedicated it to the glory of God on Oct. 22nd.We began in the courtyard downstairs and after singing and some introductory comments we proceeded upstairs to cut the ribbons on the front door.They sang as they went upstairs and as each room was entered.In each room I gave a prayer for the activities to be carried out there and the people to be there.We then did not go downstairs but into the church, as in the meantime we had been rained out.Pastor V.S. Benjamin did the sermon followed by a meal for all in attendance.
–Oct. 22 – At Chandolu we thought we would also be rained out for the evening service, but the people prayed there and it was a clear night.They have walls up (30’x15’ bldg.) and now need a roof.Johnson is pastor here with 55 members having worked here two years.The pastor’s wife is very active here with the children in Sunday School. The children sang for us.Over 1000 people are in this village with two other churches.Attendance was 53.
CLCI Stats – They have around 5000 souls in about 70 congregations in Andhra Pradesh State.Some new ones are inquiring.Among eight congregations in Chattisgarh State they have about 700 souls.In addition there are four areas where they do work among the tribals, who are very primitive and nomadic people.
Bible Institute – The attendance in the three year program is 23.Of these, eight are pastors who are in the field coming back in for training which they never had.Some of the students are also recent converts and a couple are from other churches, who we pray will see we teach correctly and want to join us.
Silent Night in Telegu – An audio cassette has been sent to Pastor Ohlmann with a word sheet of the Telegu words in English letters.I hope some can get copies of this and use for children’s Christmas services or VBS. <>
–Oct. 25 – Pudicheri is served by Paul Raj for three years now.He is one of the ‘older’ pastors having been trained under Bas.In the village of 750 ours is the only church, with a membership of 41.They are willing to give three cents of land for a building.The attendance was only 34 as the children were still in school for the day.Pray for Paul Raj’s foot which has an abcess that just does not heal up.We have given money for it, but still no healing.This is again a rural setting as seen by our gathering in the open with 5 goats tethered and grazing on bushes a couple yards behind the group, with two cows chewing the cud and relieving themselves two yards to the right, and with random chickens and a dog traipsing by.
–Oct. 26 – Manova is one of our ‘new’ pastors having completed the catechism study.He serves here at Malivakkam for two years now.Attendance was 16 in a member’s house, with total membership of 22.No other church is in this village of 450.After the service we regularly pray individually for many people and also sometimes go to homes.Tonight we went to the hut of a rather young man who is paralyzed from his waist down.He believed just a short time ago and is served by Manova.Your heart as well as prayers goes out to someone like this.What joy to know he trusts in Jesus in this hut, in the primitive conditions, with his paralysis at so young an age.While leaving in the car, we waited for a couple snakes to cross the road before driving on.I would have run them over, but was not driving.
–Oct. 27 – Arriving from Chennai for the pastors’ studies tomorrow, we had a service at Pulliguttai.Pastor Kirubhagaran has 60 members here and 32 attended.No other church is in this village of 1500.They have walls up for a church building.Pastor has worked here for nine years and it must be rewarding to have the converts he has.We worshipped in the house of a family (5) of recent converts just two months ago.Bibles are distributed so that the faith may be strengthened and grow.
–Oct. 28 – Before we got to the village of Nachayarkuppam for a service, they had been playing music over loudspeakers to sort of get attention I guess.Gideon has been working here quite a while and still has only 22 members.With 31 at the outdoor service, we can pray that the Word will gain more.At least there is no other Christian church in the village of 500 contending for converts.
–Nov. 4 – Navi Raj, the pastor, who is the son of another pastor in this district, serves 25 adults and a batch of children here at Kovur.Their roof collapsed and we are asking the MB to replace it for about R. 3000 (exchange rate is 45:1).We were out in the dark except for one lonely light.The attendance was only 21 as the only path from one part of the village to the other part had a corpse on it and people did not want to go by there.The other way across the village was under water.No other church is in this village of 600.
–Nov. 5 –Pastor John serves this congregation of 30 at Krishnapatnam which is only 2 k. from the Bay of Bengal.It was raining and raining into the church as the asbestos roofing sheets were broken in places.Seventeen people sat to one side and corner of the church building.The roofing sheets are 20 years old and thus not so good anymore. They have a permanent building which is sturdy except for the roof.No other church is in this village of 5000.
–Nov. 8 – Tirupatti is a city with a very important Hindu temple and worship center.In the hotel going up the elevator they have piped in some Hindu mumbling, “om…”.How wonderful then that we have a congregation to proclaim clearly the Gospel of free grace.John Raj serves 25 people in one section of this city along a very busy road.There are other churches in Tirupatti, and well may there be for all the evangelistic work needed in this stronghold of satan.John has been working here for about one year with converts in the group.Fifteen people were packed into the small, small room for worship.They were literally at my feet.I also had a chicken setting beneath my chair which clucked and pecked if my foot got too close.Of the many things that go on over here that we don’t see in our CLC, one lady became rigid tonight in the service.
–Nov.9 – Pastor Y. Moses has worked in his home village of Thondama Nadu for five years.A congregation of thirty gather about the Word in his tiny house.We met out front as the sun set for a service with 22 attending and various passers-by going along the road.5000 are in the village with no other church.Moses was very kind to us to offer us food after the service, though I decline as one doesn’t know what is what with the food.The regular individual prayers after the service were for: a deaf boy, an old man with a paralyzed arm, spiritual growth, education advancement, etc.
–Nov. 11 – After our pastoral studies 10 of the pastors accompanied us to a service at Ravindra Naga.In addition to the ten clergy there were 28 others in attendance, including a variety of converts from Hinduism from this congregation of 40. N. Azara has been working here for two years with no competition from any other church in this village of 5000.
–Nov. 12 – We dismissed study early this day to go a distance to an open air evangelistic service our Pastor Prabudass set up at GodigaNoor.This last service I have in India before leaving for Africa had the highest attendance of 202.It was an evangelistic service as they put on here.The village is very large of over 10,000 with the congregation of 55.Interestingly, we held the open air service in front of the Church of So. India building.This is the only other church in the village and it dates from the late 1800’s and was previously a Lutheran church before joining the unionistic CSI.So we were there to proclaim the very same Gospel Word that the first Lutheran missionary, Ziegenbalg, proclaimed in 1706 in India.The District Ch. Moses preached as well as I, and Pastor Victor did well in Bible distribution and pumping the crowd up (you have to be there to understand).
Pray for our brethren in India.We have more men who want to study with us than we can handle at this time.The congregational members seem eager to hear and believe.I had the chance to preach and pray, to see and understand in 48 of the congregations this time around.
Pastor D. Koenig