2009 Work

Feb. 2009
CLCI Evangelism Effort
Pastor Ude worked in the CLCI previously in a trip with the CLCI team in an evangelism effort. Now it was my turn. In our meeting with the CLCI leaders previously we arranged how long to be up there. More Bibles that I brought, as well as New Testaments and tracts of the Gospel of John which we had given them before, were distributed as we went to the congregations in two newer areas of CLCI. The two areas were Narasaraopet (Guntur District) – nine congregations visited, and Ongole(Prakasam District) – four congregations visited. Last year Pastor Ude went to other areas and did not go to the new area at Narasaraopet, so we continue to see expansion. In Ongole last year Pastor Ude visited two congregations, whereas now there are four. The CLCI is finding places for their constant dozen graduates each year. The work in the Narasaraopet is under the direction of Pastor Kruparao (formerly Baptist who does not wear shoes or sandals at all, but goes barefoot everywhere). Next year he will begin attending the seminary. The pastors who have joined in this area were instructed and tested. It was great at Ellala Cheruvu meeting right along the side of a highway under a canopy to be able to give a Bible to a Hindu couple who came specifically because they heard that a foreigner was there. The church at Kakani has moved from RC to Baptist to CLCI. The originally scheduled congregations were changed and switched, but that is just the way it is. Among the Narasaraopet group at Pedakondaipalem village with a population of 2000 there is no other Christian church. Here a Hindu husband and wife converted and started inviting others. One of the new men from Ongole is also attending the seminary.
At Chinthalapalem Pastor George (who graduates from the CLCI seminary on June 15th) is working with 15 Hindu families beyond the congregation. Several of those people came to the worship, including a young woman who possibly exhibited evil spirit work. Working with the CLCI team we went to 13 congregations. Of these, six were the only church in the village, five had one other church in the village and one in a village of 3000 had three other churches. Of all these 13 one has a Lutheran background in the Andhra Ev. Lutheran Church, in Gundepali. Rejoicing is in order to see these developments.
The ‘team’ consisted of: Jyothi Benjamin, two pastors – Barnabas and Prem Kumar, with seminary student Rao. Nireekshana Benjamin joining us at Ongole. The keyboard is played by Jyothi. A portable generator is along to supply current when the electricity goes out. There is a lot of singing by members of the congregation, followed by the sermon and individual prayers for most of those who attend.

March 2009

Pastoral Visitation in the BELC
We have started a visitation to all pastors district by district. This is with D. Paul as president, the district chairman, Ude and me. Naturally, we will visit each pastor to encourage him and say a prayer when there. The purposes also are: to encourage teaching his people the catechism, deal with any problems, assist the district chairmen in visits, get to know the pastors better and see in a family setting, check out the worship site or church building, update statistics of congregations, check up on medical problems and self-help loans and so on. This should help in our fellowship relationship. Including the Andamans this means that by the end of this year we should visit most of the 491 pastors with the district chairmen and/or president. This is not counting the 15 new at Chittoor. We just finished the Sri Kalasti pastoral visitation, which was that we basically ate and drank our way across the district. Though the pastors are poor, they were very generous in giving us refreshments nearly everywhere. I was really looking forward to beginning the visitation and have not been disappointed. In my estimation it  has been even more delightful and beneficial than I anticipated.

Profile of Koppedu District BELC
They now have 32(26 in ’08) men working in 34 stations. One of the men has three stations and the new men from MLBS are helping in congregations, which may then start preaching points. The men of the district are from three groups: the original ones from Bas’ training, the ones added in the district meetings for study and the MLBS graduates. There are 1920(1475 in ’08) souls in congregations ranging from 12 to 362. The 362 is at Koppedu itself. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is in a sense a mother church. Eleven of the preachers live at Koppedu and came from the congregation.  D. Paul is the pastor at Holy Trinity, district chairman and BELC President with a variety of other chores also. He has seven children which makes him the pastor with the most children in the district. We can only pray God gives him a long life of viability for His Work. Koppedu was one of the original districts way back when. It also has the largest building. You have to remember though that the congregations are for the most part small in numbers of members.  Some other interesting notes follow.

  • Nallatur with several new men now has four living there.
  • Nagalapuram has six men living there.
  • Satyavedu has Babu Victor preaching there and at two other places, a rather busy fellow.
  • Puttur has Selva Raj there preaching. He is a primary school teacher and has been very active in trying to get things advanced. These two larger cities are important in trying to reach out beyond the village level.

In land and buildings, since Koppedu is one of the original districts it is ahead. We helped to build 8 church buildings. Land has been purchased in Puttur town. In addition a congregation that joined from Alapakkam has a building.
As to the self-help loans,through the visitation we find that a number of the loans have been used for other than business: a daughter gets married, a medical problem arises, a hut is replaced with something sturdier. While we would not agree with this use of the money, we can’t control. And who are we to intervene and lambast. The fact remains though that if there is not repayment, there can be no more loans. A fact of life like the other matters. The goose that lays the golden eggs must be kept alive. There have also been some good business attempts: a couple men set up provisions stores, one got seven goats, another a cow (though if one of those beasts dies it is a problem all around). We have found that those who had a bit of land and put the money to cultivation generally lost money. One man in Sri Kalahasti put the money in the bank on fixed deposit and gets 9.5% interest. Sehr interresant nicht wahr? In Koppedu we found a couple of the men had bikes that were worn out, so I gave 3000 rupees and said to sell the bike for the balance. They need a good bike to go to their stations. We came across the usual medical needs and requests that work on one’s heart. If a millionaire, we could take care of all, but since we are not… For Asirvadham and Swami Doss I gave 7000 each for hernias in that part of the male body which the females do not have. Both men had been hesitant to go under the knife, but then decided to. Asirvadham was spending 500-1000 rupees a month on pain pills. Matt through his brother’s memorial fund is helping a young woman(Rajendiran’s daughter) who is eight months pregnant facing a C section. And her husband has sent her home, because he does not have the money to pay for that, the scoundrel. This only adds to Rajendiran’s list of concerns.

May 2009

VBS in India
Stateside our congregations are beginning to consider the VBS programs for the summer.
In the CLCI they have their central VBS program during the Christmas school break. The CLC has consistently in these last years given financial support for the around 1000 children who attend at Nidubrolu. Since it is during the Christmas break, there is a pageant put on in which the children perform the Christmas story.
In the BELC the VBS’ are scheduled in various congregations. We support the effort by giving: around 1500 printed sets of stories and pictures, crayons, 700 plaster plaques and paints. The summer break is from the last week in April until June 12th. Generally in the first and second week of May the VBS is held.
Pastor Ude and I had the joy of attending a closing program of one of these in Chennai last Sunday night. It was in a long thatch-roofed building with along the walls a display of the pictures the children had drawn of the stories they heard. Besides singing and recitations they had the added dimension of the dances the students put on. In this program there were about 80 students. May the Word continue to enliven.

August 2009

News from the ELCC – The ELCC, our sister church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been beset with problems from within and without.  Peter wrote, “In this rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Pet. 1:6-7 They have to keep their focus on the coming of the Lord and the solution to all our earthly problems and in the mean time then their faith will grow through the adversities.
Pastor Muzakuza continues to gather the local pastors for Sunday afternoon studies and makes trips to other districts to work with pastors and congregations in their own areas. The translation committee has completed seven more pamphlets in French or Swahili and these will be posted to our website www.lutheranmissions.org so that more people may take advantage of them. They have an ambitious program of work before them as they look at what next to do.  The catechists have encountered difficulties in travel to congregations to teach. Also, some who were trained then left, while the faithful continue. A couple years ago a small self-help project was started with the ladies of the churches in Lubumbashi of selling perfume, the proceeds of which they used to buy two sewing machines. This was carried out through the help of Martin Essien, a brother from Nigeria. Now they want to expand their self-help projects. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Congo that God grants them peace within the church and opportunities to reach out and the spiritual and financial means to do so.

September 2009

News from South Africa
Denis Mulumba has been trying to register a church with the South African government, but to no avail so far. He has found a friend who is willing to go with him in visits to people to try to gather a congregation. Being from Congo, the South African government keeps him at arms length until they are sure he is integrating himself in their society. He is taking a university course to help him set up a website where he can post our teachings in essay and publications translated into French. His goal is still to gather a congregation of French speaking people around the Word. His visa problem was solved thanks to the Lord so that now he has a two year visa to be in South Africa. Pray that the website can be up and going and be a means to reach out and that the two men will continue to be zealous in going to people about our wonderful Lord Jesus.

October 2009

“Representatives of four church bodies met in Nellore, India for two days in October to hear reports on the work. Seven men each came from the CLCI and the BELC of India. For the first time we invited Pastors Thang and Kham from the CLC of Myanmar and Pastors Raju and Rajan from the Himalayan CLC Nepal. One very important matter we considered was how we are reaching out. In India we are looking to go especially into villages where there is no Christian witness. While we  go into other villages also, we keep keep alert for the unreached above all. In Nepal the men are facing an even smaller percentage of Christians among the population than in India. Although in Myanmar the outreach through the years has been among the tribes, the CLCM is very concerned about reaching out to the Burmese, who are very unevangelized. Opportunities abound for these four church bodies to work in their native countries. While in the USA we find a lot of churches, if one goes to many foreign lands it is not so. It is estimated that 99% of the unevangelized live outside the USA and Canada. Ninety-one percent of foreign missionaries minister to professing Christians, not the least-reached. We are trying with our foreign brothers in our small way to go to the unreached. Pray that the 18 men who met in Nellore will be strengthened by the Gospel, which we heard in abundance, to lead their church bodies into the villages where Christ is not worshiped.” — David Koenig

December 2009

Reading through some recent literature from the Lutheran World Federation gives joy and sorrow. It is a joy to see the Lutheran church in Ethiopia increase in numbers by 2.9% to 5,012,486. It is sad to see the European Lutherans decline by 200,000 and the North American Lutherans by 100,000. But it is even sadder to see the LWF spouting their nonsense on unionism, women pastors, social gospel and ‘greening’ work. We have to thank our dear Lord that He has preserved us with the precious truth of the Word that we don’t vitiate our message with the tripe that they do.
What is now the CLC of Myanmar previously had made application to the LWF for membership. Fellowship is a wonderful thing and intensely so when facing persecution as they are in Myanmar. The present church withdrew their application to the LWF and is pursuing fellowship with the CLC. The LWF still sends its invitations to meetings to the CLCM, even though they have told them they are not interested.