.B.A.S.I.C Newsletter #138

I  Cor. 16:9 ‘For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’

February 16, 2009
Pray for One Another
In the Nellore Dist. of the BELC an older pastor, Moses,  has gone to be with the Lord, District Chairman Moses Raghu reported. May the Lod comfort with the promise of the resurrection, the widow and her two married daughters. It is not death to die in the Lord.
Pastor Kham of the Church of the Lutheran Confession of Myanmar(a name change from UMELC) faced arrest and interrogation from the Indian Army at his crossing of the border from India to Burma(Myanmar). The Lord brought him through the trials and now pastor is back in Myanmar. We thank the Lord for his return despite the arrest.
Vacation Bible School
Among our brothers and sisters in India work has proceeded in translating lessons into their languages of Telugu and Tamil to be used in Vacation Bible Schools.
In the BELC they have VBS in May of each year. This last May in just six of their fourteen districts they had over 5292 children attend VBS. There is the teaching of the Bible stories followed by dancing, singing, painting of pictures all of which is based on Bible themes. This year they also used plaster plaques which the children painted and took home. When Mission Helpers come from the CLC-USA they also help in conducting more VBS work.

While the CLCI has satellite VBS work in other congregations their main effort is at Nidubrolu where they have VBS in December. Last year 1160 children came. Jyothi Benjamin reports, “The 22nd of December 2007 was a special day for Bharani, a 12 year old Hindu young girl from Chandole village, who came to the CLCI Mission campus to attend the VBS. Jesus changed her life forever. When Bharani came in that one week she met strangers, but they enveloped her with their love and care;she heard beautiful songs that brought peace to her troubled heart. She started to learn these beautiful songs with much eagerness and joy; she opened her heart to listen to every story that was shared. And she came to know the name of ‘Jesus‘ for the very first time in her life. It was then she started to utter the name of Jesus and she has received Jesus as her Savior. The stay of Bharani was very short, but that made a life changing impact in her life. She learned that Jesus is the true and living God. She learned how to pray to this living God, and even learned to share the Gospel…She went away with a New Testament and with the assurance that her Jesus will be with her always and never leave her. It’s one of many witnesses that I could share with you… Quite a few Hindu and Muslim children also participated. ” For the next VBS they are praying for 2000 children and many teachers and volunteers. We join them in prayer.

Bible Correspondence Course-CLCI-India
Since 1993 416 individuals have completed the Bible Correspondence Course sent through the mail by the CLCI. Anyone is welcome to take this free 12 lesson course. This last June five women and five men came to Nidubrolu to receive their certificates of completion. After that a new ten students enrolled in the course so far. Pastor Jyothi reports, “Through this Bible correspondence course, many of the non-Christians have been learning more about who they are, where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going and finally knowing that Jesus is their only Savior…a free Bible is also given…We are happy to tell you than many Hindu and Muslim friends are also taking this Bible correspondence course from us. We will not give out any information about them to anyone. Everything will be held strictly confidential. No information provided will be made available to anyone else. These people are silently accepting Christ as their Savior. We are praying that through them someday their entire families could come to Christ. There won’t be any outside pressure for them to take this course. If one person from a family is converted, he could guide the entire family in his own manner…The Holy Spirit has been working in them through this ‘invisible way.’
Now the CLCI correspondence course is also planning to offer Telugu Bible correspondence course through computer online. We will be placing more information about seminary course and free Bible correspondence courses through regular mail and computer online in our CLCI website soon. The CLCI seminary has been designing a special correspondence course to reach and disciple the large prison population in Guntur District. It will be ready soon, God-willing.”


by Theo Graebner    —    Chapters from the life of the early church.


(Jesus to the shepherd of the church at Smyrna;) Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.  Rev. 2:10.

Natural man, man whose heart has not been changed by the gospel, is full of enmity against God, against his word and against his church.  In first attempting to destroy the church, the devil found a willing tool in that monster of cruelty, Nero.  He employed the otherwise just and well-meaning emperor Trajan to serve his ends.  And now we shall hear of a persecution which came upon the church about the year 167 when Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman world.  Aurelius was a man whose love of justice was greatly admired by historians of the day.  But he, too, like Nero and Trajan, was a man untouched by the power of the gospel, an unconverted man, and so we need not be surprised to hear that also that so-called “good” emperor stained his soul with the murder of Christians.

The hatred of heathenism again flared up in Asis Minor, and demanded many victims, especially in Smyrna.  There Polycarp was still bishop.  We remember his name from the story of Ignatius’ martyrdom, where he was referred to as a fellow-disciple of Ignatius under John the apostle.  He had been installed by the apostles as shepherd of the flock at Smyrna, and had associated with many persons who had known Jesus.  His name was known throughout Christendom, and among the members of his church at Smyrna he was highly esteemed and beloved.  Polycarp was a man of venerable appearance and majestic, prophet-like countenance.

Polycarp was sought out when persecutions broke over the church at Smyrna.  When the officers of the law entered his residence, which was then in the country, a few miles from Smyrna, he met them and surrendered himself to them without a struggle, saying: “The Lord’s will be done!”  With a serene countenance he met his captors.  These had never seen him, and now were much impressed by the aged bishop’s majestic appearance.  He offered them his hospitality, and requested an hour’s time, to see strength in prayer.  For a space of two hours he prayed with such power as to move even the hearts of the rough soldiers to reverence.  They then placed him on a foal, and rode him to town.  On the way he met two prominent Roman citizens who advised him to sacrifice to the emperor and so save his life.  Polycarp uttered no reply.  When they became insistent in their demand, he expressed his determination to do nothing of the kind.  They they upbraided him and knocked him to the ground.  Their blows injured Polycarp severely, and it was with some difficulty that he proceeded on his way to the Circus.  Upon his arrival there, he was led before the representative of the emperor.

“Are you Polycarp?” was the pro-consul’s first question.

“That is my name,” replied Polycarp.

The pro-consul then expressed a hope that Polycarp would consider his advanced years, and swear by the spirit of the emperor, and curse the Christians.  Polycarp turned with a firm gaze to the multitudes that filled the circus, made a motion of the hand in their direction, and said, with a sigh, and lifting his eyes to heaven: “Thou wilt cast aside these infidels?”

The pro-consul insisted. “Swear” he demanded, “and I will release you. Curse Christ!”

The biship replied:  “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he has never done me harm.  How can I curse my King, who has saved me?”

When he was importuned, once more, to worship the emperor, he said: “I am a Christian.”

The pro-consul now employed threats. He gave Polycarp to consider that continued refusal to deny Christ would mean death by being cast to the lions.  The bishop said: “Let them come.  It is a rule with us not to turn from good to evil, but to change from unrighteousness to righteousness.”

The heathen judge now threatened him with fire.  Polycarp answered, quietly: “You threaten me with fire that burns only a moment and then quickly dies out; but you do not know the fires of the judgment to come, and the eternal punishment in store for the godless.  But why delay longer?  Do with me according to your pleasure.”

Polycarp spoke with such confidence and happy assurance that even the pro-consul was amazed.  He now had the heralds proclaim in the Circus:  “Polycarp confesses that he is a Christian.”  The great heathen mob now burst into fury and shouted with a loud voice:  “Away with him!  This is the destroyer of our gods, who has taught many not to worship them any longer.  Set the lions upon him!”  Others demanded his death by fire, and the pro-consul approved of their choice.  Wood and kindling were hurriedly gathered.  The Jews were specially active in erecting the pyre.

The venerable shepherd now laid aside his mantle, and after his hands were tied behind him, mounted the pyre.  Devoutly he thanked God, in a loudly uttered prayer, for having made him worthy of suffering martyrdom for Jesus’ sake.  Soon the flames enveloped him.  Eye-witnesses assert that the fire did not touch him, but billowed away from him, in the shape of a wind-filled sail.  The executioner was commanded to stab him with his dagger.  The body of their martyred bishop was not given to the Smyrnese Christians, who desired to give him burial.  Only after it was burnt according to Roman custom, the believers were permitted to gather the ashes of their spiritual father, and to command them to the earth by Christian burial.

Who that has read the story, can ever forget the figure of that ancient confessor, ready to be devoured by the flames, at the end of so long a life in the service of Christ?  Remember that you, too, promise to be faithful unto death in the confession of your Christian discipleship.  You, too, must be determined rather to be burnt, like Polycarp, or to be fed to the lions, like Ignatius, than deny your Savior, who laid down his life to save you, when he died on the cross.  True, your own determination and courage, your good intentions, do not suffice to give you the performance of this vow.  But he, who upheld the ancient martyrs in their great trials, is with you, and the power with which he furnished them for the conflict is given also to you in the means of grace.  There is such power in the gift of the Spirit, which you received in holy Baptism, such divine strength in the Sacrament of the Altar, that the believer may be assured of the victory in all his conflicts.  A most remarkable example of such Christian fortitude in trials is told in our next chapter.

Attachment of Symbols #13

Pastor Koenig