We recently finished another mission trip, and once again, we thought it was a very successful one. We visited with most of the World Evangelism team members in India, contacted both Bear Valley Bible Schools, did much teaching, and witnessed nine people put on Christ in baptism. In this newsletter we want to tell some individual stories of people along the way, rather than just recounting our travels.
We started in South India with a seminar in Kangayam. Nearly 30 people, some traveling a long distance, attended a three-day seminar on 1st Peter. These were not just preachers, but primarily were preachers and church leaders who work at a secular job and have not had the advantage of Bible school training. They have good basic Bible knowledge, but the goal is to provide some in-depth teaching which will ground and mature the church. We hope to do more of these in the future, maybe twice a year, but we will have to see if time permits for that many.
Visakhapatnam, Andrah Pradesh
We spent two weeks teaching in this Bear Valley Bible school. This is a great school, with good leadership and faculty. These men are hard workers and have a passion and vision to train future church leaders. Greg Hamlin from Lewisburg, TN traveled with us to Visak, and he taught the undergraduates, while I instructed the graduate students. Seventeen students are currently enrolled in the undergraduate program. Most schools do not have an advanced program of instruction, but this school does. Ten are enrolled in the graduate program, all of whom are either teaching in the school in Visak or Skinner’s Garden, the other preaching school that John Dean and his father, Samuel Raju, oversee.
The graduate students are very busy men, all of whom preach in addition to teaching at one of two schools. For example, one of the men named Vamsees, a very intelligent man, travels about 12 hours by train each week to teach in Visak. John Dean actually lives about three hours from Visak, either he or his Dad making the trip every week. About three times a year, teachers from the U. S. will teach for two weeks each time. Thus, all graduate courses are taught in three years, and these men will finish their course of study next year. I taught Humanism & Cults and Advanced Sermon Preparation in this session. Another group of students are already planning to enroll in the next advanced class. At least three of those men are from the state of Orissa, and hopefully, we can begin another school with one of these men when they complete their studies. In this way, we can spread the gospel to many other basically unevangelized areas of India.
One interesting thing occurred on a Sunday night. We were in a small rural village for an evangelistic meeting. This was way back in a very rural part of India. Greg preached the sermon that night, and after the service, one person wanted to be baptized. The church building had no baptistry, just as many buildings do not. Of course, we wondered where and how they were going to baptize him at night. However, a short walk from the building was a small pond where cows were watered. Naturally, there were no lights whatsoever, so we walked down this dirt road with a few flashlights, watching where you stepped to avoid piles of cow manure. After a few minutes, we arrived at the pond, and he was immersed by the light of only a few flashlights. Many might think they should have waited until the next morning, but like the Philippian jailor, he was baptized “the same hour of the night.”
John Dean’s wife had a baby while we were there. However, he only missed one day of school. He traveled by train to his home late one afternoon and night, making it home before the baby was born. The next day the little girl arrived, and then he came back to the school that night and was ready for class the next day. We should mention that this was not planned. The baby was not due for another 3-4 weeks, but as you know, sometimes you cannot predict when babies are going to be born. Paula had some ladies classes during the weeks we were there. She also helped the teachers with some office work, copying, etc.
It has been a year since we have visited with Arjunan. He is a faithful TV speaker, and he organized a three day retreat with many preachers, their families, and some of their contacts. This is a good time for teaching, fellowship and encouragement. I taught several class sessions on 1st & 2nd Peter, and Paula taught ladies sessions during the three-day retreat. Several commented on how good the retreat was, and six were baptized, which certainly made the retreat worthwhile.
Philemon in Madurai
For the first three days we taught in the J. C. School of Evangelism. This was the last session of this school with 26 students graduating. Once again these students have been very busy spreading the gospel to all around them. There were a wide range of ages in this group with the students ranging from 16 to about 70. Everyone can and should be an evangelist.
In addition to the school, we had a leadership seminar and also a Ladies Day. Several preachers as well as a few past graduates of a previous school attended. Three people from the Karurapalayam School of Evangelism including the preacher made the approximately three hour trip to attend, and it was good to see them again. We always wonder about the long-term effect of this school on its graduates. I asked this preacher how his work was going, and his answer was very short, yet very telling. He simply said, “Super!” I don’t think I have ever heard a preacher describe his work with this word. The new congregation that was started by the main group is continuing to grow. He said that 10-12 people commonly attend worship after only a few months of holding services.
Leaving the Madurai area, we traveled a long distance to the state of Pondicherry on the east coast, a few hours south of Chennai. Philemon had previously talked with a preacher in that area about hosting a school, so he wanted to meet with him. This church was a good congregation. About 150 people currently attend Sunday worship, and this church completely supports its own preacher. They recently had to relocate, and they constructed their own building without any help from any one else. One interesting thing happened while we were there. We were visiting with the preacher in his home and immediately after entering the home, we noticed an enlarged picture of J C Choate hanging over the door. Naturally, we enquired if J C had ever been to their home, and they said no; however, many of his books had made their way to their place, thus the respect they had for his work. This again illustrates the far reaching effect of literature on spreading the gospel in India and the rest of the world. Even though J C had never personally been in that area, he obviously had a great impact. We are privileged to be able to continue that work and even help to enlarge it.
We were not able to be in Delhi very long, but while there, we met and talked with Thang Lian, a man from the state of Manipur. This is a state on the extreme eastern edge of India, bordering the country of Myanmar. The Choates have never worked in that region of India. It has been a very unstable part of India, and it was very difficult for Americans to even go to that region. For the last year or so, the region has been open to visitors, so we might be able to do something there now. We met with Thang about the state of the church in his area and his vision for the region. He is an extremely talented man, so maybe with his help, we can begin some work in that area. We are always looking for more opportunities to help faithful brethren.
Just before we traveled home, we went to Chandigarh for a couple of days to meet with Ernest Gill. Ernest is the director of the North India Bible College, a Bear Valley school. We also met Bob Turner, the Extension Coordinator of all Bear Valley schools from Denver, CO, who also traveled with us to Chandigarh. He was impressed with Ernest, his sincerity, and how hard he and the staff of the school work to make it successful. There are two teachers in the school besides Ernest, and they travel several hours by bus each week in order to teach in the school. Ernest also translates the Truth for Today publication, a printed preacher training program overseen by Eddie Cloer, a teacher at Harding University. In addition, Ernest has also just began translating the Voice of Truth for us in the Hindi language, the most widely spoken Indian language. The first issue came out in October while we were there. 5,000 copies will be printed, and Ernest receives no money for the translating, other than printing and postage. The students help with the mailing. As you can see, he is a very busy man. We are also proud to announce that the first Nepali edition of the Voice of Truth was due from the printer in October. Confidently, we look forward to much good being accomplished by these two new editions of the Voice of Truth.
As you can see, we had another busy trip, but it was a very productive trip. We were privileged to witness several people being baptized, which just simply illustrates that the people with whom we work are busy working and teaching while we are not there. The work continues to grow and expand, and along with that, comes more opportunities. We thank each of you for your support and pray that we might also use the money wisely in the service of God. God bless each of you.
Massive Literature Distribution
We continue to distribute vast quantities of literature in containers as we have opportunity. The Global Harvest magazine, which is included with this mailing, was delivered the same week that we arrived back in the country. We have been mailing those out to various churches and individuals since then. About 3,500 pounds of literature was shipped to Dallas to be sent to the Philippines the next week. About half was the spring quarter Bible class literature from 21st Century Christian in Nashville. They had no place for their old literature, so they have started donating it to us if we can use it. We hate to see that much literature wasted. In about one week we will take about 2,000 pounds of our books to Nashville to be sent to Uganda. We have shipped over 7,000 tracts to Korea. Recently, Betty carried many books to Freed-Hardeman to be given to the Bible students. We cannot over-emphasize the importance of good literature both here and abroad. Only God knows the ultimate good that is done, because literature continues to bring results many years after it is printed.
Jerry & Paula Bates