January and February were two busy months again. It seems all of them are, but Paula always says that I asked for it, so I shouldn’t complain. The two weeks in January were hectic finishing our newsletters for the last of 2012. I was also finishing preparations for my classes in the Vizakha Valley Bible School. We were hoping that our newsletters would arrive from the printer before I left on January 17th, but that did not happen, so Paula had to send out the newsletters with Betty’s help.
As I mentioned, I left on January 17th, journeying to India for two weeks to teach in the Visakha Valley Bible School. I say I went by myself, which only means that Paula was not with me, because I was not alone. Gary Fallis from Dallas, TX accompanied me to teach. We had traveled together on this same trip two years ago, so this was a repeat performance as one might say. Paula did not come on this trip for two reasons. Since we would be teaching in a school of preaching there would be little that she could do, and she does not want to just come along for the ride. The second reason is that there was too much work to do in the office. So she stayed behind to finish our newsletters and other work while I made this trip without her. I think she was somewhat glad I left. That gave her a good excuse to spend a few days with our grandkids. I’m sure all you grandmothers can relate to that.
Visakha Valley Bible School has two programs of study, a graduate level and an undergraduate. That provided a good chance for both Gary and I to teach all day. One taught the graduate course for one week and the other taught the undergraduates. On the second week we swapped groups. I taught the Work of a Preacher the first week and Advanced Homiletics to the graduate students the second week. We were privileged to attend the graduation ceremonies of the first graduate class. Nine students received their Master’s of Arts in Bible degree. All of these men are gospel preachers and also teach in one of two schools of preaching. Since I often visit this school, I feel a special connection with this group of men.
In April of this year, the second group of undergraduates will receive their diplomas, and Paula and I plan to be there for those ceremonies. While I was at the school this time, I also asked the director regarding the first graduates. There were 16 graduates in the first class, and I wanted to know what they were currently doing. I knew what a couple of them were doing because I had seen them at various times but I wanted to know how the whole group was faring. I was very pleased with the answer. All were still faithful to the Church. All but one were either preaching regularly or working very hard with a local church. I thought this was very good, because we must remember that in India there are no established churches to which a new graduate can go and immediately receive a full-time preaching job. Since they leave school with no job, it is hard for them, and several in similar situations do not preach at all or worse, join denominational groups for promise of support. I was pleased that none of this group had done that. I think this shows the good instruction and grounding that the school provides.
While in Visak, I received a call from Philemon in South India. He was requesting funds to print 100,000 tracts. There was a Pentecostal healing convention covering a period of three days. A huge crowd of nearly 100,000 was expected and Philemon wanted to pass out as many tracts as possible. I was glad to be able to help them in this endeavor. However, before they could distribute the tracts, all had to be folded by hand, because in India the printer does not fold them. How would you like to fold 100,000 pieces of paper? He and several church members worked and passed out about 90,000 tracts, Bible lessons, etc. They have received several contacts from this effort. This illustrates the brave hard work that many of the Christians in India are willing to do for the cause of Christ.
Back in the States
Just as tracts are important overseas, they are useful here as well. In late February a woman from Duluth, GA called and asked for a free Bible correspondence course that had been offered on a tract. Paula asked her where she found the tract, and she replied a doctor’s office. All of our books and tracts have our address and phone number. About a week and a half later she called back stating that she received the lessons, completed them, and requested more information. We have 80 different tracts available, costing only 10 cents each. Many of these tracts are also sent free of charge overseas.
I returned home just in time for the Freed-Hardeman lectures. I arrived back in Memphis on Saturday night, February 2nd, but didn’t go home. Paula picked me up at the airport with a trailer full of supplies for the lectures. The first stop was at Backyard Burger for supper. We traveled to the Selmer, TN area, where we met Betty and visited two churches on Sunday. That afternoon we trekked to Freed-Hardeman and put up our display for the lectures. We were able to visit with many contacts and friends during the week long lectures. We also visited the Maury City congregation on Wednesday night of that week. Betty journeyed back home on Tuesday, and we finished the week out, packing everything up on Thursday afternoon and making the trip home that day. It was good to finally be home again, but on Friday I was back in the office trying to get caught up on some things.
As we came in on Friday from Freed-Hardeman, our co-worker, Louis Rushmore, left for Guyana, South America on Thursday, and was gone for most of the month of February teaching preachers and leaders throughout that country. It seems we are not together in the office very much since both of us travel so much both here and abroad. We are thankful to have both of them back in the office, just in time, because Volume 75 of the Voice of Truth came in March 5th.
We have continued to be very busy reporting to congregations in Tennessee, the boothill of Missouri, Mississippi, and Monroe, LA. We were gone every Sunday and every Wednesday night except for the last one in February. This takes a lot of time away from the office. I have also been doing some extensive research on some of the teachings of Hinduism and working on my next lessons that I will be teaching on our next trip. The first weekend in March we were back in the Nashville area. We had a meeting with all the World Evangelism team members including several elders of the sponsoring churches at the Liberty church in Dennis, MS. Saturday night we journeyed north to the Hohenwald and Centerville area to visit two churches. On Sunday night we traveled to Nashville, and on Monday we delivered about 1800 pounds of material to Healing Hands. Most of the material will be shipped to Jamaica on a container. This is the first time we have shipped anything to Jamaica other than the Voice of Truth. There are many churches in Jamaica including a School of preaching that also trains preachers from Cuba. The rest of the material was Spanish which will be shipped to Honduras a little later. In addition to this material, the Voice of Truth is also available online free of charge to anyone in the world. We have plans to make the other materials available online, but we have not completed that project yet.
Jerry & Paula’s Future Plans
Jerry has made two trips since the time Paula has gone, and she is eager to leave again for the mission field. We leave March 20, and our first stop is Sri Lanka. From there we travel to Myanmar, teaching for about a week and a half. This is our annual spring stop at a school there. From there we spend April in India in various places. We will visit both schools of preaching in India, teaching at Chandigarh for a week, and attending the graduation of the other school. We are going to two new places on this trip. One stop is Raipur in the middle of India for two days of teaching. Our last stop is Manipur doing some preaching and also meeting with the man who is translating the Voice of Truth in the Paite language. The first issue was recently printed so we will be talking at length about that project. I have been there briefly before, but Paula has not, so she is very eager to see this new area and meet some new people. We return home on April 30.
We continue to thank you for your support and interest in our work. We could not do it without you, and may God continue to bless you as He is blessing us.
Jerry & Paula Bates