October 6th found us back in the U.S. after being in India and Nepal for nearly two months. We arrived back in Memphis and the next day we were visiting Jerry’s father and two of our supporting congregations in the Trenton, TN area. After being overseas, we are always glad to be back, and arrive re-energized to do the work that needs to be done. The next issue of the Voice of Truth was waiting to be shipped until we returned, and so about two days after being back in the office the new issue arrived. Betty and the Rushmores were overseas, and for about ten days, there had been no one in the office. It always takes several days to get caught up, but it was good to be back to some semblance of a routine, which is what we do not have when we are overseas.
Jerry barely was over jet lag until he left for the Chimala Mission in Tanzania, Africa. This is a large work sponsored by the New York Avenue congregation in Arlington, Texas. This mission effort includes a primary school, hospital, and a school of preaching. This school includes both a graduate and undergraduate program. He taught Gospel of John and Advanced Hermeneutics to an excellent class of 14 graduate students.
Jerry was honored to be there for the undergraduate graduation. Nine students received their certificate of completion from the school, which is always a joy to see. Several of both the undergraduate and graduate students are from the neighboring country of Malawi. There is no Bible school in Malawi, and many journey to Tanzania to receive their Biblical training. This school plans to admit a record class in 2013, and they will have about 35 students next year. If that holds true, then this school would be the largest school associated with Bear Valley including Denver. It will also be one of the largest brotherhood schools in the world.
Jerry was also privileged to again witness the value of good literature. The undergraduate students were each given one of our “preacher boxes.” This is simply a mixture of sermon books, study books, etc, that we packed and sent to them on a container. This container was actually shipped nearly a year ago, but was tied up in customs for 7-8 months so it only arrived at the mission a short time before Jerry arrived. Also on the container were several boxes of individual titles which were distributed to my class of graduate students. He will always remember one man’s remark after seeing the many books that he was given. “I can’t believe this. Are all these mine?” These few books were probably more than he thought he would ever own and was overjoyed at the prospect of having so many good study books. Reactions similar to his are common as we receive many thank you notes and letters from churches and preachers in many foreign countries that have received the Voice of Truth or other study books. We could not do this without the good support of many individuals and congregations who realize the great need and immense value of good literature.
While in Tanzania Jerry was also able to begin discussions of possibly translating the Voice of Truth into the Swahili language. Swahili is spoken by 4 countries in Africa and this would be a tremendous asset to the growth of the church in this large area of Africa. Hopefully, some of the ones associated with the mission will be able to begin this work.
Changes in India
Even though we travel to several other countries, the work of World Evangelism is primarily focused on India, because the Choates had lived and worked in India for nearly 50 years and the people there are dear to their hearts. As you might expect, things have changed tremendously in that time, some good, and some not so good. We have even seen some changes in our five years, but
Betty Choate was able to return this fall for the first time in eight years. She could hardly believe the great changes. Changes in infrastructure such as airports, subways and new roads mark India’s transition to a fast developing country. She also noted how much prices have increased, remarking upon her return that she could find nothing that she considered cheap any longer. People are becoming much more materialistic with a correspondingly increase in incomes. Associated with this is a significant emphasis on education, sometimes even to the extreme, at least in our estimation. However, much of this increased wealth is limited to a relatively small percentage of the population, most of whom are not Christians. Thus, the church is still mostly composed of poor individuals and families.
Betty thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the ones with whom she and JC had formerly worked. She also was able to find out much more about the new Hindi TV program which just recently began. Hindi is the largest Indian language with nearly half of the population able to speak Hindi. This will work hand-in-hand with the Hindi translation of the Voice of Truth, which began last year. One highlight of her trip was witnessing the opening of the new church building in Delhi. This project has long been in the plans, but various lawsuits by the local Hindus prevented this until now. She commented that the building was beautiful and functional.
Goings and Comings at the Office
While Jerry was in Tanzania, Paula was alone at the office. It reminded us of the movie “Home Alone.” Fortunately no thieves or catastrophes materialized while everyone was away. Paula said that things were peaceful, with no shipments or big events. It is imperative that someone is at the office most of the time. Obviously, we prefer to travel together, but we both know that there will be times when it is advantageous and cost effective for only Jerry to travel. I appreciate her willingness to stay home alone.
The end of November found everyone back home, and it was good for the team to be together again. On November 20, John Dean and Irven Skinner visited the office. As you may remember John Dean works directly with the Visakha Valley Bible Institute as well as Skinner’s Garden. Thus, he was visiting many of his supporters. While traveling in the states, he collected quite a bit of Bible material, and he brought it by for us to ship to him in India with our regular shipments that we send to preachers all over the world. Including his books, we sent about 1,000 pounds on this one shipment.
Things are constantly changing around here, and we never know what might come up. For example, on the Monday after Thanksgiving, we received a call from a man with Gospel Chariots. This is a mission effort in Africa that uses semi-trucks to hold gospel meetings, distribute literature, etc. They were planning to add another truck to their work based in Ghana, Africa from which they could then travel to surrounding areas. Anyway, they were sending a container of materials to Ghana with which to outfit the truck, and they were hoping we could help supply some literature. Of course, we are always glad to help mission efforts such as this one. The container was soon going to be shipped from Arkansas, and they were collecting materials in the Little Rock area. Providentially, that following weekend we had already planned to visit a congregation on the western side of Arkansas and would be passing through Little Rock. Thus, we loaded about 1800 pounds of literature on our trailer, including a few boxes of material that we had collected from various congregations and transported it on our way. In addition, we “backhauled” material as well. On Sunday morning we visited two congregations that were very close together near Murfreesboro, AR, and we collected some old material from one and song books from the other. In addition, we stopped at Des Arc, AR on Sunday night and collected some more song books. We arrived home late that night after a busy and fruitful weekend.
Furthermore, the following week Betty had planned to travel to Dallas to work with Justin Hopkins on the new graded literature program. Mission Printing was sending a container to Nigeria in January, and one of their co-workers in Nigeria had requested some of our literature. Thus, they had already called and asked if we could send some material. We had planned to do that in January along with visiting congregations in the Dallas area, but since Betty was going, we just packed her car full with about 1,000 pounds of books that she carried to Mission Printing. If you are keeping track, that is about 4,000 pounds of books and materials shipped out. We do not do this all the time, but that is one thing we are busy doing while we are here in the states, as well as constantly visiting various congregations. It keeps us very busy; nevertheless, we still enjoy the work.
A Personal Note
Jerry’s father passed from this life on December 3rd. He was 91 years old, and even though his physical body had slowed, his mind was pretty sharp. He enjoyed family and friends visiting and was blessed to live in the same town all his life. Jerry’s brother, Wayne and his wife, Connie, along with other family members were good to care for him. We were able to visit him quite often even though we were out of the country so much. He was a great example of living the Christian life. He was a deacon for many years at the Trenton Church, never missing a service and was usually among one of the last to leave the building. He loved singing, and he and my mother used to go to all the county singings. Several memorials in his honor were given to us as well as the Dorris Chapel and the Trenton congregations. We appreciate the kind thoughts of so many.
We have to plan our work at least tentatively nearly a year in advance and our trips have to be planned and tickets booked a couple of months ahead of departure. Jerry plans to make four foreign trips this year. He will travel in mid-January with Gary Fallis from Dallas, TX to Visak, India for two weeks teaching in the Bible school located in that city. We plan to be at the F-HU lectures in February. Both of us will travel to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and India the end of March and April. Near the first of August Jerry will travel for two weeks to Tanzania, Africa and about the first of September both of us plan to travel to India, Sri Lanka, and probably Nepal. If any of you would like to join us, let us know. May God bless us with the ability to carry forth on these plans.
Recap of 2012
2012 was a very busy and fruitful year. Our co-workers in India and other countries have baptized hundreds of people. We regularly read of baptisms, Bible studies, meetings, etc. We do not tabulate and report large numbers of baptisms as some missionaries do. We do not feel that God wants us to try to take credit for something of which we are only a small part. We are all, including you, only co-workers together, but to God be the glory.
Jerry actually made five overseas trips this year, which included visits to India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal, Honduras, and Tanzania. Paula visited the countries of Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and India. The Voice of Truth is currently being printed in 5 foreign languages, Tamil, Telegu, Hindi, Nepali, and Paite. The first issue of the Paite edition was printed near the end of 2012. We facilitated the shipping of approximately 7 tons of literature sent primarily to the countries of Tanzania, French speaking countries, Trinidad, Philippines, Nigeria, Gyana, Ghana, Malawi and India. In addition, the English version of the Voice of Truth was distributed to numerous countries, which amounts to about 58,000 individual copies. Furthermore, there were several titles translated and printed in other languages that have not been included in the above figures. We hope that this helps you grasp the wide scope of our work with which we are privileged to be associated.
Both preacher schools are doing a great job of training future church leaders and evangelizing their respective parts of India. Some of the activities of the students of the Visakha Valley Bible Institute are listed below:
Number of People Baptized: 84
Number of Bible Studies Conducted: 617
New Congregations Established: 4
Christians Restored: 28
Gospel Meetings Conducted: 153