A Journey That We Thought Would Never End
After a very busy July getting ready for our next trip, we were barely able to get everything done by the time we were to leave. Actually, we were not completely ready, since Jerry still had to prepare a few lessons on which our coworkers wanted him to teach. We left Memphis on July 30th expecting this trip to be like most of the others, a tiring trip but not too eventful. However, this time we were sadly mistaken. Our flight from Memphis was delayed about two hours, which meant that we missed all our other flights. Delta Airlines had a problem finding flights into Kilimanjaro, Tanzania that were not completely booked, but after being on the phone with them for over one hour, we finally had new connections, although they were terrible. We were forced to travel to Atlanta, New York, Accra, Ghana, Nairobi, Kenya, before finally arriving in Tanzania. A trip that should have taken only two days wound up taking a long four days. Fortunately, since tickets for Wednesday were considerably cheaper than they would have been just two days later, we had left early, which meant that we really did not miss many teaching plans, although Paula did miss a meeting for the preachers’ wives.
In Tanzania, Stephanie Stafford was our hostess for the two weeks we were there. Her husband, Cy, was in the States raising funds for their work in Arusha. They have a nice home, and we had a pleasant stay with Stephanie and her mother, who also lives with them. We arrived at her house about 1:00 am Sunday morning; nevertheless, we hit the ground running with both of us teaching at church that morning. During the next two weeks, Jerry taught two Master’s classes with nine students, and Paula had several ladies’ classes. Jerry had taught these same students last year at this time, and it was good to see them again and already have that connection.
The first week, the East Africa Lectureship was held at the school. This was entirely sponsored by the African churches with several countries represented. It rotates among different places every year, and Paula was able to teach the ladies for one hour each day. Next year it is scheduled to be held in Ghana. How they think this is East Africa, we do not understand. Ghana is in North Africa.
Paula had a couple of interesting experiences. On Monday of the first week, she had a Bible study with a woman, and some native women studied further with her over the next few days. This woman was baptized about one week later, so Paula felt she had at least a small part in her conversion. Then on the first Wednesday night we went to a congregation thinking that Jerry would present a lesson. However, there was some mix-up, probably with the lectureship, and no men were there, only several women and children. After some quick thinking, it was decided that Paula could teach a little while, but the only one able to translate was a young 10-year-old girl. She did a fabulous job, especially considering her age, and so a bad situation was salvaged. This again illustrates that one never knows what conditions one may face when in the mission field.
After two weeks, it came time to go to our next stop, Kathmandu, Nepal. Jerry Golphenee, an American vocational missionary, has an apartment, but since he and his wife were in the states, he offered us the opportunity to stay there, which meant that we were quite comfortable while in Nepal. It had been a couple of years since we had been to Nepal, so we were very glad to see the Christians in Kathmandu again. This city is a very large, sprawling, capital city. The traffic was horrible, and the roads were worse, which contributed to the traffic problems.
The programs were planned in detail as to what we would be doing, so they kept us both very busy every day. We arrived early Saturday morning after traveling all night from Africa, and after a quick breakfast and shower, we traveled a short distance in the city where Jerry preached twice to a large group of Christians. The next day we actually taught three different groups of Christians. On Monday while still in the city, we walked a long distance up a mountain road to a one-room native home with mud walls. All the preaching school students enjoyed a day out by also traveling to that home for a teaching session. The man of the house is one of the instructors at the school as well as a small farmer. Paula returned to this home on Thursday for a ladies’ program.
During the rest of the week, we split up with Paula having a ladies’ program at each of the three meeting places we had earlier visited, and Jerry taught on New Testament worship each day at the Bear Valley school that meets in Kathmandu. A group of Christians associated with the school have formed a committee and plan on translating the Voice of Truth International into Nepali. They were able to find a very reasonable printing price; thus they will be able to distribute this all over Nepal and into parts of India. The churches in Nepal are scattered, and many are quite remote; so this should be a great encouragement and teaching tool for the various congregations. We left funds to print Voice of Truth International as well as the Church of the Bible in the Nepali language. Both of us thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Nepal and felt that our time was well spent, especially since they implored us to spend two weeks with them next fall.
World Evangelism has been working with Arjunan for many years sponsoring his TV programs and printing work. This last spring, we provided funds that allowed him and three other experienced preachers to start a part-time Bible School for interested Christians who are unable to quit their jobs to attend a full-time preaching school. Each student will meet every month with a local teacher, and every six months all the teachers and students plan to come together, so this time we met with them in Chennai. They are currently working with twelve students, and the school seems to be going well. Two of the students made a special effort to tell Jerry how much they appreciated being able to attend the school. Several other preachers also attended the classes taught by Jerry, and Paula taught a group of ladies at the same time. Both of us had to contend with major street noise (many horns blowing) as well as fans to keep cool, so it was certainly not an ideal situation.
Coonoor, J C School of Evangelism
Philemon and his entire family joined us in Coonoor for the graduation and final session of the J C School of Evangelism. This school is dedicated to teaching and encouraging Christians, both men and women, to be soul winners for Christ. This school has been held in several locations, with this being the fifth graduation, and each time it has been extremely successful in maturing and motivating the Christians. Included in the class were multi-generations from the same family. One of the graduates was a 70-year-old woman. All of her family were faithful Christians; two of her grandsons also graduated from the school, and one is thinking that now he wants to preach. We could tell from the attitude of everyone that she was sort of a matriarch and very much respected. Three congregations were involved in the school, and at the close, the preacher of one of them stated how much it had helped. He said that before the school started, the congregation was decreasing in number and nearly lifeless, but during the course of the school, many members had come back, and now the spirit was back. We have seen results like this in every location in which the school has been held. Philemon is doing an excellent job in this work, and currently the school is going on in three different locations in three states.
Hill Station Preacher Seminar
This was held in a cool, damp and rustic setting, but the Indians enjoy leaving the heat and going to the cooler areas. This was a three day seminar attended by 40 preachers and 12 women, all invited by Rajanayagam, one of our TV speakers. Paula taught the ladies the entire time and they seemed to really enjoy her lessons. Jerry taught a subject that was quite different from any of their normal seminars. Churches are just like churches in the U. S., except probably worse, and they often have problems within congregations and between preachers and congregations. To better equip these preachers to deal with those problems, Jerry presented some information on conflict resolution, and they were eager to discuss and learn about some principles that might help solve conflicts. Many of them commented on the usefulness of the discussion. Thus, we feel like it was time well spent on a much needed topic. Rajanayagam thinks he can get another similar group together, so we may try to do it again next year with completely different people.
This is an annual 3-day lectureship completely sponsored by the churches in the state of Kerala in south India. It is always well attended by people from at least three states, attendance probably around 250. World Evangelism was well represented with two of our TV speakers preaching as well as Jerry. He spoke twice, Philemon Raja twice, and P K Varghese three times. Each of them also led two discussion groups, and Paula led one women's discussion group. The lectureship centered on the theme, "He who wins souls is wise,” taken from Proverbs 11:30. We attended this lectureship two years ago, and this time we knew a surprising number of people, having met many at different places. It was good to see familiar faces again. After seven years of traveling to India, numerous people recognize who we are. Many commented on how much they appreciated us being with them, and they pleaded for us to come back next year. We hope that we can.
This lectureship is directed by Saju George, a long-time faithful gospel preacher in Kochi. He and P K Varghese are hoping to start a school of preaching in 2015. It is certainly needed as there is no brotherhood school in this state and language group of about 34 million people. We at World Evangelism are hoping we can help fund this school as well and teach some short courses in the school.
September in the USA
After arriving back home on September 10th, we hardly slowed down. We immediately started visiting congregations on both Sunday and Wednesday night. One of those congregations was the Dorris Chapel congregation near Trenton, TN. This was a special visit, since Jerry’s brother,Wayne, was recently appointed as one of the elders of that congregation. He has always been very supportive of mission work and certainly he and his wife, Connie, have been very supportive of us in our work. In addition to visiting several churches, we also attended a World Mission seminar held at Heritage Christian University in Florence. September 22 found us at the Harding University Lectureship. This was a special occasion as the Choates and World Evangelism were honored for their longtime commitment to mission work. Thus, we were there to share the special evening with Betty.
October will not be any less busy as Jerry is speaking at the World Mission Forum at the Forrest Park congregation in Atlanta, GA, October 16-19th. The next week he will be traveling with Wayne and Jeremy Barrier to Vietnam for two weeks. This is his first trip to this country, but they wanted him to become familiar with that country, so he might possibly become more involved in the work there.
As always, none of this would be possible without your continuing support, and we deeply appreciate and thank you all for your interest and support.
Jerry & Paula Bates