Our immediate plans are to leave March 11th for the island of Sri Lanka, just off the southern tip of India. We will spend a weekend there, and travel to Myanmar, spending nearly two weeks teaching in a Bible school. We usually do this every spring, and we know we will have some very hot weather, which is rather nice after a long cold winter. The last weeks will be in various places in India, returning on April 17th.
These last two months have been very busy. We have visited 16 congregations within two months, even after teaching two weeks in India. As one might say, we have not let any grass grow under our feet. Without the help of so many, we would not be able to do anything, so again let us say thank you to all our supporters. We enjoy the work that we do, and we believe much good is done for the growth of the kingdom of God.
Jerry spent the last two weeks of January in India teaching in two schools of preaching and visiting with our coworkers in Delhi. The trip went fine, except for travel problems. We have come to accept some problems as part of mission work, especially when you travel as much as we do. Jerry arrived in Delhi about 1:00 a.m. as expected; however, he could not find one of his bags. It was an odd shaped box of books that we were going to mail to Visakhapatnam, India. International travel allows two bags, so this saved shipping cost as far as India. Unfortunately, he could not find it, and it took a long time to complete the paper work. All this time, Vinay David was waiting outside the terminal, but he knew what was going on, because Jerry called him on our Indian cell phone. That phone certainly comes in handy. Anyway, it was nearly 3:00 a.m. before they left the airport, finally arriving at Vinay's house about 4:00 a.m. By this time Jerry had been traveling about 32 hours. The good news is the box was delivered the next day.
While in Delhi, Jerry had a good visit with all the Davids and preached Sunday morning at the worship service. Their Hindi TV programs are going well and bringing in many good contacts from a very large area. This is increasing the need for more follow-up materials. Recently, Vinay requested additional funds from the World Evangelism team to print some Bible correspondence courses. During our travels, we often deliver funds for various purposes. By doing this, we know that the money gets to where it needs to go in a timely manner.
In order to spend all day teaching at the North India Bible College in Chandigarh on Monday, Jerry planned to ride the train five hours. He was supposed to arrive about 8:30 p.m. Sunday night; however, due to heavy fog, the train was delayed leaving over two hours. Vinay again stayed by his side until the train departed. More time was lost along the way, so he did not arrive in Chandigarh until 1:00 a.m. Monday. Ernest Gill was waiting for him at the train station for over two hours. Nevertheless, they were ready to teach on Monday morning. Jerry also carried on the train 10,000 tracts that had been translated and printed by Vinay. This was composed of 10 different titles and would be a great help to the students as they go out at various times to evangelize.
In 2014 World Evangelism assumed the oversight and funding of the North India Bible College. In February we visited all the congregations that support it. Jerry wanted to spend a week teaching at this school, because that is the only way to really see how it is progressing. This way he could spend time talking with the staff and students and gain a better understanding of the quality and goals of the students. Four students graduated in February, and one of them is an older student who has been working a full-time job in addition to attending the school. He must have been extremely busy during this time. He is older, ready to retire in three years, and his goal is to move to his hometown and begin the church.
The class due to graduate in 2016 is composed of eight men, and they seemed to be dedicated to the goal of preaching the gospel. One in particular stood out. He is married with two young children. Of course, his family is living with his parents, while he is in school, and they are in Mumbai, which is approximately 1,200 miles from Chandigarh. He is the only person in his family who is a Christian, so obviously he doesn't receive much encouragement and support from anyone, including his wife. This is a commitment that we cannot truly grasp! When he graduates he wants to move to his home state of Uttar Pradesh and begin the church in places that it currently does not exist. Students coming that far from their homes are common for this school, because Hindi is spoken over a very large area, and this is the only Hindi speaking school of preaching as far as we know.
The next week Jerry taught at the Visakha Valley Bible school. There is a great contrast in weather between the two places. Chandigarh is cool and damp with no heat in the classroom, while Visak is very pleasant, even needing fans. January is the best time to visit south India, because it is very hot any other time. Both of these schools are two year full-time Bible schools, just like the schools in the states. He taught the same course at both places, the Work of the Preacher. This school will have a graduation on April 10th, and we plan on attending the graduation. Since it would not be possible to teach at that time, he coupled these two schools together in this January trip. Twelve students are due to graduate, but several more attended the classes every day.
The second week was filled with activity. Jerry taught all day, and had night meetings on two of the evenings. We always enjoy these night meetings and the opportunity to visit with Christians and usually many visitors from the community. There was a rather large crowd at one of the meetings. The meeting place was a house with three small rooms. Each room was completely filled and many were sitting outside on the street. Many of the people could not even see Jerry while he was preaching.
This school is an excellent school with great leadership from Samuel Raju and his son, John Dean. Thirty men have graduated from this school in the past, and all are still faithfully working for the church. There are few churches in India that can fully support a preacher; therefore, it is not uncommon for a graduate from a brotherhood school of preaching to be offered support from a denomination. As you might imagine, this is a great temptation, and several have succumbed to it. The good news is that the ones from this school seem to be well grounded, and none have yielded to this trap.
Paula was very busy with office work while Jerry was in India. Because of the end of the year reports, etc., January is always hectic. We shipped out Volume 82 of the Voice of Truth before Jerry left on his trip. A group from French Camp came and helped one Friday while he was gone. In addition, a group from Collierville came down on a Saturday and helped pack many overseas boxes of literature. The first week in February was spent at the Freed-Hardeman lectureship. Jerry was picked up at the airport on the way to Trenton to our bed and breakfast at Wayne & Connie Bates, and Jerry preached at two churches Sunday. There was no time for jet lag as work must go on. World Evangelism always has two display tables, and we traveled early Monday morning to Henderson to set up the display. Betty Choate joined us later Monday. We always enjoy seeing so many of our supporters during this week. We never know what opportunities may present themselves, and such was the case here. During the week, Freed-Hardeman was trying to reduce their inventory of their older lectureship books. They were selling them at only $1.00/copy. Many people took advantage of this, and World Evangelism bought several complete sets to give to our foreign coworkers. There still remained a large quantity, and we bought the rest at only $.50/copy. It was fortunate that we had extra room in our trailer going, because we certainly had no room coming back. We also brought back many old song books from the Dorris Chapel congregation and some used literature from the Adamsville church. A group from Strickland came down on Saturday, February 21st, to help sort and repack those lectureship books as well as load the trailer for our next trip to Dallas.
On February 16th Jerry was scheduled to fly to Denver for a meeting with the extension staff of Bear Valley Bible Institute. The flight was booked to leave from Nashville, since it was cheaper, plus he could visit churches on Sunday in that direction. However, as you may remember, a bad snow/ice storm hit Nashville that day, so his flight was cancelled. Since he couldn't go that day, he cancelled the whole trip. He was iced in for a day and night in a hotel close to the airport.
On the weekend of March 1st we traveled to Mission Printing in Arlington, TX to deliver more literature to them to be shipped overseas. Much of this was material that we picked up from churches such as song books, Heart/Heart, Gospel Minutes, Bible class literature, etc. This will be very useful to anyone who may receive it. While there we also visited two churches in the area, Oak Grove in Mt. Pleasant and Sherman Drive in Denton. These churches began supporting the North India Bible School last year, and we had never visited them before, so it was good to meet them.
Voice of Truth International in Nigeria
We continue to print the Voice of Truth in Nigeria. Makinde Olefumi, a native Nigerian, is in charge of the printing and distribution of these books. He also directs the Southwest School of Evangelism, a school associated with Bear Valley. 3,000 copies are normally printed, but they had a big nationwide preacher's meeting in January, and he wanted extra, so we sent extra funds to print 6,000. In most countries, it is cost prohibitive to print such a small number, but in Nigeria, the cost of printing is about the same as elsewhere, only about 60 cents/copy. Furthermore, there is no shipping involved in the distribution, so this is a win/win situation.
Because of your faithful support, the gospel is being proclaimed around the world. Thanks!
Jerry & Paula Bates
Government Vs. Christianity in India!
When I was in India in January, I noticed an undercurrent of concern among the Christians. Officially, the government stance has been and continues to be freedom of religion, but that is changing. The current ruling party in very pro-Hindu, and they are proud to announce that India is a Hindu nation. Nowhere is this attitude more pronounced that the attitude towards Christians. Christians have often been the target of localized persecution and social pressure, and little is done to the offenders, since Christians constitute such a tiny minority of the population. For example, recently Philemon and several others were distributing tracts on a street corner, and several Hindus began harassing them. The police came and as a pretense arrested the Christians. When they questioned the police why they were being arrested, the police simply answered they were saving them from being beaten or killed. However, nothing was done to the Hindu offenders. That illustrates the current situation in India.
Notice this quote from a recent email from John Dean in Andra Pradesh and the state where Christians are the most numerous.
“Brethren, Christianity by large is in big threat by the raging Hindu Movement in our country. Since the ruling party is Hindu supported, also our nationals are predominately Hindus, these two things are a big threat to the Christians and Christian institutions and also charitable organizations which are being supported by Christians.
Communist ideology of the government in economics on the other is tightening the financial freedom of the common man. Even though there is no persecution directly in a large number, but their indirect moves with a long term plan to eliminate Christianity in India is very scary. Trust me it is the whole idea, they are working from the ground root level. Recently one Hindu organization made a commitment to start a Hindu operated school in every village of our country and want to accomplish this task by 2017. Some radical groups have vowed to clean the Christianity by 2021.”
This emphasizes we must do all we can while we can, because one day soon, the door may close!