Monthly Archives: October 2012

2009 India Trip Report

Report by Pastor Ike Graham

The Rickers and Grahams left for India on Wednesday, May 13, 2009.  We arrived into Coimbatore on Friday, May 15, 2009.  Following are some of the highlights of this trip.

The purposes of the trip were as follows:

  1. Continuing theological education for the church planters who have had minimal Bible training.  This is per the India written plan.
  2. It gave the Rickers an opportunity to see if this is where God wants them to serve as missionaries.  Janelle has never been out of the U.S.A. so this is an important trip for her.
  3. Nothing beats face-to-face meetings and fellowship.  It deepened our fellowship with our Brethren in India who sacrificed a lot to serve the Lord and to work with us.
  4. It gave us (the CGBCI) the opportunity to see if we can expand our ministry in India with the men who came from Orissa and Karnatake.  We interacted with them regarding the Statement of Faith and all 11 of them are interested in joining with us.  However, they were told that they must be baptized by trine immersion as a prerequisite.  Their joining with us would give us more direct contact with the greater number of Muslims in the North.

From our visit in 2007, we knew that there are various Brethren groups scattered across Tamil Nadu and the country.  In an effort to bring them together under our banner, Brother Paul placed an ad in a Christian magazine which included an invitation to contact us if any Brethren church had an interest in joining with us as Conservative Grace Brethren.  He placed this ad in 2008.  He received responses from about 5 different States.  This represented about 24 elders/churches.  The next step was to send them the Statement of Faith.  The cover letter asked them to read it and respond if they still had an interest.  Eleven men responded.  In January 2009, Brother Paul visited them and explained that we would be in Coimbatore in May to teach the Statement of Faith (SoF).  At that time, they could meet us and decide whether they wanted to join with us or not.  We conducted interviews with the 11 men and the results are below.

May 18-22 was the Practorium time.  On Monday, May 18th, I gave an overview of Church History focusing on our historical roots as Brethren.  The man from Karnataka said, “Every Christian needs to hear this!”  Two of the men commented, “This is the first time that someone has explained when and how the church began.”  After lunch, we met with the men from Orissa and interviewed them about joining with us.

Tuesday, May 19th, we continued our study of the SoF focusing much of our time on the Holy Spirit because of the widespread Pentecostal and Charismatic teachings.  We covered His Person, Regeneration, Indwelling, Baptism, Anointing, Illuminating and gifts.  We spent quite a bit of time showing the importance of the apostles and how they are no longer with us.  This included the prophets as well.  This led into a focus on the temporary gifts such as miracles.  We stopped for lunch.  In the PM, we had a question and answer time.  This was followed by the interviews of two more pastors.  Nancy and Janelle met with the ladies in the afternoon.

Wednesday, May 20th, the morning session focused on the gift of tongues.  Then, we covered the remainder of the SoF in the PM.  Though we probably spent 6 hours on the Holy Spirit, we were able to work through the entire SoF.

On Thursday, May 21st, from10:00am-11:00am, I explained the relationship of baptism to church membership and covered 7 basic requirements of church membership from Acts 2:41-47 and other passages.  After our break, we then had a baptismal service for 5 people: Josiah, Gilbert,Ravi, Esther Rani and Lakshmi.  Following the baptismal service, we had communion together with all the Practorium students.

I spent the afternoon with Joseph Surya who held to Arminian beliefs.  We spent about 2-3 hours going through the Bible.  He seemed to understand.  We also talked about how to preach.  Some of the men listened in as we discussed things and then we said farewell to each other.

Friday, May 22nd, was a day off for us.  We spend the day with the Rajan family and the men returned to their respective homes.  Saturday, May 23rd, was a travel day as we took the train to Ponicherry. Pondicherry is a separate territory.  It used to be a French Colony.  Even today, the police dress in French style uniforms and there are plaques stating their connection toFrance.  As a result, evangelism inPondicherry is more open with little threat of repercussions.

On Sunday, May 24th, inPondicherry, we began with a baptismal service.  A young lady by the name of Devi (17) was baptized.  Then, Tom preached on Eternal Security and Brother Paul interpreted.  Afterwards, we had communion together.  I washed the feet of a man who used to be with Campus Crusade for Christ and another ministry.  His name is a combination of “Jesus” and a Hindu name.  When he was 16, he had an argument with his mother demanding to know why the “Jesus” was prefixed to his name.  His mother told him to go to the local Catholic Church and ask a certain Nun.  The Nun told him that when his mother was in labor for him, the Nun was there and asked if she could pray for a safe delivery.  His mother agreed and later prefixed the “Jesus” to his name after he was born.  When he learned this at 16, he was infuriated.  But he was busy in school and didn’t dwell on it.  Later, when he was in college, someone witnessed to him and gave him the Gospel.  After that, he began to read the Bible.  When he came to Jeremiah 1:5… “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…” he asked the Lord to save him and told the Lord that He would serve Him.  Currently, he and his wife and children are helping in the ministry in Pondicherry even though they aren’t members.  I counted 46 in attendance on that Sunday (12 men; 34 women and children).

In the afternoon, we visited their outreach site, J.J. Nagar.  Some of the believers live in this area and so they are renting a building which has a sign on the front reading “Conservation Grace Brethren Church” (not a typo).  Currently, there are 4-5 families attending.  One of the families is a Catholic family from across the street.  We got to meet them.  Munisamy and the other men go door-to-door in the community with tracts, use a loudspeaker to preach outside and advertise the services.

Monday, May 25th:  David Selvaraj is the church planter in Cholapuram.  About a year ago when he, Paul and Samuel began this outreach, the Gospel had not been preached in this place for about 20-30 years.  People were not interested and told David to go away.  They came to a poor widow’s home and she listened to the Gospel.  They wanted to meet in her home, but it was in shambles.  So, they did a complete makeover to her house.  She was so thankful that she gave them a piece of property behind her house in order to make a meeting place.  They are in the process of building it.  Then, they drilled a water well for the community and began providing food for the children and classes to help them with their school work.  All of these “good works” were used by God to soften the hearts of the people.  As a result, they allowed them to preach the Gospel in the community outdoors.  People have been saved andRavi (mentioned above) was baptized.  The Hindu priest was also saved.  His name is John Steven now.  David was giving him the Gospel and he said, “But how much does God love me?”  David read John 3:16 to him and led him to Christ!  He is the one helping the children with their school work.

On Monday evening, I preached in an open air meeting on “How to be saved.”  About the time that the meeting was to begin, it started to rain.  To our surprise, no one left.  We simply made do with the tarp roof and got wet.  There were at least 60 of the people from the village there, maybe more.  One man who told David to “go away” in a threatening way, a year ago, was there.  We learned from David that sometimes as many as 100 or more children will gather during the week for “help with school work.”  At that time, they teach them the Bible and sing songs.  This was the most impressive place as it has gone from “closed” to “receptive.”  It has gone from zero Christians to 6 baptized church members.

The next morning, we met with 25 of the people from Cholapuram at Ayyanar Falls (however we met on the dried-up riverbed).  I taught “Seven Reasons Why We Must Be Saved.”  About 6-7 of those attending are unbelievers.  Some of the young men who had attended the night before came.  A woman from the village at Ayyanar Fall ssaw us appear (who can miss four white people), and tentatively followed us down and listened to me speak from afar.  That evening, we traveled to Sankarankovil where Samuel is working.  The meeting place is his home.  Like Cholapuram, they drilled a well and made the water available to the community.  This has opened doors for them.

We had an open air meeting there.  Pastor Tom Ricker taught on Genesis 22 and the sacrifice of Isaac (Abraham’s son, not Graham).  At first, we had about 19 who were mostly women and children.  There was one neighbor man.  As the service progressed, people kept coming.  We went from 19 to 21, then to 22, then to 24, then to 26 and ended up with 29.  Josiah (Samuel’s son and one of those baptized) brought a number of his friends.  These six friends are all Hindus who Josiah has been witnessing to.  They are now coming to the church meeting with Josiah.  Josiah believes he has been called by God as an evangelist.  Perhaps this is evidence of this gift.  While the Scripture was being read and Pastor Tom began to speak, there was an effort to get a stray dog off the mats.  When the meeting was over, the dog left??!!

To see pictures from this trip, click here.

Categories: 2009 India Trip | Leave a comment

Ladeen Cover’s Experience in India

In every life God gives marker experiences as references to look back on. Mine was a trip to India. That trip will forever be embedded into my memory as a gift from God. Everything from the culture to the people will be in the back of my mind always. When we first arrived it was a incredible. We couldn’t believe we made it! We were in India. I was ready to go and experience Indian life.

When we arrived to the orphanage we were greeted by the children waving ribbons and singing. The children would follow us and shake our hands and try to speak English with us. We could see from the time we first arrived that they had tender loving hearts. They had so little yet wanted to give so much. Every morning they would wake us up with a cup of tea. They wouldn’t let us help set up for meetings. We were treated like royalty. There were children there that come from completely broken homes, children that don’t have parents yet they still have manners, smiles on their faces and respect for authority. What a wonderful example of Christ’s love and grace.

It was interesting to learn and see the different takes on everything. For example when the children grabbed my arm for the first time and saw that when they took their hands away I turned even more white and then faded back to my skins normal color they called me magic. For the rest of the trip they would grab my arm just to watch it change colors. (I was thankful I didn’t have sunburn!) I was also able to sew with them. Most of the children have missing buttons on every piece of clothing they own. I got my sewing kit and gathered all the buttons I didn’t need and sewed it onto their clothes. It was so amazing how excited they got over a button. That hit pretty hard. We sometimes use buttons for decorations while they don’t even have enough to go on their clothes. While the children and I were sewing a lady came up and asked me to help her hem her sari. We had great fellowship time doing that.

While we were India we traveled to Pondicherry. We visited Munisamy and the church he pastors. We were able to see 2 new believes baptized. Afterwards we had a lunch together. It was so incredible to fellowship with the church people. Even though we could barely understand each other we had a connection through Jesus Christ that we could all feel.

The practorium classes were encouraging. Men from Orissa (32 hour train ride away) and Pondicherry and Rajapalyam all came together at the orphanage. Some men even brought their families. Seeing that many people truly excited to hear and learn about God’s word was astounding. The men would ask questions, the women took notes, even the children were sitting still. These wonderful people are not constrained by time as we in America are.

We also had a chance to work with the children, teaching them Bible stories, sharing testimonies, playing games, learning verses, and singing. They picked up on the stories quickly and they were excited to hear more. We ran across the same issues working with Indian children that we come across working with American children.

I didn’t feel the spiritual darkness of the country when we first got there. I did however feel extreme spiritual darkness when we went to a Hindu temple (to see the elephant). It was amazing how as we arrived closer the spiritual darkness would hit like a brick wall. You could feel it weigh you down. There were shops and venders inside the temple. Statues of gods were everywhere. It was a good experience though and it gave me a new look on the story of Jesus getting angry and flipping the tables over in the temple.

The team spent a lot of time with Paul and his family. They are some of the most generous people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. Paul will spend his own money to make sure the children have food and clothing. If it came down to it he would give the shirt off his back if it would help someone else. But he’s not unwise with his generosity. He’s aware when people are scamming him. His family is the same way. Paul and Sarah’s oldest son is studying medicine so he can open a mission hospital in India.

For our last day in India Paul hired an English speaking Indian driver (since Paul himself was not able to be with us). The driver was awesome. He took us on a tour of the city and he drove us to the ancient temples and to all the tourist sights. He even took us to the tomb of the apostle Thomas. He was not saved but since we were in the car with him so much we had an opportunity to share the word of God with him. He had asked why we came to India. When we told him we had spent most of our time in a Christian orphanage he mentioned how he didn’t understand why it is that only the Christians work with the orphans and really take time to care for them. So that was another opportunity to share with him the redeeming love of God.

The driver also took us to the beach were we got to step into the Bay of Bengal. While we were on the beach I was sitting on a rock and a group of Indians walked by and stared at me while they walked. I knew I must have looked tired and I was getting sunburned while I was sitting there. A little boy from the group stopped and looked at me and called another little boy over and they talked and kept looking at me and the whole group came and were all staring at me and finally the first little boy put his hand up and waved and said “Helllllooooo pink lady….can we have a picture?” After I laughed I got up and posed with them and one of them mentioned that they had never seen a white person. I was a minority!

God has given me many different lessons to look back on through out the trip. For a while I was extremely homesick. I missed my family and friends. But through the homesickness I had to learn to rely only on God. I had to learn to trust that God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t. I found that the busier we stayed the less and less I would think about home, which made me more and more aware of how I could help the people there. The lesson that will stick with me the most is the fact that people are people. We all get saved the same way. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what language you speak, God loves, cares and understands each and every person. It’s our job as believers to go out (even if it is just into your hometown) and share the love of God (not just with our mouths but with our actions as well). I challenge us all to pray for each other every day, that we will continue to lift each other up, that we will get excited about God’s Word, and that we will show Christ’s love to everyone we come in contact with.

Categories: 2011 India Trip | Leave a comment

Update on the Ministry in India – October 2012

1.    Church Planters’ financial goal

Last month, I made an appeal for the potential financial shortage for the church planters.  Special thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Whitcomb, and some others, for helping to close the gap on that shortfall.  We ended up about $3,000 short of our goal.  When I informed Paul, he asked if it would be possible for churches to make that $3,000 the target of some special offerings as we head into the Christmas season, as a gift to the Lord.  With that request in mind, if you receive “gifts for the King” or receive similar offerings in November/ December, would you consider designating those for the church planters in India?  Your gifts are much appreciated.

 2. Cholapuram, Tamil Nadu

Someone suggested that I give a review of the history of the Cholapuram GBC in light of the recent event which took place there.  In 2008, David Sevoraj made an attempt to preach the Gospel in Cholapuram (a village south of Rajapalayam).  The village chief told him to leave and not to come back.  After that, David, Paul and Paul’s father (Thangiah – who is with the Lord now) asked the chief if they could talk to him.  He granted this meeting and they told him that they would like to tutor the children of the village and feed them in the evenings if he would also allow them to tell the children about Jesus.  The chief granted their request.

So meetings with the children began.  As they continued to visit the village, they noticed that one house in particular was very dilapidated.  Paul thought that it was an animal shed.  He learned that a widow lived there with her disabled son.  The believers decided to build her a new house and they did.  As a result, she and her son told the chief that they also wanted to hear about Jesus.  Other villagers voiced the same request in light of what they saw and the Jesus film was shown to the village.  After that, David began to meet with whoever wanted to study the Bible.  People began to be saved and a fledgling church began to form.  The widow and her son believed and out of gratitude, she gave a piece of land behind her house for the construction of a church building.  We saw the foundation of this church building in 2009 and were there for the dedication in May 2011.  Now, about 8 families meet with Brother David and recently 4 others have told him that they want to be baptized.

God has worked mightily in this village over the past 4 years.  He has taken a no church, “get lost” village to a growing church with a building and a solid leader, Brother David.  Recently, one of the mothers of one of the children in the orphanage got a job (she’s a widow). She had placed her child in the orphanage because she didn’t have the means to care for her. The Sunday after she received her first paycheck, she gave the entire check to Paul and said, “This is for outreach in Odisha.”  Below is a picture of her giving her check to Paul.

I love this!  They too have a vision for giving to reach their own people.  No wonder, Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Where is your treasure?  Where is your heart?

 

If you would like to download the bulletin insert version of this update, please click on the link  below.
India October 2012 update

 

Categories: CGBCI Foreign Mission Updates, Ministry Update | 2 Comments

Myanmar and India Trip 2013

Please pray for the upcoming ministry in Myanmar and in India in May 2013.  Pastor Ike, Joshua Steiner and Benjamin Miller from Oregon are scheduled to make this trip and minister to our Brethren there.  Originally, Craig & Sara Noyes were going to go, but since Sara is pregnant and is due in April 2013, it was decided that they would not make the trip in 2013.  However, Pastor Ike, Joshua and Benjamin are scheduled to visit tribal people while they are in India and bring back as much information for the Noyes as possible so that they can consider a tribal church planting effort in India.

Please pray for…

  • The necessary paperwork for everyone to go.
  • That all the men from Odisha and Tamil Nadu will be able to gather in Coimbatore.
  • That the time together will refresh and strengthen the church planters for the hard ministry they are engaged in.
  • That everyone participating will have smooth travel and good health.

Categories: 2013 India/Myanmar Trip | 1 Comment

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