From June 15 to June 27th a team of volunteers from our church ministered in Tamil Nadu, India. During the course of our visit, we were able to visit numerous churches, 4 orphanages, 3 children's tuition centers, 3 medical clinics, and 2 sewing centers -- all of which are being used mightily by God to share the gospel in poverty stricken areas.
I was thankful and amazed to see how God has been blessing the efforts there to the glory of Jesus Christ. As you may know, the Baptist Witness is translated into Tamil each month and it was a thrill to meet faithful readers, whether in small home prayer groups in Salem or in a children's tuition center in the Yercaud mountains. What a blessing to see and hear first hand how the Lord has been using these, and other sermons and literature from our ministry, to convert and instruct and encourage so many!
Brother Guna, and the other dedicated ministers associated with the Good Samaritan Trust, have tirelessly been laboring to get out the gospel of Christ in every place possible. Besides the work in the state of Tamil Nadu that we visited, they also have been blessed to establish numerous preaching points in the state of Andrapradesh.
But the blessings on our trip were not automatic, of course. In fact, after our first full day in the Salem area, I was somewhat discouraged and disheartened, feeling keenly my own great weakness and inability to empower all the ministry that needed to be done. That night I wrote in my journal:
"Lord, please answer the prayers you seem to be indicting! I cannot express the weakness and feebleness I feel. God give me more faith in you, that you can move, reach, touch, enflame hearts anyway, anywhere. Bless me with the wisdom and strength to compliment, and not hinder, the means your Spirit might use. But, oh, to see you move mightily and soon! Grow us all."
But what a blessing to write the very next day:
“Wow! God answers prayer! I went to bed weeping last night, feeling so unable to bless this trip…today was an amazing, above-and-beyond answer.”
A big part of that for me was this event: we were coming from sharing the gospel at a sewing center where a group of Hindu women had been very receptive, on our way back to the Veppamarathur church and orphanage. We stopped by the new home of Elizabeth and Zachariah, a precious couple whose amazing conversion had been shared with me during my last trip here.
While we were there, they introduced us to Zachariah’s brother and his wife, with whom they had been sharing the gospel and taking with them to church for several weeks. They told Guna they were ready to be baptized, and he assured them it would be done soon.
We drove a couple of miles on to the church and spent some time there visiting and praying in the shade of a grassy hill; when we walked back to the church grounds, this same couple was waiting – they had walked there, with their clothes, and were graciously insistent that we baptize them as soon as possible!
Not knowing the extent of their understanding, I shared a gospel summary and baptism lesson from Romans 6, emphasizing the need for a changed life – the more I shared, the more excited she became! Zachariah and Elizabeth said the whole community had seen the change in their life since they had started attending church with them. Apparently the husband had been a daily drunkard who had previously abused his wife and children severely. But since they had begun to embrace the gospel of Christ, he had entirely quit drinking and had been transformed into a loving and dedicated husband and father.
According to Christian custom in India, I gave the couple their new and Christian names: Aquila and Priscilla. I exhorted them to be members like this mighty and godly couple from the New Testament church. Then I was blessed to baptize them, with smiles and tears still on their faces.
This was just one of countless examples during our trip of the Spirit's moving in mighty and evident ways. It was refreshing to see the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to convict and comfort in the midst of any culture or spiritual captivity. My prayer is that that we will see similar signs of the power and advancement of the kingdom of Christ in this nation, starkly setting his church on the cultural horizon -- a city on a hill that can not be hidden.