I was privileged to travel to India from January 5th-26th. The extended trip this year included ministry in four different locations: Ranni/Kerala, Hyderabad, Bethelgram/Giridih and Varanasi, India. I was honored to be accompanied on this trip by three members of our missionary family: Rev. Russell Board, WMMD Continental Director for Asia, and Reverends Danny and Judith Williams, IPHC Career Missionaries to India. Our special guests on this trip were Rev. Timothy Poon, Assistant Field Superintendent, Hong Kong Conference and Director of Spiritual Mentoring Services, Wing Kwong PHC, Hong Kong, China and Rev. Eddy Kwok, Licensed Minister and theological student serving the PHC Hong Kong [Eddy was only able to join us in Varanasi due to previous commitments].
The Father’s House International was birthed in Ranni [South India] by Rev. Sabu Abraham. Rev. Abraham is an Ordained Minister in the Pacific Western Network Conference in the USA. Our trip to Ranni coincided with the 15th Anniversary Celebration of his ministry there. Rev. Abraham actually grew up in Ranni and returned there fifteen years ago and set this ministry in motion. While in Ranni, we were privileged to preach in three services [two preachers per service]; speak at the graduation for the Father’s House Theological Seminary; and baptize seventeen believers in water before preaching at a concluding service on Sunday.
I left Ranni very impressed by what I experienced there. Rev. Abraham and his family have been used by the Lord to birth a powerful ministry in the city of Ranni and the surrounding villages. I praise the Lord for this Place of Hope and these People of Promise.
ANNUAL SOUTH INDIA CONFERENCE SESSION, SOUTH INDIA ASSOCIATION MEETING AND ISoM GRADUATION-HYDERABAD BIBLE COLLEGE [HYDERABAD, INDIA]
This was a historic occasion for our church in India in that they elected indigenous leadership in the South and North that will provide spiritual and jurisdictional oversight of the IPHC of India. The WMMD will no longer follow the practice of appointing a Field Superintendent to oversee the affairs of the Southern Association and Northern Society. The Southern Association and Northern Society leadership also decided that they would be best served by dividing India into two parts: the South and the North.
During the South India Conference and Southern Society Session on January 14th & 15th, delegates elected Bishop Dr. B. S. Moses Kumar by acclamation to serve as their first indigenously elected leader and General Superintendent of the South India Association. Bishop Samuel Moses was re-elected as Conference Superintendent of the South India Conference by acclamation. The South India Conference reported having 100 pastors, 182 churches and 7,056 believers at the beginning of 2015.
The Conference in session celebrated a graduation for our students participating in the ISoM training program under the umbrella of the Hyderabad Bible College on Thursday evening, January 14th. I was privileged to be the graduation speaker in the absence of Rev. Bill Terry, President of Advantage College, who was unable to obtain an entrance visa. Rev. Board and I also had the privilege of ordaining, licensing and presenting ministerial credentials to candidates for the Local Church Minister’s Certificate.
While at the Conference, we were also privileged to meet Rev. Tony and Roma Misquitto from Pune; Rev. David and Geeta Lobo from Mumbai; and Rev. Raja Kumar Undurthi. These three men were all licensed in the South India Conference.
The South India Conference and Rev. Lee Grady, operating under the ministry umbrella of ‘The Mordecai Project’, have partnered together in building a girls’ home in Tanuku. Rev. Undurthi will direct this ministry. Rev. Undurthi is a gifted translator and will be a blessing to the ministry outreach of South India.
A Western Conference, which was envisioned and is being birthed by missionaries Reverends Danny and Judith Williams [with the blessing of the South India Association], holds great promise for the future of South India.
SUNDAY SERVICES, NORTH AND EASTERN INDIA CONFERENCE SESSIONS [BETHELGRAM, INDIA], CENTRAL CONFERENCE SESSION [RANCHI, INDIA], & NORTH INDIA SOCIETY MEETING [BETHELGRAM, INDIA]
On Sunday, January 17th, we were privileged to worship and preach in three different churches in the Giridih area: the Koldiha PHC [built by Rev. Parrish in 1939 (Margaret Howard’s late father)] which is pastored by Rev. D. D. Subba; Sigmon Memorial PHC which is pastored by Rev. Subodh Masih; and the Bethelgram PHC which is pastored by Bishop Robert Daniel Murmu.
On Monday, the North Conference re-elected Bishop Robert Daniel as its Conference Superintendent. On Tuesday morning in Bethelgram, the Eastern Conference re-elected Bishop S. K. Besra as Conference Superintendent. In Ranchi, the Central Conference voted to postpone their election.
In the historic North India Society Session, the North and Eastern Conference Boards along with two representatives from the Central Conference elected Rev. Michael John to serve as their first indigenously elected leader and General Superintendent of the North India Society and Chairman of the North Society Executive Committee. The North India Society reported having 350 pastors, 400 churches and 40,000 believers at the beginning of 2015.
INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL OUTREACH OFFERING
Four churches presented us with their annual Global Outreach Offering while in India: Donald Ashram Memorial PHC which is pastored by Presiding Bishop, Dr. B. S. Moses Kumar; Koldiha PHC which is pastored by Rev. D. D. Subba; Bethelgram PHC which is pastored by Bishop Robert Daniel Murmu; and New Life Center which is pastored by Rev. Banerjee. Given the fact that half of the country lives on a dollar per person per day, receiving this offering was a very humbling experience!
THE DEDICATION OF DIVYA AASHRAY [DIVINE SHELTER] CHURCH [VARANASI, INDIA]
From Giridih, we traveled by car to Varanasi, India for the dedication service of the new church sanctuary - Divya Aashray [Divine Shelter] Church. Pastors Michael and Rosaline John moved to Varanasi, India in 2004 to plant a mega church. In 2009, Missionaries Van and Jane Bloss challenged Michael and Rosaline with the question – “Would you like to pastor and plant one church or hundreds of churches?” They determined that their vision to plant one mega church was not what God had called them to do, and they began to plant house churches “so that people in every community in South Varanasi will know that God loves them.” Since 2009, they have planted in excess of 200 house churches. Their vision is to plant 1,000 house churches by the year 2020.
Varanasi, also known as Benares, Banaras or Kashi, is a North Indian city on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The spiritual capital of India, it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism and played an important role in the development of Buddhism.
I must thank Rev. Donavan Ng and the Wing Kwong PHC in Hong Kong, China and the Golden West Conference and Bishop Tom Murray for providing the $160,000 in funding to build this new 1,400 seat church sanctuary debt free. I wish you could see this church first-hand. It is simply magnificent. May Divya Aashray [Divine Shelter] serves as a light and shelter to those seeking ‘Hope.’
To those who support the Boards and the Williams either prayerfully or financially, or both, we thank you! They are exceptionally effective at making disciples and are continuing the ‘missionary legacy’ of those who served before them. It was also a joy to have Rev. Poon with us for the duration of our journey. His insight into God’s word was illuminating. His prophetic declarations over the South and East India Conferences were moving and timely!
My life continues to be enriched by many experiences. I thank the Lord for a church and people like yourselves that have a heart and vision ‘that extends to the ends of the earth’. Your investment is making a difference. I witness it first-hand wherever I go.
Thank you for standing with us in the critical work of sending missionaries to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”