Posted on February 22, 2024 Cloud of Witnesses – Feature John Augustine Dorapalli

Cloud of Witnesses – Celebrating 210th Anniversary of International Ministries

Rev. John Augustine Dorapalli     

Senior Pastor of Jewett Memorial Baptist Church, Ongole


My association with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS aka International Ministries) dates back to the late 1950s and early 1970s until the present. I was christened the name ‘John Augustine’ by Baptist missionary Warney while growing up in Bapatla. The missionaries John Clough Martin and Eva Martin inspired me to pursue theological education. I studied theology at the Ramayapatnam Baptist Theological Seminary under missionaries Dr. Morris Blanchard and Rev. Dr. Louis F. Knoll. Later, I was appointed as the newly installed pastor of the Madras Telugu Baptist Church in Madras (Chennai), established by American Baptist missionary Samuel S. Day, a Canadian.

It is a blessing for me that I have my spiritual roots in the ABFMS mission, which established and planted churches, hospitals, schools, theological institutions, parsonages, and hostels on Baptist lands that it acquired from the Andhra Pradesh government. I was trained under Baptist theologians, attended those schools and churches, and lived in those housing units. My wife Kshema gave birth to two of our children in the Ongole Baptist Hospital. I still recall the ministries carried out by dedicated missionary physicians, including Drs. Eaten and Marian Oleta Boehr, as well as nurses and educators.

Throughout my service as a Pastor and Bible teacher, I have been mindful of the many Baptists in the United States who have generously donated their wealth, their sons and daughters, and their mission-minded travels to support the Christian work of social transformation and salvation among the poorest people of the Telugu area and surrounding states. I thank God for the American Baptist missionary work that transformed the lives of my forefathers and foremothers. Now, I am a second-generation Christian, and the mission of witnessing continues.

God has blessed my ministry and family. My ministry as a pastor and Bible teacher spans over five decades in three locations: Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu, Ongole, Andhra Pradesh, and Chicago, USA. My longest tenure is as the pastor of Ongole’s Jewett Memorial Baptist Church. When I was pastoring in Chicago, Mr. Chandran and I founded the “Baptist Telugu Church of Greater Chicago” for the Diasporas Telugu Baptists. My ministry partner, my dear wife Kshema, was a theological student who concentrated her ministry among the widows of our church. Her Bible studies, Telugu translation work for India Bible Literature ‘Daily Bread,’ children’s ministry, and potluck dinners that she coordinated with the women won her recognition in the churches she served. In September 2003, she departed to be with the Lord.

Our three children, David, Monica, and Paul, were all led by us to embrace the Lord as their Savior and commit themselves to full-time ministry. David has received a partial scholarship from IM to help with his master’s and PhD studies. It fills us with tremendous joy to watch our children serving God.

I reached Telugu people with the Gospel through my sermons, hymns/songs, rural church planting/ constructions, training evangelists and pastors, and conducting large conventions. I also served as General Secretary of the Baptist Convention of Telugu Churches. I continue to minister with God’s help. My life is a witness and evidence of my solid grounding in Baptist polity and mission theology. It was a pleasure to have our leader, Rev. Benjamin Chan, in attendance on several occasions to witness this enormous ministry, which also fulfills my calling and the objectives of International Ministries. I consider myself privileged to have been the instrument of God and to be wholly involved in this ministry started by ABFMS/IM.

I sincerely congratulate the team and all the kind donors who helped make this Baptist international mission possible as we commemorate the ABFMS/IM’s 2010th year. I pray God will provide mercy and grace to the International Ministries’ leadership and all those involved in its operations.

*Ben Chan: Special thanks to Cathy Holmes for proof-reading the article