International Ministries

Baptizing the masses

February 7, 2009 Journal

Even while living in Ripon, WI this year on our US assignment, our thoughts and prayers are often focused on India.  Betsy and I made a two-week visit to India in January, 2009.  We had the privilege of representing International Ministries at a celebration for one of our ministry partners.  Abundant Life Ministerial Associates, more commonly know as ALMA , is celebrating its 25th anniversary of service to our Lord Jesus Christ.  ALMA, run by Rufus Kamalakar, serves a variety of needs in the area in and around Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India.  The focus of ALMA’s work is its ministry to the Yanadi tribal people, who live along the shore of the Bay of Bengal, on the eastern coast of India.  These people and their livelihood were very much affected by the Tsunami of 2004.  
The celebration included lots of singing, dancing, praying and preaching.  With over 500 people Grad_16_acoming from different towns and villages, there was a lot of excitement and noise (and eating).  The festivities lasted 4 days.  Each day started by 5:30AM with a time of morning devotions accompanied by the sounds of drums and people singing.  Praise and prayer and preaching went on late into the night.  Betsy and I were each given the opportunity to bring a word to the Yanadi people.  It was invigorating to speak to a group so hungry for the Word.  We also participated in the graduation ceremony of the 30 evangelists and church planters who had completed the course of instruction and would be going out into the Baptism_15_fadedistant villages to spread the Good News to Yanadi peoples in remote places along the shore.  The last day was the highlight of our time there.  We arose earlier than usual on that day in order to be at a distant garden site by sunrise.  There, as the sun rose, 150 new believers were baptized.  I wish you could have seen and felt the joy as each person gave public testimony and committed their life to Christ.  It took a long time to baptize that many people, but we watched each one enter the tank and leave the tank renewed, an example for others to follow.  The baptism was followed by Communion_16_aa communion service for the assembled crowd of about 300 people.
Please pray for the Yanadi people and the ministry of ALMA.
Following the celebrations, we traveled to Chennai, Tamil Nadu.  There we met with group of church leaders of the Naga Christian Fellowship Chennai.  A couple years ago, church leaders in Nagaland saw a need to send a pastor in Chennai, to serve the Nagas there.  Rev. Wapangtoshi was commissioned and sent by the Naga Missionary Movement.  The congregation is at least 80% students who are living in Chennai for university studies.  The ministry is a growing one that includes not only Nagas, but also serves as an outreach for students who would like to share the Good News with their friends.  The church has done well and has been gradually assuming support of Pastor Wapang, with the expectation that they will be fully supporting him by the end of this year. One challenge they do face is space.  At present, they pay a significant amount to rent the use of a church for a limited Naga_aamount of time on Sunday mornings.  With an average of 300 in worship, the space is not big enough for the growing ministry and the three hours they are allowed each week is not enough time for the variety of programs that are needed.  Their prayer is that they will be able to get land for a church of their own to be built on.  They have started a building fund, but the cost of land in the city of Chennai is very high and well above the means of a primarily student congregation to raise. 
Please pray for the Naga Christian Fellowship Chennai and its ministries.
God has placed a burden on the hearts of many good leaders in India to serve the needy.  God has also placed a burden on our hearts and the hearts of others in International Ministries to walk along side our Indian brothers and sisters to encourage and support them as they serve Jesus Christ among their people.  We invite you to listen for God’s call and burden within your Baptism_22_aown heart.  You can also be a part of this Kingdom building work of supporting missionaries and ministry partners.  This support comes through the work of prayer and joining in the partnership by sharing resources and time. We are blessed to be a part of God’s work in the world and ask that you prayerfully consider supporting this work.