New Year Update From India
The first two weeks of 2017 were a busy time for our churches in India, with special services and Vacation Bible School activities held in a number of locations.
The New Year was welcomed with a special December 31 watchnight service at our India headquarters church in Kaikavolu. Led by Reverend Rayudu Raju, the pastor and leader of the Apostolic Faith work in that area of India, the service was well-attended, with every chair filled and another fifty or so attendees sitting on the floor. Among the attendees was Clark Wolfe from Portland, Oregon, who was also joined by Reverends Charles and Antonia Schleicher from Madison, Wisconsin.
The celebratory service included music and testimonies as well as a message on the benefits of serving God, based on a Scripture reading from Psalm 103:1-5. At around 11:15 p.m., the congregation went to prayer, praying the old year out and the new year in, concluding just after midnight. Then a cake was brought out and everyone enjoyed refreshments and fellowship before departing for their homes around 2:00 a.m.
Despite being up late, everyone was back a few hours later for the Sunday morning service—in fact, the crowd was so large that there was standing room only, with some attendees looking in from the outside. After the service, the congregation gathered around the baptistery, and a water baptismal ceremony was held for five young ladies who had asked to be baptized. Then everyone was invited to stay for the annual New Year’s Day feast which was prepared in the campground kitchen and served outside. Shade from a newly added awning was especially appreciated by to those who stood in line for food on this ninety-five-degree day, while the surrounding banana trees provided shade for the overflow seating.
Over the next two weeks, the visitors from the United States traveled to fourteen of our India churches for special meetings and Vacation Bible Schools (VBS), with several locations taking a turn at hosting the events. The Apostolic Faith Church in Masakapali was the first VBS location, and about sixty-five children participated there. The lesson, which was on faith, was conducted on the church roof to take advantage of the sunlight, as the power had gone out in the building, leaving it dark. At the close, each child was given a gift bag containing soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, cookies, chips, candy, a lunch container, and ten rupees, which they were especially excited about.
As the services and VBS events continued over the next days, each occasion was special in its own way. The U.S. visitors wrote home that the blessings were too many to number, including five saved in Durganagar, where over one hundred gathered, filling the small church past its capacity of about sixty. These five converts were very enthusiastic about scheduling their water baptismal, and arrangements were made to transport them to the headquarters church to utilize the campground baptistery. Vacation Bible School continued throughout the following week among our India churches. On the final Saturday afternoon, VBS was held at the Nadimpalem church, with children from our Yanam and Uppongala locations joining. Our hope is that all the children who attended will continue to be touched by the love of Jesus.
On the visitors’ last Sunday morning in India, the Kaikavolu church held their quarterly ordinance service. Many were in attendance and the blessings overflowed. During the time of prayer that preceded the taking of the emblems, one woman was saved, six were sanctified, and six received the baptism of the Holy Spirit! Please continue to pray for the work of the Lord in India.