Short Takes Spring 2021
Thirty-Seven Water Baptized in Maharashtra, India
In the Maharashtra State of India, the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, the government-mandated lockdowns may have slowed the spread of the virus, but not the Gospel.
With some restrictions lifted, water baptismal services were held in eight different church locations during the months of November 2020 and January 2021. Reverend Surya Gajbhiv, District Superintendent of Maharashtra State, reported that in all, thirty-seven recent converts were baptized.
Among the candidates in November was a sixty-nine-year-old grandmother from a Hindu family. She had gone to the hospital this past year with a wound in her leg. The doctors sent her home with medicine but her condition worsened. In May, she attended an Apostolic Faith prayer meeting in front of a pastor’s home and was prayed for. The Lord healed her, and she received salvation as well. Another candidate was a retired police officer with a Catholic background. He prayed through to salvation, and upon hearing about the doctrine of water baptism, immediately declared his desire to do it.
In January, nine candidates were baptized in a river. Among them were an eighty-year-old man and his wife. The man had experienced three major heart attacks and some paralysis. Though he needed help into the water, he said he wanted to be baptized before he died. Reverend Gajbhiv reported that after the service, this man looked refreshed and happy, and said he was at peace with dying.
God is speaking to hearts all over the world today, and these thirty-seven converts are proof that people are responding to God’s call.
Work Begins at Church Site in Kapavaram, India
The congregation in Kapavaram, India, rejoiced in late January as a crew began the groundwork for laying a foundation at the site of a long-awaited church.
This group of believers formed more than a decade ago when the pastor, Jaya Raju, began holding church services on the front porch of a village home. Though the owners were Hindus, they allowed the meetings, and in 2012 they attended for the first time and were both saved. That same year, the number of attendees outgrew the front porch, and a rented tent was set up in the front yard to accommodate everyone.
Each year more souls were added to the group, including eight in 2014, and the saints began looking for a permanent place of worship. In 2016, a beautiful plot of land in a peaceful setting lined with coconut trees was acquired with donated funds. As the saints continued to worship under the tent, they looked forward to the day when they would be able to start construction at the new site. That day arrived on January 26, 2021.
The new church will be thirty-six-by-eighteen feet in size, have six-foot-high walls, two doorways, and several openings for windows. Actual doors and windows will be added later as funds become available.
Having a church is expected to strengthen the congregation and provide more opportunity for souls within the community to be saved. This is good news, and Reverend Raju writes that all involved are happy to see the work of the Lord move forward in Kapavaram.
Jamaican Churches: Apart, but Unified
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Reverend Rohan Clough, the Jamaica District Superintendent, has had opportunity to visit each of the Jamaican churches. He was happy to learn that none of the brethren have contracted the virus.
At the Sawyers location, Reverend Clough and his daughters assisted in a community outreach effort organized by Ann Brown, the head of the Ladies’ Department, to provide COVID relief packages. In all, thirty bags of food, including rice and other staples, were assembled and distributed. Along with this project, the congregation has been building two rooms onto the back of the church. These include a kitchen as well as a small room for overnight guests. Steady progress is being made on the addition, and it is expected be completed in the near future.
In Castleton, a baptismal service was held at the river in which four converts were baptized. At the headquarters church in Kingston, renovations came to a halt during the virus outbreak, but resumed in early 2021. The next step is to add the roof.
Each of our churches in Jamaica has been observing social distancing guidelines, but this has not hindered the saints from worshiping together. They have been able to meet online each morning at five o’clock for a prayer meeting. Reverend Clough reports that these meetings have become a real blessing, strengthening and unifying the body of believers by bringing saints together from all locations.
Haiti Headquarters Nears Completion
A new headquarters church for the work in Haiti has been under construction in Mirebalais, and is nearing completion. The building has three floors and is located next door to the current Mirebalais church, which also houses an Apostolic Faith secondary school. Following the installation of pews, acquired with help from the Portland headquarters, a service was held in the new building on Sunday, January 31. Having the ability to assemble was welcome news after months of severe COVID restrictions in addition to a level of civil unrest that has made even short trips away from homes unsafe. Roland Deler, the Haiti District Superintendent, was happy to report that three hundred attended, and the sanctuary was large enough to accommodate the size of the crowd while allowing for social distancing. He also reported that the new baptistery was used, as the service provided opportunity for six candidates to be baptized in water.
In other parts of the country, several of our churches are undergoing reconstruction. Hurricanes in recent years destroyed two of our churches in Haiti and caused significant damage to five others. The saints in Tirette erected a small shelter at the church site in order to continue meeting for worship while also rebuilding the main structure, and a recent donation will allow them to add the roof. This is critical for them as the roof will provide necessary protection from both heavy rains and extreme heat during the summer. In the coming months, the churches in Roche-a-Bateau and Port-Salut will also have their roofs replaced, and it will be done in such a way that they will be better able to withstand future hurricanes. Reverend Deler has not yet been able to visit these churches due to security concerns, but he plans to see them as soon as it is safe.