From the Superintendent's DESK
Our visitors to the Andhra Pradesh region of India concluded their three-week trip on Sunday. Their final days included the dedication of our new church building in Pedapudi, as well as a combined Vacation Bible School (VBS) and youth services at our headquarters church in Kaikavolu. They sent the following report just before beginning their return trip home.
Sunday, October 16: Combined Services and VBS in Kaikavolu
On Sunday, an early visit was made to our Durganagar church. There was a beautiful time of fellowship that included testimonies from both the congregation and our group. The singing was heartfelt and a joy to listen to. We also noticed more people attending since the last visit in 2019, and that was exciting to witness. While there, sarees were handed out to the widows, and several of them asked for prayer. One prayer request that comes up often is for construction of a better road to this village, which would benefit everyone living here.
After the service, several from Durganagar joined our group for a combined service with the Pedapudi congregation in Kaikavolu. There, we had an extended time of singing that was wonderful, as well as testimony time. The sermon was given using Romans 12:1-2 to speak about entire sanctification. Following was a sweet time of prayer, and once again we could say it was good to be in the house of the Lord!
That evening, a combined VBS was held in Kaikavolu for the Durganagar, Pedapudi, and Kaikavolu churches. There were at least two hundred children that attended, and it was a lively bunch! In the end, about sixty said they wanted to give their lives to the Lord! New Testaments were handed out to eager hands that immediately opened them up and started reading right there in church.
Tuesday, October 18: Pedapudi Dedication
Our much-anticipated dedication service for the new Pedapudi church was held on Tuesday, and the excitement of the saints showed. When we arrived, a small band was playing joyful music and a line of people were tossing flowers on the entryway. A tent was set up outside to accommodate the overflow of attendees that was expected.
At the church entrance, a prayer of dedication was offered and then the ribbon was cut. We did the same thing at different places throughout the church, dedicating each area to be used for God’s glory. The last space was the sanctuary on the second story, where we stayed for the dedication service. At that time, a ladies’ choir sang a couple dedication songs and flowers were given to the visitors. Then words of encouragement were shared by pastors from several of our churches, each expressing thanks to God for the new church building and a desire to see the Pedapudi congregation continue to grow in the Lord.
A brief history was given about the building process. The need for a new building arose as the congregation grew from about fifty to ninety people over the last two and a half years. It was clear that the old building was too small as some had to stand outside during services and watch through the windows. Initially, the plan was to expand the existing church, but in January of this year it was discovered that the roof was cracked and unstable. There was a danger of it falling in, so services had to be halted. The saints began to pray for a solution, and God answered by providing funds through the Portland headquarters to build a new church with the addition. Construction began in April and progressed much faster than expected. Though the building project is not yet entirely complete, the congregation is grateful to be able to safely hold services in this beautiful new church. They also have great joy in knowing that there is room for more growth.
An encouraging sermon was given on salvation, comparing the new church to a type of “gas station” where individuals can “fill up” and then go out and spread the Gospel. Following the service, dinner was provided for all who attended, as well as others who heard about food being served. About six hundred were expected for the occasion, and in the end over eight hundred were fed.
Most who attended the dedication watched the service as it was streamed live on big screens that had been set up in the overflow areas. It was noted that people from all social standings were there, including individuals who normally would not have stepped foot inside a church. Connections were made with several individuals, and we pray that the Gospel seeds sown that day will take root in their hearts!
Wednesday, October 19: Combined Youth Service in Kaikavolu
Combined youth services are held monthly at the Kaikavolu church for our young people from Durganagar, Pedapudi, and Kaikavolu, and our group was able to attend that service on Wednesday. At the start of the meeting, the young people were given gifts. Then there was a time of singing followed by prayer, and hearing their young voices lifted in prayer is one of the most beautiful sounds.
The meeting included a “Bible Question Challenge” led by Sister Santhi, with chocolate bars given for correct answers. That was followed by a skit that was performed by our team and translated by Sister Santhi and her cousin Jessie. This skit portrayed the events of Noah’s time as if they were happening today, which was a great lead up to the sermon that was based on Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” The minister said if we could know when a flood was coming, we would do everything in our power to prepare for it, as Noah did. Today, we know Jesus is coming, and we ought to do all we can to be ready. The young people were encouraged to seek their deeper experiences because if Jesus tarries, they will be the future leaders of the church. The minister closed by saying how much the team looks forward to seeing God do remarkable things in their lives in the coming years. Sister Suvarna led the closing prayer, and then lunch was served, complete with ice cream!
As we look back over the past week, we are once again thrilled with how the Lord has met at each meeting. We thank God for this opportunity to gather with the saints here in India!