From the Superintendent's DESK
A group of five from Oregon has been visiting our churches in the Andhra Pradesh region of India. They sent the following report about the activities of the past week, which included a ministers meeting, Vacation Bible School, women's fellowship day, and a church dedication.
Many people here have commented that this is the wettest October they have ever seen. There is much concern over the rice fields; the second harvest happens in November but the rice is still quite green. Brother Raju mentioned that the first harvest in April was not good either, and hasn’t been for the last couple of years. They would appreciate prayer for the harvest, both in the rice fields and for souls!
Monday, October 10: Ministers Meeting in Kaikavolu
We attended a ministers meeting in Kaikavolu. Upon arrival, the pastors and their wives were taking turns leading in praise songs, a wonderful way to start the session.
After prayer, greetings were shared. Then the session was opened with an exhortation from 1 Timothy 6:20. The minister recounted how the older Paul encouraged the younger Timothy to guard what had been given him in the Gospel and to keep going on. He also said we want to encourage each other to “keep on keeping on.”
A brief history of the Apostolic Faith Church was recounted, including the testimony of Sister Florence Crawford and the Azusa Revival. The presenter noted the importance of holding up the core Bible doctrines that we know and love, and pointed out the doctrines listed in the Apostolic Faith magazine. He said one could easily spend hours studying each one, but focused on just three: salvation, sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. In doing this, he also shared his testimony with the other pastors. He finished with an exhortation to continue in the Gospel, as they have been, with the Lord’s help.
Before lunch, the pastors shared praise and prayer quests from their locations: Six were recently saved in Nadimpalem; Three were water baptized in Yanem, and another saved; Six were water baptized in another branch; A woman at another branch needs prayer as her Hindu relatives will not allow her to attend church; Another pastor asked for prayer for his seven uncles to be saved. Each one also mentioned their thanksgiving for the food help that was sent from the world headquarters church in 2020. Not only did it help their congregation members, but they took anything extra and gave it to their unsaved neighbors as a way to show Christ’s love. God has a way of taking a little and multiplying it!
Tuesday, October 11: VBS and Dedication in Kapavaram
Our group headed to Kapavaram church for the first VBS. Pastor Jaya Raju and his wife, Santhi, serve the congregation there and have two children, their son Jyothi and daughter Suvarna. Forty children were expected for VBS, but due to the rain, only twenty-seven were able to come.
A typical VBS session starts with singing, and then Sister Santhi teaches the memory verse, which is Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Another sister then sings and plays on her ukulele a song in Telugu called “The Salvation Poem.” Next, the Bible parable of the Great Banquet is taught from Luke 14. This year, they show a wonderful five-minute video about the parable in Telugu that the children watch, and then a minister expounds on the lesson and teaches what it means to say yes when Jesus calls after their hearts. Then an invitation to pray is given and Brother Raju leads a sinner’s prayer. In Kapavaram, nineteen children said they wanted Jesus in their hearts and prayed!
After prayer, Bibles are handed out to those who have given their hearts to Jesus so that they can continue learning about Him. The children who pray also write their names on a paper heart and stick it on a board that represents the Book of Life, as a way to show that they are taking a stand for Jesus. Then gifts are given to all the children. This year the gift is a reusable container with soap, toothpaste, cookies, and a mini candy bar inside. There are huge smiles on each face as they receive their gifts.
Following VBS we had a short dedication service for the church building, which was built since the last visit. The setting for this church is breathtaking, it is situated on the edge of the village. From inside the church, with the doors open, your eyes are naturally drawn to the rice fields that are spread out like a green blanket that goes on for miles with an occasional coconut tree breaking up the scenery. After the service, there was a time for prayer.
Wednesday, October 12: VBS in Kathipudi
On Wednesday, VBS was held at the Kathipudi church. The pastor there is Brother Yesu Ratnam, and his wife is Sister Santha Kumari. They have three sons, and their son John was there helping.
The VBS session followed the same schedule as the day before. Ninety children were expected at VBS, and even a few more than that came! The small church sanctuary was filled with happy voices singing with all the volume they can get out of their lungs, and we could feel their enthusiasm bouncing off the walls! After the call to pray, forty-three children asked Jesus into their hearts.
Following VBS, the children departed and adults arrived for a short church service. It was another day filled with the beauty of fellowship between the believers!
Thursday, October 13: Women’s Fellowship in Kaikavolu
Today was the first ever women’s fellowship held in Kaikavolu for the women of Kaikavolu, Durganagar, and Pedipudi. Nearly 150 ladies attended, and they were visibly excited to be there. When they walked in, they were greeted with a small gift that included a little notebook, pen, package of tissues, and candies.
The session opened with prayer by Sister Mama Daniels and singing led by Sister Suvarna. The lesson was an encouragement to the women to be unified in prayer. Multiple verses about the value and necessity of unity were read, highlighting what the Bible says will happen when believers are unified in prayer. The presenter also shared about a time of when she was in another country and for the first time experienced the love of God spreading from heart to heart despite the language difference. The ladies were encouraged to share their prayer requests so that they could pray for each other when they go back home. Following prayer requests, they shared a beautiful time of prayer. The Holy Spirit blessed each one, leaving no doubt that God was pleased by seeing His children praying for one another.
The women had come from many different places, but they left knowing they have sisters praying for them in many places. Following prayer, there was a delicious meal served of chicken biriyani, mutton curry, sambar, white rice, and curd, followed by Thumbs Up drinks and a dish of butterscotch ice cream!
Friday, October 14: VBS in Thammavaram
VBS on Friday was held in the evening at the Thammavaram church, where Brother Augustine serves as pastor with support from his wife, Sister Santha Kumari. Typically, this congregation gathers in a low hut, but due to the heavy rain, the meeting was held in a different location. Despite that change, the sound of the children’s excitement was contagious as VBS began! Fifty-six children attended, and ten more gifts were left for children who could not come due to the rain. Nineteen of the children prayed and received Bibles!
Saturday, October 15: VBS in Nadimpalem
Since school children had testing during the day on Saturday, VBS was again held in the evening. This time, the location was Nadimpalem, where the pastor is Sister Suvarna’s father, Brother Yesu Ratnam, with his wife Sister Mary. Children also came from the Yanam branch church, which is pastored by Brother Roco Raju, bringing the attendance to 96. Of those, twenty-six came forward to give their hearts to the Lord! After a short service, the team was blessed with a delightful meal served by Sister Bertha, Sister Jyothi, and Sister Mary.
At every church, the team has been greeted with heaps of love. Roses are often given for appreciation and sometimes we are showered with marigold petals. The smiles on these dear faces are contagious and a person cannot help but grin back when you see the joy filling their faces! We are looking forward to more wonderful services during our trip if Jesus tarries.