Visit with Saints in India
By Dan Beaty
This story begins in 1997, when Dr.Vijayaravan Karruppia (known by us as brother Vijay) began seeking the Lord concerning his government's sending him to the U.S. for educational purposes.
Out of several possible choices, he chose the Ohio State University in the city of Columbus. Upon arriving in January of 1998 he immediately began inquiring for like-minded believers with whom he could fellowship. The short of it is that we discovered one another by the internet and email, which led to an eventual face-to-face meeting.
Immediately it became evident that the Lord had drawn us together for His greater purposes. For the remaining months of his stay, Vijay became a part of our home fellowship. It was a very blessed season in the Lord for us all, and many things were confirmed in Vijay's heart. Soon after his return to India, a new home fellowship was established in New Delhi on the Pusa Campus, where this spring's conference would be held.
A little over a year later, I was challenged by a beautiful Chinese brother, Charlie Chen, to pray about going to India. From that time on, the desire and belief began to build that God would send some of us to be with Vijay and the saints there. On his end, doors began to open up in one of the Southern states, and The Lord's direction began to unfold.
From Vijay's original invitation, the brothers in Columbus had only a time of fellowship and seeing India in mind. But later we came to understand that this was to be a time for strengthening the believers in the home churches, and equipping them for His service. Little did we realize the extent of this work, and very powerful witness of the Life of the Holy Spirit which all would experience!
The brothers and sisters that meet regularly with Brother Vijay have become very dear to me. It was such an encouragement to be with them for the four days of the conference. I was especially impressed with how the children participate in the meetings, in the singing and being always ready to read out loud the particular passage of Scripture that we were discussing. Later Vijay's wife, Lalitha, shared her original concerns for the children.
She was worried that the needs of the children would not be met in so small of group. But in time she saw the Lord's provision for them, even beyond her expectations. While they are learning probably more than in the traditional Sunday School, the blessing of the Lord goes even beyond that.
The Johnsons's who have been separated in part from their parents after they left the Roman Catholic Church, found other grandparents for their two daughters in the Body of Christ. Not only are they receiving love and attention from Vijay and Lalitha, but the Lord has also met part of their needs through Warren and Helen Peterson of the US, who visited them before me. Their thoughtful gifts and prayerful concern have earned them the title of "grandparents," with these beautiful children! And don't forget "uncle" Dan from Ohio!
This house church is strategically located on the university campus in Delhi, where Brother Vijay is employed as an agricultural scientist. Consequently, many nationalities were represented in this small 4 day conference held in his apartment. People from Ethiopia, Mongolia, Kenya, as well as from distant states in India were in the meetings. All had come with the expectation of receiving something from the Lord to take with them upon returning home.
The young brother from Mongolia was especially touched, as during this time he was delivered from Buddhism, and was later baptized by the church there!
Click here to Read Vijay's Testimony
There are some general misconceptions that Westerners have concerning Christianity in India. Christians are in the minority there, but the institutional church, and the institutional mindset continues to thrive. This makes India very ripe for the recovery of New Testament practices and principles. The old restrictive concepts are now being challenged, so that the people themselves can have greater liberty in their meetings and their witness for Christ.
Everywhere I found a great hunger for the deeper truths of God's Word. This hunger made our work very easy. Everything we shared was eagerly received, with a readiness to "search the Scriptures to see whether these things be so."
After the first week in New Delhi, Vijay and I boarded a plane to Chennia, in the Southern state of Andhra Pradesh. There we were greeted by his friend John, one of the sons of a well-known and respected evangelist in India. He was particularly interested in the concepts of small groups, and house church. But we were quick to emphasize the centrality of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures as the only basis for church life. After spending the evening and the following day with him, we left him some literature and boarded the train for Vijayawada.
Upon our arrival at the station we were greeted by Brother Israel, an old friend of Vijay's from his youth. It was incredible in the way the Lord brought these two together with me after 20 or so years! Soon we were riding in his "Gospel Jeep" (see the photos), towards the city of Guntur, visiting a village church on the way.
Brother Israel is a true servant of God with a shepherd's heart. Very few men of his calibre would be willing to dedicate their lives to these materially poor, but spiritually rich children of God. The impact of the jeep ride through these rural areas on me personally is difficult to describe. As I sit here writing this today, it is like a dream of living in the days of Paul and Peter. If you can imagine the millions of poor, and unenlightened precious souls scattered across this land that have yet to even hear about the love of Jesus!
And then to find these lone workers spending their days and nights caring for those scattered groups of believers, meeting in straw and mud huts, and unknown to the rest of the believing world! All of this adds new depth of meaning to the words of Jesus, "Truly the harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into the field."
<Read Israel's Report Here>
Well, truly that prayer is being prayed, and the Lord is indeed answering. During the four days we were in Guntur, the Lord sent laborers from a radius of many miles to to be built up and encouraged and instructed. Vijay and myself, with Brother Israel translating poured just about everything we had into them, considering the time limitations and the fact that we knew very little of what they had been previously taught.
From the looks on their faces and later feedback from Brother Israel, we took it that the ministry was well received and appreciated. I pray that those things which were from Him will abide in their hearts and continue to strengthen them as they are sent with His Good News of the Kingdom of God to these many poor.
Included in that good news is that they are free from religious bondage to worship Him and to live together under His Lordship. May this wonderful news prevail in this great country of India in the days ahead!