Miracles of healing. Strong opposition. Powerful stories of conversion from radical Hinduism. We heard these themes repeated over and over as 15 pastors and district apostolic leaders from churches in the Home Fellowship Leaders Network in India shared their testimonies. The time together really opened our eyes to God?s work among these courageous leaders in Andhra Pradesh, India.
One couple who had driven from Badhrachalam, 8 hours away, caught my attention. The still-very-bearded head of Pastor Naveen was reminiscent of the time when he head joined a communist guerilla group that lived in the forest and fought the government of India. The Lord Jesus revealed himself to Naveen in a vision. He gave up communism and became a follower of Christ.
Later, in 2011, he received training at the Bible School organized by Emmanuel in Kakinada. From there, he went out to plant churches. So far, Naveem has started 12 churches with a total of 1,500 members. He is believing God for 100 churches in his district.
Pastor Alipal, who comes from the Soura tribe in the mountains of Andhra Pradesh, was impacted by the words of Reinhardt Bonke at an evangelistic crusade in 2007. He immediately went back home with a desire to start a church. After attending the Bible School in Kakinada, he was better equipped to teach sound biblical doctrine. He had planted 80 churches in northeastern Andhra Pradesh, however most of them joined other ministries. Alipal is glad that the ten churches he now oversees are grounded in the Word of God and are ready to grow.
Pastor Dayakar, from Nalgonda District near Hyderabad, started a church in the year 2000 after attending the same Bible School. He now has four churches with a total of 130 people. He gave a testimony of how God healed a woman who was dying from cancer. He had been experiencing quite severe opposition from the Hindu villagers, but when they saw the power of God in healing the sick woman after he and some church members prayed, things changed completely. In fact, many of them gave their lives to the Lord Jesus and are now supporting the work of ministry.
Another pastor, based in Kakinada, had been earning his living as a mason. But a life-threatening sickness forced him to stop working. With no one to provide for his family, his situation was desperate. It seemed that he would soon die ? he had nowhere to turn for help. Pastor Emmanuel knew this family, and began prayer for Satyakumar?s healing. God answered with power. The miracle convinced that Satyakumar that Jesus was real, and out of gratitude for what God had done for him, he accepted Christ as Lord. Satyakumar his wife Kumari are now in full-time Christian ministry.
All of these leaders have been vehemently opposed by either the Hindu extremists, the tribal religions, or even the other denominational churches. But God always shows himself faithful. By receiving a strong base of training in the Word of God, they have learned how to faithfully teach and preach the gospel message. Villages in India are changing because of it.
By Diane Omondi