We were in Jaipur for the second year running. Twenty men and five women attended, all of whom came last year. Numbers were lower this year as many men could not get train tickets because of the Divali holidays, something we will avoid next year.
Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh.
This was our first joint conference with India Link Ministries. A total of 38 pastors and church planters and six women evangelists attended. They have little or no formal theological training and are just the kind of Gospel servants PTI wishes to reach and help.
At Jaipur, Merv taught The fullness of Christ, the Gospel and Gospel Ministry (from Colossians) and The Life and Teaching of a Pastor, from 1 and 2 Timothy. Robert focused on The Sovereignty of God in Creation, Salvation and Preaching; he also led seminars on how to preach through Lukes’ Gospel. Kim had been asked to lead a women’s strand in the afternoons, teaching them the book of Ruth. This was very well received by these dear sisters who are labouring hard in remote villages to reach women for Christ.
The question and answer session revealed much confusion caused by false Prosperity Gospel teaching and many said this greatly helped them. We also presented the delegates with Christian books in Hindi, which were very well received.
During a moving time of testimonies we were told that, after last years conference, one of the older church planters went to a village where there was no Christian witness. He was badly beaten and told not to return. However, he said that he had been so encouraged by the teaching last year that he returned to the village as soon as he was fit enough and had prayed and fasted about the situation. There is now a church with 60 people attending, Praise the LORD! He asked us for prayer, however, as his eyesight has been badly affected since the beating.
One difficulty we encountered at Jhansi is that delegates were mainly from very rural areas in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – the two most underprivileged states in the whole of India. Many are living and working in Dalit (the “untouchable” caste) villages with no electricity, no roads and no schools! Often, the evangelists have to reach these villages on foot or by bicycle. One pastor and his wife are polio victims, leads house churches in five villages and travels to them by hand-peddled tricycle.
Merv explained The Gospel-centred ministry and life, from 1 Timothy and The Theology of Salvation: Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification and Glorification. Robert taught An Overview of the Bible as well as the Luke’s Gospel seminars.
We heard some very memorable testimonies and learned of some of the very testing situations that these dear servants are working in. Again, during the Q and A sessions, we were able to clear up many misunderstandings that the Prosperity Gospel false teaching had caused. Each delegate took three Christian books in Hindi that we had been supplied with from Delhi Bible Institute. They were greatly appreciated, since they are the first Christian books that many had ever had in their own language.