Report to WCF of some of our activities over the past few months.
Love and greetings to all in the name of Christ
Since our arrival in India in Aug 08 for we have been reacquainting ourselves with curries made from genuinely fresh Indian vegetables and spices, adjusting to a much warmer climate, and settling into some sort of family routine and are totally immersed in a different way of life – it’s much more simple in many ways compared to what we were used to back home in Invercargill, New Zealand, and yet some simple tasks seems to take forever to do, but with the divine hand of God overseeing us, we have been able to settle in and help with the mountain of work and opportunities that present themselves on a daily basis here in colourful vibrant sub continent.
We are based at Hyderabad and are currently renting an apartment, about 100 metres from the Hyderabad Ecclesial Hall and 2 minutes from the compound where Bro Tim Galbraith has set up an office that serves as a base for the preaching work that goes on in South India.
We’ve spent quite a bit of time travelling and visiting ecclesias as far North as Muzafarnagar, in the state of Uttar Pradesh and as far south as Trivandrum in the state of Kerala.
We have been to Kerala twice to speak at the CYC camps for the younger members of Christadelphian Ecclesias in Kerala. They have been very useful to bring together some of the junior members of the ecclesias in Kerala. By ‘junior’ I mean those aged up to 35 years of age. Those that have been involved have been enthusiastic about the concept and another CYC camp is being planned for later this year. While we were in Kerala we have taken the opportunity also, to visit a few of the ecclesias and get to know some of the other Brothers and Sisters in Kerala (those aged over 35 years.) This has been useful to reacquaint ourselves with those that we met many years ago.
We have been to Uttar Pradesh visiting the Muzafaranagar ecclesia on 2 occasions also. The first was to attend the formal engagement of Bro Arvind (Muzafarnagar ecclesia) and Sis Rani (Hyderabad) ecclesia. This was a wonderful occasion as 2 families came together to formalise their agreement that Arvind and Rani could get married. This is quite a novel process to those of us from the West, but important in the context of Indian culture. The second trip was to attend a Truth Camp 1 hour out of Muzafarnagar at a place called Ramraj. There is an interested contact at this town who attends a local church and he was keen for us to outline Bible Truth to members of his congregation. We were warmly welcomed for the 2 days that we were there and along with Bro Justin Bevan of the UK, we were able to spend many hours discussing the wonderful message of the Bible. Some of the discussions went on well past sundown and due to electricity issues the night sessions were conducted by gas lighting. While there were no baptisms at this camp, their appeared to be genuine interest at the teachings of the Bible and I’ve no doubt that the members of the Muzafarnagar ecclesia are going to be busy meeting these contacts and helping them grow in understanding of the scriptures.
There have been many trips have to ecclesias within Andhra Pradesh also, visiting and assisting with weekend studies and general pastoral work. Often, when visiting ecclesias, our Brothers and Sisters will bring along friends and acquaintances that have an interest in the teachings of God. Always, there is opportunity to open the bible and talk about God and his purpose with this earth. The fields are certainly white for harvest.
Many of these trips have been with my wife (Sis Suhasini) and our 3 children. Suhasini grew up at the Christadelphian Children’s Home at Moinabad and is able to speak a number of the local languages. This has proved invaluable as we travel around. With her understanding of the culture and language many barriers have been broken down and it has opened up many opportunities for us to spend time with families that wouldn’t happen otherwise. Our 3 boys, Nathan, Joseph & Caleb have also contributed. They are happy to play with other children, not that they understand much of the local languages, but this of itself has presented opportunities for us to spend time with families that we may not have been able to without them.
In addition to these trips there have been 2 Bible Weeks in Andhra Pradesh, and an End of Year camp at Moinabad. These have all been wonderful experiences. There have been other visitors from Australia, the UK and USA who have helped with studies, leading discussion groups, helping with Sunday School lessons and classes etc. It has been a wonderful opportunity to meet up with these Brothers and Sisters and we are very thankful for the opportunity that the Father in Heaven has provided us.
The following is part of the report from one journey to Adoni.
During Feb 11 & 12, Bro Jim Bilton, his daughter Sis Ellie Bilton and Sis Allison Tarrant from the UK, along with myself, journeyed to Adoni for a two-day trip to meet contacts requesting baptism. Bro Puroshotham was our translator. We visited the Thimapuram Ecclesia, however, due to a busy harvest period those who may have been ready for baptism were unavailable. We had an enjoyable day with some members of the ecclesia here and had studies, one teaching about the Kingdom of God and another teaching about the need to trust in God’s provision and not worry day-to-day.
On the following day, we visited the Chigally ecclesia and the Adoni Ecclesia. The Chigally visit was an impromptu visit as we had some spare time before the Adoni Ecclesia was to gather together. Once we arrived at Chigally and met up with our Brothers and Sisters we ascertained that 2 contacts were very interested in baptism – these had been met during previous visits and had previously expressed a desire to be baptised. After some discussion it was obvious that the 2 contacts should be given an opportunity to tell us of their faith so we arranged at very short notice 2 interviews. Bro Jim, myself, Bro Puroshotham, Bro Ramangany (Chigally) and Bro Jaypal (Adoni) were very happy with their confessions of faith and agreed that we could proceed with baptism.
The names of the 2 Chigally contacts wanting to be baptised into Christ are Kistappa and Addilaxmi. They are a husband and wife who are the parents of Hanuman, a young lad that attended the Christadelphian Trade School that was led by Bro Peter Terrel last Nov/Dec. While the interviews were taking place, Ali and Ellie tried their best to entertain the local village children singing English songs of praise and learning a little Telegu in the process.
As we were running out of time, Bro Ramangany, Kistappa and Addilaxmi travelled with us back to Adoni were we were to meet 2 contacts from Adoni who had requested baptism. Once at Adoni, Luka (a younger brother to Jaypal) and Narsamma Suwarthamma (wife of Bro Nathaniel) gave good confessions of their faith.
It was dark by the time that we were able to progress with the baptisms, however we proceeded using emergency lighting and torches to walk through an open field, dodging potholes, thorny bushes and other unmentionables before walking over a hill and down to a reservoir that had sufficient water for baptism. The skies were clear and under the watchful eyes of the hosts of heaven we proceeded with the baptisms. It was wonderful. Bro Devaputra, Bro Jaypal and one other brother whose name escapes me performed the baptisms.
After the baptisms we headed back to the ecclesial hall and Bro Jim Bilton gave a short message of encouragement to our new brothers and sister.