Pray India September 2005
These following updates were sent from abroad during September of 2005. The text is rather choppy because it was written always in a haste at another person's computer.
Subject: India Update 9/7/05
INDIA UPDATE #1
Dear Prayer Partners,
Greetings! From Vizianagaram, India. After being on the road for a whopping 77 hours, we finally arrive at our host, Pastor Stephen's home. The journey here from Pittsburgh has been a long one. Most frequent travelers to India would probably be wondering why it took us twice the time to get to India. We made a conscientious decision to keep cost down on our side so that we can have more of the STM funding made available to help bring in more attendees. As a result, our route and layovers are longer than ever. Even though the journey has been trying physically for both Pastor Paul and Keng, God has been gracious in using the journey to give us more time to meditate on the messages we will be sharing and even live out in a small way what it means to suffer for Christ's sake.
Tomorrow will be the first day of a series 4 seminars that we will be conducting. Praise the LORD! The number of attendees registered and anticipated to attend these seminars has increased compared to last year. For instance, we had originally thought that we would have only about 100 people coming for the seminar in Orissa. But when we arrived, Pastor G Paul (who is Pastor Stephen's father) informed us that by word of mouth, the seminar has been promoted by last year's attendees and the number at Orissa has increased and is anticipated to be around 150-160.We will be conducting the seminars at Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Orissa respectively.
Please pray with us:
- Thank God we arrived safely in Vizianagaram
- Thank God for providing financially for this mission. Now that I am here (Keng) and have seen it with my own eyes the poverty that our Indian brothers experience, I am able to appreciate and give thanks to God even more for the incredible blessings that we have received from God in the States (or elsewhere). If your children are ever discontent, send them to Vizianagaram. J
- Thank God for continuing to watch over our health. Keng actually has develop symptoms of a cold but thus far has been able to hang in there just fine. Please pray for quick recovery from the cold for Keng
- Pray for traveling mercies on the road for all of us (including the seminar attendees). We will begin our local travel to the four different destinations as the seminar begins tomorrow (Thursday Sept 8th). The driving etiquette here is very different from the States. By the standards we abide in the States, the driving conditions and driving etiquette here would be considered hazardous. Our driver, Dinesh, is a very skilled driver. But sitting in the passenger seat and witnessing his driving is a harrowing and nerve-wrecking experience that puts me on the edge of my seat!
- Please pray above all for us to be faithful to the Word of God as we share messages at the seminars. May the pastors be encouraged and inspired and taught in a way to help them be better equipped as they serve God. Pray that God can use us for His glory.
Keng & Paul
Subject: India Update 9/11/05
INDIA UPDATE #2
Dear Prayer Partners,
We have just completed the first seminar at Srikakulam. Thank you so much for your prayers. The Srikakulam seminar had an overwhelming response. We originally had 125 registered attendees. 100 extra pastors showed up on the first day. Most of the attendees are village pastors. Some are young and are in their teens. Some are old, in their 80s. There are only 2 sisters out of the 225 participants. Most of them do not have any bible college training. Some of them are illiterate and shares the Word by memorizing Scriptures read to them. They are all very poor. Some of them make as little as US$25 a month and the 'richer' pastors make about $50 a month. Given the limited training that they have received in their lives and their lack of income, they are very responsive to the heavily subsidized training that we are providing through the seminar. On the last day in Srikakulam, we visited a very poor neighborhood in Srikakulam where Pastor Stephen's aunt lived. Many of the people were Hindus. But once they found out
1) Thank God for keeping the weather cool.
2) Thank God for the first seminar at Srikakulam. Please pray for our second seminar which starts tomorrow (9/12). Pray that God would help us to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and prepare the messages and tailor them to the needs of the pastors in Vishakapatnam.
3) Pray for healing for Pastor Bucknell. He is very sick and exhausted. He caught a cold, has a fever and has been very tired due to lack of sleep. The mosquitoes and jet-lag have been keeping his sleep restless.
4) Thank God for praying for Keng. He has almost fully recovered from his cold.
5) Pray for strength and energy for the both of us. We need to persevere as there are 3 more seminars.
6) Please pray for a little girl by the name of Uthika that I (Keng) prayed for in Srikakulam. She is a little bit more than 1 year of age. She has very little hair on her head, is skinny and has sunken eyes. Out of all the children I was praying for, Uthika looked the worst of the lot. She has dysentery and diarrhea. She needs our prayer for God to heal her.
Paul & Keng
Subject: India Update 9/14/05
INDIA UPDATE #3
We have just completed the seminar at Visakhapatnam. The number of attendees is less, 104, of which about 50% of them are students from a bible college nearby. Some of the pastors who were attending this seminar came as far from the district of Guntur, which is a 12-hour train ride/900km. The seminar went quite well. Many of the attendees really liked the messages on the last day of the seminar. Pastor Bucknell recovered very well since our last prayer update. Unfortunately, Keng fell sick on Sept 12. He had a fever, diarrhea and vomiting sensations. Thank God, after 3 different pastors prayed for him and an anointing of oil, he recovered within 12 hours.
1) Tomorrow, September 15th, will be the first day of our seminar in Vizianagram. This town has 51% of its population living below poverty level and 98% of its population are Hindu. Pray that we will be a blessing to the pastors, evangelists, church-planters. Pray that they will be blessed by God's Word.
2) Pray that all the pastors who should be there would be there.
3) Thank God for hearing our prayers. Pastor Bucknell is well. Keng is almost at 100% too. Continue to pray for our health. We are both on the road to full recovery.
4) Continue to pray for cool weather.
5) Pray for insight as we are actively assessing and discerning if there would be future ministries we should be doing in India.
Paul & Keng
Subject: India Update 9/17/05
INDIA UPDATE #4
We have just concluded the third seminar at Vizianagaram. The number of attendees was 161. This doubles the number of pre-registered attendees. In India, God'''s work is being carried out in wonderful ways. I met a pastor who is pasturing two village churches that has 50 and 42 members respectively. He requested for prayer for spiritual growth in his church. One pastor that Pastor Bucknell met does not have any formal education but is able to speak English. God is doing amazing things here.
1) Thank God for sustaining us in our health. We are both healthy as water buffaloes. (we can see these delicate creatures out our bedroom window, and we are drinking freshly squeezed buffalo milk)
2) Keng was developing a cough yesterday. Thank God that it went away.
3) Thank God that we were able to continue to minister to pastors in this 3rd seminar. Many of the pastors were responding positively towards the end of the seminar committing themselves to be better godly leader.
4) Pray for Sunday messages that we will be sharing tomorrow (Sunday September 18th 2005)
5) We will be heading to Similiguda, Orissa, on a 3-hour winding road trip for our final seminar. Please pray for journey mercy.
6) Please pray for our safety in Orissa. This place is known for political and religious unrest.
7) India like many developing countries faces problem of bribery and extortion. Sadly, this problem has crept into the church as well. Please pray that God would heal the land of corruption.
Subject: India Update 9/22/05
INDIA UPDATE #5
A Miraculous Escape
Dear Prayer Partners,
We thank you so much for all of your prayers. We have sensed your prayers each day of our time in India. Our latest escapade was trying to leave India during the aftermaths of a devasting hurricane and great flooding. We saw only roof tops of some places next to a river. (Search google news: andhra pradesh cyclone). (Cyclone to them means hurricane). One place we earlier prayed for Pastor Stephen's Aunt's neighbors (largely Hindus with great needs) was all flooded out.Even many church members suffered flooding. Somehow, God used us right before the storm, literally. All the places we held the seminars were affected. Some lives were lost.
But first, let us update you on the fourth seminar in Semiliguda, Orissa. We only managed to get to the seminar because of our great daring driver. Of course that meant we had to be daring passengers. The rains and winds were strong all night and the field around the house we were at was flooded. That didn't stop our driver. He plowed through the waters and red mud. We praise God after about 1 hour of driving the rain tempered and then actually stopped until we almost got there. That was good not only for taking a few pictures but to enjoy the beautiful mountains and hour+ of hairpin turns.
The flood had caused a river to overflow so a good number of village pastors couldn't make it over the river. Even so, we had a good turn out and presented certficates to about 80 pastors and evangelists. (We had about 140 at the seminar). The seminar was shorter (only 2 days) but the speaking times a bit longer. Paul's voice began to give out but praise God just made it. The tens of people that wanted Keng and Paul to pray after the meeting really showed how much people were touched. It was rather ironic that Paul was praying for healing when he could only pray in a cracked voice. This is a center for many tribal groups, some of which are unreached. Many have very limited training. According to Pastor Kishore, our host in Semiliguda, Koraput, the district we visited is the most backward / least developed place in India.
Pastor Kishore and a business man there, Amar, were very excited about our instruction and asked us to come back for a longer period where they will get pastors from many different tribes (upto 500 people). We know God's hand was with us to get us there, sustain us while we were speaking and get us home.
Our escape. Floods closed our airport indefinitely. We found that bit of news just a few hours before leaving. The trains were suspended indefinitely. Busses would be full and far too slow. Our fearless driver, Dinesh, pulled another stunt out of his bag. He was willing to drive us the 13 hours to get us to our other airport (Madras Chennai). The trip was beautiful but typically jerky and bumpy, and typically full of close accidents. BUt we obviously made it and just arrived in Singapore.
Keng will be going back tomorrow and Paul will stay a few days in Singapore before flying home. Praise God for such faithful prayer partners like yourselves. You joined up with many other national Indians in this proclamation of God's glorious truths.
Please now pray for Keng's safe trip, Paul's Saturday meeting where he will meet with the leaders of a church, and Paul's safe trip home on Tuesday.
IN Christ's Glorious Love,
Keng and Paul
Subject: India Update 9/29/05
INDIA & SINGAPORE UPDATE #6
Dear Partners in Mission,
We are so grateful for joining us on this short term training mission in India! Keng has returned and passed the jet-lag stage. Paul has come back a bit later and still recovering. We are amazed at how God worked through your financial and prayerful giving to make everything go smoothly.
We started the first seminar during a hurricane. But it didn't seem to stop registrations! We got there and so did everyone else though we didn't have electricity for a while and had to delay starting. Over 200 pastors, church planters and evangelists came. Our last seminar also occurred during a terrible hurricane. I honestly didn't think the seminar would go on especially after hearing the rain was worse in the mountains where the seminar was going to be held. But on through the mud, rain and wind we went. Although some pastors could not make it to the seminar because of a swollen river, we still had a good number out. In fact, that some pastors couldn't make it seemed to be partly the reason we were invited back for a longer seminar where the pastor there said he would get 500 village pastors for a more extensive training.
This whole trip was one in which we marveled at how God answered prayer. We felt so worn out and yet when we started speaking, the Spirit would fill us and give us unction. Truly His grace was good. The messages were well received. They are hungry for what they repeatedly say 'deeper messages.' We could talk a lot about the last pastor and church where we were. In four years they have over 400 members with 4 branch churches. He regularly holds discipleship training classes. It is for this reason he sees our ministry closely able to work with his and the many other tribal pastors in that region. The pastors and members have a great burden for evangelism. Of course the needs there are great. Many brothers would like to get married to the available girls but the men can't find jobs.
Paul appreciates special prayer for the Singapore training. It went very well. God again gave grace. They talk about having him back again speaking on parenting. Opportunities abound but only by God's grace can we step out where heat, sickness, discomforts, homesickness, dangers and many other challenges constantly harass us. But praise be to God for guarding us from the dangers and problems we faced so that more than 600 pastors, church planters and evangelists could receive 3 days of training. We are so thankful for the Lord's provision through you for these brothers in the Lord.
Maybe the Lord gave our brother Dinesh this extra opportunity to drive us 13 hours (one way) straight to Chennai was for us to continue to lift his marriage in prayer. After he married, his in-laws took back his wife fearing her becoming a Christian. Dinesh became a Christian. It will soon be going to high court. Do pray.
Pastor Stephen has a great vision of evangelizing the greater Vizianagaram region. They await God's provision for a vehicle to help take their team to these many outlying areas. They have a plot of land to build a church. Meanwhile they reach out to many needy people with poor water, health and educational opportunities. If you are interested in giving to any special project, let us know.
Pray for mercy for those suffering from the hurricanes there. When we were leaving the news said, 50+ had died and 1000+ were missing.
Lastly do pray that Biblical truth will be taught in the Indian church. We hope to be a stimulus to both greater commitment to the teaching of God's Word and revival spreading throughout the land.
We want to give thanks for helping our families and wonderful wives for their support when away. It means a lot to see how God watched over them. Paul's nine-year-old came up after he returned home and explained that she started reading Genesis when he left and finished it on the day he got back! How encouraging to see God working in our families through your prayers.
This will be the last special Indian Update. If you have any questions, please see/write Keng or Paul. This letter will after this letter resume its normal BFF edition. Those who have joined just to pray for this trip will be taken off the list. Let us know if you would like to stay on or follow the simple instructions at the end of the letter to get on.
Much appreciative for this time we could join in God's work together!
Keng and Paul