reaching the ends of the field
Shalom, dear friends, from Indian Railways! This update is being penned as I sit in transit between the coastal Indian state of Goa and the northern hill station of Dehradun. The two places are more than 2,000 kilometers apart. Journeys like this make me think of the disciples in the Book of Acts and how they too must have written some of their letters to the churches while they were in transit. Reading from 2 Timothy 4:13 as Paul gives instruction concerning books and clothing and parchments makes me think about all of the coordinating that goes into bringing Bibles, Gospel tracts, and supplies to the various areas that we do ministry. In fact, I have with me right now a box of 250 Hebrew Gospel booklets to deliver to northern India for use this coming summer. Thank God, unlike the early disciples, I am sitting today on an air-conditioned train and not on the back of a camel or a horse to traverse the Indian subcontinent. If you are a real born-again Christian, then you will find much in your life that lines up with the Holy Scriptures. You do not have to be out on the foreign mission field or in the pastorate to experience this at all. You just need to obey the Bible in your daily life. I hope the words in this update will encourage you and stir up in you a desire to emulate the works we do over here on the mission field. As you see our example of missionary work, please take note and use everything you have to preach the Gospel and teach Christians in your own neck of the woods. I do not claim to have all of the answers or to do all things perfect. But, with Bible in hand, I press forward in my knowledge of Jesus Christ and His abundant grace toward me to live by every word the proceeds out of the mouth of God. And, you should too! Only follow us as we follow Christ.
christmas in nepal
When I last posted, I was praying over which direction to go from Kathmandu, Nepal. Mobility and supplies were so strained by the unofficial Indian border blockade that Christian and I had to move out of the country to find other opportunities for evangelism. We spent our last weeks in Nepal using the Christmas season as an open invitation to publish the Gospel among the Nepalis. Nepal is greatly influenced by western media, so nowadays you will see thousands of young people throughout Kathmandu walking around with little red Santa Clause hats on for Christmas and decorations galore in the shopping centers. None of this is a result of anything Christian though. It stems from the people’s desire to be like the glamorized figures of western pop culture. However, what a great time to teach them about Jesus Christ coming to the world to save sinners. They are open to influence. Let us influence them with the preaching of the truth rather than sitting by idly while the enticing materialism of modern Christmas celebrations overtakes them.
A week before Christmas, we were able to organize a large meeting in the Ramechhap District where a particular tribe of villagers lives in constant oppression under the high-caste Brahman Hindus. The whole village came out for the day to see our program. There are a handful of pastors scattered throughout the district who joined us to help. The outreach was used to disburse aid to local school children whose families had lost much in the earthquake. During the program, each of the pastors stepped forward and shared their testimonies with the crowd. Next, I preached a clear Gospel message. Then, Brother Bishnu finished up the preaching by calling the village to forsake all and follow Jesus. The preaching lasted a couple of hours, and the whole time more and more villagers arrived to listen. Finally, many of the schoolchildren’s mothers arrived. Quite a few of them had little babies swaddled and strapped to their backs. The whole village seemed to listen with interest and without objection to each preacher until the very end. We then concluded the day by distributing brand-new fleece jackets to the 50+ schoolchildren. Nearly every child was barely clothed in their worn-out school uniforms when they arrived. The bitter cold of winter had already given most of them a horrible cough with runny noses. The children were very happy to receive their very own fleece jacket coupled with a good illustrated Gospel booklet. This act of charity closed the program, and everyone was very thankful. Then, just as Jesus fed the 5,000 men and their families, we too fed the people a nice hot plate of food.
It should be noted that Jesus did not go into a faraway place just to distribute bread and fish to the masses. He worked the miracle of dividing the loaves and fishes to prove His Divine ability. But, as it is written in the Scriptures, the Lord fed the people for the sole purpose that they had sacrificed their day to come so far to hear the preaching of God’s Word. This was our intention as well. All of the aid given to these villagers was by the generous hands of Christian people through FPGM's Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. And with this fund, we desire to make sure that it is used in Nepal for the kingdom of God and never without the clear preaching of the Gospel. When we can provide a hot plate of food to a village who has given up its day to listen to the the Message, we rejoice knowing that this is the pattern shown to us in the New Testament. My point is that we are not striving to build up temporal things in the world through humanitarian efforts for “death has passed upon all men (humanity).” We simply labor via the temporal to point all to the spiritual, that they might find the grace of life in Christ. “For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17).”
That same day, the mothers with the small babies that I mentioned above also received warm blankets to help them endure the cold of winter. Everyone that attended the meeting received a Nepali Gospel tract and a Project Jagerna Gospel of John in their language. According to the local pastors, the Lord had already been proving Himself among these villagers to be much greater than their Hindu gods. Quite a few have seen the power Jesus has to deliver them from the tormenting hands of their Hindu deities (devils without disguise). Others have gone to Jesus as a last resort for healing from incurable diseases. The witchdoctors and the qualified medical doctors failed to fix their patients, but Jesus did bring healing. I was quite impressed when one pastor clarified, “Jesus might heal you, but He still demands that you repent and be born again to worship Him and live for Him.”
During the week of Christmas, Christian and I went out with Brother Bishnu and other local brethren to preach open-air around Kathmandu. A few thousand tracts went out and countless people heard sermons in the public forum about Jesus being born sinless and dying for sinners to save them from their sins. What an excellent time to do evangelism! It is truly a time to preach the Word “in season.” We also went out to Ratna Park and preached in the city center. This was a pretty special thing for me to experience. As many of you may remember, Ratna Park is where Jesse Boyd and I were beaten in 2012 by a large Hindu mob for, in their own words, “trying to make them all Christians.” I was especially blessed to return and preach with the microphone in Ratna Park for the first time since we took that beating. Praise God. Our vicious persecutors, those vile sinners, tore at our flesh and bruised our bodies almost four years ago, but they have never stopped the work of God’s Word in Nepal. Jesus was King on that day, and we continue to tell everyone everywhere that the King, Jesus Christ, is coming back to this earth soon to take what is rightfully His (Psalm 24:1, Revelation 5:1-10). Amen!
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Timothy 4:2).
the beaches of goa
Goa is the smallest of India’s twenty-nine states. It is an ancient seaport used by traders for hundreds of years to export the exotic spices and goods of India to the rest of the world. A few centuries ago, there were actually Jewish merchants controlling much of the business in the area. This was a great place for them to find refuge in the Diaspora (dispersion of the Jewish people from Judaea). The Portuguese, in obedience to the Catholic Church, came and butchered the Jews and all of the Hindus in the area that would not convert to Catholicism. They claimed the land for the political and religious dominion of the Catholic Empire, and it has since been known as “Rome of the East.” Catholicism is a political body and NOT the Church of Jesus Christ. Never forget this historic and fundamental fact. Catholicism has never been interested in saving souls. Just as Satan lusted for God’s throne, Roman Catholicism has always lusted for the world’s money, land, and the power to control it. With shrines and idols everywhere, Goa is a perfect example of how this false church converts heathen idolaters into nothing more than CATHOLIC-heathen idolaters. The Portuguese signed over control of Goa to the Indian government in 1975, but Catholicism is still firmly rooted there. The area displays an interesting mix of European and Indian culture, and the beaches attract millions from around the world every year. During the winter, many Israeli backpackers flood into the hostels along the coast of Goa. The weather is great, and the rates are a little cheaper this time of year.
For the first two weeks of January, Christian and I spent each day out on the beaches witnessing to the Israelis and other foreign tourists and out in the cities preaching with a bullhorn against Catholicism while publishing the only Gospel that can save a man’s soul, that is, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. An Indian couple was of tremendous help to us while we were there. They are in full-time ministry themselves and loved having us around to preach with them. There seems to be a real open door to preach in this area. The current government in India is run by Hindu extremists who would love to have Goa converted back to a Hindu-dominated state. Consequently, most local Goans are much more open to hearing the Bible preachers than to give heed to anything the Hindu gurus peddle in the streets. We preached in quite a few places and several thousand Gospel tracts went out. We also preached at the bus station in the state capitol. One Catholic man became irate and brought the police over to arrest us. The officer laid his hands on our Indian brother, Raj, until we took out the camera and started recording him. He immediately took his hands off and walked away demanding that we leave. The disgruntled old Catholic man that saw his opportunity to make us shut up slipping away then grabbed Raj and ripped his shirt, trying to drag him to the police car. I immediately pulled his hands off and yelled, “Don’t you dare touch him!” By now, many people had gathered around and started advocating for us. They wanted us to at least have our freedom of speech in the "democratic" land of India. The man lost all of his zeal when he noticed the danger of the crowd turning against him instead of being against us like he wanted. Well, this happens. But, we kept going. We spent that whole day preaching around the capitol city without any more problems from anyone. Sometimes, you have to overcome the opposition to give yourself more boldness and have more liberty to preach the Word of God.
The main purpose of our traveling to to Goa, though, was for ministry amongst the Jewish people. Thankfully I met an Indian man whose heart is set on Jewish evangelism. He moved to Goa with his wife to open a restaurant as an avenue for talking to the Israeli travelers. He had some good Gospel tracts in Hebrew, and I was able to leave some Hebrew New Testaments with him as well. He was very thankful for the Bibles and joined us out on the beach to go witnessing to the Israelis. Walking along the beach to talk with people proved to be a great place for intense conversations. In the two weeks we spent in Goa, we gave out about 70 Hebrew tracts and probably 30 Hebrew booklets that give a concise view of prophetic Scriptures pointing to Jesus. Three people also took Hebrew New Testaments. I was really hoping to see if Goa would be a good place for me to come in the winter months to do outreach to Israelis since tourism comes to a screeching halt in the north by the end of November. I think the answer to my enquiry is obvious from the amount of material we distributed. Praise the Lord!
The work we are doing over here in India to these Jewish travelers cannot be underestimated. One Israeli was lounging in a chair under his umbrella on the beach when I walked over and started talking to him about the Bible. The interest he had in the Christian interpretation of the Bible really surprised me. He told me that he had never heard the Messiah talked about in the way I explained Him. What I said really made a lot of sense to him. The answers he has been given throughout his life from the rabbis and arguments with his friends have just left him confused about the message of the Bible and the prophecies of Messiah. I took the time to explain the Gospel with clarity and told him that he needs to find the truth and turn to the Lord. I then offered him a book in Hebrew that only has Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures printed in it. I said, “Here, take this and read exactly what the Bible says. God does not have ‘opinions’ about Messiah. God speaks only the the truth and no lies. After you read the Scriptures, you turn with your whole heart to agree with God about the Messiah. There are countless opinions, but God’s command to you is to be saved by the Redeemer of Israel, the Messiah.” He really appreciated the book so he could just see for himself what the Bible says. At least he understands where the real authority of truth lies. Again, the work we are doing over here in India among the Israelis is just so important. I will give three statements I have heard from people in the last week concerning Jewish evangelism here in India.
- I approached two Israeli women in Goa and handed them a Gospel tract and one of the booklets containing Messianic prophecies. The one girl named Aiyela said, “This is about haYehudim Mishichim (Jewish Christians)? Wow! I was a commander in the army and a Jewish man that believes in Yeshua (Jesus) told me so much about the Messiah. I loved hearing him explain the Bible and what Christians believe! I really want to read this book. Thank you!” We are watering seeds that Israeli Christians have planted in the hearts of their own countrymen. What a privilege.
- Some missionaries from Jews for Jesus organized a spur-of-the-moment trip to Goa and arrived the night before we left. One of them went out with Jesse and I to do evangelism on the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel last year. We picked them up from the airport and took them to their hostel to start our last night of evangelism in Goa. One of them explained, “I hear a lot of feedback from Israelis after they return from traveling around the world. The work you all are doing is really vital. The Israelis you are speaking to are hearing the Gospel for either the very first time in their lives or possibly the second.” There is no doubt that we are sowing seeds of the Messiah into the hearts of Israelis from all over Israel. Though many of them hear about the Bible, most of them have never heard the Gospel before we speak to them. God made the deserts of Palestine to bloom with all kinds of fruit when the Jews returned to their land. May God make these seeds of the Gospel to take deep root and shoot forth into branches bearing much fruit!
- Emile Petruk, one of the volunteers that was on our 2015 Team Yeshua this past summer went back home to begin classes at Moody Bible College. She wrote me yesterday to relay what one of her classmates told her. Here is what she said: “I met a student here at Moody. She is Israeli and she told me that a lot of her believing friends came to Christ because of Christian witnesses in India.” I have heard this from more than a few people over the past year. When Israelis come to India, they experiment with eastern philosophy and are very open to spiritual conversations. When Christians come to them and explain that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures, it radically changes some of their lives. They become born-again Jewish followers of Yeshua, just like the Apostles and the early churches in Jerusalem!
- These simple statements are very encouraging to hear. God is wrapping up His work of evangelism in the world. The Lord is bringing His work with the Church to an end and is preparing to wake the Jewish people up to be used mightily of God again. The sowing of the seeds of the Gospel is bearing fruit in faraway places like the mountainous regions and coastal beaches of South Asia. And, God has brought the Jews back to the land of Canaan as He promised Abraham so long ago. As so many Jewish youth are coming to the Lord now and the Church grows in Israel, the undeniable fact that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah is becoming well-known. One day, when the Church (Jewish and Gentile Christians) are raptured out of the world, the whole nation of Israel will undoubtedly notice that all of the Jewish Christians disappeared from their country. This undeniable observation will be magnified as the Time of Jacob’s trouble (Tribulation) presses down hard on the nation (Jeremiah 30:7). This tribulation period will be a great time of horror, but God has promised that Jewish witnesses will finish the work of the Gospel to the ends of the earth and take up “the gleanings” of saved souls from the world (Revelation 7,14; Isaiah 24). This is a suitable transition since the Church started with all Jewish witnesses going out to their own respective corners of the globe (Arabia, Rome, Asia, Libya, et al.) after Peter gave his famous message at Pentecost (Acts 2:7-11,36-42). And, when the current nation of Israel is at her utter end, she will cry out to Jesus in humble submission to her Messiah and at once, the whole of Israel will be saved as Jesus plants His feet on the Mt. of Olives and reclaims the earth for Himself (Hosea 5:15; Zechariah 12:10, 14:4; Romans 11:24-26).
My friends, I have enough grace to work with other Christians that do not share my eschatological views. But, according to the Bible, Jesus is coming back. The Church is falling into great apostasy and the Jewish people will finish what God used them to start. The laborers are REACHING THE ENDS OF THE FIELD and God is about to have the Church “caught up” so that Israel can finish evangelizing until the literal Messianic Kingdom comes into the world for a thousand years. And, thus we labor. Until Jesus comes, we labor in these fields sowing the seed of God’s word. For, fruit in the Kingdom of God is the souls of men. Glory to God! Hallelujah! Maranatha. Amen.
bible classes in dehradun
Finally, as I said, my train docks in the northern mountains of India at an elevation of 6,000 feet. This past summer, a family of Buddhists came to us and were adamant that they wanted to forsake Buddhism and become Christians. They heard the Gospel and confessed to believe on the Lord, and immediately we went and baptized them. This is fruit that we get to see here because of the missionaries that labored in L---kh for years. This family has truly born real fruit in their lives and are standing strong in their faith. This commitment to the Lord is very serious and costly for them. Being a Christian among Tibetan Buddhists will absolutely bring persecution. Anyway, a local believer who is uncompromising in his walk with the Lord asked us if we could help this family and some of the other spiritually-starved Christians in L---kh to have a Bible training for two months during the winter. FPGM has taken the full burden of the cost to transport 16 believers down out of the mountains to the hill station of Dehradun for such a time of intense training in the Word. Three of these believers come from the Muslim side of L---dk , and they get little to no fellowship back in their home villages. This is an effort to build a strong foundation for the Church in L--kh. There is an old Moravian fellowship up in Leh, but sadly, over the years, leaven has come into the body and corrupted the whole lump to the point of signing contracts with the Buddhist monasteries to never evangelize. This retreat is a way to start fresh and keep these believers separate from those apostates (2 Corinthians 11:2, 6:17-18).
For the next two weeks, I will be filling in the teaching slots to instruct the believers in simple Old Testament survey, Church history, and foundational Christian doctrines. Christian Parks is still laboring with me and will be teaching a few classes as well. Each day is packed full of 4 class sessions and a devotional. This is a nice retreat for them to enjoy, but it is by no means a vacation. We intend to use every bit of time we have here. This work is crucial for these believers in their walk with the Lord. I cannot stress how difficult it is to be a Christian in such spiritually dark places. Please keep us all in prayer during these trainings. And, do pray that God brings more people out of darkness to saving faith when these people go back to their homes with a daily Christian testimony while sharing the Gospel with their lost families and friends.
In said manner, we at Full Proof Gospel Ministries are striving to reach the ENDS OF THE FIELD.