Seniors Take Missionary Adventure
The Fjarli mission team welcomed old and new missionaries from northern Idaho as they made their ninth trip to India, Feb. 9–28. Jay and Eileen Lantry, both 81; Georgia DeHart and Bernita Miller Smick, in their early 70s; and Rhonda Backman, the "baby" grandma of the team, were excited about the opportunity to visit Andhra Pradeshsee, India, where people are increasingly interested in Christianity. Only the Lantrys had been in India before.
What a privilege we enjoyed being welcomed to Hindu villages occupied by people of the lowest caste, which people of higher castes won't even enter. No wonder these dear, poverty-stricken people were amazed that we not only came to see them, but entered their mud, thatched-roof homes, loved them, put our hands on their heads and prayed for them. We loved to hug the beautiful children. The adults met us, the first white people to ever enter their villages, with smiles and open arms.
Six teams worked with Maranatha Volunteers International in 100 villages. We stood amazed each evening as the huge trucks, hired by the Fjarlis, brought the villagers to our evangelistic site in the city of Podili. Each truck was packed with more than 250 people. As the people climbed down from the trucks, we greeters shook hands, touched, prayed and blessed them one by one before they found their seats. Then they eagerly listened to health talks, Bible stories for the children, and the comforting gospel story that told them there is a God who loves them—so unlike the heathen deities they fear. They were thrilled to know Jesus will soon come to take them to a land where they will no longer face the drought and the sickness and death so common in a land of poverty.
Within the Hindu culture, it is imperative to have a church to worship in, so Maranatha and the Fjarlis have teamed together to provided church homes in each of these 100 villages. Also a Gospel Outreach worker and his family will live in each village for three years, teaching and helping the new converts to live like Jesus.
On the last night, combined attendance at the six meeting sites swelled to over 62,000. The total number of people baptized at private baptismal services in all the entered villages totaled 31,704. These new Christians, who chose to turn from their Hindu gods and follow Jesus Christ, need our prayers and support.
Truly we walked with Jesus on those dusty village roads. In the sparkling eyes of the villagers clutching their Telegu gift Bibles, we witnessed God's love. They had received life’s greatest treasures: God’s friendship and saving love, providing them with hope for a better future.