Terry R. Baughman
A small prayer group based in Texas provides spiritual support for the work of God in Gujarat, India. They continually pray for a revival of the Holy Spirit in a predominantly Hindu nation. The leader of this group, Sister Elizabeth, has a tremendous passion to see her homeland come to know the saving power of Jesus Christ. Recently she contacted Christian Life College to see if we could send someone to teach and preach in the annual conference in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, scheduled for October 29th- November 2nd.
After a few days of prayer and making a few calls, I accepted the invitation and prepared to go. It has been two years since my last ministry visit to this western state of India. International travel has certainly affected my worldview and given me a different perspective of the Scriptures, such as "God so loved the world," and "Go into all the world and preach the gospel." Our perspective of the world can be rather small if we never see more than our hometown.
India is literally on the opposite side of the globe. It is 12 time zones ahead of Pacific Time. When it is noon here, it is midnight there. The flight from start to finish took about 33 hours. That included an hour and a half stop in Hong Kong and a seven hour layover in Singapore. My son accompanied me on this trip and we contacted our missionary in Singapore, Steve Willoughby, before leaving on this trip, and arranged to meet with him for lunch. We arrived in Singapore on time and made our way through immigration and out into the ticketing area of the Changi Airport. Missionary Steve Willoughby met us in the lobby and took us to their church in the Chinatown Point business complex. They lease the fifth floor of one of the pavilions, a section that was once a theater. The larger of two theaters seats about 500 and that is where they have church services. When we arrived about noon on Tuesday, they were preparing to baptize a young woman who had been attending Bible Study. After a brief visit, lunch in one of the local shops, and a look around town, Brother Willoughby took us back to the airport.
About an hour before our scheduled 7:00 PM departure, we found our gate for Ahmedabad. About five hours later, as we approached the city and looked across the lights of Ahmedabad, we saw a variety of fireworks being set off. It was the evening before the Hindu New Year, Diwali. They love fireworks and especially loud firecrackers!
It is always a little culture shock to land in Ahmedabad. Motorized stairways are driven up to the exit doors of the jumbo airplane. Passengers are then loaded onto buses with windows open wide inviting the evening air to cool the passengers. The arrivals are shuttled across the tarmac and dropped off by the doors to the terminal where a line forms to pass through immigration. Due to the fact that there were few passengers on this flight, the lines moved quickly and we were able to get through before our baggage was delivered on the carousel.
Jaiprakash Christian, pastor of Faith Church and bishop of the churches for this conference, was waiting for us at the door. He led us to a taxi that would take us to Anand where the conference would begin the next morning. We arrived at the Surabhi Regency Hotel and checked in about midnight. Due to the time change I was wide awake at 6:00 AM, or it could have been the loud blast that awakened me. This conference coincided with the Hindu New Year celebration, Diwali. They celebrate with abandon. Fireworks and lots of firecrackers punctuate the day. Some of the explosions sound like a supercharged M80; that is the largest firecracker I can ever remember as a child growing up.
Wednesday morning about 10:45 we went next door to the room of Pastor Jaiprakash and met his family. After a brief visit and prayer, we loaded up to make the 10 minute drive to the conference grounds, the sight of an old Christian hospital that has been closed for nearly twenty years. Another Christian organization now owns it and makes it available to various groups for meetings such as this conference. The meetings are held outdoors under a large white fabric tent. Approximately three hundred people gathered in a fashion reminiscent of the old campmeetings in this country.
We met our translator, Gabriel, and some other pastors and leaders of the camp. They offered us masala tea as others prepared the music and equipment for services. We had a time of worship and then the traditional welcome, the presentation of a flower garland for the guests and leaders of the conference. After another worship song I was introduced to preach the first message of the conference. After making the appropriate remarks and greetings I introduced the concept of what I felt led to speak this week in the day sessions. I planned to speak on some areas of the fundamental doctrines of Scripture. The doctrinal studies each day came from Ephesians 4:4-6. I taught on, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism," and "one Spirit."
We attended at least three of the four sessions each day and I preached twice each day after Wednesday. In the evening services I focused on The Ministry of Jesus, from Luke 4:18-19. I emphasized the themes of being "led of the Spirit" and the preaching of the Gospel, a message on The Healer of the Brokenhearted, another on Deliverance from Oppression. I concluded on Sunday evening with the great commission, "Go therefore making disciples in every nation!" There was a wonderful response to the Word and many came forward for prayer.
On Saturday evening we planned a Holy Ghost service. The local pastor in Anand called for all those who wanted to receive the Holy Spirit to come forward. Many came forward, probably close to 100 people. He led them in corporate prayer of repentance and encouraged the elders to pray for them. Many received the Holy Spirit as we prayed for them. When asked who had received the Spirit, at least 50 raised their hands. Pastor Jaiprakash estimated 20-30 were for the first time. Following the prayer for the Holy Spirit, Pastor Jaiprakash had people line up for special prayer for healing. We prayed for a lot of people, probably about an hour or longer. Several confessed to receiving instant healing or miracles. Finally, Pastor Jaiprakash asked for all who were possessed or oppressed by demons. We prayed for at least six who needed deliverance. An obvious peace came over several of them after prayer and casting out the devil. We concluded this service after about six hours!
At the conclusion of one service a lady came to Pastor Jaiprakash and confessed to receiving a miracle in her eye. She had lost the vision in her right eye and came praying specifically for that need. God healed her during prayer in the altar service.
In the afternoon session on Friday, Pastor Jaiprakash preached on being a love slave from the book of Exodus. It was very touching at the end of the message as he referred to Christian persecution in India and how as a love slave you continue to serve God whether you live or die. The recent uprising of radical Hindu fundamentalists in the state of Orissa has caused Christians all over India to be concerned for their safety. There is fervent passion in these devout followers of Christ. I have no doubt many would give their lives for their faith if they are called upon to do so. They are love slaves of Christ!
In a nation where so many are bound by traditions and oppressive religions, the liberating power of the Gospel is so real. I believe God is using these believers and other like them across the country of India to begin a revival of truth and power. One billion souls await the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism!"