Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mixed Bag

A Mixed Bag


India has served as a focus for developing close friendships between several of my friends who are missionaries (involved in evangelism in other cultures), and with Christians in other nations. Plans for this book have been discussed for several years. Our many adventures in life and service in Jesus Christ have taken us to many places and through manifold situations. Ken Shoop often makes the statement "It's a mixed bag!" at times when we are dealing with perplexing problems. Another often heard comment is "We never had it so good!" when things are really getting bad. 

We view ourselves as warriors in the service of our King, and His protection has enabled us to go boldly into situations and circumstances where we encountered joy, exhilaration, success, sorrow, insult, and sometimes seeming defeat. Because of these varied experiences and mixed results, we can describe the work of evangelism in other cultures as a mixed bag. Like the apostle Paul, we have learned to abound and to be abased, and to be content in the knowledge that Jesus is Lord, and that He will be victorious.

Some of this will be serious, and some will be light, but we hope the mixed bag of experiences we have encountered in twenty years of acquaintance and working together will help you understand the challenges and joys of serving Jesus in foreign cultures. The real heart of the message will be found in our interaction with the many Christians with whom we have been privileged to work in other nations.


Since I am telling this story, let me introduce myself. My name is Randolph Gonce, native of Jackson County, Alabama, USA, where I have spent all of my life with the exception of attending Auburn University for four years, getting a BS in Agricultural Engineering in 1962, and spending two years working for the USDA Soil Conservation Service in Dadeville and Greensboro, Alabama. After that I returned home and continue to live on the family home place on Crow Creek, ten miles north of Stevenson. I have been involved in teaching and preaching in the church since 1964. My great grandfather built the first building for the church of Christ at Anderson, TN. Both my maternal grandfather and my father were elders in the Lord’s church. My mother, who died when I was fifteen, is a great encouragement to me to be active in evangelism.

Lyle Starnes and Charles F. Scott were instrumental in my initiation to cross cultural evangelism. Lyle went to India in 1980 for a work arranged by Charles Scott, and I went in 1981 with similar arrangements to teach Bible classes and preach the gospel in the cities and rural villages of India. I first met Ken Shoop in New York City where we had to spend the night because our flight to India with Air India had been cancelled. Ken and I roomed together, our first time to meet. That is where the story begins.

Getting Acquainted

Getting acquainted with Ken was an event. Once preliminary greetings were exchanged, Ken began to pick me for evidence that I might be a radical legalist, which he considered likely with me being from the Southern Bible Belt. He was at that time an evangelist with the LaGrande, Oregon Church of Christ. He considered himself to be a middle of the road sort, but was deeply suspicious of preachers from my neck of the woods. I was equally wary of what a redneck woodsman from Oregon might believe. We soon found each other to be moderate in our positions, and discovered that we shared most of the same understanding of Bible teaching. I made some comment about Ken being a Yankee, and he informed me that his Grandfather had ridden a white horse and fought under Grant to whip the Confederates. This kind of jovial give and take came to characterize my relationship with Ken Shoop. We agreed on doctrinal issues, but often disagreed on personal judgment. We learned to hash things out, as Ken describes it, and to get on with the work without focusing on personal differences. But sometimes our personal exchanges would become extravagant in their excess, and only through time our brothers came to know that we do love each other.

At that time Charles Scott was arranging trips to India for preachers and teachers who would conduct bible classes. He had a backlog of people who were requesting Bible classes in different areas, and tried to fill those requests with people who were willing to go to new areas. This opportunity to go to new places often passed to people coming to India for the first time, because repeat visitors would develop friendships with Indian evangelists and organize their own work. Charles had arranged a lectureship at Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, for the beginning of our work schedule. Preachers were gathered there from all over India, and all of us new comers attracted a lot of attention. Our Indian brethren had learned that they had a chance to form close relationships with newcomers from America, and many were eager to latch on to Ken and I. Among the interesting characters we met was K. Enoch, who had served jail time as a Communist revolutionary before becoming a Christian. His favorite program was to get some foreigners to visit a site for a new church building where a corner stone with the visiting foreigners names was prominently displayed. The guests would then be asked to pray for the construction of the church building, and I soon learned that pray was connected with pay in the mind of K. Enoch. I learned to resist such blatant attempts at economic coercion, and was taken in many times by people who were subtler.

We were soon invited by a man named John Wycliff to go and preach in a community on the outskirts of the city. Impressed that our first opportunity to speak about our Lord in India had come so quickly, we agreed to go. Our translator was China Raju, which means little king. He was a cousin of T.V.Sampson Raj, from Ramachandrapuram, and had been recommended to Charles as a translator by Sampson Raj. We soon learned from our audience that our translator was not translating properly. We had noticed that we had great difficulty in communicating with China Raju. We went to Charles Scott, who gave a test by asking him to repeat a simple phrase in English. China failed the test; we gave him a suit of clothes, and sent him back home to R.C. Pur.

We Meet M. Vizia Rao

Charles then assigned M. Vizia Rao as our translator, and we went on to our assigned work. Ken and I were bold, and had volunteered to go to some cities in the North to conduct Bible classes. First we traveled to Ahmedabad, where Y. Thomas had arranged classes with some people from a slum area. In every major city in India, there are people who have moved there hunting work, and they live in unbelievable conditions in temporary makeshift huts on whatever land they can find that is unoccupied. Raw sewage runs down the narrow spaces between huts, and children play in the sewage. These areas are called slums. When permanent buildings can finally be arranged, these areas become known as work camps. Most of the people living there earn their daily bread by labor. These people sat politely and listened patiently as we taught them from the Bible. We supplied food money for those attending, as they were very poor and depended on their daily wages to eat. I had my first bad experience with providing food money for Bible classes when I went back to the class after finishing teaching before lunch, and observed the crowd clamoring for the money promised them. They were gathered around Y. Thomas with their hands in the air shouting loudly. It was a sight that has stayed with me through the years. Apparently the people had gathered for physical food instead of the Spiritual food we wanted to provide. Jesus had similar experiences with the crowds who followed Him after feeding the thousands.

Backward Class Vs High Caste

While in Ahmedabad, there was a riot of textile mill workers who were protesting against an agitation by high caste Hindu students who had desecrated a statue of Gandhi. The high caste students were protesting the University reservation system whereby free education is provided for the backward class. They wanted these seats to be available to the wealthy and powerful. Gandhi had been a supporter of the backward castes, the Harijans. The police attacked the low caste rioters. We were under curfew and could hear gunshots from our hotel room. The next day we learned that police had killed some of the rioters. We decided that we never wanted to be around a riot in India. The way that the police and army quell riots is by firing directly into the mob, shooting to kill. But I never heard of them shooting high caste agitators. Following is information about the Caste system in India. The 3500-year-old caste system that survives in India today seems at odds with the modern face of Hinduism with its emphasis on acceptance and social service. Social distinctions can still be discerned in modern India in many ways. 

Following excerpts are taken from an article titled Restorative Justice and India's Caste System, by J.S. Murthy, published in the New World Outlook • July - August, 1999. 

Even a highly educated Brahmin physician (a Brahmin is a Hindu of the highest caste) wraps the wrist of a Sudra (or low-caste person) with a band of cloth before feeling for the patient's pulse. That way, the Brahmin will not to be "defiled" by touching the Sudra's skin. Low-caste people are forbidden to use the wells in villages that high-caste Brahmins use for fear they will pollute the water. A low-caste family is refused the right to bury a family member near their village, where both high and low castes live, because of a superstition that the dead person's ghost will haunt the high- caste people. And a Brahmin bachelor living in a state with only a few surviving Brahmin families has to wait for five long years while his parents search for a suitable mate of the same high caste as he.

An Ancient Institution

While scholars differ on the origins of the caste system in India, they agree that it is a very ancient institution. Some speculate that both the complexion and the occupations of the Aryans who invaded India around 1500 B.C. contributed to the growth of the caste system. The Aryan invaders, who spoke Indo-European languages, are believed by some to have been a fair-skinned, blue-eyed ethnic type. They dominated the darker-skinned original residents and made them subservient, much as the British did many centuries later.

According to the traditional Hindu view, human beings were divided into four categories on the basis of their intrinsic qualities. The highest caste, the Brahmins, were the thinkers, philosophers, and priests whose role was to provide both spiritual guidance and intellectual sustenance to the society. Originally, they lived on the charity of the people, given in return for the performance of various rites.

Next came the Kshatriyas, or Warriors, who were primarily concerned with the defense and governance of the state. The kings and rulers belonged to this caste. The third caste consisted of the Vaisyas, or Traders, who were involved in agricultural and commercial operations. In the fourth category were the Sudras, or Laborers. This caste, at the lowest rung of the hierarchical ladder, were responsible for various services, including menial jobs like scavenging and cleaning. They were considered "untouchable" and the three higher castes were not permitted to mingle with them. Marriage across caste lines was forbidden, and even now this taboo persists. Those who fall in love and marry in spite of the taboo risk excommunication from their castes.

This social system of gradation was given religious sanction by a verse in the ancient sacred writings of Hinduism and the earliest document of Indian history called the Rig Veda. Believed to have been composed between 1500 and 1000 B.C., it records that Brahmins came from the face of the creator, Kshatriyas from his arms, Vaisyas from his thighs, and Sudras from the soles of his feet. Members of the lowest caste were subjected to many restrictions in society.

There are also references to the four castes in the ancient epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. A detailed description of the caste system is found in the Manusmriti (Ordinances of Manu), named for its author. The Manusmriti, which dates from A.D. 700, is the most authoritative work on Hindu law. Centuries later, it was adopted by the British rulers in India.

The status of the low caste continued to be degraded by the Brahmins. Even revolts against the high castes by religious leaders such as Mahavira (540-468 B.C.), the founder of Jainism, and Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 B.C.), the founder of Buddhism, failed to reduce the rigidity of the caste system because caste distinctions persisted in both religious sects.

Caste distinctions persisted even during the period of Muslim rule in India (1206-1862). The attempts of other religions, including Christianity and Judaism, to eradicate the caste system did not succeed because class distinctions persisted even in their folds.
The Beginnings of Change

The strongest, most systematic attack on the caste system has come in the twentieth century through the Constitution of India, adopted on November 26, 1949. India's constitution guarantees the right of all its citizens to justice, liberty, equality, and dignity. It has been a long and arduous journey from ancient caste distinctions based on Hindu philosophy and religious traditions to the constitutional pledge of a democratic government with equality, dignity, and justice for all human beings.

The Caste System Today

Today, many lower-caste people--especially in rural villages--are still marginalized, with little access to education, limited resources, and unskilled or menial jobs as their only option. However, thanks to a long history of missionary schools and to various changes in government-sponsored education, many have become better educated and hold higher-paying jobs.

At present, Indian society is characterized by an obsession with the kinds of development that would lead to a free-market economy. The growing economic success of some in India has created a chasm separating the rich from the poor, who make up about 56 percent of the population. Economists describe "two Indias"--one rich and one poor. India's caste system can no longer fully contain the socioeconomic change that the country is undergoing. Different religions, occupations, and levels of education are no longer correlated with caste. A high-caste person cannot be born a chief executive, for example, but must work to become one. A person of low caste may now get a good education and become an executive, a college professor, or even a government leader.

Indians who belong to the lower castes that were once considered "untouchable" now choose to call themselves by the name Dalit, meaning "oppressed," and signaling that they are actively resisting injustice. Dalits make up 18 to 20 percent of India's population. Only about 3 percent of India's population is Christian, but 50 percent of the Christian population is Dalit, according to Ms. Soosai Raj Faustina, a teacher and member of the Dalit Solidarity Peoples (DSP) National Working Committee. Foreign Christian missionaries have also had a history of helping Dalits with education and with economic development. .In fact, empowered by India's constitution, the Dalits have organized to push for change through legislation and social institutions. Public transportation, radio, and television have begun to have a modernizing impact, especially on children and youth, even in rural villages. But a lack of political will on the part of the state prevents some recommendations from being implemented. Also, villagers who travel to large cities in search of job opportunities are likely to encounter crime syndicates and mafia organizations there. Even in small towns, gangs have proliferated. Last year, the worst-ever massacre of Dalit and landless men, women, and children occurred in Bihar. Sixty people were killed by the Ranvir Sena, a self-styled armed militia of the upper-caste landed gentry, formed to crush the movements of Dalits and agricultural laborers.

Caste Problems Among Christians

We have experienced caste problems among the Christians with whom we work. P.V.V. Gopala Raju, who is from the warrior caste (he is a close relative to the last king of Vizianagaram), has encountered much opposition because of caste. His lofty bearing and abrupt way of expressing himself is at odds with the falsely subservient (but very proud) face presented by the Dalits. Caste feelings are strongest in rural villages, where often there will be more than one congregation of Christians in a moderate sized village because of caste feelings. The outcasts who perform polluting labor such as handling dead bodies of cattle, leather workers, and sewer cleaners are looked down on by the farm laborers. It sometimes seems that the lower you go in the social order, the stronger the caste distinctions become. But the tribal people are in a category of their own. They are the most impoverished, and least educated, of all the classes of India. The riot in Ahmedabad was our introduction to caste feelings in India. It was a powerful introduction.

Blackwater Malaria

Ken Shoop came down with Blackwater Malaria that evening. His head was aching terribly, he had a fever, and his urine was black with blood from his kidneys. At five in the evening the Muslim prayers were being sung from the turrets of the Mosques, the Hindus were ringing the temple bells and singing. Ken began beating his head against the wall because he was out of his mind with fever, and had an unbearable headache.

"Listen to that! The heathens have us surrounded!” Ken shouted in desperation.

I went down to the hotel lobby and asked for a doctor of English medicine, a full medical doctor, to be sent to our room to treat Ken. A short time later an Indian gentlemen arrived, carrying a medical kit. He tapped the kit to remove the dust before he opened it. When the lid lifted, I saw the picture of a Jain Saint pasted to the back of the top lid. We learned that the doctor was actually a medical practitioner, and a member of the Jains, who profess to hold all life sacred. We wondered if this protection would be extended to the tiny creatures which were causing Ken's fever. Fortunately, the Jain doctor had no compunctions about killing small organisms. He took a pair of tweezers and lifted a big needle from the clip on the inside of his medical kit. The needle was crusted with white from being boiled for sterilization, but had been carried in the dusty box mounted on a metal clip. When the doctor fixed the needle on a big syringe, pulled some clear liquid from a vial. He placed a constriction band around Ken’s arm above the elbow, found the big vein, and jabbed the needle into Ken's arm. I could hardly watch. After instructing Ken to take only clear liquids until the fever was gone, the doctor departed. Ken began to drink Gold Coin apple juice, and that is all that he had for two days. Ken drank apple juice like it was the elixir of life. Gold Coin makes some good apple juice, but I have not seen Ken drinking any since that time. He had a miraculous recovery, after repeated treatment the next day.

From Ahmedabad we went to Lucknow, where we met a retired railway officer named Aziz Masih. At our first meeting he informed us that sixteen people were waiting for our coming to be baptized. We discussed the wisdom of having people wait for the Americans before they were baptized, and he promised that he would not save up baptisms in the future. Aziz is a tall man, with upright posture and quite manner. He has continued to be a steady worker in the kingdom through the years. I have kept informed of his situation through others who have worked with him. Our visit and classes with him were productive and enjoyable.

The police nearby were pursuing Pulan Devi, outlaw queen of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, while we were in Luknow. She had taken vengeance on the man who had killed her lover and raped her by leading her gang of outlaws in killing her enemies. She became a popular hero because of her exploits, and later a movie would be made about her life. After serving a short time in prison, she became an elected representative for her state. We followed the news reports with interest because we were so close to where the chase was taking place.

From Lucknow we traveled to Calcutta. There we visited with several people including P. Benno who was being supported as an evangelist in Calcutta. He had a small congregation meeting in his home. At this time we began to pick up on the extensive family connections of our translator M. Vizia Rao. Benno was his cousin by marriage, his sister being married to Vizia Rao's brother M. John Victor. Later we met John Victor at his home in Vizianagaram. He had suffered a heart attack the past year, and was very weak. He had fallen into hard times after losing his support for evangelism because of some bad choices. Earlier he had lost the financial support coming from the Church of Christ because he had joined with a cult group called "The Way International," headquartered in California. They had arranged for him to travel to the USA, and he spoke at their meetings until he had his heart attack. The group had an emphasis on claiming blessings through prayer, and had no use for a sick evangelist. John Victor returned home sick and in deep poverty. But he repented of his mistakes and has hope in Jesus Christ. We prayed with him during our visit. And we learned that M. Vizia Rao had been planning to go to the USA to visit his acquaintances by getting a Visa with the help of The Way International. Charles Scott had planned to talk with Vizia Rao about this situation, but sent him with us because of the failure of our first assigned translator. Vizia Rao talked frankly about his plans, and admitted his lack of wisdom. He was obsessed with renewing his working relationship with some folks from Lawrenceburg, TN, who had worked with him previously. He wanted to go to the USA by any means possible, and there visit his friends in Tennessee. From the beginning I was favorably impressed with Vizia Rao’s frank nature, so different from the prevailing Indian spirit of saving face at all cost.

Bonding with Fellow Workers

I now had a close relationship with Ken Shoop and M. Vizia Rao. We shared a special bond because of our experiences and our common faith and love for Jesus. I would never be the same again. Seeing the circumstances of so many who lacked daily food and clothing made me feel ashamed of the affluence I enjoyed back home. My mind was filled with hope of convincing Christians in the USA to share with the members of God's family in India. I knew that the matter of first importance was to bring people to knowledge of Jesus Christ so that they might believe in Him and be blessed. But my heart went out to those who were suffering so much without proper food, clothing, and shelter.

Going to India with Lyle Starnes

The opportunity to teach in India had captivated my heart. I had already set my mind to continue that teaching ministry as the Lord provided opportunity. I was encouraged by my friendship with Lyle Starnes. Lyle’s enthusiasm about the possibilities of teaching many people about Jesus in India led to our planning to go together to India in 1982. I first met Lyle as his student in a Bible school conducted at the Winchester Church of Christ. Lyle challenged my thinking about how the grace of God works in our lives. Lyle uses Bible language in ways that do not fit the pattern of emphasis on personal accomplishment that is so common in the Southern Bible Belt. We often emphasize personal responsibility to the extent that we almost leave no room for the extraordinary work of God’s power in our lives. The Bible has the opposite emphasis. God is able to work in the lives of weak people who trust in Him.

Lyle challenged my thinking on what he saw as a “Lifting ourselves by our own bootstraps” mentality. My experience in Bible study at that time had a definite tilt toward the idea of knowing all the right answers and doing all things right according to the law of the New Covenant. A recent book titled “Why I am a member of the Church of Christ,” which has been used extensively in teaching all over the world, fairly represents where I was then in my concept of Bible teaching. I focused on right knowledge and right action, which are certainly important. I still believe that my understanding of most Bible topics at that time was sound, but my trust was pointed too much in the direction of my own ability and understanding. I needed to learn to lean on God, and to trust His power to work in my life.

Lyle is very thoughtful and though provoking in his discussion of Bible teaching. He caused me to think seriously about whether I was depending on my own strength or on God’s strength. After some thought, I concluded that myself and all children of God are members of the body of Christ because we have learned of Jesus Christ, believed in Him as Savior and Son of God, repented of our sins, and put our trust in Him through obeying the gospel. The question of why I am a member of the church of Christ can best be answered by the simple statement “Because I believe and trust in Jesus Christ.” The way to bring people to Jesus is not by teaching them all the right answers about Bible questions, but by teaching them about Jesus and the primary commands of the gospel to believe, repent, confess faith in Jesus before witnesses, and be baptized, trusting the power of God to remove their sins and to work in their lives. Then we teach each other all our lives about how to grow in our relationship with God and each other.

Doctrines of the Church of Christ?

While Lyle and I were visiting Paderu, way up in the mountains of Andhra Pradesh where coffee is grown, an Indian brother showed us a tract he had written with the title “Doctrines of the Church of Christ.” He had the title and acknowledgement page in English, and the rest of the book was in Telegu. Some unsuspecting Americans had helped finance the printing of the tract. I am sure they did not know they were helping print a creed book for the church of Christ. The concept that the church is responsible for developing doctrine is an ancient heresy recognized by most serious restoration Bible students. The teaching for the church was given by Jesus, revealed by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the apostles and prophets, and recorded in the Bible for our learning and teaching others. To write a book called “Doctrines of the Church of Christ” reveals a lack of understanding of the nature of the church. The Bible is our source of teaching, and the church has nothing to add or subtract from that. The church is to support the truth, and that means supporting what the Bible actually teaches. Support of traditional arguments that are not firmly supported in the Scriptures are suspect at best, and can be very destructive. Proposing any doctrine other than the complete teaching of the Bible is heresy.

One doctrine taught by many of my brethren that cannot be supported from the scriptures is the teaching that the Holy Spirit does not live in us personally, but only through our learning and application of the written word. God did not cause the bible to be written and then retire from service. He put all things under the command of Jesus, who rules the nations with a rod of iron. God is powerful. He lives and works as He wills. The written word tells us how He wills to work, but in no way limits His work to teaching. No matter what my brethren teach about the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a Christian, the Bible teaches clearly on the subject. God does work powerfully in our lives in ways beyond our understanding, and in addition to and in agreement with the teaching of the Bible. I do not have to depend on what the church says is true. I can study for myself, and the Bible commends those who study for themselves without blindly accepting the words of their teachers. We need to trust God, not our own understanding.

Learning to Trust God

A broken neck moved me wonderfully toward trusting God. In 1979 I was thrown by a horse, and landed on my head, thrusting my head sideways against my shoulder. When I tried to get up, fire filled my body. I lay flat on my back, and told my daughter Amy to send for the ambulance. Amy saw the whole thing take place. She loves horses, and the young filly that threw me, “Trixy,” was Amy’s horse, and a family pet. She was terrified because I had told her that I thought I had broken my neck. She did not have much to say as I lay on the ground waiting for the ambulance. When it arrived, I was placed carefully on a backboard after stabilizing my neck with a collar, and hauled to the North Jackson Hospital for examination.

I had fractured my vertebra at C6 and 7. Surgery to stabilize my neck and remove bone chips produced a fusion of those two vertebras with stainless steel wire and bone fragments from my left hip. While the spinal fusion surgery was successful, the anesthesia intubation process left me speechless. I first thought that I was only hoarse, but after some days and examination by an ear-nose-throat specialist, I learned that the nerve to one of my vocal cords was dead. Confined to a halo brace that looked like an ancient torture instrument, with four sharp screws stuck in my skull, I could only croak as I tried to communicate. We prayed for eight months for my speech to return, and God answered our prayers in His own time and with His blessing of near miraculous compensation by my one functioning vocal cord. Today I can sing and speak in near normal ranges. But all these events led me to trust God more completely. Being in circumstances beyond our control is useful to help us learn to trust God. This lesson would help me face many situations in India where I was certainly not in control, and often didn’t even know what was happening.

I know that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of children of God in a supernatural way. God’s power is supernatural. If God works at all, it is more powerful than the natural work of His creation. And God does work in the lives of His children, and in the events of history. Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth. His statement that all authority belongs to Him in heaven and on earth is no idle boast. Jesus is Lord. God’s Spirit is powerful, and those who learn to trust God’s power are blessed.

But there was always a crisis in the family about the time I was going to India that challenged my faith. That year my two-year-old son Wilson had a high fever the day I was leaving home. After much prayer, knowing that Wilson would be cared for with or without my presence, I went on toward India. I called home from Atlanta, and Wilson’s fever had already broken. I am blessed to be married to a marvelous nurse named Linda, and to serve a God who answers prayer.

Pentecostal Pastors and Jaggampetta

Lyle and I planned our own work with M. Vizia Rao that year. At that time Lyle was working for me in the farm drainage business, installing underground drainage systems in farmland. Now I work for him in the same business, but that is a story I will tell later. We took time from our work to go to India to preach the gospel.

Vizia Rao had studied with several Pentecostal pastors that summer, and baptized S. Simon of Jaggampeta, who had invited sixty-three Pentecostal preachers to our Bible study in his church building in Jaggampeta. We shared our faith with them, with an emphasis on how we come to Christ in our response of faith. We studied about the work of the Holy Spirit, with an emphasis on the message of the Bible inspired by the Spirit. We agreed that the Spirit of God does not lead any person who teaches a different message in conflict with the message recorded in the Bible. After studying together that week, twenty-three of those men decided that they wanted to be baptized into Christ in obedience to the command of Jesus. This was the beginning of a work in Jaggampeta where we invited preachers to come together for studies. We conducted Bible teaching during the day, and went out into the rural villages for evangelism at night. Sometimes we preached from the porch of a village temple with the idols staring at us with lifeless eyes from behind locked iron bars. Obviously the village people understood that those idols had no power, but had to be protected from harm by being locked behind strong doors at night.

People in the rural villages were very responsive to the gospel in those days. We would preach in the street, and many people would sit in their doorways and listen to the message. Whenever possible, a meeting would be set up in a High Caste area of the village where they could sit in their houses and listen without having to join the Low Caste assembly. Also a powerful public address system would be provided for the occasion. Anyone who has endured the squeals and static of the common rented PA system in India knows what it is like. Someone is always fiddling with the controls, and turning the volume up until the speakers begin to squeal with back feed. In spite of these problems, we managed to preach the gospel, beginning in Genesis and finishing with the resurrection of Jesus and the great commission. It was quite common to have from ten to fifteen people obey the gospel in such a meeting. Such numbers of responses often raise eyebrows back home, and people often ask “How many remain faithful?” Our experience through twenty years has taught us that more than half have continued faithful in attendance and profession of their faith. In India as in the USA, only God knows who has a faithful heart.

Faith Only or Biblical Faith?

Often the question is asked, “What must a person know to become a Christian?” The answer is that they must know Jesus. When we examine how uneducated people come to faith in Jesus without being able to read and write, we can understand that extensive Bible Study is not always possible or necessary for one to have faith in Jesus. One must hear the gospel story, and decide if they believe or not. Those who believe and obey are saved; those who do not believe in Jesus are condemned by their unpardoned sins. Having the right knowledge and doing the right action never saved anyone, because we are all sinners. We are only saved by the blood of Jesus, which He poured out on Calvary to pay the price for the sins of every person who ever lived. The atonement is unlimited, and available to everyone who will come to Jesus by obeying the gospel. But not everyone who hears the gospel believes the message.

Often I have demonstrated this fact in simple fashion. After teaching about how we must respond to the invitation of Jesus in order to have salvation, I would point out a child in the audience. Holding out my closed fist toward him, I would tell the child “I have a gift for you in my hand. Do you believe it?” Of course he could not see if I had a gift or not. Sometimes the child would say that he did not believe I had a gift for him. Once I selected six children who did not believe before I finally found one who believed that I had a gift for her. When the child said that she believed, I asked her to tell the audience that I am a big man. Children always responded to this without hesitation, because I weight 220 lbs, am almost six feet tall, and big for South India. Then I would ask the child to come forward, hold out her hand to me, and close her eyes. This took some courage, standing before a stranger not able to see what is happening. When she held out her hand with closed eyes, I placed a twenty-rupee note in her hand. She gazed in wonder at the gift, now worth about 50 cents, and showed it to her friends with amazement in her eyes.

Then I asked the audience what would have happened if she had said that she believed that I had a gift for her, but she refused to do as I asked? “She would not have received the gift,” they always said. It is so simple! To receive the gift of salvation freely offered by Jesus, we have to come to Him by faith. That means we take Him at his word, and respond to His command. It is Jesus who said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” It is the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus who spoke through Peter on the day of Pentecost in response to the question, “What shall we do?”

“Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

What happens to those who refuse to repent and be baptized? They don’t receive the gift. This is not complicated. No one really teaches salvation by faith only. Many who claim to teach salvation by faith only actually teach that one receives salvation by praying a prayer. That is not faith only. It is not even faith in what Jesus said. It is faith in something not taught in the Bible. That is why twenty-three Pentecostal preachers were baptized in obedience to Jesus in Jan of 1982. After studying what the Bible teaches about salvation in Jesus, they understood that they had never been baptized in obedience to the command of Jesus. They had obeyed a substitute teaching that put the sinner’s prayer in the place of the repentance and baptism commanded by the Holy Spirit.

Sinner’s Prayer Examined

Many people today who believe they have been born again have been taught the sinner’s prayer response to the gospel. They were taught that if they pray a certain prayer, they will be saved and born of the Spirit. Then they are taught to be baptized as a sign of their already received salvation. This teaching is of recent origin, but has become pervasive in most “Evangelical” teaching. Following is a link  that gives a useful historical perspective of this modern distortion of Bible teaching.  http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVarticles/OriginOfTheSinnersPrayer.html

I think that the historical perspective of the “Sinner’s Prayer” teaching may be useful to those who have often wondered, as I have, just how this practice got started. How did something found nowhere in the Bible become the heart of the perverted doctrine of so many well-meaning people? Deception is often subtle. Once people buy the Augustinian teaching of the inherited depravity of mankind that was made popular by John Calvin, they refuse to honor the Bible teaching of individual accountability. Every person has the opportunity to heed or not to heed the gospel, depending on their own free will choice while in an unsaved state. Every man is capable of sin, just as Adam was. Every mature person has sinned, just as Adam and Eve sinned. Every person is held accountable by God for their own sins, and offered forgiveness based on acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That gospel includes the commandments to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. That commandment is to sinners, and the choice is made by sinners. The idea that mankind is so marred by the sin of Adam that they are not held accountable for making a choice of their own will is totally foreign to the teaching of the Bible.

I learned to focus on man’s response to the gospel when teaching denominational Christians. First we review what they have been taught about how they became Christians. Most will say that they accepted Christ as Savior by praying, and that they were baptized to show that they had already been saved. Then we establish what the Holy Spirit teaches on the subject. After honest comparison with the clear teaching of the Bible, those with tender hearts will obey the teaching of the Bible. The Biblical faith response to the gospel is repentance and baptism, as commanded by Jesus and the apostles.

Large City Evangelism

Lyle and I visited Calcutta together that year. We stayed at the Fairlawn hotel, an English style establishment run by an Armenian Christian lady. There we met Gary Walker, his wife, and children. Gary was in India studying for his PHD in philosophy as a way to have permission to live in India. He is associated with the Sunset School of Preaching, Lubbock, Texas, which had conducted a preacher training school at Madras, India, where my friend M. Vizia Rao had graduated, along with his brothers M. John Victor and M. Alfred, and a childhood friend named D. Krupa Rao. The work of that school in Madras prepared many of the men who have become leaders in the Lord’s church today. 

Gary had written a study of village churches in South India called “The Forsaken Village.” He had a very critical view of work with the poverty stricken villagers of rural India, because he had become acquainted with the problem of their often being motivated by the desire for material benefit from their association with foreign Christians. The practice of some deceivers who arranged baptisms to impress their foreign visitors had prejudiced Gary against the village work. He told us about the method of work currently being employed by him and others associated with the Sunset church of Christ in Lubbock. A meeting would be conducted in a city after extensive advertising, and people who attended would be encouraged to begin a Bible study program. No effort was made to baptize people during the meeting, but only after completing the extensive study. Gary referred to this teaching approach as an effort to find and convert “truth seekers” who could become the catalyst for starting a congregation in the city. 

Once I was visiting with Wayne Davis, who conducts similar meetings in India, and he asked me to guess how many had been baptized in a recent meeting in Rajamundary where hundreds had attended each night. “Zilch!” he proclaimed proudly, holding his finger and thumb up to form a zero.

Rural Village Evangelism

This large city method of teaching contrasted greatly with our experience in remote villages where hundreds of people would gather to hear the gospel. Sometimes they would sit patiently for more than an hour while waiting for our arrival. Other times they would have gone back to their homes for supper, and would gather again after we came. We were always late because of hectic schedules and failure of our brethren who were arranging the schedules to recon time accurately. 

But the village people would listen as we taught about the true and living God who created the universe and all living beings, who made us in His image to be His people. We would talk about Jesus and how He reveals God to us. Many in our audience had seen movies about the life of Jesus, and knew about His crucifixion and resurrection. We would warn them about the cost of becoming a disciple of Jesus, and teach them what Jesus commanded about repentance and baptism. 

Following our teaching, we would ask our translator to review the lesson and encourage those who want to follow Jesus. Many would respond to this teaching, and often new congregations were started, and someone would be arranged to come and teach the new converts. 

Village churches are often composed of uneducated people, but they can hear, believe, and obey the gospel. Thousands would be baptized and hundreds of churches started through our work in Andhra Pradesh in the next ten years, training preachers and preaching the gospel in rural villages. 

Many times I crossed paths with people who had been baptized by brother J.C. Bailey, pioneer evangelist from Canada who had lived in India for a few years in the late sixties and early seventies. He continued to work in India as long as his health permitted, and I was blessed to have fellowship with him in India on several occasions. From the evidence I saw of his work, I knew that the village work was real. It is unfortunate that people who had different views of the best way to work in India were not more considerate of each other.

Tribute to Brother J.C. Bailey

From the Christian Chronicle

J.C. (John Carlos) Bailey

J.C. (John Carlos) Bailey, a Canadian frontier preacher and a leader missionary in India, died July 2, 2001, in Weyburn, Saskatchewan at the age of 97.

During the course of his life, Bailey was preacher, publisher, editor, school administrator, schoolteacher, editor, and missionary. His knowledge of Scripture and his powerful rhetoric made him a popular preacher for evangelistic meetings in Montana, North Dakota, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Bailey is best remembered for his pioneering work in India, a work that he began when he was already 59. Because the laws of India permitted Canadian citizens to remain in the country for four years, U.S. churches had been unable to sent missionaries. On April 25, 1963, Bailey first set foot on the soil of India to begin work that would continue until 1988. At the time of his arrival, he was working with 80 known members of the church of Christ in the area of Assam. 

Bailey lived in India nine years before returning to Canada, but he continued going back to India for meetings and prolonged periods of preaching and training. He made a total of 21 evangelistic trips to India, the last occurring in 1988 when he was 85. His friend and co-worker Charles F. Scott estimated the number of people who had been baptized during his first 15 years in India, at 180,000. Scott reported in 1983, the twentieth anniversary of Bailey’s first work in India, that 100,000 faithful members had resulted from Bailey’s ministry.

Bailey’s influence on people was powerful. He encouraged generations of young men to preach and give leadership to the church. In his years as a Canadian preacher, he encouraged many U.S. preachers to spend a few years in Canada. He later recruited scores of young Canadians to share the task of evangelizing Indian.

Born to Thomas Ward Bailey, a preacher in Ontario, Canada, and Edith Cann Bailey, J.C. was baptized in 1913 and preached his first sermon when he was 17. He attended a two-year Bible program in Carman, Manitoba, before going to Montana in 1923 to preach in schoolhouses, homes and community halls from town to town. In

1924 Bailey married Myrtle Deane Buckallew. The Baileys had 5 sons, 2 daughters, and 3 adopted daughters. The Bailey descendants are scattered throughout North America and have pursued careers as preachers, homemakers and professionals. Myrtle Bailey died July 25, 1997.

During the 1993 Fort Worth Lectures Bailey was honored as a "Man of Destiny." Alvin Jennings, whose wife Ellen, had been taught and baptized by Bailey, describes the man, "J.C. Bailey was always pushing into new frontiers in an unrelenting quest to seek and save the lost. Whether preaching in a schoolhouse in south Saskatchewan or in an open market place in the scorching heat of an Indian marketplace, he was ever moving and ever pressing the battle for truth in the kingdom of God. I have never known a man like-minded . … Nothing else seemed to be important except preaching the word and persuading men and women to obey the Lord."

That same year J.B. Trotter in The Gospel Advocated said of Bailey, "Humble, but confident, he pursued his commitment to preach the Gospel with and unwavering faith that God would pen doors of opportunity and provide the mean whereby he could go."

Ten years earlier, Charles F. Scott compared Bailey to Gandhi. "As Gandhi stirred the heart of India’s people politically, so brother Bailey stirred their hearts in spiritual things."

J.C. Bailey became a legend during the last half of the twentieth century. His passionate preaching, his dedication to evangelism and his love for India gave him stature and influence. His personal charm made its impression on every person he encountered. His love for God encouraged people to change their lives.

J.C Bailey, an old soldier of the cross left earth’s battlefield July 2, 2001.

If there ever was a man whose physical appearance, manner, and movement was that of a great Army General, it was J.C.Bailey. But this tall, straight man with long strides and a brisk walk stood out in a much greater way. He was truly a STALWART SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST. Most of us who knew him thought he accomplished more, in his fight for the right, than any man we had ever known.

While the strong determination seen in his countenance, and heard in his voice, made him a natural leader among men, it was his great heart of love for God and for men that made him so greatly beloved by God’s people. When any man has a great heart of love for God and his word, and love for people who need to hear it, we know The Lord Will Find A Way for him to get it to them. Truly God found a way, and opened doors of utterance for J.C.Bailey to plant the gospel in the hearts of many thousands who were baptized in India during his labors from 1963 onward. It is interesting to consider that before Going to India, Brother Bailey had already written his book “Forty Years A Canadian Preacher.” In whatever country he labored, J.C.Bailey was a man with great understanding of people, as well as great knowledge of God’s word. This made him a soldier of the cross who could, and did, wield the sword of the spirit with tremendous power.

While laboring in Canada, Bro. Bailey worked with others in the founding of Radville Christian College, which later became Western Christian College. He served as head of the Bible Department for several years. He also served several years as editor of “The Gospel Herald,” a fine gospel paper in Canada.

Myrtle Bailey was a great companion for her preacher husband. She and J.C. were married in a sod house in Montana, and lived together for 74 years until her death in 1997. They had seven children of their own, before adopting three others. People knew them as an outstanding family. Sis. Bailey truly make many sacrifices, so her husband could go preach in difficult places. I first met her in India, where I found three other Americans staying in their home to help preach in that land. She, like Brother Bailey, was greatly beloved by many people. Thank God for such people!

Not only did J.C. Bailey do so much himself, but like stonewall Jackson, he had a tremendous ability to inspire his fellow soldiers to “..fight faithfully and stand valiantly!” It was said of Jackson “His men would meet death for his sake, and bless him while dying.” Brother Bailey’s example of sacrifice in whatever way was needful, and continuing on courageously in the face of danger, inspired many of India’s great preachers to truly “Endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ,” and to “..become all things to all men,” that they “..might by all means save some.”

J.C. Bailey and Charles Scott often traveled together over India’s dusty roads. Usually a driver went along to do the driving, and see after the jeep. However on one occasion as they were scheduled to go into the neighboring state of Orissa, no driver was available so they drove the jeep themselves. That night they passed through a sparsly settled area of “Tiger Country.” At about 10 p.m. they reached a town of about 10,000. With some fatigue, and perhaps a bit of concern about “Tiger Country” Charles said that perhaps they should get a cot at the local lodge and spend the night. But Brother Bailey insisted that they needed to go on nearer their destination, in order to be certain of being on time for a morning service at 7 a.m., before people went to the fields to work. So—the journey proceeded. About 1 a.m. Charles became so sleepy that Brother Bailey took the wheel and drove until another town was found at 2 a.m.. There they rested for three hours and then got an early start, arriving before the 7 a.m. service time. Through many years, Brother Bailey commonly scheduled preaching at three or four places daily, in order to get to the many places where people wanted us to come. Even though Brother Bailey was much older than most of India’s preachers with whom he normally traveled, he had the stamina to keep going. His determined effort to get the gospel to everyone he could, greatly inspired India’s preachers to “Go thou, and do likewise.”

Many people came from many places to the funeral of J.C. Bailey which was held at the church building at Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada. It was natural that many would come to pay their respects because of J.C. Bailey’s influence on the lives of so many. Brother Bailey’s son John was one of those who spoke at the funeral. He had to return home from ‘The Ukraine’, where he had gone to help with Gospel Work.

Soon after Brother Bailey went to India he prepared some simple TRACTS. These very effective in showing the truth of the one eternal God and his teaching, contrasted to Man’s many religious ideas. Some of the people who worked with J.C. Bailey are sending money to reprint thousands of Brother Baileys’ TRACTS in India. Actually, millions of the tracts are needed. Anyone wanting to help get more of those tracts in India can send help to CENTRAL CHURCH OF CHRIST, 711 N. 2nd St., LUFKIN, TX 79701. For years that congregation has been supplying Bibles, Tracts, etc. to Hundreds of India’s preachers with whom J.C. Bailey had worked.

Those of us who worked very closely with J.C. Bailey while he lived, believe that he left behind Footprints On The Sands Of Time that will lead many others toward heaven

Shameful Conflict

Those of us who worked in the rural areas of India were often targeted by those working in city evangelism as being misguided and wrong to report such large numbers of conversions. One unfortunate incident involved a tract written by Charles Cook, who is affiliated with the Sunset church work in India. He took a heading from a brochure mailed out by Charles Scott, with the title “The White Fields of India,” and modified it for his own use. Brother Cook crossed out the “Fields”, put “Lies” above the crossed out “Fields” so that brother Cook’s article read “The White Lies of India.” In his article he discredited the work of village evangelism and the reported large numbers of conversions, calling them “white lies.” He also accused Ron Clayton of having carried liquor to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a gift. I was in the room with Charles Scott, Dr. Gary Walker, Ron Clayton, and Charles Cook when evidence was presented that clearly revealed that the charge against Ron Clayton was untrue. Ron asked Charles Cook to write a public retraction, but so far as I know it has not been done. 

It is shameful for brothers to attach each other and their work, sometimes out of jealousy. But we must forgive those who have sinned against us, as we pray God in the name of Jesus to forgive our own sins. I ask brother Charles Cook to forgive this revealing of this embarrassing record, and call on him to write a retraction of his false accusation against Ron Clayton. I am taking the liberty of using this drastic example to unmask the unfair attacks that have been mounted against the work of J.C. Bailey, Charles Scott, and hundreds of others who have done hard time visiting the remote villages of rural India.

Large City Work is Difficult

The work done by Gary Walker, Victor Ellison, Charles Cook, J. C. Choate, Harvey Starling, Wayne Davis, and many others in the large cities of India is a marvelous work. I have been blessed to become friends with Craig Phillips, who does an exceptional work of evangelism in Mumbai, India’s largest city. India’s large cities and the remote rural villages are two different worlds. Converts are won by hard work, friendship, and extensive study in the cities. In rural villages, Christianity becomes more of a people movement similar to first century conditions where some people will respond to teaching very quickly. Almost any method of teaching the truth works in some of the remote Indian villages. But much teaching is required to establish a functioning congregation in the backward areas. Hard work is required to build up a church in the city. I honor the men who do the hard work of city evangelism. I hope that people working in different circumstances in rural India will be given the same respect.

Working Through Kinfolk Connections

Vizia Rao’s brother M. Alfred lives at Ramachandrapuram, a large village near Kakinada, located along the irrigation canal north of the Godavari River. You may remember that this is the home of our first attempted translator, China Raju. M. Alfred at that time was working closely with Wayne Davis in a very controlled environment. Wayne required monthly reports of activities and copies of sermons in exchange for monthly financial support. He insisted that M. Alfred spend much time in a Bible Learning Center located downtown in R.C. Pur. From the Learning Center, Alfred distributed Christian literature to interested people, and arranged personal bible studies. The focus was to build up a strong congregation in R. C. Pur. At that time there were already three congregations of the church of Christ in that city. Vizia Rao had told M. Alfred about our village evangelism outreach, taking the gospel to small rural villages. Alfred had begun showing Jule Miller filmstrips in some neighboring villages in preparation for our coming. That trip we baptized the first converts at Kota Peta. This congregation went through many struggles until finally Alfred trained S. Samuel as a preacher there and established stable leadership.

Kota Peta, Functioning Village Church

I count this as my first successful congregation started through my personal teaching in India. There had been hundreds of baptisms before this, but I did not continue to work in those areas south of Kakinada. From this time on we began to concentrate on areas north of Kakinada where our contacts developed. And I returned to Kota Peta year after year to teach and encourage them. They now have more than 75 members in the church in that small village. Ken Perkins, whom you will meet later, encouraged Samuel, gave him some additional training, and helped build a nice church building at Kota Peta. I pray that I will be able to return to Kota Peta one day, and see those people again on earth. I will tell you later why my return is difficult.

Back to India with Ken Shoop

I joined with Ken Shoop again in 1983. Ken had decided to arrange his own work schedule separate from me for the first week, probably because of his desire to accommodate a schedule arranged by Charles Scott for general Bible classes in some new area. But Ken’s translator went crazy, and was carrying Ken around to visit his kinfolk. Finally Ken managed to get to Jaggampeta where Vizia Rao and I had scheduled classes again. D. Krupa Rao, a childhood friend of Vizia Rao who lived nearby at Peddapuram, had come to the classes at Jaggampeta. Ken arranged with him to go to the classes where Ken was scheduled, and to join with the American preacher who was also scheduled to teach along with Ken. Ken sent his share of the money to pay the meal expenses for the class by Krupa Rao, and was so impressed with the diligence and honesty of D. Krupa Rao in dealing with that situation, that Ken chose to work closely with Krupa Rao after that.

Ken made arrangements with his taxi driver to take the “gone crazy” translator back to Hyderabad, where he lived. But the man was not rational. He cursed the taxi driver, who hit him in the face, and then had the driver jailed for assault. We went to the police station and explained the circumstances to the superintendent. He was glad to release the driver, because a large group of taxi drivers was gathering to protest the unjust jailing of one of their own. Ken then purchased a bus ticket for his translator, and we hoped that he would go home. However, he proceeded before us to Visak, and threatened Vizia Rao’s wife. We had another confrontation with him when we finally arrived in Visak.

Jaggampeta Bible Camp

Meanwhile, Ken joined with me in teaching the class at Jaggampeta. We stayed at the Government Bungalow in Jaggampeta, and conducted our studies in a tent erected on the grounds. The travelers’ bungalow is a government owned and operated guesthouse for the purpose of housing visiting government officials, but is available for visitors by reservation. The premises were infested with bed bugs, and we woke up after a night of tossing and turning to find our sheets covered with spots of blood from where we had been bitten during the night. The next day we searched out some insecticide and sprayed our beds. DDT was still available in India!

A huge market for oxen was located nearby, and I was able to observe the shoeing of oxen, making of oxcart wheels, and the exhibition of animals for sale. The primary objective of the showing of a team of two oxen seemed to be to demonstrate how lively they were. Teams of oxen were running down the open space in the middle of the market continually as prospective buyers watched carefully. At that time most of the transportation of farm commodities such as rice, lentils, and sugar cane was done by oxcart. Often at night we encountered long trains of ox drawn two wheel carts plodding slowly down the road, with the driver often asleep in the cart. India is a land of great contrasts. My last trip I saw fiber optic cable being installed connecting the major cities of India, and India is poised to be a world leader in information technology. But in the rural areas the oxcart still rolls slowly, as if time has stood still for two thousand years.

Keeping a Hard Schedule

Ken was impressed with the great opportunity to teach men who were actively preaching in the surrounding villages about Jesus. We participated in night evangelism programs where we would drive to remote villages for preaching. We often had three meetings each night, after teaching classes all day. Our first meeting would be around 6 PM, the second about 8 PM, and the third around 10 PM. We would get back to the travelers’ bungalow after midnight. We were young then, but the pace was really a killer. Often we would get run down and sick from such a hectic schedule.

Ken suggested that we call this work at Jaggampeta a Bible Camp, and that we prepare special teaching material for the camp; also that we concentrate on teaching preachers who were already members of the church of Christ, and to equip them to teach and train others. The next year we prepared our first special study course titled “Scheme of Redemption” covering the great stories of the bible from Genesis to Revelation. This began the process that eventually led to the development of the Institute of Biblical Studies.

Important Connections

One night we visited Gorinta with N.V.J. Ratnam to preach. His nephew P.D. Prasada Rao was a zealous Pentecostal youth worker active in four villages including Gorinta. He had attended a seminary where he had been taught that he could have fellowship with all denominations except the church of Christ. He was offended by his uncle’s baptism in 1982, and determined to stop our influence in his territory. He came to the meeting that night with a group of young men planning to break our legs. When he saw how big we were, he decided to let the air out of our taxi tires instead. He also sabotaged a projector loaned to his uncle by M. Alfred. We would see him again in 1984.

P. Prasantham, former Pentecostal pastor, had been baptized while visiting at Jaggampeta. He had moved from East Godavari to Puri, Orissa, many years before, and had started a community of Christians associated with the Assembly of God. He invited us to visit him in Puri, so we took the train from Visak at ten o’clock on Monday night, February 21, 1983. Our train went to Bhubaneshwar, capital of Orissa, and we took a sixty-kilometer taxi ride from there to Puri.

Orissa, Hindu Territory

Puri is home to the famous temple of Jagannath. No foreigners are permitted to enter his temple. Once a year Jagannath and his wife and sister are taken out and paraded down a broad boulevard in a celebration called “Rath Yatra” or chariot festival.

Every year thousands of devotees from all over the world gather at Puri to witness and to pull three Chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra. (AP Photo/Shivaji Moulik)

The brightly painted wooden idols with big eyes are perched in huge wooden chariots, the biggest 35’ tall with eighteen wheels, and the smallest 30’ tall with fourteen wheels. They are pulled by thousands of devotees, and anyone unlucky enough to fall under one of the wheels is crushed to death. The English who observed this ceremony used the corrupted word juggernaut in describing the festival, and it came to mean irresistible power. There is a history of sexual abuse of young girls associated with this and many other temples in India. Young girls, mainly from the backward castes, are given to men as sex slaves in exchange for money. After lives of prostitution and begging, these women become off casts of society. Gandhi made in Young India, 6 October, 1927 a pointed reference to temples which had devadasis (dancing girls devoted to temple service) in a language bold and incisive, “There are, I am sorry to say, many temples in our midst in this country which are no better than brothels.”

This dark side of Hinduism has been masked under various disguises in modern times, but Hindu philosophy still exalts sexual ecstasy as the ultimate sensation of self-realization. Various sexual perversions have been encouraged by the degraded worship of self-gratification as something to be pursued in the name of religion. The dancing girls of the ancient Hindu temples were no better than temple prostitutes like those of Corinth and Ephesus. India is covered with thousands of “Linga Raj” temples, in honor of Shiva, whose penis was cut off by his wife because she suspected him of infidelity. The motif of the temples is designed to represent a penis. The “Shiva Lingum” worshipped in these temples is represented by the smooth, oblong stone shown in the Harrison Ford movie “Temple of Doom.” The exaltation of sexual activity as part of the Hindu worship has led to the abuse of women and many horrible practices that destroy lives. The gods of the Hindus demonstrate their immoral behavior in the ancient Sanskrit texts so honored by many philosophers today. Surely Hinduism is a dark and destructive religion. If gods live lives of debauchery, how can their worshippers be expected to conduct their lives? Thankfully there are many forces at work in India to remove these dark and deadly stains from the fabric of Indian society. Christians must be leaders in calling for righteous lives, and set an example of moral purity.

Telegu Fishing Village, Puri

We crossed the wide roadway of the “Yath Ratra” and proceeded along C.T. road toward the Telegu fishing village on the north end of Puri. Thousands of Telegu fishermen had migrated here over the years and taken over the fishing industry. Ken and I took a ride in one of the wooden boats used at that time by these fishermen. The boat was made of shaped logs fastened together to form a large canoe-like craft about twenty feet long. The boats were so heavy that they required eight men to carry them slung by ropes from two long poles. Once the boat was pushed and rowed through the surf, a long keel board was inserted in a slot through the log bottom, a bamboo mast was raised into place, and a triangular sail hoisted. Amazingly, the logs had enough flotation that the bottom of the boat was above the water. Water that splashed into the boat just ran out through the cracks between the logs. We went out about four miles from shore, peacefully driven by the slight breeze. Vizia Rao waited anxiously on shore with our personal possessions.

Prasad, the man who gave us a ride, was a member of the Assembly of God congregation in Puri. He later became heavily involved in the manufacture of fiberglass boats that are propelled by small diesel engines with a propeller mounted on the end of a long shaft attached to the motor. The operator steers the boat by moving the motor from one side to the other, like with a steering oar. These boats are also fitted with the same kind of sailing gear as the log boats. The new boats have almost entirely replaced the old log boats. It was difficult to find a single log boat as I walked along the beach in Puri recently.

The people still live in the same grass huts packed tightly together by the seashore. Often a cooking fire will light one of the grass houses, and if there is not immediate action to kill the flame, and if the wind is brisk, all the houses downwind will be burned. Sometimes fifty or sixty houses burn at one time, destroying the clothing and personal belongings of the occupants. These are temporary houses. Most of the families have homes back in East Godavari, and they return there during the times of year when the fishing is not good. Fishermen have better income that farm laborers and other common workers. They have better food and clothing, but are noted for gambling, drinking, and sexual immorality. There are hundreds of fishing villages scattered along the coast of the Bay of Bengal from Calcutta to Madras.

During the day Ken and I conducted classes with men and women invited by Prasantham. In the evening we preached at different places within the fishing village. The people would spread several sails on the sand, and sit facing us. We would stand with a petromax lantern in front of us on a rough wooden table. And we would preach to them about Jesus. We took turns speaking. Ken would go first and teach about God, the creation, the bible, and about Jesus. Then I would follow with a message about how we are saved by obedient faith in Jesus. Then our translator would finish with a review of both messages and encouragement for the believers to obey the gospel. Those who responded were taken to the seashore and baptized. There were fourteen baptisms during the two days of teaching in Puri.

Calcutta, David Azami, Manipur Lutherans

From Puri we took the train to Calcutta. There we met David Azami, or David Alexander, as he is known to some people. David was different from most of the Indian brethren I had encountered. He insisted on paying our taxi fare, and seemed financially independent. He operated a school called Xavier’s English Medium School at 17 McCleod Street. He officiated at the Sunday service conducted in his school building, and showed his Lutheran training in the way that he officiated in the assembly, doing almost everything himself. He had invited some Lutherans from Manipur to study with us. I learned to my regret that their main interest was in getting support. They questioned us about the possibility of receiving support if they came over to the church of Christ. Ken and I explained that there would be no financial reward for obeying Jesus. The next year I sent funds for them to travel to meet us again. They kept the money and stayed at home in Manipur. Later Ken Shoop would ride me about how slick David was with his financial independence, and how he “reeled me in,” as Ken described it. This would not be the last time that I made bad judgments about people. I have learned that things are not always what they seem, especially in India.

A Distressing Situation

The phone service was not good in India at that time. An international call had to be scheduled, and often involved more “Hallo, Hallo, Hallo” than talking. The conversation was like talking in a barrel. You could hear the echo of your own voice along with the beginning conversation from the person with whom you were talking. But I called home at every opportunity, sometimes just to hear my wife’s voice. I called home at six PM one evening from Calcutta, when it was six thirty AM at home in the USA. My daughter Maribeth answered the phone. I noticed some tentative quality in her response to my request to speak to Linda.

“She has gone down to the farm,” Maribeth said in a small voice.

“Why is she down there at this time of morning?” I asked.

“She has gone down there to tell K.S. that he needs to go home. He came to work this morning with a gun, and the other employees are refusing to work.”

One employee had told the other two employees to come to work prepared, after they had some dissention. They knew he meant trouble, so they wisely put things in Linda’s hands. She went down and told him that it would be best if he would just go on home. He took his gun and his personal possessions, and went home.

My wife deserves many medals for her heroic struggles with the messes I often left with her when I would go to India. At that time I was farming 960 acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans, in addition to a swine farrow to finish operation. The clouds of economic collapse were beginning to build for my partnership with my brother, who was at that time operating our farm drainage business installing underground drainage systems in farmland. My banker often told me that I ought to stay home instead of going to India, but I had a higher calling.

Uttar Pradesh

Charles Scott had scheduled Ken and I to go to Lucknow to work with Aziz Masih again, and to travel to Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, near the border of Nepal, to conduct bible classes with S. John. While there we traveled across the border to Nepal, and visited with some local Christians there. At that time it was unlawful to convert anyone to Christianity in the Hindu kingdom of Nepal.

We visited a wildlife refuge, rode an elephant out into the bush looking for a tiger, and caught a ride in a lorry back to where we were staying. Often lorry drivers will pick up passengers for a little extra money. But our ride was free. The Indian people have great respect for foreign visitors. The second tour with Ken Shoop was soon finished, and we agreed to work together the next year. Ken had some friends back in Washington that he hoped to bring with him in 1984. On Friday, March 11th, 1983, we left Delhi for New York. We had baptized three hundred twenty one people and learned more about the problems and opportunities awaiting us in India.

I984-India via Rome

We visited London and Rome on the way to India in 1984. Charles Scott’s son-in-law Mike Schrader traveled with the group that year. We visited the Vatican and St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. On the way in there were two spastic Gypsy women begging on the sidewalk. Someone in our group gave them alms. As we were leaving the Vatican, the same two had somehow recovered from their mysterious illness. Jabbering in an unknown tongue with newspapers spread over their hands, they came right up to us and bumped into us. I had my billfold in my front pants pocket, because there were signs warning about pickpockets posted on the streets. I felt a bump on my thigh, and grabbed for my billfold. It was gone!

“They have my billfold!” I shouted.

Immediately our group of five spread out around the two women with our arms outstretched. One of the group knew Italian, and started shouting for the police. The reaction of the women was unsettling. One of them tore open her shirt to expose her bosom, apparently to prove that she did not have my billfold, or to distract our attention. Suddenly my billfold fell to the ground. I picked it up quickly and checked to see that nothing was missing. One of the women said something in an unknown tongue. I asked my foreign language-speaking friend what she said. “You must have a hole in your pocket,” he replied. We filed a report with the police, who acted very unconcerned about the problem.

Roger Wiemers and Sam Coy

Ken Shoop brought two friends from Washington State with him that year. Roger Wiemers and Sam Coy were involved in starting a church in Cheney, Washington. This was their first time to visit India. Sam is one of the most capable bible teachers I know, with his thoughtful way of getting people to come to understanding without force-feeding them. He gave us much help in developing lessons for several years, but because of his family situation, he was not able to return to India up to this time. Roger continued to visit India during the following years, and became one of my closest friends.

Roger is a gentle teacher, who puts his whole heart into his message. He communicates Jesus in his life and teaching. But he has one habit that is distressing to his friends. He is a penny pincher, and he wanted to count every pica (forty rupees per $, a pica is one hundredth of a rupee). Ken Shoop had a terrible reaction to Roger’s thriftiness, and has done such things as drop pennies in the street so that he could watch Roger pick them up. But Roger’s carefulness about money paid great dividends in the India culture.

Care about Money

Witnessing the spending of money frivolously in a culture of deep poverty can be devastating to those who are in financial distress. A meal that we would buy in an Indian restaurant might cost three days wages for a common laborer. If we stayed at a five star hotel, the cost would be equal to a months wage for a schoolteacher. Great care must be taken in such circumstances to avoid offending brothers by seeming to have no concern for their distress. $ can solve many problems, but also create greater problems when used unwisely. Charles Scott warned us about the need to be discreet about the use of money. It is not wise to use money to create dependency or to control people. It is unloving to spend money foolishly in front of destitute people who have so many urgent financial needs. Balance is needed in the use of money in any mission work with people in deep poverty. We must care about their needs and demonstrate the love of Jesus according to the wisdom God gives us. In these circumstances, we should seek out the most helpless and rescue them to the extent of our opportunity, while refusing to make freeloaders out of the native church leaders and local preachers.

Communicating the Good News

We learned more about problems in communication with some of the events of this trip. Lyle Starnes had gone to the market and bought some large stone crabs and cooked them while visiting Vizia Rao in 1982. Vizia Rao had told about how much Lyle liked stone crabs, so M. Alfred arranged some for us in 1984. Upon hearing that we were having stone crabs for lunch, Sam Coy exclaimed “Hot Dog!” The next year M. Alfred informed us that Sam Coy was not a good brother because he had called the crabs “dog food!”

Communication in different cultures can be difficult at best. English is a primary language in India, and the business language. Yet even those of us who speak English had some difficulty communicating. My Appalachian twang caused difficulty for the Indians, and their Indian English took some time to understand. But language was not the only problem, as Ken Shoop learned during our Bible Camp at Jaggampeta.

Ken was teaching a lesson about God’s prophets from the “Scheme of Redemption” series. He had explained how that Jesus and Moses were alike in that they were both prophets, both law givers, both had delivered God’s people from bondage, both had lived in Egypt, and so forth. Ken wanted some feedback to see how the lesson was registering, so he asked how Moses and Jesus were alike. A man in the back of the class raised his hand. Ken asked him to stand and answer the question. The man responded in Telegu. Some of the people began to grin. Ken asked his translator, D. Krupa Rao, what the man had said.

“They both sucked milk from their mother’s breast,” Krupa Rao replied.

We all began to chuckle. The answer was correct, but had nothing in common with anything Ken Shoop had said. This gave us some insight into the thought process of our students. We could not assume that they would associate what we were teaching with their knowledge of what is important. We determined that we would ask more questions while teaching in the future, and train our students to connect what we were teaching with what they thought. Teachers who spend their time lecturing to people in a cross-cultural setting without getting confirmation of communication may well be speaking to the wind.

P. D. Prasada Rao Baptized

P.D. Prasada Rao attended the Bible Camp that year, and asked a lot of questions, some obviously aimed at causing confusion. We answered him patiently. Before the week was finished, he decided that he wanted to be baptized into Christ in obedience to the gospel. It may seem strange to some that a zealous Christian worker would decide that he had not been scripturally baptized. But I have experienced many times when we teach what the bible teaches about baptism and obeying the gospel, that honest people can see that they did not do what Jesus commanded when they were baptized. Jesus commanded repentance and baptism for the remission of sins for believers. P.D. had been taught that salvation came through a personal experience with Jesus and the Holy Spirit that did not involve water baptism. He could see the difference. Paul had a similar experience with the Ephesians who had been baptized by Apollos with John’s baptism. They did not even know about the Holy Spirit. Paul taught them about the baptism commanded by Jesus, and they were baptized by the authority of Jesus. Just like the Ephesians, there are many honest people today who believe that they are Christians, but who have never been baptized by the authority of Jesus, and who may not have the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in reality.

Roger Wiemer’s quiet and gentle way of teaching was a strong encouragement to P.D., whose bold and argumentative nature was in stark contrast. Kindness and the love of Jesus won a victory over bold and arrogant assertiveness. P.D. went from a fighter against the body of Jesus to a strong and bold supporter of the truth. He continued to attend our Bible Camps for the next four years. Later we will meet P.D. in Mumbai, which was called Bombay at that time. He would become a major force for Christ among the Telegu people of India’s greatest city. But that story comes later.

Don’t Drink the Water!

Roger Wiemers was giving me a hard time about a knee length coat that I had brought with me because of the visit to London and Rome. It was bulky and hard to pack in my limited space, so it was a burden in the hot weather of India. It was made of cashmere, and I had bought it second hand at the “Unclaimed Baggage Center” in Scottsboro, Alabama (To those of you who do not know, this is the world’s largest purchaser and seller of unclaimed baggage from all over the world.)

Ken had warned Roger about drinking the water in the villages. That evening Ken and Roger were invited to eat with someone in a neighboring village. Ken looked at the well, and noticed that it was a large dug well, with dirty water standing around the casing and seeping back into the well. I have often looked into such wells, which are about ten feet in diameter, and you can see trash that has fallen into the well and accumulated on the bottom. Usually in that area around Jaggampeta, the water stands within twenty feet of the surface.

The host brought their meal, and some glasses of clear water. “Do not drink the water,” Ken warned.

“But I do not want to insult our host,” Roger replied. Roger is like that, very concerned about observing customs and careful to do nothing that will cause embarrassment for others.

But Ken and I had already learned our lesson about water in India. Both of us had been deathly ill from diarrhea and vomiting more than once from bacteria in the water. Roger was new to India, and more concerned with not offending a brother than with his health. He drank some of the water.

That night he was violently ill with diarrhea, chills, and fever. He wrapped himself in the big cashmere coat, and we gave him medicine for the fever. He later apologized for having poked fun at my coat, and was sufficiently thankful for my having brought such a useful item with me.

I have learned from experience that the most effective way to deal with bacterial diarrhea is to take only clear liquids for twenty-four hours. When I would fast, people were always trying to get me to eat rice and milk curd, or to take coconut water, but I learned to be persistent and take nothing but clear liquids. The idea is to stop the intestinal bacteria colony by eliminating all the solids they feed on in the gut. The diarrhea helps to clean the gut in the beginning, and after the stomach and gut are empty of solid food, the diarrhea will stop, unless some serious disease is involved. It is important to take a lot of liquid to replace that lost in the stool. In extreme cases an electrolyte solution available at the Chemist shop will prevent electrolyte imbalance that might be dangerous. I was always amazed about how good I felt the next day after a twenty-four hour fast. My first meal after the fast I always tried to eat some plain yogurt to get the good bacteria going in my gut.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Later we were visiting a village near Vizianagaram, about two hours taxi ride north of Visak. At lunch time we looked for a place where we could take food. The only food service available was an open front hotel, as they call their restaurants in India. Flies were busily engaged at the open entrance, but not as plentiful in the interior. We took our seats at a table, and the waiter came to take our orders. Roger, Sam and I ordered some rice and curry. Indian food is quite tasty, especially to those of us who like hot pepper and spices. Roger took to Indian food quite naturally, because he grew up eating Jalapeno peppers in San Antonia, Texas. Sam was willing to give it a try. By now I loved Indian food, and was learning to cook it at home. But Ken Shoop hated even the smell of curry.

South Indian food smells so powerfully of ginger, garlic, and many spices that it permeates the air. To cook South Indian curry, you begin by browning onions and garlic in oil. Not a few cloves of garlic and half an onion, but handsful of garlic and many onions. The garam masala, a mixture of ground red chili peppers and spices such as cloves, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and other spices of choice, would be added to the hot oil. Ground fresh ginger in large quantity would also be added. Then chicken chopped in small pieces with the bone would be added to make the favorite curry of most non-vegetarians. I learned that Indians use spices as ingredients, not as flavoring. The result is the most flavorful and aromatic food imaginable. Or the most penetrating and repulsive odor imaginable, depending on whether you are Randolph Gonce or Ken Shoop.

So Ken Shoop ordered hard boiled eggs. He went to great detail to explain to the waiter how he wanted the eggs boiled for ten minutes and served in the shell. He went over his instructions three times, in Ken Shoop fashion, which is loud and throaty and commanding. The waiter kept nodding his head from side to side, which means yes in south India.

The rest of us received our rice and chicken curry promptly, and began eating. After about ten minutes the waiter brought out two hard boiled eggs on a plate. They had been peeled, and brown finger prints were clearly visible. The reason Ken had ordered the boiled eggs in the shell was so that he could peel them himself and avoid the dirty finger prints. Standards of cleanliness in these kinds of Indian restaurants are non-existent. Most people in rural India do not understand the theory of germs causing disease. They wipe the tables and wipe the dishes with the same cloth. They dip the dishes in a bucket of water and wipe them with their hand to clean them. No wonder T.B. and Hepatitis is rampant in India.

Ken looked in horror at the brown fingerprints on his eggs, and sent the cook back to prepare more eggs and to bring them in the shell. He was even more determined in his instruction this time, while the waiter continued to shake his head from side to side in agreement. But the waiter was not gone ten minutes this time. He returned after four minutes with the same two eggs on the plate, but smothered in curry power.

Ken threw up his hands in disgust, refused to accept the eggs, and stormed out of the restaurant. Soon he returned with a bunch of bananas, sat down and began to eat, throwing the banana peels on the floor.

After that, when we were visiting Indian brethren, Ken would order boiled or fried potatoes, and hard boiled eggs, for his meal. He has a problem with hypo glycemia, and needs protein food to stabilize his blood sugar level. Often he would carry some hard-boiled eggs in his bag when going out for evangelism. Soon where ever we went in India for hospitality, a plate of hard-boiled eggs would be served, even when Ken was not with us. One of our favorite people to visit is D. Krupa Rao at Grace Home in Peddapuram. He always has a platter of butter-fried cashew nuts waiting for us, and there will always be some hard-boiled eggs in honor of Ken Shoop.

Time for the Missionary to go Home!

J.C. Bailey often told this story about how we could know when it was time to leave India. When a visiting American orders some soup, and finds a fly in it, he refuses it and sends it back, it is not time to leave India. After some days, when he finds a fly in his soup, he will dip it out with his spoon, and eat the soup. It is not time to leave. Still later, when he finds a fly in his soup, he leaves the fly and eats the soup from around it, he is not yet ready to leave India. But when he orders soup, and there is no fly in it, and he begins to try to catch a fly to put in his soup, then it is time for him to leave India!

Jeff Floyd Joins the Crew

There is a need to bring more people into a growing work, especially if it has a life expectancy exceeding that of the participants. We needed more young people to join the ranks. Roger brought Jeff Floyd to India in 1987. Roger and Jeff are married to beautiful and godly sisters from Texas, Paula and Judy. Their families were working together in Cheney, Washington, to establish a church there. They get along well to be kinfolks. Jeff had a sarcastic wit that was a little unfamiliar to a southerner, but would be common in New York City or Chicago. But Jeff soon impressed all of us with his desire to serve. He wants to please the Lord, and had no interest in joining Roger, Ken, and I in our continuing process of agitating each other about who was boss. Jeff wanted to teach and serve, and had a strong commitment to avoid entanglements in financial projects.

Even Service can Sometimes Cause Problems

Jeff’s desire for service caused a problem when we were staying at the Palm Beach hotel by the Bay of Bengal in Visak. Ken Perkins was checking out to go down to Ramachandrapuram to visit with M. Alfred. Our car driver Krishna Muthi was from R.C. Pur. He planned to drop Ken Perkins at the Monasorovar Hotel in Kakinada and go on home. Ken had his bags on the floor by the counter where he was checking out of his room. Jeff decided to be helpful and load Ken’s luggage into Muthi’s car. He loaded two bags and a briefcase that was sitting near by. Ken paid his bill, looked around to make sure his luggage was all loaded, got in the car and left.

Meanwhile an Indian was also standing at the counter checking in. He finished signing in, and looked around for his briefcase.

“My case was just here, and now it is gone!” he exclaimed to the manager.

Jeff put his hand to the side of his head in disbelief. “I must have loaded it with Ken’s luggage, because it looked like the briefcase that Ken had!” Jeff exclaimed.

We explained to the gentleman what apparently had happened, and asked what we could do to remedy the situation. The man explained that he had a camera, a plane ticket to Bombay (it was still Bombay at that time, now it is Mumbai), and 2500Rupees cash in the case. He offered to take a train three hours to Kakinada and retrieve his bag, and we gladly agreed to pay his expenses. We anxiously awaited his return the next day.

Meanwhile Ken Shoop was wondering out loud if we were being conned. There are so many different ways that people in India use to get money off foreigners that no one can keep count. Ken and I both had already suffered our share of such treatment, and were rightfully wary. But I could not believe that anyone would purposefully set his briefcase next to our bags in the hope that we would pick it up and carry it off. Ken was not so sure. Anyway, we all agreed that we had no choice but to play along and pay the piper. The gentleman returned and informed us that the camera and plane ticket were still in his case, but the 2500 Rupees was missing. We paid the cash, and were thankful it was not more.

Money and Missions

Money and mission projects can be a hindrance to developing functioning churches if money is used unwisely. This is especially true in India and other places where people live in deep poverty. If conversion to Christianity seems to produce some economic benefit, then economic improvement becomes the object of professed conversions, instead of the hope of eternal life.

Many of the first Christian missions in India attempted to attract people by providing clothes, food, and medical care. That practice continues today. Many schools operated by missions in India provide free education to their members, but charge tuition to all others, including members of other denominations. Also cemeteries owned by missions have excluded burial of non-members. People are encouraged to remain loyal to their denominations by these kinds of physical incentives. Our team wanted to avoid these kinds of economic based incentives to loyalty.

Our purpose in India is to establish faith based Christian fellowships that are not dependent on foreigners, but united by their faith in Jesus. God adds to the body of Christ those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God, who repent of sins and are baptized by the authority of Jesus. These people with a common faith and love are then taught and encouraged to share their faith with others, and to demonstrate the love of Jesus in their own lives. A fundamental part of this faith is understanding that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Through teaching and training, leaders and teachers are developed from within the group, and encouraged to edify the church. This training program requires someone with commitment and time to work with the new converts until people are trained within the church. The Bible calls this the work of an evangelist, one who preachers the gospel and establishes churches.

How Can They Go Unless They Are Sent?

Evangelists have to eat. Either they must supply their own needs, as Paul sometimes made tents to have income for food, or they have to be supported by others. The apostle Paul understood that it was not wise to demand financial support from those he was newly teaching about Jesus. He took support from churches he had established, but was careful not to make money a focus of his gospel preaching.

When Jesus sent out the seventy disciples preaching that the kingdom was at hand, He told them not to take any provisions with them, but to live from gifts of those who received their teaching. Later he told his apostles to take a purse and sword. We must make preparations for living in a world that is hostile to the teaching of Jesus. It is the duty of the church to send out evangelists. Those who send are blessed by the work of those who are sent.

There is a difference between those who do the work of an evangelist and local preachers, by my definition. Local preachers may stay in a church for years, and never develop competing leadership because they do not trust others to share authority in the church. Evangelists preach the gospel, start new churches, and train leaders in the church to take responsibility for the church. While it is useful to support evangelists with funds that are available for the purpose of spreading the gospel, supporting local preachers may actually hinder the development of functioning churches. The difference is that evangelists train leaders, setting things in order as Paul commanded Titus, appointing elders in the churches, while local preachers may maintain their own power and control.

Foreign Support for National Preachers

There is much debate about the wisdom of supporting national preachers with funds from other nations. Focus on receiving support may well spoil the vision of men supported by foreign Christians. They know the wealth of their brethren in USA, Canada, Australia, and other wealthy nations. They believe that it is just for the wealthy Christians to share their bounty with the poor, and they often think of themselves as the worthy recipients of our bounty.

When I first visited India, I was confronted with the dilemma of wealthy Christians working among impoverished brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul’s instructions to Timothy surely apply to us today. As he wrote in 1 Tim 6:17-19 – “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” NIV

Paul also encouraged the Corinthians to share with the needy, 2 Cor 8:13-15 – “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." NIV

What Are the Limits of our Sharing?

Economic disaster was approaching farmers in my area, so the only financial assets I had in view at that time were those of my fellow Christians back home. It is important to use resources wisely, in ways that are productive, whether they are our own or supplied by other Christians. Giving financial support to national preachers who have no proven record of Christ centered living and real faith is a mistake. The jealousy brought on by supported preachers living at higher economic standard than the church members often destroys the influence of the preacher within the congregation. Also the lack of wisdom demonstrated by foreign financial support of rascals destroys the credibility of those who arrange such support. Such problems are avoided when the local church is taught to support their own teachers.

That those they teach should support teachers in the church is a Bible doctrine, as Paul wrote the Galatians, Gal 6:6 – “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” Churches supporting their own teachers have greater opportunity to develop leadership within their own group than those who are dominated by a preacher with foreign support.

The problem of foreign support is compounded when the preacher supported by foreign funds also has control of the building where the church meets. A building constructed by the preacher’s influence with Christians from other nations becomes a source of power for the national preacher. The preacher will often use his economic status and control of the meeting place to control the church and hinder the development of teachers and leaders in the church. For these reasons it is not wise to support a national preacher who is the preeminent teacher and leader in the local church. Those men who refuse to train and appoint elders in their churches, and who refuse to encourage and train others to teach, should not be supported. Let them depend on their living from those they teach, and the growth of the church will be encouraged.

Our work in Mumbai is primarily among the Telegu people who have migrated to Mumbai from Andhra Pradesh looking for work. They come almost empty handed. They find some place where they can put up a temporary shelter of bamboo sticks, sheet metal, canvas, paper, plastic sheets, whatever else they can find to provide some slight protection against the elements. Then they find work as daily laborers, getting paid each day, and eating when they have work. This is a different world. No American can live in those conditions, without water, sewer, shelter, or decent clothing. But P.D. Prasada Rao and co-workers whom we have trained since 1993 are working among these migrant workers effectively.   P.D. Prasada Rao lives by receiving a small amount of support from his spiritual brother’s home congregation in the USA.  

Big Money Projects

Every project in my experience providing property and buildings for the church produced mixed results. Invariably hard feelings would result from questions about accountability. My first experience with this was the purchase of property for a church and school for David Azami in Calcutta. I joined with brother J. C. Bailey to raise funds from churches and individuals for this purpose. Brethren provided $20,000 for that project, and David put in about $3,000 from his own resources. We had an understanding that the property would belong to the church that David was developing in the area near the airport. Later I asked David for a copy of the deed, and that soon led to the end of our work together. He began to tell me that it was too dangerous for him to associate with foreigners, that he was suspected of being a spy, and that I should not write to him directly from the USA. David now operates several English Medium schools in Calcutta, and I hope that he is teaching the students about Jesus. But to my knowledge he no longer is active in church development.

Another project involved a home and church building for D. Krupa Rao in Peddapuram. This brother was constantly having to move because of his landlord’s objection to the church meeting in his home. Ken Shoop and I decided that it would be wise to provide some permanent place for D. Krupa Rao to live and for the church to meet. We appealed to brethren for help with this project, and were able to purchase suitable property for both a residence and church meeting place. I requested D. Krupa Rao to separate part of the property by deed or long term lease agreement to the local church. He did not trust the available leadership in the congregation, and was of the opinion that a power struggle for control of the property would result. He maintained personal control of the property, and the church has continued to meet there, and is growing. To D. Krupa Rao’s credit, he arranged for someone other than himself to preach in the church, and is training other men in the church. His son is an active gospel preacher, and his two sons-in-law are becoming qualified as teachers in the church.

But because of our disagreement about proper accountability for the property, and giving control of the meeting place to the church, D. Krupa Rao resigned from working directly with me. He thought that he would lose his support that had been arranged by Ken Shoop and myself as a result of his resignation. But I arranged for his primary sponsoring church to make up the amount that had been supplied through me, so that he kept his support. He is an effective evangelist, and has been successful in reaching the high caste Hindus. I still visit him and enjoy having him as a friend. But struggles about control and power almost always accompany big money projects.

Money and Teaching Programs

Money creates problems in teaching programs. Our attempts to develop effective teaching and training programs in India have always had a serious side effect from the use of funds supplied through us to organize and control the programs. We began to have problems with our Bible camps because the organizers would invite more people than we could conveniently teach, and they expected us to pay for their food and travel expenses. Invoices for chairs, tents, public address systems, and cooks would be handed over for our payment. We adopted rules about what expenses we would pay, and tried to limit the number of students for whom we would pay expenses, but expectations and demands for more spending always seemed to grow. It became painfully clear that money was causing dissention and wrong expectations in our relationships with some of our national brethren, and it was a problem for us missionaries to gain consensus about how to use money properly in the work. We began moving toward using less money, and developing more voluntary involvement in the work.

We set up a program for teaching correspondence courses that would require the visit of the instructor to the village at certain times to review progress of the students and develop personal relationships between the students and teacher. We set up a method of paying travel expenses related to the teaching program. Again we were using money to control the work, although in limited quantities. We hoped that the teaching program would develop into something purely voluntary, but when we stopped providing travel money, the program collapsed completely. We learned that the national teachers had always regarded it as “our program” because we were paying some of the expenses.

It is tough to use money in a work of evangelism without it causing dependence and wrong attitudes among those affected. Our team became more sensitive about the harassment and demands regarding money. Ken Shoop maintains that he was even charged for toilet use in one place where he held classes. Actually, it was payment for the government bungalow caretaker to provide for water to be carried from a nearby well for use in the toilet. But Ken’s complaint demonstrates our reaction to unfair demands on the resources provided for God’s work. We had to find a balance between creating wrong attitudes and using money as an effective tool in the work.

We decided to spend money for designated purposes only, and to control those expenses by strict invitations for those that would participate in funded programs. By invitation only became the format for our leadership training classes. We wanted to concentrate our time and energy in teaching for those who had demonstrated their desire to become teachers and leaders in the church. Eventually this would lead us to the establishment of a church servant leadership training program that utilized voluntary teachers with established faith, who would teach students in their own congregations and close by areas. We named the program “The Institute of Biblical Studies.” You will learn more about this program later.

Helping the Helpless

Helpless people benefit from the love of Jesus. One way is through the hands of followers of Jesus who understand that pure religion is to help those who are helpless. Instead of spending money on local preacher support, we began to look for opportunities to provide help that would make a difference in the lives of people.

One time Ken Shoop purchased a sewing machine for a widow with children. Her son John became a tailor, and the family prospered. He became a merchant, and gave a public address system to the local church. The last time I visited he showed me the two level house he is building. We also purchased a fishing net for another widow so that she could live by the rent of her net. This is giving that makes a difference. Instead of giving handouts, give a gift that can be used for future income.

After a cyclone and flood in the area near Kakinada, we helped rebuild widows houses, and bought buffalo for milking to provide future income for some members of the church who had lost their husbands in the storm. We also provided medical help and paid school expenses for some children of widows who were unable to attend school because of their lack of money for school supplies and fees.

We learned to look for the most urgent problems, and to deal with those first, instead of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the needs of impoverished people. The Bible teaches that Christians should share with other Christians based upon need. Usually critical needs will be easily identified.

Super Cyclone

October 29th, 1999, a terrible storm hit the coast of Orissa, India, near Paradeep, a port city, killing more than 10,000 people. Paradeep is near Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa, where we have taught Bible classes with P. Steven Jyothi for many years. Steven lives in Puri, near to Bhubaneshwar, and has started a small house church in Puri and another in Bhubaneshwar. Ken Shoop, Lyle Starnes, and myself visited Paradeep in January 2000 to investigate relief for the storm victims. We found the greatest need among the children left orphaned by the storm. The Indian government had arranged some temporary care after the Indian news services had reported atrocities against the orphans. Newspapers and news magazines told of agents posing as welfare providers, and actually selling young girls into prostitution in Bombay, and others as slaves to some people in Saudi Arabia. Young boys were being taken to work at making bricks and other hard labor in order to have food. Other orphans were wandering in the streets begging food, living under trees, and begging in the train stations. Many of these children came from extremely poor circumstances, living in slum areas in low land that was inundated by more than twenty five feet of water during the storm.

Recognizing the urgency of providing care for the orphans, to rescue them from desperate circumstances, we made arrangements within ten days to furnish care for twenty-one orphans. Since that time the government has asked us to take responsibility for thirty-one more orphans, making a total of fifty-two children orphaned by the storm that we were able to rescue. The love of Jesus compels us to intervene in the lives of these children, and to teach them about Jesus. This is pure religion, to help those who are truly helpless, and deliver them from abject darkness into the light of the love of Jesus demonstrated in deed and truth.

P. Steven Jyothi is trained in social welfare, and worked for several years in Delhi with oversight of orphan care. He is married and has three children. I have known Steven since he was a teenager. He and his wife and staff are providing marvelous care for the children, using resources provided by churches and individuals. You can view information about the Grace Home project at this internet address:


Reaching Remote Areas

When we first visited the area around Paderu, India, far beyond the usual tourist travels, we attracted much attention. The people would gather in a circle around us and look intently at our white skin and foreign appearance. These were simple and forthright people, much different from the slick and deceptive people of the more civilized areas. They loved to drink palm beer brewed from the sap of palm trees. Often we would encounter men whose work is to collect the brew from black pots hung in palm trees under severed palm branches. The sap runs out into the hanging pot, and ferments there under the froth produced by the fermentation. The worker would climb the palm tree with his bare feet and rope harness, and transfer the collected brew, called toddy, into a collection vessel, and return the pot to the tree under another severed branch.

The brew has a horrible smell. Once when we were staying at the traveler’s bungalow in Paderu, our driver got drunk on the foul stuff. His breath was thick with the odor. As he started to drive away from the bungalow, he hit the corner of the building with his fender. I did not have my international drivers license, but I drove anyway. I put the driver in the back seat, and felt my way through the gears of the famous Tata Ambassador. We made our way carefully down the steep and winding mountain road, careful to blow the horn at every turn, and keeping the car in a low gear to save the brakes.

Tribal Culture

The mountain people live in small villages connected by ox cart paths or walking trails. Many were still hunting with bows and arrows when we first visited them. Today we see them working in coffee plantations scattered on the sides of the mountain. Others make disposable plates by stitching tree leaves together. These leaves are considered holy by the Hindus, and we often encountered people traveling from the mountain areas by bicycle with a stack of holy leaf plates four feet high tied to the rack on the back of the bicycle. Bicycles in India are built tough to carry heavy loads. Some would be carrying firewood, stacked carefully on the rack, and looking like an impossible load. Some earn their daily bread by cutting bamboo in the forest, or collecting various fruits growing wild that can be sold. Many work at manual labor buiding roads and irrigation canals. Often large projects in India are done by human labor because you can hire one hundred men for the same cost of operating a large machine.

Many of the tribal people worship trees, rocks, and animals. There is a famous holy place near Paderu where offerings are made to fish. A swift running mountain stream works its way through huge rounded boulders, so that you can walk out into the stream on the rocks. The water is quite deep in some spots. Rice and coconut is offered to the fish, and huge suckerfish will come up and take the food out of your hand.

Most of the older people in these areas are illiterate, but the young people are being educated today, and get free seats in the State University if they make suitable grades. A certain number of places are reserved for the tribal people, and they only have to compete with other tribal students for placement.


Marxist revolutionaries called Naxalites live among the tribal people and exist by extortion and stealing government property such as timber. They profess to be guardians of the poor, and champions of justice for the backward class. Sometimes they kill landlords, and the wealthy often retaliate by hiring a goon squad to attack the village people who are suspected of harboring the revolutionaries. Often the Naxalites raid police stations, killing officers and taking guns and ammunition. Many Christians have to live and work in areas dominated by the Naxals, and sometimes preachers who are receiving foreign support have money extorted from them in return for protection.

Recently we had this e-mail from P. V. V. Gopala Raju, who has been working in such an area:



5/31/01 7:15:42 PM Pacific Daylight Time

From: gopala.raju@usa.net (gopala raju) To: agslgs@bellsouth.net (Greg Starnes), lyleandshirley@email.msn.com (Lyle), J-Jfloyd@home.com, Rgonce@aol.com, kshoop@pacifier.com, rwiemers@tnstate.edu, s-jhurd@seasurf.net CC: ceegod@juno.com (Carl goad), diemmons@hcis.net

Dear Brother,

Greetings. Just today I returned back from tribal area with a very bad experience.  On Monday I went to Parvathipuram by after noon. After taking lunch I went to hospital to visit an accident sister. Recently she met an accident. I have a talk with the doctor and paid some amount to the doctor for better treatment.

After that I visited a near by village for Evangelism and returned to my room by night 8 pm. I took rest that night, because of my long ride from Vizag to Parvathipuram. The next day morning I went to another village and spent up to 2pm and returned room. After noon I traveled along with a new brother to aremote place. The people  who attended to that meeting shown very good interest, so I took more time and stayed up to 10 pm. 

Suddenly a group of people with special dress came and asked me to come with them. The preacher who is with me ran away. I have no other go. The villagers requested them, but they are very angry. So I traveled with them. They are naxlites. After 5km walk, they stopped at a place and have a talk with me. They asked me some

You are working with some foreigners and they are giving lot of money to you and you are not spending any thing to any body. You are eating all the money. You are not giving to any preacher. You are not constructing any Church buildings. They are giving money for orphans and you are not giving to any orphan. Like this they abused me. I tried to explain them. They didn’t give any chance to me to say any thing and two times they beat me. Just I closed my
eyes and prayed God. 

After some time I found one educated person among them. I
requested him to give me sometime to explain. He convinced and told others to hear.

Then I told them. We are coming here only to preach the Word. I told all the preachers, who are working with me that we are not in a position to pay any rupee for them, nor we are not in a position to construction the Church buildings. Americans are giving money to me for my travel and for my expenses.

Then they said so many people are coming and dumping money for the people who are attending the meetings. They are giving good food for the poor people, they are running orphan homes and they are giving good salaries to the preachers and providing vehicles. 

Then I said yes, they are doing, but we are not in a position to do such things. They don’t believe me. We know the people working with Americans will get lot of money. We saw it in East
Godavary dist. don’t say false stories.

Then I told them we are doing some small things, like
5. We repaired the houses of leper colony and provided drinking water to them. Last year we made some repairs to their doors and floor also. Every month we are providing some rice to them.
6. We are giving some bi-cycles to the preachers.
7. We are giving some Bibles.
8. We are providing some medical aid to poor and sick persons; even yesterday I helped a lady in Parvathipuram.  Like this we are doing some things, depending up on our ability. The US
brothers we are visiting are coming here are very poor and they are able to come here with the help of some hard working people.
I tried to convince them. But it’s very hard.

Then they asked me why you stopped the support of Daniel. I told them he did some bad things, like eating leper people money. So they caught him and stopped the money. They told me one incidence. Previously one brother worked in this area, we know he is your relative. The Americans gave him lot of money and every body knows that he eat all. We know that you are also doing the
same. Like that they argued with me up to next morning. At last they told me, if Americans are not doing any thing, here onwards don’t bring them. If they come it means they are giving money for these people and you are eating that. You come and work; we don’t do any thing to you. This is our final warning.  Next time we don’t want to talk, our guns will talk with you. The next day they release me and I came back to the village from there I took my motor
scooter and came back to the town.

Based on all these things I understood that some of the workers with whom I am working made some wrong complaints to them. I don’t know, who they are. Please pray for them and pray for me. I didn’t tell this incidence to my family or anybody. If tell Joyce, she never allow me to go any place. But they can’t stop me. My Lord is with me, while I am doing His work. After this incidence I just imagined the great work of 1st century Christians. They are really
great. When compare our problems with them, these are nothing. 

So such things are giving me great encouragement. Please pray for me and the work in that area.


Ken Shoop and I responded to P. V. Gopala Raju, and encouraged him. I also asked him about extortion by Naxalites in areas where B. Ratnam supports a lot of local preachers.



6/1/01 6:44:42 PM Pacific Daylight Time

From: gopalaraju45@rediffmail.com (pusapati vijaya gopalaraju) To: rgonce@aol.com (rgonce@aol.com)

Dear Brother,
Greetings. I am very thankful to Brother Randolph and Bro. Ken to their encouraging letters. These letters gave me much encouragement to do His work.

I forget one thing in my previous letter. By the time they relieved me I have 5 Bibles with me. I asked them if they need I want to leave them. After some discussion they accepted them. So one day or other it will work. This credit goes to Bro. Wyne Pagel, as he gave me those Bibles to me for free distribution.

Actually their intention is to get some money every month from me. This is a common practice in all tribal areas. The denominational people and most of the Church of Christ workers, who are working with missioners in tribal areas, are
doing this. I am opposing this practice. Since long time they are sending this information to me through their couriers. I didn’t accept this in all these four years. So they are threatening like this. But still I don’t want to do that. If I did this everybody will threaten.

After go through with the encouraging letter of Bro. Ken Shoop, I am thinking to change some of my things in the work. So please give me your suggestions after reading it.
1. I want to work only in daytime in the villages.
2. concentrating more on giving training to the young and dynamic preachers.
3. Every month I want to give training to these preachers in Vizianagaram. If I do this in tribal area it’s giving some chance to my enemies to feel zealous and plan some bad against me.
4. I am decided to go to the villages with known preachers only, not with the new converts.
5. I want to invite interested high cast Hindus to my place, either
Vizianagaram or Pavathipuram from remote villages, instead of going there and inviting troubles.

Like this I want to change some things. The problem is, the trained preachers are going to the villages and preaching to only backward classes people. The high cast Hindus are not allowing them, as these preachers are belongs to backward class. 

So, no problem, pray for the work and me. My father will take care about me, as I am doing His work. These sufferings are an indication for me that I am doing good, II Tim. 3:12.


From this you can understand the problems of working in the tribal areas. Our experiences among those tribal people prepared Ken’s heart for outreach into remote areas. This became his goal, to take the gospel where no man had gone.

Ken Shoop Goes to Papua New Guinea

Ken Shoop visited Papua New Guinea in March of 1986 for a two-week survey of mission opportunities there. Ken was preaching at Grandview, Washington, and had read about PNG in the Christian Chronicle. His heart was touched by the opportunity to reach out to people in remote villages accessible only by plane and walking. When he returned home from his survey trip, his family was somewhat shocked by his announcement that they were moving to the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Ken is the spiritual leader of his clan, and his wife Eileen is a marvelous supporter and helper. Eileen is from Mississippi, and her southern charm is a welcome contrast to Ken’s Yankee bluntness. Their two youngest daughters got out of school June 11, and they left home on June 13 for Memphis and training at Mission 1000, a three month mission training program conducted by Joe Cannon with the hope of getting in the field 1000 missionaries equipped to deal with other cultures.

They traveled by Whitewater, Wisconsin on the way to Memphis, visiting one month with Jeff Floyd, Roger Wiemers, and families who were planting a church there. The Gonces also enjoyed a visit from the Shoops along their way to Memphis. Ken had sent out an appeal for help for his family while they were attending Mission 1000, and they had visited several other places along the way. But so far they had received no substantial help.

When they arrived in Memphis, they were short of money, so Ken applied for a night clerk job. The next morning when he received his mail, there were enough funds to provide for his families needs and some to help others. He still did not have a sponsor for his work in New Guinea, but received an opportunity to speak at the Texarkana mission forum. Buzzy Neal, mission chairman at Ashwood Church of Christ in Nashville, TN., was impressed with Ken’s plans. That church had a special interest in New Guinea, and invited Ken to come to Nashville. A twenty-minute meeting of the family with the elders resulted later in a decision to sponsor Ken’s work.

Getting Settled

The Shoop family left home in June. Ken had $500 cash in his pocket, and his affairs in order. The 1980 Dodge car they drove was paid for, and later sold at a bargain price to me, just before they left for PNG. Some retirement fund was invested for future needs. Ken left his familiar circumstances behind to become a pilgrim in a foreign land, following the path of Abraham, walking by faith. Jan 17th, 1987, they boarded the plane in Nashville, TN. bound for PNG and the land of great opportunity and adventure. Ken had booked the flight in September, long before he had a sponsor. God rewarded his faith and supplied his need.

Ken, Eileen, Carrie, and Julie moved to Goroka, five thousand feet up in the highlands of PNG where some of the best coffee in the world is grown. The girls were enrolled in an accredited High School program by correspondence with the University of Nebraska. Ken began teaching in the Goroka preacher training school, and making patrols into the bush to preach the gospel in new areas. Students from the school made this work possible, and Ken realized the importance of training and equipping the native Christians for the primary work of evangelism.

Setting an example by personal evangelism is necessary for teaching others. Ken’s simple and direct way of preaching the Good News had been developed in India, and was put to good use and fine tuned in PNG. The challenge of sharing the gospel with primitive people develops our trust in the basic message of the Gospel. It must be presented in simple story form, not by educated argument. The heart of the message must be established, revealing who God is, and showing that Jesus Christ is Son of God and Lord of heaven and earth, and that God loves the people of PNG and wants them to be His children. Jesus Christ must be presented as the offering for peace between God and man. The clansman in New Guinea understands negotiations for peace, and the concept of paying a price to make peace between clans. They come to understand that even though they have sinned against God, and are condemned to death, He is willing to make peace with them by paying the peace price Himself through the death of Jesus Christ. This powerful story touches the hearts of men, and those who believe are taught repentance and baptism as the way to become members of God’s family by faith.

Training Teachers for the Church

Those who are baptized begin to meet together in their village, and to teach others. Qualified teachers must be available to edify the church. Training members to become voluntary Bible teachers and leaders in these new churches becomes the focus of opportunity for expanding the influence of Christ in the lives of new converts. Moving people to Goroka for short-term training provided one way of meeting this challenge. Later Ken would develop plans for taking the school to the village, and eventually this experience would pay off with the development of the IBS training program in India and other nations.

Getting Acquainted with Paulus

Ken and Eileen decided that a good way to get acquainted with members of the church in Goroka would be to invite people to share a meal in their home. Ken tells of how this led to their meeting Paulus Weimen:

The first Sunday in Goroka we went to church, and I decided that we should ask three men to come home with us for dinner. I told them to hop in the truck--I looked back and counted five. One of them, Paulus, who I had not invited, simply invited himself (not unusual). So, being used to India, we drove home. We had a good time at dinner--with their few words of English--and our fewer words of Melanesian Pidgin. Finally they all left--except for Paulus. Paulus informed me that we needed a guard to live on our property, because of crime and the general state of lawlessness. I asked him who, and he volunteered. Paulus was 19 years old, very tall and muscular. He had a countenance that was a little different than the others--he was a Chimbu, the tribe that was feared by most other tribes. The Chimbus tended to dominate the business in PNG (at least as far as the tribal are involved). Paulus was polite and well mannered. I told Paulus I would give it some thought. He left. I then talked to Andy Scott (longtime missionary) that told me that Paulus was somewhat different--in that he wanted to attend the Goroka Bible School, but could not be admitted since he could not read. Paulus pressed Andy, so Andy got Paulus a "reading packet," a self-teaching course. Paulus learned all of the sounds from Andy and then proceeded to teach himself how to read. In about six months he was reading well enough to start in The Goroka Bible School, and finished the one-year program.

His memory was very keen so he could recall bible narratives and verses; I often used him as a concordance in the future years in the bush. I hired Paulus to be our guard. He had his own little house on the back of our lot. He brandished a large bush knife (machete) and we trusted him as a brother in Christ and a watchman. We left Julie and Carrie at times with him as we would go shopping and other places. He was a wealth of teaching information to us as we prepared ourselves for the task of evangelizing. One time when Paulus was guarding the girls, a scream came from the house--by Carrie. Several flying cockroaches were airborne in the house. Paulus rushed into the house with his bush knife in hand--only to find that the intruders were cockroaches! He looked very disgusted--reached out with his finger and simply crushed each one of them--which freaked Carrie out all the more. When we moved to the Western Highlands Paulus and his new wife came with us; they were now part of the family.

Moving to Mount Hagen

Joe Cannon and Ken Page asked Ken Shoop to join them in Mount Hagen, 150 miles from Goroka, at an elevation of 6500 ft. Much of Ken’s work reaching out into remote areas was between Goroka and Mount Hagen. Also Ken had an interest in developing a more comprehensive training program than the one-year program at Goroka. He decided to move to Mount Hagen to help set up a leadership training program that would thoroughly ground students in both knowledge and practice of Bible teaching. Character development requires much emphasis and work in pagan cultures. We had struggled with the difficulty of getting Christians in India to grow by putting off lying, gossip, backbiting, envy, jealousy, sexual immorality, drunkenness, and other sins that plague every ungodly society. Prevalent sins in New Guinea are wife beating, adultery, cheating, lying, fighting, drunkenness, murder, and so forth. Faith in Jesus must bring people to a new way of living. Faith is developed by teaching and experience.

Language Problems

Communicating in different cultures requires patience, and sometimes blunders lead to funny situations. One Sunday Ken was preaching in Pidgin, and this is how he tells the story:

In Melanesian Pidgin “susa” means “sister” and “susu” is breast milk. I was preaching a lesson in the Mt Hagan Banis congregation, and I meant to say “ol brata na susa” (brothers and sisters) and instead I said, “ol brata na susu" (brothers and breast milk!!). I actually knew the difference, but made the slip of tongue and did not realize it until after I was done preaching and it was pointed out to me by, I think, Paula (meri belong Roger). It was especially funny since I went right on preaching as if I meant literally what I said! (Shoop wondered what was so funny about his preaching that morning that caused everyone to laugh!)

Cockroaches and Chickens

Another language story resulted from a visit by a hopeful bug exterminator to the Shoop home in Mount Hagen. Here is how Ken tells that story:

The confusion was with both the exterminator and me. He was trying to say cockroach in English, and was miss-pronouncing it, since PNG people cannot make the “ch” or “sh” sound (we tried in vain with Paulus--and others). It was hopeless! And that is why they called me “soup.” So at the end of cockroach (“ch”) he was saying “cockruks” and I thought he was saying “Kakaruk” (chicken). This was a full blown case of revisiting the tower of Babel!

So, here goes the story: A man appeared in my front yard looking for some work. The work was that he offered to kill cockroaches in my house (very common in PNG) and I thought he wanted to hire out to kill our chickens and butcher them for us. This is a common task that we often employed people to do since Eileen bought chickens alive at the market. I had trained Paulus in "chicken husbandry." He learned how to build proper pens, feed and water them, and market the eggs to white skins at a higher price than the market eggs sold for. His eggs were fresh, just laid! Who knows how long the market eggs have departed the hen--yuk! I also taught him the economics of making a profit--that was a real challenge! So, you can imagine my concern that this man wanted to slaughter Paulus’ chickens. So I went into great detail about how I had taught Paulus all of the care for chickens (Kakaruks). All the time he thought I was talking about cockroaches; feeding them, selling their eggs to white people, housing them in pens, giving them water and food, etc.

I noticed a bewildered look on his face, and he left quickly, I thought maybe he was put out about not being able to get some work. But we found out later that he thought I was crazy! He went directly down the road (we lived off of the compound about a half mile away) to Ken Page's house and told him the whole story. “Dispela whitskin, em i long long tru, em laikem kiou long cockruks na givem kai kai na wara na wanpela haus long em." (Translation---"That white man is crazy!---He likes to eat cockroach eggs, and he gives them food and water, and has a house for them!”)

Meanwhile in India

The work in India continued to progress nicely. We had baptized many hundreds of people, and started more than two hundred new congregations. We were providing training to almost two hundred preachers, and had enrolled nine hundred students in a Bible correspondence study that required some direct contact between the teachers and the students. Our determination to avoid creating dependency on ourselves among the people with whom we worked was showing promise. Some of our experiences had made us understand the problem of supporting preachers who had no proven faith.

What is a Proven Faith?

It takes time to see that a person’s faith is honest. I met Y. T. in 1981, on my first trip to India. His wife was in the hospital in Calcutta at the time of the preachers meeting in Vijayawada, and I was impressed with his devotion to duty. I provided some funds for his wife’s medical expenses, and later learned that she was in the hospital delivering a son, who was named after me.

Y.T. was a man with great zeal. He traveled all over India distributing tracts. He wrote letters telling about his fights with the Lutherans and other Christian groups, whom he called the “hated denominationals.” He was supported in his work by a widow in the USA, arranged by J.C. Bailey. I arranged for him to have an additional $50 monthly for his travel expenses. Brother Bailey assured me that Y.T. “knows the doctrine.” By that he meant that Y.T. understood the Bible plan of worship, church organization, obedience to the gospel, and basic Bible teaching.

Y.T. had attended our Bible camp at Jaggampeta, and brought with him a man named Nihal Singh, who had been beaten by his own family when he became a Christian. Nihal showed me the deep scars on his legs, where he had been hung upside down and beaten with iron rods. Brother Singh started a congregation in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, and has worked closely with Gene Reneau and Charles Scott in the North India work.

Distressing Information

In 1986 I received word that Y.T. was working as a pastor in Christ Church in Visak. That information came to me because M. John Victor, M. Vizia Rao’s brother, had been highly placed in the Canadian Baptist Mission before he was taught by J. C. Bailey about non-denominational Christianity. An invitation had been extended to M. John Victor’s daughter Joyce to attend a function recognizing past officers of the Christ Church congregation. Y.T. was mentioned as Pastor of Christ Church on the invitation. Joyce’s husband, Dr. P.V.V. Gopala Raju, informed me of the circumstances.

I decided to take M. Vizia Rao with me and make an unannounced visit to Christ Church on Sunday morning. Christ Church congregation meets in a large building provided long ago by the Canadian Baptist Mission. Many of Vizia Rao’s kin had belonged to that Canadian Baptist congregation. J.C. Bailey had taught and converted many of their leaders to non-denominational Christianity. But the remaining leaders were firmly opposed to association with the churches of Christ. M. Vizia Rao’s brother-in-law, J. Vizia Kumar, former member of that congregation, had been fighting with Vizia Rao for years. I had a long discussion with him one night about obeying the gospel from the heart, as compared with the sinner’s prayer response. He came to my room the next morning at 6 AM, and I baptized him in the Godavari river at Rajamundary. I knew that Christ Church was a Canadian Baptist congregation. Outside the building I took a picture of the sign board which announced Rev Y.T., Pastor, and holy communion every first Sunday.

We entered the building and sat down toward the back. Y.T. was at the podium conducting the service. He is a small man, and his head barely reached above the massive speakers stand. He lowered his head so that I could hardly see him after he saw me sitting in the back of the building. I took a picture of him.

He called on one of the men to lead a prayer, and while I had my head bowed, he came out the side door of the building and came in the front door to where I was seated. He said something to Vizia Rao in Telegu, and we went outside to talk. The Telegu conversation continued in earnest for a short time, and I asked for translation.

“He wants me to tell you that this is a church of Christ congregation,” Vizia Rao replied.

I could not argue that it did not have the right name, but I had already seen the guitars and drums brought in for use in the service, and I had watched a woman read the scriptures to the church. I knew that this congregation was not a supporter of non-denominational Christianity as I know it.

“Brother Y.T., it is your freedom to work as Pastor for this congregation if that is what you want to do, but you know that you are not being supported for this purpose. Since you have chosen to work like this, we will no longer help you financially,” I informed him. After a short conversation, we shook hands and Vizia Rao and I left.

As soon as I returned home I contacted those who were helping Y.T. and informed them of the circumstances. Br. Bailey was saddened to hear the news, and was not interested in taking the word of one brother against another without a fair hearing. But when I produced the pictures of the signboard and Y.T. behind the pulpit, the necessary evidence was confirmed. Y.T.’s support was stopped.

December 31, 1987, he wrote the following letter to me with copies to J. B. Trotter, Charles F. Scott, J.C. Bailey, and M. Vizia Rao. He gave his address at that time as Christ Church, Visak.

My Dear Brother-in-Christ,

“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Before you receive this letter, a new year will have come. It is my prayer that it may be a year filled with love, joy, and peace for you and your family. It is my hope, that for you, it may truly be the best year of your life in God’s service – that you may see more accomplished by your labours for the Lord than you have seen before, may each of us seek to accomplish more in 1988. sorry for my long silence. I re-dedicated repented my life and confessed before the Lord with humble heart and true heart.

1. Due to love the Denominational Chruch building, fellowship and force of Christ Church Elders I joined as a Baptist Pastor on July 1, 1984 and received support both sides 1½ years.

2. While Brother Randolph O. Gonce and Bro. Vizia Rao came to the church building visited, requested me to leave and be a member of one Church. I did not care of them and hear them out of my ignorance, and question them “is it sin?” to work in denominational church.

Brethren, since 4 years I am working as a pastor of the Baptist Church. I do not have any peace, happy and truth in my life. Due to that reason all our children suffering from diseases and not having oneness in our family.

Where ever I go preach the Gospel always my soul, heart and mind remember that are you belongs to one church? Are you belongs to True church? Often nights arise this question not having peace in my heart.

I truly repented and confessed before our Lord Jesus Christ and with Bro M. Vizia Rao.

So, I request to you in the name of Jesus Christ kindly pardon us consider me as your own brother.

Treat me as your own brother write to me don’t hide anything in your heart. “For Godly --- shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19). “Take heed to yourself --- If he repented forgive him.” (Lk 17:3)

Do not abandon us, don’t forget us, kindly excuse us and consider this matter and pray for my future Ministry.

I am accepting for you kind favourable reply.

Yours brother in Christ


“Of course I forgive you,” I wrote. “You have confessed your fault, and I forgive you. I pray that you will be faithful in your service. However, I have no plans to have any financial involvement with your work in the future. Just work according to the ability that God provides, and look to Him to bless your ministry.”

Several times later we have communicated, and I have invited Y.T. to meet me in various places at his convenience. But after he became convinced that I was not going to give any more money to his ministry, he seemed to lose interest in seeing me.

Recently Y.T. wrote that he was sorry to inform me that his son Y.G. had met an accident and lost both legs, requiring expensive medical treatments. A short time latter Y.G. wrote, telling me that he had broken both legs in an accident, and that he had been in a cast for six weeks, but was now much improved. He also informed me of his progress toward graduation from college. I invited him to come and meet me on my last trip to India, but I did not see him. Surely my interaction with this family will continue if I am blessed to return to India. God is able to redeem people who have failed miserably, if they truly repent and start following Jesus with an honest heart.

What About Working with Denominational Churches?

What about the question raised by Y.T. “Is it sin to work with denominational churches?” Y.T.’s sin was not that he taught in a denominational church, but that he deceived those who were supporting him, and that he supported unbiblical teaching, including calling himself Reverend and offering the Lord’s Supper only once monthly.

I never miss an opportunity to speak in a denominational church. I spoke each year in the Orissa Baptist Church at Khurda Road near Bhubaneshwar for three years, and used a Pentecostal Pastor as interpreter. The congregation was very solemn and formal. I had to get permission from the board of deacons six weeks in advance to speak there. I finally quit going there after the Pastor asked me for money to buy a keyboard. I had been speaking to the Orissa Baptist congregation that is non-instrumental. The keyboard was wanted for the Telegu Baptist congregation that met in the same building at a different time. The same Pastor served each congregation. When I understood that my invitation was extended with the hope of getting money, I lost my interest in going there.

Of course it is not sinful to teach about Jesus in any setting. The real question is whether it is sinful to support the teaching of false doctrine. Every denominational fellowship has its own peculiar teaching, and contends dearly for that teaching. Each denominational fellowship has its own politics, and the leaders contend earnestly for their preeminence.

Should we Have Fellowship With Denominations?

Can we support organizations and doctrines that compete with the one body of Christ and His gospel? The Bible clearly teaches that there is one Body, and that God adds those who have faith, repent, and are baptized to that body. But new converts are often faced with difficulty in finding a Biblical fellowship of Christians.

When people first come to Jesus Christ in obedience to the gospel, the fellowship available to them is less than perfect. It may be a fellowship of immature Christians who have not yet learned to live Christ-like lives. It may be a fellowship dominated by one person who insists on having his way in every decision. Or it may be a fellowship of people who just get together on Sundays for ritual worship, and who do not live their lives for Christ; of people who have learned to practice backbiting, backstabbing, gossip, slander, and malice against fellow Christians; or of people who like to argue about words and laws that are of no value for true godliness. Faced with imperfect assemblies, what are we to do?

We all find ourselves associated with congregations that are less than perfect. The real question is “How serious must the problem with the fellowship be before it is necessary for me to avoid connection with it?” The answer is that we should not support false teaching and false lives that lead people away from the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. Any teaching that denies our salvation through obedient faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior should not receive our endorsement. If we attend a fellowship of Christians that persists in teaching things contrary to the Gospel taught by Jesus and His apostles, we put ourselves in danger of being cursed. We are not even to give our departing salutation to those who do not abide in the teaching of Jesus Christ.

There are degrees of departure from the true faith. We may find some differences in opinion about what the Bible teaches between almost every individual. Also we find some differences between what is emphasized in different congregations. Some emphasize faith and grace, while others emphasize works of righteousness and personal responsibility. There is often a problem that the message of the Bible is not taught with the right balance in every place. Everything the Bible teaches is important, but eternal life does not depend on our perfect knowledge and our perfect action. The solution is to find a fellowship of Christians that is devoted to Jesus as Lord and to the continued search of the scriptures as the source of God’s will for us. Congregations that believe that the church should establish doctrine through traditions should be avoided. All churches that have a written or unwritten creed that is different from the Bible should be avoided. All churches that have a head other than Jesus should be vacated. All churches that have one-man rule should be corrected.

The Pastor System

One man rule of the local church prevents the God intended development of the church. The modern “Pastor” system of rule is not based on the teaching of the Bible. The Bible teaches multiple leadership of the church, and every body doing their part.

It is natural for the evangelist who preaches Christ to a people for the first time, and they obey the gospel as a result of his teaching, to have a unique personal relationship to the congregation. He is their father in the faith, in that he first taught them about Jesus, and helped them to be born again into the family of God. They naturally regard their teacher highly and look to him for further teaching. But an evangelist who loves Jesus will not use his position to gain power or money for himself. His responsibility is to train others to lead the church. This is what Paul commanded Timothy and Titus. They were to appoint elders (pastors, bishops) in every church. There is no pattern in the Bible for one-man rule in the church. Jesus Christ is head of the church, and all are to submit to Him, and to serve one another.

Development of functioning churches today is being strangled by the preeminence of strong leaders who call themselves the local preacher, and who insist on everyone doing things according to the preacher’s judgment. The preacher often believes that, because he is better trained than other church members, he knows what is best, and should be in charge. Preachers in India are often told that calling themselves “Pastor” instead of “brother” is wrong, but they are not being dissuaded from one man rule of the congregation. Indeed, they should call themselves “Pastor” if they are acting as the one shepherd of the flock. They should call themselves “Bishop” if they are acting as the one man overseer of the church. It is not the name that is the problem. It is the practice of one man domination of the church that is the problem.

So often we strain at the gnat and swallow the camel! We object to the use of the term “Pastor” as somehow being denominational. But we allow the practice of one-man rule in the church to go on as if it not a problem. Arguing about words often has no value, but pursuing godliness, and following the apostles teaching in the church is of real value.

Foreign supported local preachers who rule their congregations are killing the growth of the churches in India. Such men should have their foreign support stopped. They should be given a short time to set the church in order by training and appointing leaders in the church, and if they want to continue to receive support for church work, they should be required to start other churches or to teach in an active program of training evangelists, teachers, and church leaders. It is foolish for well-intentioned Christians in other countries to continue to fund a system that prevents development of functioning churches with Biblical leadership.

Using Money Wisely

Money is a useful tool for advancing the Lord’s work, if it is used wisely. Do not stop giving to spread the Gospel in India, but focus your giving in ways that will help the church to grow. If you are supporting a local preacher who has made himself the “Pastor,” stop his support or redirect his work. Support teaching programs that have demonstrated effectiveness. Support good works in the name of Jesus that make a real difference in peoples lives.

Teaching programs for developing church leaders and teachers have an important role in developing functioning churches. A successful church leadership training program must be Bible centered, and must equip the students to study for themselves; not making them dependent or feeding them unbalanced teaching that has an unbiblical focus. The teaching program should be designed to work within the culture and economy where the students live. The school should not disrupt the students’ lives by requiring them to leave home and established means of earning a living. There is a tremendous need for voluntary teachers and leaders in the church who do the work as a sacrificial service. Making church ministry a profession designed to earn a living is not the only way to have good teaching in the church. Volunteers can do well if they are properly trained, and if they have the motive to serve rather than the desire to exalt themselves and control others for their own benefit.

Working With What God Provides

Instead of thinking that God’s work depends on a certain amount of American dollars, we need to realize that the fuel of God’s work is faith and trust. I am blessed in my fellowship in the work in India to be associated with men who have prepared themselves for cross-cultural evangelism by study. Some have been fully supported for ministry previously, but all now earn their living by working at secular jobs. We all would like to have full support for ministry so that we could devote our full time and energy to teaching and service, but our work is not dependent on raising full time support. We are not wealthy, and therefore are dependent on fellowship from those who believe in our work to pay our expenses during the time that we are visiting foreign countries. God has provided marvelously through the hands of those people who have joined with us through the years. The work accomplished is beyond my comprehension. Jesus is the Lord of Harvest. God does supply what is needed. Often not what we want, but what is needed for His work will surely be supplied. If God wants us to be supported full time so as to devote more time and energy to the work of teaching, then He will provide.

We find it easier to get financial help for widow, orphan and leper care than for teaching the bible. I am not sure why that is true, but maybe teaching is not as measurable as providing food, shelter, and clothing for helpless people. However, the greatest need any person has is to gain eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The only way they can receive faith is by being taught. They must have teachers. Teachers must be sent. The urgency of preaching the Gospel should be of first importance. And poor people are more receptive to the gospel than rich people. We should preach the gospel to the poor, and show love toward them in their poverty.

The Gospel and Social Issues

Some Christians believe that lifting the financial and social welfare of a culture is of first importance. Others put all the emphasis on converting people to Christ, and show little concern for economic and social problems. If we are to follow the example of Jesus, we need to do both. We need to preach the gospel as of first importance, and do good as we have opportunity. The preaching of the gospel and the doing of good works fit together perfectly.

Some people get distracted from the Biblical perspective and get caught up in issues that grow out of a humanist worldview. Birth control gets no support from the scriptures, but is the favorite topic of many social engineers. Humanists see population increase as the cause of misery and poverty. That view fails to consider that people can be a blessing rather than a curse. People produce prosperity. People produce food. We do not have to live as a hunter-gatherer society, but we can live as people who have been empowered by God to subdue the earth and to be masters of the created order. Industrialization and information technology are not evil by nature, but can be used wisely to manage resources.

The simple fact that the most densely populated (most people per square kilometer) countries are among the most prosperous countries (Japan and the Netherlands) should prove that population density is not the enemy. False philosophy, economic slavery, restrictive government policies, paganism (with all its related sinful practices) and the failure to practice Christian principles is the real cause of social injustice and poverty. The United States alone could feed thirteen billion people with its present resources and available technologies. The development of ways to utilize the resources of the earth in sustainable and non-polluting ways has hardly been started. Shortages of energy, clean air and fresh water are the result of unwise policy, not the necessary fruit of increased population.

The oceans of the earth are full of oxygen and hydrogen. Hydrogen is a non-polluting fuel that produces water when combined with oxygen. Energy can be used to separate water into its components, and the potential energy is preserved until the hydrogen and oxygen are recombined in fuel cells or engines to utilize the energy. The hydrogen-oxygen system of utilizing energy resources offers one of many ways to develop non-polluting energy systems to meet the needs of expanding populations without harming our environment.

The Energy Towers project being developed by Israel has the ability to take heat energy from the atmosphere and convert it into electrical energy, and to convert salt water to fresh water in the process. The costs for constructing the project are substantial, and development is slow for that reason. But when there is enough political and economical support for the project, it will move forward, and usher in a new era of utilization of solar energy. Energy Towers is a solar energy collector that can harvest the energy of the air, letting the atmosphere serve as the collector, and harnessing the energy so that it can be used in non-polluting ways. Energy Towers and related technology can reverse the warming of the earth from hothouse gases by reducing dependence on carbon-dioxide producing energy systems, and by harvesting heat from the air.

Mankind has the God given ability to manage and develop created resources. Population is not the problem. Children are a blessing, as the Bible teaches. Changes in economic and religious philosophies are needed to produce increased opportunity in impoverished societies. Therefore the preaching of the gospel is of first importance for increasing spiritual and social values, and the demonstration of the golden rule (do for others as you would have them do for you) is a necessary companion to such preaching. We must be careful to keep the solutions offered by pagan worldviews from clouding our perception of how things really are. There is no shortage of resources to provide for the needs of expanding world population. There is a shortage of Biblical perceptions and practice among the people of the world. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” When there is a Christian worldview, needs of fellow Christians will be met, as Paul encouraged in 2 Cor 8:10-15 –

“10 And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.”

“13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’” NIV


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