Orissa - 9th to 15th February 2018 - NEW!

 ORISSA -  BURNING BRIGHTER

Following my last trip to Khandamal, Orissa, (Orissa-17th-19th Nov 2017), Pastor Pradeep contacted me and asked to schedule a second convention, as all the pastors who had attended the first meeting had been blessed and had agreed to co-operate to have a bigger meeting. I had been in contact with Bro. Manas Pradhan about the arrangements and he and his father, Bro. Thomas Pradhan said that they were also arranging a three day meeting in Baripada, another district in Orissa.


7th Feb:

Our flight from Coimbatore to Hyderabad had been booked for 9:15 am on the morning of the 7th of February. However, the airlines, for some reason, had preponed the flight for 7:30 am. 

So we were up by 4:00 am and off for the airport by 5:00. We reached Hyderabad around 9 o’clock and had a long five hour wait until we boarded the 1 pm to Kolkata via Bhubaneswar. 

By the time we touched down in Kolkata, West Bengal, it was 4:00 pm. The weather was chilly, and a smiling Bro. Manas Pradhan greeted us at the airport. 




Rasgullas
Kolkata, the land of rasgullas (famous Bengali sweet) and seasoned Metro travellers was a concrete jungle in every sense of the word. 

Bro. Manas drove us to his home in an apartment building a little away from the main city area. On the way we whizzed past an array of festooned lamp posts, (meant to hide the city’s clutter and make its roadways more attractive we guessed), numerous posters of Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee proclaiming development projects, Kolkata’s own Big Ben, and cars, cars, and more cars.

We felt as if we had stepped into the black and white era again. The city has preserved a lot of its old world charm, its multitude of heritage buildings looming up like post card cut outs against the grimy background of the modern city, its brick constructions, and its 8 feet gullis or alleys. 


The Bengali people don’t seem to believe in external decoration or renovation in any way. The structures we saw all around us in abundance were unplastered crumbling edifices just seeming to be biding their time. It was very different from what we had seen in other metro cities. As Bro. Manas told us, the folks in Calcutta, which at one time had been the princely state of Bengal were known mostly for their intellect, and their love of art, poetry, and culture, (and not very well known for their preservation of architecture modern or otherwise.)




Trams still run here, alongside the never ending expanse of four wheelers on one side, and the underground Metro rail on the other. And not forgetting the still prevalent cycle and hand rickshaws – that nostalgic piece of the old Calcutta.

Tram line
Cycle Rickshaw
Hand Rickshaw
We made our way across the famous New Howrah Bridge, suspended over the River Hooghly, connecting the cities of Howrah and Kolkata, and famed to be the world's busiest cantilever bridge, originally built by the British in 1941.



The congestion got to us more than anything, and we were glad when we reached Bro. Manas’s place. 

It was almost 6:30 pm by the time we were home due to the traffic. The drive had given us a chance to talk about the meeting arrangements and other details regarding the ministry goings-on in Orissa.

Bro. Manas had come to Kolkata almost 8 years ago. He lives in the Howrah Maidan area with his wife Fancy, and his adorable daughter Caroline.

As we had been up very early that morning we had some rest before dinner. During dinner, Bro. Manas told us about how he had found a life in Kolkata, about his father’s coming to the truth so many years ago, and about how the ministry in Khandamal, Orissa had begun.

As our conversation once more drifted over the riots of 2007 - 09, Bro. Manas told me that the words of our God, "Vengeance is mine, I shall repay", came true for many of the affected families in Khandamal in a very curious way indeed! It had been reported that wild elephants had come out of the forests and wrecked the fields, the stores, the barns, and the houses only of those who had maliciously attacked Khandamal's christian families during the riots. All other fields and homes had been spared in certain villages. God had executed his judgment in such an amazing way!

We fell into our pillows that night and woke late the next morning. 

8th Feb:

Bro. Manas had taken a few days leave of absence from his job, so we had some good fellowship that morning.

We were due to leave Kolkata for Baripada town that night, so Bro. Manas suggested we visit the local historical monument – the Victoria Memorial Hall. We also wanted to meet Pastor Andrew, one of Kolkata’s first end time preachers.

We passed Eden Gardens on the way, the largest cricket stadium in India, and the second largest in the world, built in 1864.


   


The Victoria Memorial Hall had been initiated by the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, engineered by William Emerson, and erected in the early 1900s, as a tribute to the late Queen Victoria of the British Raj. The structure was well maintained unlike other monuments we had seen in India.



One thing that struck me about the monument was the sculpture of an angel on the very top of the structure, blowing a trumpet.😊 Significant if I do say so myself!


We took a walk through Calcutta’s history for an hour and then made our way to Pastor Andrew’s home in Creek Row, Kolkata.

Pastor Andrew who had been a Methodist Pastor in Kolkata, had come to the truth in the 1970s. He was one of the first set of end time preachers to take the message across West Bengal. He lives in a simple cottage in Creek Row with his wife, and younger son.

Pastor Andrews reminisced about the old days. He was among those who had been in Calcutta when the Rev. Billy Graham had first come to India. He recalled how the minister had said that “Calcutta was the graveyard of evangelism.”, and how in complete contrast to that statement the truth had been carried from Kolkata all over West Bengal.  

Pastor Andrew had received the message in 1974, and has steadily followed through all these years watching the growth of the End time ministry throughout India, the rise and fall of many stalwart preachers, and the intrusion of several false doctrines into the message churches. We recalled together the Nasrapur Convention of 1994 where Pastor Andrew had served as the first Hindi language interpreter for Bro. Richard Gan.

Even at his age, Pastor Andrew still travels to wherever it is from he receives a call within India and delivers the truth to end time as well as denominational churches regarding the Mystery of the Godhead and Baptism in Jesus’ Name. He is well connected with ministers all over India, and well respected for his experience in the faith.

I shared with him ‘MY INDIA’ vision the Lord had given me, and was glad for his encouragement. (Read about My India Vision) It was a blessing to fellowship with this modest, soft-spoken teacher with the tender smile and the giant personality. I was happy to learn that unlike reports I had heard about him, he had remained steadfast in the faith, not wavering an inch in the face of all the mess that had been created in message circles. We bid him goodbye after a good hour, and made our way back to Bro. Manas’s place.

There were cars everywhere and no parking areas. So cars on the road, then more cars lined up one against the other on the sides of the narrow streets we passed, with people leaning up against them and having a cup of chai from a nearby tea vendor, folks sitting on the bonnets to catch a breather, and even hawkers laying out their wares on the windshields. It was a sight J.



We had to leave that night by sleeper bus for Baripada. So after a quick repacking session and a Roti dinner, we left for the bus station which happened to be a dozen buses parked in no particular order on the sides of a dark street, with the respective travels office being a bunch of men punching tickets under a sun umbrella.

Our bus which had been due to leave at 10:30 pm, slowly made its way out of the silent city at 11:00, and we were finally off to Baripada. I and Sis. Benita had the upper bunk sleeper, while Bro. Manas had opted for a seat below.

9th Feb:

It was around 3:30 am when we were roused from our slumber by an alarmed Bro. Manas yelling that we needed to get down because the bus was on fire. He was being pushed ahead by a dozen screaming passengers behind him. Sis. Benita had been praying in mid slumber for our safe journey all along the way, and foggy with sleep, she asked me if we had reached. I told her to alight from the bunk, and we groggily made our way down and out of the bus barefoot. What had happened was that the back tire which happened to be just below where we had been sleeping had gotten overheated and that had accounted for the burning smell which had alarmed a set of passengers and sparked the mad stampede to the front of the bus. We were on the border of Baripada, and by then it was 4:00 am. There were a few kilometers more to go and the bus guys said they would drive slow the rest of the way so as not to overheat the tires again, and get it changed once they reached town.

So we sleepily climbed into our bunks again and then journeyed the remaining distance to town knowing in our hearts that Satan was upto something and praying that his plans would be overturned.

We reached at 5:00 am, an hour later than expected, and Pastor Ashok was at the bus stand to welcome us in his Bolero. We climbed in after the usual greetings and recounted the events on the bus to him. He told us he too had been praying for our safe journey.

Pastor Ashok lives in a modest 2 bedroom rental cottage in Madhuban, Baripada, with his wife Aparna, and his three children Arub, Aaron, and Annie. The cottage was a bit gloomy, the reason being a couple of years ago, there had been a flood in the area, and the flood waters had flown in and reached 8 feet upto the ceiling. So the walls were a bit damp having not been repainted.

The couple made us feel so much at home. They gave us a room all to ourselves, and once we had settled in, we sat back for some good early morning fellowship over cups of strong ginger tea.

Pastor Ashok spoke Hindi haltingly, so Bro. Manas acted as interpreter as he shared with me his testimony and call to the ministry. Pastor Ashok had been working as a minister in the IPC in Orissa, and had laboured hard for the people of Baripada. The Lord had given him the gift of healing, and he began his ministry travelling from village to village, telling people about the Lord Jesus Christ, and asking if they had prayer requests. Whoever he prayed for were soon delivered of their problems or healed. And so his fame spread abroad across Baripada as a Christian faith healer. Soon, people of all faiths were flocking to his door with all sorts of problems and diseases. Pastor Ashok would pray for them, and they would be healed. Of all the people who were healed only around 30 % came back and enquired about the God who had delivered them. To these he would preach Jesus Christ and repentance from sin, and they readily accepted the Word in simple faith.

Around this time, Pastor Ashok had received the truth about baptism in Jesus’ Name, and had decided to leave his denominational support, in faith. He spoke to his mentor, Bro. Manas’ father Thomas Pradhan, who had encouraged him in the early stages of his ministry, and to Bro. Manas himself who at that time had managed to secure a job in Kolkata. With their support, Pastor Ashok addressed his denominational superiors when they came down from the South Indian state of Kerala and asked him about his teachings regarding baptism. They told him that they would not stand for it, and that they were withdrawing all support for the mission in that area, and would arrange for him to be transferred to another area.

The IPC, having seen the good work Pastor Ashok had been doing in that place, had gone ahead and, a few years ago, built a small church in a tribal area called Suvarna Manjari for the local people whom he had led to the Lord, to congregate. When they announced the Pastor’s transfer to the congregation, the entire tribal populace rose up with one voice and said,

“He is our Pastor, and we will stand only with him. He has labored so hard for us and taken care of us like little children all these years. If you try to take him away from us because you need your church building for your organization, then we are ready to vacate the building. You can keep the building for yourself. We require only the teacher, and we are ready to worship under the trees and in the forests. We don’t need any building.”

Pastor Ashok fondly recalled that day his little flock in Suvarna Manjari had stood up so strongly for  the truth, and for him.

“It was the Lord’s doing.”, he said, “and the leaders seeing that there was nothing else they could do went ahead and left the building to us as well.”

Pastor Ashok still prays for all those in need who come to his doorstep in desperation. He travels bearing the truth to four villages in the district, one of which is the tribal area mentioned above. He told us that he has had the grace of baptising almost 7 to 800 people in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hearing his testimony brought a holy gladness into our hearts and we rejoiced as the brothers withdrew to give us a little time to ourselves before we were ready for the meetings.

We spent the morning sleeping off our tiredness, as we hadn’t got much rest on the bus ride. We got up to a simple lunch of field rice, lentils, and green peas, and met the children, and Sis. Aparna's brother’s family who lived next door.

We spent some time in prayer as the meeting had been scheduled for 6:00 pm that evening in a tent in a village a little distance away.

We left the house at 5:00 pm, and picked up a few believers on the way to the meeting place. We passed grassy fields dancing in the evening breeze, sodden rice paddies, and scores of hungry oxen on the way. As we drew near the meeting place, Sis. Benita thought she saw a couple of men staring at us menacingly. She made nothing of it at the time, but we recalled it later on.

The meeting had been arranged on the land of a brother named Lambodhar Singh. He had been a screen actor in Orissa’s film industry, and had also been a Village politician a few years ago before he came to the Lord. The car stopped on a mud path leading across a small field that we had to cross to get to the tent.

The tent in the distance

There was no electricity there, so the brethren had arranged for a diesel generator. Most of the people who had gathered there were tribals, and as was their custom, they washed our feet as soon as we got there. It was strange and at the same time heartening to see the ordinance our Lord had laid down for us was already ingrained in the culture of these tribal people, as they lovingly washed the dirt off our feet and paid us their respects. 

Watch: Feet washing culture of the tribals of Baripada

Pastor Ashok and the congregation greeted us each with a bouquet of field flowers as is the custom in Orissa; and after a brief introduction of my ministry, handed me the service.

Bro. Manas served as interpreter.


My subject for the simple folk gathered there that night was “The Five Wounds of Christ.” I spoke about my conversion, of Christ’s great love for his creation, of the redeeming power of the cross, and of His coming back for all those who would stand faithful for Him even in the midst of temptation. Even the men folk listened with tears welling up in their eyes, being touched by the words of Christ on the cross.

I urged the congregation to stand strong even in the face of tempests and persecution, and told them that I had been really blessed to be given a chance to witness on their soil – the place that had seen much persecution against Christians in the preceding years.

Bro. Manas interprets the message in the Oriyan tongue


We had taken our projector along as we had found how great the response had been in displaying the images relating to what we were preaching to the simple folk, some of whom hadn’t even had an education. They found the message come alive before their eyes as they saw the pictures of the cat-o-nine-tails (the whip used to lash the condemned in Roman times), and the actual size of the nails and the crown of thorns that our Lord had had to wear.


Pastor Ashok Deagal


After that night’s meeting we had a chance to meet with Bro. Lambodhar Singh. 

With Bro. Lambodhar Singh

He told us about his background before he came to the Lord. His family had been very religious, and had even been involved in black magic. They had been very rich, with land, and fields, and many material comforts, but the more they turned to witchcraft for their successes, the more they suffered bodily sickness, injury, and the loss of their worldly goods. At last, Bro. Lambodhar went to a Pentecostal Mission meeting, where they printed out prayer request cards for deliverance and healing. Each card cost Rs. 50 as a token of registration. So Bro. Lambodhar paid the required fees and put his trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and soon with prayer, his situation improved, until he was able to get back on his feet.

After a while he received the truth and was baptized in Jesus’ Name. With baptism he received a new strength to share in prayer for others, for their healing and deliverance, and when he saw the results through the power of Jesus’ Name, he was greatly encouraged, and wanted to go back to the mission to serve as a prayer warrior. When he went back to the mission though, he saw how commercial salvation had become: Card prayers had gone up to Rs. 100/-, Prayer for 6 months continually for a particular cause or person cost Rs. 300/-, and for the full year -  Rs. 600/-. It was then that he recalled what the Lord had said in Matthew 10:8: “Freely, you have received, freely give.”

After this Bro. Lambodhar decided that he would use all his resources to build a small prayer hall for people to congregate, so that he could pray for them and lead them to Christ. He showed us pictures of many who had been healed from paralysis, muteness, and delivered from evil spirits, and many who had turned from idol worship. I told him, he needed to give himself more to the Word, and that healing and deliverance through prayer in Jesus’ Name were signs for others to believe in the Son of God who had come not only to heal their bodies, but to save their souls as well.

As the congregation gathered around fires outside the tent, and the women folk began their mass cooking for the crowd, we left for home, where after a hot dinner, we rested ourselves with some elaichi tea and discussion about the wonderful response at the meeting, and the next day’s program, before we called it a day.

10th Feb:

The next day’s meeting was supposed to begin at 10:00 am. However for some reason, even though we had been ready by 9:00 that morning, things seemed to be moving along very slowly. At around 10:30 am, we received a call from Pastor Ashok saying that, he had gone to the meeting site a little earlier to check to see if the generator was working alright, and if all were assembled for the morning’s worship session. At that time, a few sisters who had stayed back to cook breakfast for the small group of believers who had stayed the night in the tent, reported that, when they had gone to the marketplace to buy provisions for lunch, they had been warned by the wife of one of the prominent anti-christian leaders in the area, that violence was being planned on the little gathering on Bro. Lambodhar Singh’s land. A mob of men who had gathered in another area in the village close by for a Hindu festival, were incensed when they heard the Christian songs and preaching, and went from village to village during the night harnessing support for the next day’s attack on the Christian meeting. The women said that nearly 500 men had been ready to rally against the ‘menacing’ Christian gathering. On hearing this Pastor Ashok prayed silently in his heart seeking the Lord’s will.

The meeting arrangements were still in progress.

As Pastor Ashok and Bro. Lambodhar Singh made their way back to the jeep, they were stopped at the start of the field path we had crossed the earlier day by a couple of men threatening them with violence if they started the meeting that day. A few other brethren joined them and a heated argument ensued. Soon, men with bikes and cars arrived in droves and joined the small band. They warned Pastor Ashok, that the area was theirs as well, that the gathering there had been causing a disturbance, that the teachings that they had heard the night before were offensive to their religion, and that if he still went ahead with the tent meeting in that area, they were not to be blamed for what happened.

Pastor Ashok said, that he didn’t want any violence, and that they would see what could be done. At that time, a few members of the congregation who had heard the message the day before, and recalled me saying, that they had to stand for the Lord ‘no matter what’, refused to leave the meeting place, choosing instead to brave whatever was supposed to happen. It was then that Bro. Manas contacted me, and Pastor Ashok asked if it was ok if they shifted the venue to another part of town. I agreed, and then transport was arranged to shift the women folk and the children from the tent to a meeting hall in Baripada town, arranged by Bro. Lambodhar Singh.

It was during this time that I asked the brothers and sisters around the world, over WhatsApp, to pray for the meetings, for the safe transport of the congregation to the other meeting place, and for no violence to occur in the remainder of the time. I heartily thank all those who joined in prayer for us that day.

Even as the women and children were being shifted in autos, and Pastor Ashok’s own jeep to the other part of town, the mob had rounded up more of a crowd of enraged attackers awaiting the slightest confrontation to spur a whole scale attack.

Baripada was notoriously famous for its antagonism against Christians. It had been the site of the killing of the Australian missionary, Reverend Graham Staines and his two sons in 1999.


I shudder to think what would have happened if we had not been forewarned by those women in the bazaar. Or if the men had not threatened Pastor Ashok head on before the meeting had begun. We all thanked God for revealing the devil’s plans before harm was done. It was His hand that had led us this far, and His hand that would lead us through the rest of the meetings. It was later that Sis. Benita reminded us of the men she had seen looking at us menacingly as we had driven to the meeting site the previous day.

The hall in Baripada town was smaller, and could not accommodate the entire congregation, so Pastor Ashok told me the meetings had to be split into two sessions. However the meeting began only by 4:00 pm, as all the equipment and utensils had to be shifted to the other meeting site along with people, and this had caused a delay.


The lighting in the meeting hall was dim, and it was a chore to get our projector set up because of the lack of electric outlets, but the meeting finally got underway.




After a short worship session, Pastor Ashok encouraged the congregation, and handed the service over to me. 

I thanked them all for having the courage to stand fast even when they had been facing such trouble that morning.




That evening my message was on ‘The Spirit Man’. I touched on the creation of man first, as a spirit being: the male and female attributes of God in unison, the believer’s spiritual conflict, and the redemptive work of Christ as ordained in the mind of God before the foundations of the world. I spoke about how Christ was the mind of God revealed in mortal flesh, the great ‘I Am’ who had moved on the face of the waters before the recreation of the world, once again revealing Himself in a human vessel to Peter as He walked on the waves of the Sea of Galilee.


The congregation listened in rapt attention and greatly rejoiced as they grasped the Mystery of the Godhead. These simple people, most of whom were without an education, farmers, labourers, field workers, shopkeepers, all shouted out a chorus of Halleluiah’s on receiving the beauty of the revelation of The One God of Israel.


There were a few in the congregation who had had doubts regarding baptism and the Godhead, but by the end of the preaching, they said that all their questions had been answered.





After a wonderful service, Pastor Ashok shared with us the testimony of a man named Bro. Mohansa Singh. He had been baptized in Jesus’ Name only a few weeks before he was bitten by a Cobra as he worked in the fields. Pastor Ashok had been ministering in another village at the time, and so the brother had called him on his cell phone and asked for prayer. Pastor Ashok urged him to get to the hospital as soon as possible, as the bite could be fatal.

“I will pray that nothing happens to you on the way to the hospital. But don’t waste time, you must seek treatment immediately.”, Pastor Ashok said.

The brother on the other end of the line said, 

“Pastor, I was baptized only a few days ago in the powerful Name of Jesus Christ. You have told me there is power in this Name to heal the sick, and raise the dead to life. There is power in this Name to save my soul, and unite me with God, then how come you now say, you will pray that no harm comes to me until I reach the hospital? How come you tell me to go so far to seek treatment for something I know my God can heal even now? Please Pastor, pray for me, that Jesus may heal me right now, for I know He can. It’s on my risk I ask you this, and if I die, well…I know I’ll anyhow be going to see my God.”

Well, what is a Pastor to do in such a situation? So Pastor Ashok prayed, and Bro. Mohansa said Amen, and he is alive until today. He told us that, just as Pastor Ashok had finished praying over the phone, he had realized that his faith had healed him, as he had felt the warmth returning up his legs and into his spine.

Another remarkable testimony was that of this brother’s son Rajnikanth Singh. The boy had been listening to his father’s stories about Jesus Christ, and he was fed up on his insistence for him to come to church and accept the truth of God’s Word. So the boy up and ran off to the city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh with a couple of his friends to search for employment and get away from his family.

While there his roommate was possessed by an evil spirit. He would cry and yell out fiercely in the nights and act unnatural. Rajnikanth was terrified but at the same time, he remembered the story of how his father had been saved from death by a cobra bite because he had prayed to Jesus. So he decided to pray for his friend in the Name of Jesus Christ, believing that he would be set free. The spirit left the boy that night, and this served to confirm Rajnikanth’s faith in Jesus Christ. He called his dad from Hyderabad saying that he was coming home, and that he wanted to be baptized in Jesus’ Name as soon as possible.

This was how Bro. Mohansa's family came to the Lord. There were numerous testimonies of healing and deliverance, but too many to document, so we have included just a few in this report.

After the service, we took a walk outside in the evening cool, then sat around the cooking fire on thatched cots and watched the village food being prepared. 



I spoke to Pastor Ashok, Bro. Lambodhar, and Bro. Manas about the difference of ministry in the cities and villages of India.

We were served dinner in Bro. Lambodhar’s home, and then left for our quarters. 

11th Feb:

The next day we were to be at the tribal village Suvarna Manjari by 12 noon for the Sunday service there, and then back at Baripada town for the concluding service that evening.


Suvarna Manjari is situated around 40 kms from main Baripada. The road was scenic. We passed golden fields dotted with speckled sheep, and pink water lily ponds in full bloom.



A village house


The village was in the heart of the tribal lands. There were only large stretches of sparsely vegetated land all around as we drew near to the meeting place. It was in a very isolated part of the district, but as we got closer, the sound of tribal drums and jubilant singing filled the air.


The story about the conversion of the people of this little tribal village was even more remarkable. Pastor Ashok told us that he used to travel through the district on foot, and that he had walked almost 40 kms, stopping every now and then in tribal homes for a cup of tea or a glass of water. All he did was pray for the people there, and tell them about the love of Jesus Christ.

Later, Bro. Thomas Pradhan bought him a bicycle, and then a second hand car for him to travel by. 

One day when he was passing through the village on his bicycle, three men were lying in wait to kill him on the way. They were greatly incensed because this man had been teaching a new way of living that was questioning their traditional ancestral beliefs. They had planned to use dart guns, which they used to kill wild animals that came to prey on their flocks. However, what happened was, each time one of the men targeted Pastor Ashok on his bike, they saw another man’s figure, much like an apparition, come in between and block their view. This happened three times before they realized they were dealing with the God this pastor was preaching about. And so, the three tribal men came to pastor Ashok, laid down their dart guns, confessed that they had been lying in wait to kill him, then told him about their experience of seeing the hazy figure blocking their target view.

"We understood that it was your God walking with you, and protecting you, and we want to serve that God.", they said and surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.

One of those men is an elder in the Suvarna Manjari church today.

Suvarna Manjari Church building




The worship session was very soulful, the tribal melodies strangely moving, and as we watched the men and women move their feet in reverent dance, as was their custom, we too felt our spirits soar with joy for the work the Lord was doing in this land.



My message that Sunday morning was ‘Glory to glory’ – the believer’s walk with God, the stages of Christian maturity, and the transformation of the saints - a simple message for those people of simple faith, which was very well received. I also shared my testimony, and touched on the Creation of Man, the Mind of the Father – a reiteration of what I had spoke on in Baripada, the day before.




While showing them some clips there, the electricity went out, and the congregation was very disappointed, so I told them of all I had heard of their great faith and asked them to pray for the electricity to come back on. In those areas, once there was a power cut, it went on for hours together, and there was no telling when the electricity would be back on again. However, the people prayed as I continued the message, and what do you know? Within 15 minutes, we had the electricity back on again, with the little flock shouting out in joy.


 

At the end of the service, many came forward to be prayed for, mainly for their families to be saved.

There was a brother in the church, who had been serving as the local Village Sarpanch (Village Headman) in that district. A few days ago, he had been saved, committed his life to Christ, and had been baptized, and left his old life behind. Enraged, his own daughter had filed an FIR with the local police, blaming Pastor Ashok for forcible conversion. At this, the brother himself submitted his statement to the authorities stating that his own family never bothered about his welfare, but that the little congregation in Suvarana Manjari were like real family to him. It was they who had been caring for his needs for quite some time now, and he defended the Pastor and his right to choose his own religion under the constitutional laws. The Lord was on his side, and the matter had been resolved only a few days before we got there.

The flock in Suvarna Manjari has been led beautifully in the truth. These were the people who had stood by their shepherd in the face of denominational pressure, and I trust will continue to stand for the Lord in the harsher days of Ecumenical persecution before the coming of the Lord.

After the service, the entire congregation came forward with their tithes of field rice and grain to be prayed for. This was what helped to sustain Pastor Ashok’s family.


By the time we had finished, it was 3:00 pm, and we left for the second service in Baripada which was to begin by 5:00 pm.


The tribal women of Suvarna Manjari with Bro. Manas

Place where believers are baptized



After lunch and a bit of rest, we were ushered to the meeting hall where I preached on Bible Pictures – the Characters and Symbols of the Holy Spirit. I touched on how God had been revealing Himself to different men of God over the ages in different forms, and how He had revealed Himself – the great ‘I Am’, to us as Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 



The congregation was greatly blessed.


After the service, a few people came forward to be prayed over, and needed clarification regarding baptism.

Pastor Ashok informed me that around 35 people were ready for baptism, and that if we had more time, he would have been glad of my joining him for the baptism service. Regrettably, we had to leave early the next morning. 

(On reaching Coimbatore, I learned from Pastor Ashok that 38 people had been baptised in Baripada)


Bro. Manas had to leave by bus that night, and so we retired home early and bid him goodbye.

The meetings at Baripada had come to an end, and the next day we were bound for Khandamal, almost 600 kms away. We had originally planned to take a sleeper bus to Bhubaneswar that night, and then another bus from the Bhubaneswar bus stand to Khandamal. However, Pastor Ashok told us that he would take us there in his jeep. 

It would be a 12 hour journey but we could stop from time to time along the way. And we could get a good night’s sleep before we left that morning. So we agreed.

12th Feb:

We were up at the crack of the dawn the next day, and were on the road by 6:00 am. We dozed most of the way and didn’t stop until lunchtime past Bhubaneswar (Orissa's capital city), at a small diner where we sampled the local vegan specialities.  


After that it was a never ending journey into the hills of Khandamal. Pastor Ashok’s brother in law and family had also joined us for the ride, so it was a bit cramped in the back seat, but we made do the best we could. The brothers took turn driving on the hills, and we felt fresher as the air got cooler.

When we stopped to take a breather, Pastor Ashok received a call from Pastor Mishra, an elderly minister who had been responsible for first spreading the truth in Khandamal. He told me that he had been praying for my ministry, and invited me to come preach to his congregation the next time I was in Orissa.

The news of the planned attack in Baripada had spread throughout the villages of Orissa, and many of the ministers had been praying for our safety. This news greatly warmed me, as I considered it a great blessing to come labour in a land where Christians had met with so much of hatred and hardness in times past. It was the labour of these faithful ministers who plodded on despite the attacks on their churches, despite the harshness from the fellow men they were serving, despite the difficult circumstances they had to face each day, just in the hope of seeing the harvest God had kept in store.

We had some car trouble along the way, so that set us back a good hour or so, and by the time we reached the Phulban junction where the other family got off, it was around 6:30 pm, a whole 12 hours of travelling. It was another 70 kms from Phulban to our destination village in Khandamal. So Bro. Thomas Pradhan had phoned with instructions to drop us off at a lodge in a place called Udaigiri, some 50 kms from Phulban, knowing that we would be weary of the travel. All in all we had travelled by road, some 14 hours that day.

We were met at Udaigiri by Bro.Uday Nayak who took us out to a grand dinner at a local restaurant after depositing our luggage at the lodge. Sis. Benita was dozing into her food due to travel sickness, and although we were famished we could eat only a little.

Once the brothers dropped us off at our room, we doused ourselves with gallons of hot water to wash off the tiredness of the trip, and then fell into our bed and slept till 8:00 am the next morning.

13th Feb:

Pastor Ashok came to collect us at 10:00 am, along with Bro. Thomas Pradhan and Pastor Reuben of Raipalli church. We bundled our luggage into the waiting red Bolero bound for a village called Dimbri Guda (‘The village of figs’) where the meetings were to be held. Dimbri Guda was around 50 or so kms from Udaigiri district in the Phiringia block.

We passed herds of buffalo grazing in the sparse  pasture lands, as the Bolero ate up the miles over the rough terrain. We dipped in and out of several primitive villages with their mud houses and cow dung cakes patted on the barks of trees and left in the sun to dry. The soil was red here and the brother told us the area was known for it ginger and turmeric plantations.

(Left to right: Pastor Reuben, Pastor Ashok, myself, and Bro. Thomas Pradhan)
Village Homes


Cow dung cakes plastered on a tree to dry

Dimbri Guda was a small village where Hindus and Christians now lived side by side in harmony.


Dimbri Guda
The church building - "Good Tidings Mission Hall", had been built by a Methodist mission, and then left abandoned as there were not many church goers in years past. This church was then taken care of by several Christian groups who shared the premises for services over the years, and now finally rests in the care of Pastor Dhijavar Deagal, the pastor of the church in Dimbri Guda.


We reached at 12 pm, and were greeted with bouquets of wildflowers and joyous shouts of ‘Praise the Lord’, the moment our jeep stopped in the village.


Pastor Pradeep who had invited me the first time round, and who had taken the responsibility of arranging the conventions in Khandamal this time as well was there, along with the local Pastor Dhijavar Deagal, and several other ministers who had gathered to attend the 3 day convention.

We were to be accommodated in the house of Bro. Jagdish Singh.The building of his house was just being completed when we arrived, and he had graciously decided to give us a the master bedroom for our use. Several other believers from the surrounding villages were also being accommodated in the church and in the other rooms in his home. The electrical fittings were just being set up in the room when we came in, and Pastor Pradeep conveyed that the brother felt blessed to share his new home with us.


Bro. Jagdish lives in Dimbri Guda with his wife, and four daughters.

Pastor Pradeep
Pastor Pradeep informed us that we would have an introductory session before lunch, that is from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm, then lunch, and a time of rest before the second session began at around 4:00 pm.

We quickly freshened up and set up our projector for the evening meeting, but for some reason, our laptop wouldn’t come on. Sis. Benita was unsettled as we had planned to show the congregation so much, and after several frantic calls to our computer guy in Coimbatore and trying several ways to reboot it, she gave up.

Well, during the first session Pastor Pradeep introduced me and my ministry to the congregation in Dimbri Guda. After a rousing Oriyan worship session, I shared the testimony of my conversion, the happenings at Baripada, and encouraged the congregation in their Christian walk in the face of the difficulties they had to face in this part of India.






Pastor Pradeep's son, Bro. Rajesh was my interpretor.

Bro. Rajesh interpreting

As the session ended I told the congregation about the situation with our laptop, and asked them to pray for it to come back on if they really wanted to see all that we had planned to show them during the teaching sessions here. I recalled the incident in Suvarna Manjari where the prayer of those simple tribal folk was enough to get the electricity back on in that isolated rural area where there was no telling when the basis amenities we take so much for granted in the city (like water and electricity) would suddenly shut down.

So, the congregation prayed, and we went to our room. 

Sis. Benita tried all that she could, based on the instructions of our computer repair guy. We knew that we were in the middle of a wilderness, and the nearest computer repair shop was miles way, and we couldn’t very well take it apart to see what the problem was. Maybe it had been the long travel on the bumpy roads that had shocked it, ancient as it was. So we did what we could under the circumstances: we prayed. Then, the brothers said we could use the computer of a local student, but it would take some time to set up. As we were debating this, we thought we saw our beloved lappy blink. Sis. Benita said we should try one more time, and we did, and it was suddenly up and working again!

Well, there were smiles all round, and brimming cups of ginger tea to drink before we began the second session.

There were only around 70 people gathered the first day, with many expected on the morrow.




My subject for Khandamal was ‘The Mystery of Iniquity’, and that first day I began with ‘The Creation and Fall of Lucifer’, with texts from Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14, and Luke 5.

Bro. Rajesh interprets the message

After the session, the pastors who had gathered asked me to clarify The Serpent Seed, and Revelation 12 in the following sessions. After some good fellowship, I bid them goodnight.

That night we were dead tired, and retired early after a quick dinner.

14th Feb:

The next day, after our morning tea, we spent some time in prayer and then took in the crisp dawn scenery behind Bro. Jagdish's house. The sun was rising over the ginger fields, and there was a sharp chill in the air. The cauliflower patch in their backyard was budding, and the youngsters all gathered around for some spiritual conversation. They had so many questions but couldn’t quite communicate as they knew only Oriya, and I spoke only halting Hindi. Bro. Rajesh and Sis. Benita acted as the go-betweens and we did manage some conversation  before we had to get ready for the day’s meeting which began at 11:00 am.









My interpreter for that day was Bro. Philip, who was the official translator for the Voice of God Recordings into Oriya.


Bro. Philip interprets the message
There were around 150 people present.

For the first session that day, I reiterated the previous days teaching on ‘The Creation and Fall of Lucifer – The Beginning of Iniquity.’ I went on to Revelation 12 and 13, and spoke on The War in Heaven, then moved into an explanation of ‘The First Creation’ with texts from Genesis 1, and John 1. I managed to cover ‘The Fall of Man’, and ‘The Serpent Seed’, before we broke for lunch at around 2:30 pm.





Pastor Dhijavar Deagal

Church youth singing a special Oriyan christian chorus
The news of the meeting and the happenings in Baripada had spread even through Khandamal, and we were surprised by a sudden rush of people in the middle of the session. The crowd swelled to around 300, and the church hall was packed. It turned out that people from neighbouring areas had been informed by their relatives and friends, and the ministers told me that the people who had come in later had not even been invited for the meetings, because they had not planned on catering to so big a crowd.









During the second session, I cleared up a few questions regarding ‘The Original Sin’, at the behest of some of the ministers there. I then went on to expound how the Mystery of Iniquity that had begun in the heart of ‘the anointed cherub’ Lucifer, was planted in the seed of humankind through Eve’s sin, and embodied in Cain – ‘who was of the evil one’. I spoke on the 'Sacrifice of Cain and Abel', and its parallel for our times, 'The Mark of Cain', and then explained the origins of paganism carried on from the seed of Cain, and through Ham to Nimrod.





The crowd refused to move for lunch and asked me to continue a little longer. So, I went on to explain the pagan intrusions into Christianity that had begun in Babel – Sun worship, Mother and Son worship, The Ancient Trinity, The Nicean Council, and on to ‘The Great Compromise in Christianity’ today.




Many of the converts from Hinduism and ancestral worship had a lot of their questions answered, and the ministers who had had certain doubts regarding The Original Sin, and the War in Heaven also informed me that their doubts had been put to rest.




The focus of my subject in Khandamal was ‘The War in Heaven’ (ref: Rev 12) and ‘The Signs of the Coming of The Son of Man’, besides the natural calamities and biblical prophecies regarding wars and scientific discoveries, being “The Falling Away”, and “The Son of Perdition being revealed in our days”.


We sped through lunch and dove into the second session by 4:00 pm, as the crowd was eager to hear more, and we didn’t want to waste any more time. Pastor Pradeep told us we could break at 6:00 pm, and the people who had come across far distances could then take the bus back to their villages, and we could have a third session just for the local congregation.

During the second session, I spoke on ‘The Ecumenical Movement’, ‘The Beast System’, 'The Missing Colour of the Vatican' and ‘The Great Falling Away”, with texts from Revelation 13, 17, and Daniel 2 and 9.

We broke for tea at around 6:00 pm, with many of the ministers telling me that they would be there along with their congregations for the following day’s meeting as well. A few ministers who needed certain doctrinal clarifications stayed back for the evening teaching.

For the third session, I addressed the local congregation with regard to ‘The Believer’s Walk in Preparation for the Coming of the Lord.’, ‘The Rapture of the Bride’, and clarified some of the ministers questions regarding Revelation 13 and 17.




At the end of the meeting, the ministers had already joined together and were discussing a possible 5 days convention in the month of May, with plans to invite brethren from many other churches in the vicinity.

Bro. Rajesh told me that the youth too had learned a lot from the sessions, and were excited for the next day’s teaching.  We went for a long walk around the premises and then retired for the night after a hot roti dinner.

We slept well that night. The climate had gotten very chilly, the next day we felt like we were breathing out frost.

15th Feb:

That day during the first and second sessions from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, I touched on the subjects, “The Mother of Harlots”, “What Ecumenism meant for the Bride Saints”, “The 7 kings of Revelation” tied up with the prophecy in II Thessalonians 3, “The Rule of the Anti-Christ”, and Revelation 22.

The brothers Rajesh and Philip took turns interpreting for me that day.

I urged the ministers to put aside their differences based on a play of words and misquoted texts, and pray for the unity of the Bride. I entreated the congregation to stand together under the banner of Christ as one body in the faith that had once been delivered unto the saints instead of squabbling over petty matters that only served to divide the flock. I warned all those present of the great pressure that is to come against the Bride of Christ before she is taken up into glory, and if we were found fighting against each other over the Prophet’s quotes instead of standing with each other in battle, it would only serve to weaken our ranks and decrease the fruit of our labour in the Lord.



A sister being prayed over for healing




All those who attended confessed to being greatly blessed. The youth had many of their questions answered, and Pastor Dhijavar and Pastor Pradeep were warmed with the wonderful response to the meetings.


After lunch, many of those who had come from long distances bid us good bye, and set off into the evening mist for their respective buses and vans.






(Left to right: Pastor Pradeep, Bro. Thomas Pradhan, Bro. Uday Nayak)
In the third and final session, that evening, I took up the subject: “Glory to Glory” for the local flock.


The meetings were a great success, and I was at rest having done the work the Lord had committed me to come here to do.

After a wonderful meal, we had some one-on-one time with the local youngsters from church in our room, and used our youth group activities to teach them about "Walking in the Holy Spirit - Walking By Faith"

That night a few of the pastors gathered in our room to discuss future ministry endeavours and possibly a 5 day convention in the month of May this year.

Our flight the next day was due to depart from Bhubaneswar at 3:00 pm, and we had to be at the airport by at least 2:00 pm, so we had decided to rise early the next morning, and leave at least by 7:00 am. It would take us 5 hours to reach Bhubaneswar.

16th Feb:

The next morning, after gulping down giant cups of tea, we packed our stuff, and said goodbye to the loving brothers and sisters of Dimbri Guda and the few ministers who had stayed over.


Pastor Dhijavar Deagal's house

Bro. Jagdish and his nephew saw us off to the airport. We drove back down the hilly slopes of Khandamal and into the bustling highways of Orissa, our hearts resounding with the joyful rhythm of the Oriyan worship choruses we had heard, happy in the knowledge that no matter how far or in which corner of the world we are, if we are the Lord's children, He has a way to find us and keep us till His coming.

Indeed, what do we have in common with the people we minister to, save the bond of the blood of Jesus our Saviour, that unites us as one family and makes us care for each other with the same love we would show our own. Unrelated in any worldly sense, but one in the Lord, purchased as His own together - it is this that makes us love each other in the truth of God's Word.

We rejoiced at the simple faith of the people of Baripada, that could indeed move mountains; and the strong testament of the brethren in Khandamal, that had overturned hatred in the community they lived in.

We reached Bhubaneswar in record time. We were there by 1:00 pm, and in the air by 3:00. We landed in Hyderabad by 4:30 pm, and had a long wait there till 8:00 that night when we would catch our flight out to Coimbatore. Sis. Benita had been a bit unwell that morning, and was quite bad by the time we landed in Coimbatore. Her electrolyte count had dropped alarmingly, and we got treatment the moment we touched down at home. She has had time to recuperate and is now back to her her own jubilant self.

Do pray for the churches in Orissa, for the little congregations assembling in the hills and forests without buildings, for those who are battling for religious freedom within their own families, and for the tribal villages where Christ's fire is burning brightly.

Do also keep in prayer the meetings being planned in the summer of 2018 there, and for the ministers who plan to participate in organising the convention.

May the Lord smile on Orissa, and may the blood of those shed in that place light the way of salvation down every valley and forest trail.


 RISING FROM THE ASHES


Following through on MY INDIA vision, the Lord had been opening doors for me in different parts of India. And I had been especially praying for openings in new states where I had heard churches had undergone severe persecution.

I had been planning a ministry trip into Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. However my plans were tentative as I had not received a final response from the brothers there as yet. I gave myself to prayer as I had been told that the believers in these states were very hungry for the Word of God.

It was when I was in prayer that I received a call from a Pastor in Orissa. He told me that he had heard about me from some End Time preachers, had read my testimony on Bro. Richard Gan’s website, had gone through my blog, and wanted to know if I would be willing to come over to Orissa and preach.

I had heard about the Khandamal riots of 2008, and seen the live persecution videos that had been floating around whatsapp, and since then, had been praying earnestly for a chance to visit and preach there. In fact, it was after the 10 day Convention in Pune, that a brother showed me a video of the riots in Khandamal and asked me, "if you have a vision for India, then would you want to go to preach in places such as these?" It was from then on that my prayer for Orissa had begun.

Orissa has a long drawn out history of religious intolerance. Major incidents that had drawn international attention to the state were the Killing of Graham Staines, Australian missionary in 1999, and the Khandamal Riots of 2008.

Graham Staines was an Australian Christian missionary working with the Evangelical Missionary Society of Mayurbhanj, an Australian missionary society that was engaged in the education of poor and illiterate Hindu tribes in Odisha. He also worked among the leprosy patients in the region. On the night of 22 January 1999, he was sleeping in his station wagon when it was set afire. Graham and his two sons, ten-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were killed. 

(source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence_in_Odisha)

On 25–28 August, Hindu mobs set fire to many Christian settlements, and at least 45 people were killed. The violence damanged or destroyed an estimated 1,400 Christian homes and more than 80 places of worship. In addition, an estimated 18,500 Christians were forced to flee their villages to refugee camps "after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs".

On 1 January 2008 further violence was reported at several places. Houses and shops were torched at Phiringia, Khajuripada, Gochapada and Brahmanigaon by rioters on Tuesday night (1 January 2008).

According to a fact-finding team of the Odisha state chapter of the All India Christian Council (AICC), the violence in Kandhamal around Christmas time was perpetrated by Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) groups that killed at least more than 50 Christians and burned 730 houses and 95 churches. Hundreds of displaced Christians were in various relief camps set up by the state government.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence_in_Odisha)

(Some images of the Khandamal riots and post riot condition in the district)

 

        










It was providential that this Pastor, Pastor Pradeep, had called me just then, and I took it as confirmation from the Lord that I should go there.

The problem was I knew only manageable Hindi, and even though I could get on with a few words and understand what was being said, I found it hard to communicate with Pastor over the phone. However, we somehow managed to discuss some basic doctrinal points, he trying to grasp my English, and I floundering in my broken Hindi trying to make myself understood as best as I could. Anyway, at the end of the conversation, Pastor Pradeep was very satisfied with my explanations and my ministry introduction and expressed his desire to see me in Orissa soon.

His son Rajesh, knew English, and it was agreed that he would interpret my messages in the Oriya language during the meetings. The dates were set, and I was ready for my long expected journey to the state that had seen so much violence against Christianity over the years. I indeed felt blessed to be called here to preach. The Lord had honoured my prayer and was taking me into the heart of Khandamal.

Bhubaneswar Airport
The meetings were scheduled from the 17th to the 19th of November. I boarded my flight to Bhubaneswar via Hyderabad on Thursday, the 16th with the prayers of my church upholding me. I left Coimbatore by 11:15 am and was in Hyderabad by a half past 12. My next flight to Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, was at 3:00 pm. I reached Bhubaneswar by 4:30 pm.

Pastor Pradeep was waiting to receive me at the airport. He told me that the drive from Bhubaneswar into Khandamal by bus would take around 7 hours, and the sleeper bus he had booked was scheduled to leave around 9:45 that night. Pastor Pradeep had booked a room for me to rest awhile in a lodge above the State Bus Transport Station, and I was grateful, as my back had been giving me some trouble, and I needed to lie down for a while.

The capital of Orissa was in sad disrepair. The recent rains had flooded the mud roads, and the bus station was filled with chocolate coloured pools and the squelching of boots and tires. There were cows and dogs roaming around in abundance. And I had to walk over the sleeping bodies of a dozen dogs as I ascended the steps of the State run lodging house. It was certainly not the Bhubaneswar I had expected.





Bhubaneswar State Transport Bus Stand
A couple of pastors who were going to be attending the meetings the next day had come over to meet me. After a brief conversation in delicate Hindi, they left. I freshened up and had a snooze, and was up before 8 to prepare for the bus journey.

When I left Coimbatore, I was a bit unwell, and was wondering how I would get on. The issue was, my back had been acting up again and I was suffering from spasms now and then. In addition, for some reason, a day before I left I had been hiccoughing the whole day through. It was hilarious for a while, and then everyone began worrying about how I would preach with the hiccoughs, and it seemed like a fit because it just wouldn’t stop.

Well, it did stop that afternoon, and then started up again just as I began readying myself for the bus journey. My wife had asked me to buy some powdered mustard and take a pinch of it with a spoon of honey. It was supposed to be a home remedy, but I couldn’t seem to find the ingredients anywhere in the shops around the bus stand.

On the way to Raipalli
Anyway, me and my hiccoughs, and Pastor Pradeep made our way to Raipalli Village, in Udaigiri Block of Khandamal District by the 9:45 pm sleeper bus. The roads were uneven and bumpy and I was thankful Pastor had booked a sleeper so my back would suffer less of an impact. I couldn’t sleep a wink though, and just managed to lie in the small bunk till dawn.

We reached at 4:00 am the next morning. I was put up in the home of a retired teacher in the village: Bro. Thomas Pradhan. His family welcomed me warmly, ran me a hot bath, and made me feel at home. The meetings were set to begin around 10:00 am that morning, so I had some time to rest and meditate.

I slept till 8:00 am, had some fruit and biscuits for breakfast, and then sat out on the porch with my Bible, and a cup of ginger tea. My hiccoughs by this time, had mercifully stopped.

Raipalli was a small village surrounded by mountains and farmlands. The air was crisp and chilly. It was pleasantly cold, and the family informed me that it would have been still cooler if not for the recent rains. The rains in Orissa, I was told, increase the humidity in the atmosphere, and so make the cold more bearable. It was the opposite of Coimbatore, where the winter showers make the already cold air almost freezing around this time of year.


The people spoke a tribal dialect called ‘Kui’ (a dialect with Telegu influence) in addition to Oriya. The villagers ate simple food: rice, small rotis, and puris, and wholesome vegetable dishes with very little oil.

Khandamal district was a wild, hilly, and naturally beautiful place, home to numerous developing tribes. The elders were only now entertaining modern facilities, while the youngsters were quite techy and knowledgable.

As far as I could see, the State Government in Orissa had not aided in the development of its citizens in any measurable aspect. The state buildings and institutions I was told, were badly run, there was a scarcity of manpower everywhere, and no proper infrastructure for the people to get by. The roads were horrible, mostly patched up mud, and the cell phone network was almost non - existent in some areas.

I was ready for the meeting at 10:00 am. We had been expecting a crowd of around 200, but it had been raining steadily, and Pastor Pradeep wondered how many would actually show up.

The meetings were held in a church in Raipalli where Pastor Reuben leads the flock.

The church building still stands as a witness to the violence of those times, and within its walls, God has now raised living witnesses to his never failing love.

After the Church burnings, 2008 


The Church in Raipalli






Bro. Thomas Pradhan's house after the riots
Today, after repairs.

The meetings began by 11:00 am. Around 200 people were present. Many pastors from the surrounding villages were in attendance as well.


Only around 60 - 70 people could be accommodated inside the meeting premises, so chairs had been arranged for others to sit out on the portico.


Bro. Manas Pradhan, (Bro. Thomas’s son) who was employed in the Kolkata Metro / Railways, and spoke fluent English and Hindi, had agreed to interpret for me instead of Pastor Pradeep’s son. Bro. Manas was a member of Pastor Andrew’s congregation in Kolkata (Calcutta, West Bengal). The message was to be interpreted in Oriya.

That first day, I introduced myself, and told the congregation about my call, my vision, and my ministry. The message was: “Blow the Trumpet in Zion”. It was my chance to explain regarding Prophetic Awareness for the church in the last days.

I was able to preach for only around 50 minutes. I felt my tongue growing thick, and understood my travel sickess was catching up with me. I had endured a similar experience in Andaman, and so I closed the first session, and told Pastor that I needed a rest.

I went to bed without food, and was out like a light. Pastor Pradeep decided that I was in no shape for the second session and let me rest till night. In that day’s second session, he informed the attendees about my condition, and answered the queries of the congregation regarding the preaching in the first session.

I woke up at 8:00 pm, still groggy. It had been a combination of travel sickness and my pain medication that had incapacitated me. I was understandably embarrassed and apologized to Pastor Pradeep. He told me that he and Bro. Thomas had been really worried and wondered whether I needed a doctor. I told him that wouldn’t be necessary and that I would just sleep it off. He then told me that the congregation had been so joyful and roused with just that 50 minute message in the morning session, that they had all agreed to come again the next day, and bring others along as well to hear the next day's message. I was glad that he had handled the second session maturely and apologized again. He told me not to think of it and to get some rest so that I would be fresh and fiery the next day.

That night I slept off as soon as my dinner was done and found myself waking at midnight restlessly. I felt an urge in my spirit to pray, and so began to pray hard even though I felt drained out physically. From midnight till around 4:00 am that morning, I could sense several demonic powers oppressing me in that room. Every time I drifted off into a fitful sleep, I was roused again, and found myself praying. It was only after 4:30 am that I was able to slip into a deep slumber, and then suddenly I was awake again, maybe by 5:00 am. It was then that I could make out standing over me, a black horse. It was half-dream, half vision, but I remember I could hear the horse neighing and puffing out its breath on me, and I could see a shadowy black figure mounted on the horse. In my spirit I could feel my hands fending off the horse, trying to strangle it, and then I felt my lips move in rebuking the powers of darkness. I found myself speaking into the darkness: “Satan, I am not afraid of you. But you are afraid of the work that the Lord wants to do in this place through me, and that is why you have come here to trouble me. I rebuke you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” And in my spirit I felt my lips say the Lord’s Name: ‘Jesus Jesus Jesus’, and then suddenly the specter was gone, and I was wide awake. I felt tired out with this visitation and lay back down in prayer.

I realized it had been the territorial spirits of the place come to disturb the Lord’s work. And the black horse and rider reminded me of the third horse rider of Revelation 6.

“And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

And I received a message from the Lord: “Satan cannot harm the life and revelation of the Word that I desire to give to this people.”

Bro. Manas and Bro. Thomas knocked tentatively and questioningly on my door the next morning, 

“Pastor Ji???”

I responded that I was alright and got up for some food.

I felt surprisingly fresh and rested in spite of the events of the night. I felt the tiredness slowly leaving my body, and asked Bro. Manas if we could go out for a walk. We went out to the fields at around 6:30 am in the crisp dawn chill, and walked across the gently moving grass talking about our Lord.


Morning walk with Bro. Manas
As I felt the cold revive the sluggishness in my muscles, Bro. Manas began narrating to me his father Thomas’s experience during the riots of 2007.

“The attackers came in the night”, he said,

“They would suddenly wake us up, drive us out of our homes, and destroy the huts and little houses, with axes and hammers, then burn them to the ground. If anyone questioned them or even pleaded with them, they were assaulted, beaten, and left for dead.”

“Our attackers sometimes, were people we knew, people whom we thought had been our friends. They talked with us in the marketplace, they knew us, they laughed with us, they did business with us, and then here, suddenly, they were destroying our homes.”

“It was a terrible time, but once the violence died down, it became apparent that it had all been orchestrated with a political motive – to instill fear in the hearts of the people, to usher in a new government which could subdue the minorities, especially Christian groups which were well hated in Orissa. It had been the politicians who incited the mob riots and the violence to establish their own little kingdoms and dominions.”

“Later on, after the attacks became fewer, God intervened, and brought judgement on many of the attackers. A few of the men who had attacked us were found dead in their sleep for no explainable reason, and this bred fear among the others.”

“A few came to the affected families to make amends. They asked for forgiveness. They said, ‘We don’t know what came over us, why we did what we did. Please, can you ever forgive us?’”

“And so we as Christians forgave them, and now there stands a temporary peace between us. We have been left alone.”

“During this time, we received no aid from our sister churches in India, very little help from other brethren in the faith across the country. The denominational assemblies helped only their own. It was as if we had been completely isolated. So the churches within Orissa rallied together, and helped one another with whatever little we had.”

My heart went out to these brethren, as I tried to remember the videos I had seen, I tried to imagine living and preaching here in that time of violence, and my heart grew heavy for the pain they had suffered – in silence, and alone.

We walked back home to get ready for the meeting, and I had some Puri Bhaji for breakfast before I sat down to meditate.

That day there were around 250 people present for the meeting.

Pastor Reuben and Bro. Manas leading the worship

I could feel the congregation’s hunger the moment I stood in the pulpit. And the Lord led me to speak on The Ark of the Covenant and The Days of Noah. This teaching especially touched the pastors who were in attendance.




We broke for lunch at 1:30 pm, and were all settled in again by 3:00 pm.

In the second session, I spoke on the Symbolism of Noah’s Ark, the Lord’s Grace and Judgment, the scripture: “the elements shall melt with fervent heat”, and the Meaning of True Repentance with the text from II Peter 3.





 The congregation rejoiced greatly, and I felt the Lord’s hand moving mightily.

A few souls committed their lives to him and came forward for baptism.

Pastor Pradeep baptizing

The next day being Sunday, many of the pastors in attendance with a few members of their congregation had planned to go to their own churches to conduct the morning service and had said that they would be sorry to miss the morning session. However, after that day’s preaching, 5 pastors got together for a discussion, and at the end of it decided to shut down their churches for that Sunday and instruct their whole congregations to accompany them to the meeting place in Raipalli to attend the Sunday service there. Around 100 people who had to travel from far off places were accommodated in the church that night, so that they could attend the meeting the next day. The spiritual hunger and thirst of the people was palpable.

Most of the people in the congregation, although sound in basic Christian principles, were not very well schooled in reading their Bibles, and as such, when they saw the images and videos projected on the little white screen, it brought the Bible prophecies alive before their eyes, and made it easier for them to understand.


That Sunday, I preached on The 10 virgins, and gave the congregation a Bible Study on the History of the Church. I then shared the testimony of my conversion, and emphasized on The Spirit of Unity in the Bride of Christ.













Many came forward for prayer, and the service was concluded.

After the service, a few pastors came to me with certain doctrinal doubts, and the Lord gave me the wisdom to resolve them as best as I could.

The meetings had been successful. Pastors Pradeep and Reuben were grateful for the spiritual benefit to the flock, and joyous that all the pastors in the area had come together in a spirit of co-operation.


With Bro. Thomas Pradhan and pastors after the meeting

That evening I finally rested mentally, and Pastor Pradeep took me around the village just to get a glimpse of life in Khandamal.

We walked across the fields and farmlands, with a river running alongside, and talked about the Lord, me in halting Hindi once again, doing my best to understand his speech.




With Pastor Reuben and Pastor Pradeep


It was during this time that Pastor Pradeep shared with me the testimony of how the Lord had delivered him during the attacks.

He and his family had run away from their home as it was being destroyed. They ran away from the village into the forest, as this seemed like the safest place to be. As Pastor Pradeep was a known minister, he was especially marked. As it was night, they had kept hiding behind rocks, and hillocks, and making their way slowly into the darkness of the forest.

They met many others in the forest as well, all having been driven out of their homes, come to live in the isolation and darkness of the wild for fear of their lives. However there was no food to be found there in the wilderness, and no drinking water even. The adults were able to manage for a while, but the little ones were suffering.

So Pastor Pradeep decided to venture back into the fields near the village to find some food for the small group of escapees.

Pastor said he remembers his wife pleading with him not to go, but he told her, “I have lived my life, but you have to live for the children’s sakes. I live for Christ, and I will die for Christ.”

As he drew nearer to the villagers, he was recognized by a a few men who began suddenly chasing him with rods, knives, and flaming torches. "We're going to murder you!", they yelled as around 10 – 12 men pursued him across the fields into the forest.

With this he kept running without looking back, expecting at any time to be either knifed or clubbed to death. But as he ran farther and farther away, he heard a voice within him, saying, “Stop, look behind you.” He heard the voice twice more as he kept running, and turned back the third time he heard it:  "Turn back and look at them. I am with you. They cannot harm you." And as he turned, and looked straight at the men who were chasing him, he saw them suddenly look at him, then turn backwards and run away.

It was indeed an incredible testimony and I listened with joy and awe as he recounted the horror of those days, of being woken up by screams in the middle of the night, of being chased wondering when his last breath would come, and whether it would be painful to die, and later after his deliverance from death, how he returned to the village in the course of time to build up his broken life, just like his neighbors around him.

I was reminded of the incident in the garden of Gethsemane, when the army of the night came to seek out our Lord.

    "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? 

    They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
    As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground."

(John 18: 4-6)


It was the same 'I Am' who was with Pastor Pradeep that day, making his pursuers fall backwards and retreat. It was the saving hand of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To hear Pastor Pradeep's testimony click on the link below:-


To hear the Orissa Meeting Review go to:-

Orissa Meeting Review by Pastor Pradeep

Broken home, broken church, broken life – all repaired and rebuilt once more…the Christians of Khandamal have risen again, slowly and silently, but with greater faith in the living God they serve.






Sleep was sweet that night. I rejoiced in the labours of my fellow servants, whom God had preserved even in the midst of such persecution, and fell asleep praying for Orissa.

The next morning we left for Bhubaneshwar at 7:00 am in a hired car, the waking fields and trees whizzing past us on either side. On our way to the airport we met a brother named Ashok Deagal. He was a pastor with a ministry in Baaripada, Mayurbhanj district, who had unfortunately not been able to make it to the meetings. He came up to me, greeted me, and said he had heard about the meetings, and would I come and preach in his church the next time I was in Orissa? I replied I would be ever so glad to and we parted ways.

We reached Bhubaneswar at 1:30 pm. My flight was at 3:15 pm, so we had a quick lunch together and made plans for meetings in the future. Pastor Pradeep conveyed to me that the ministers who had been present for the 3 day meetings in Raipalli had already asked him to arrange for a second convention, and he would God willing be in touch with me over the next few days regarding this.

I bid goodbye to Pastor Pradeep and Bro. Rajesh and boarded Indigo Airlines for my 3:15 to Hyderabad. I had to stop over there for around 5 hours, as my connecting flight to Coimbatore was scheduled to depart at 8:55. I reached Coimbatore by 10:30 pm and was home by a half past 11.

Over steaming cups of black tea, I recounted my experiences to my family. My wife Benita, had felt led to fast all the three days I was away, and she told me how she had felt a sudden pressing urge to be in prayer for the meetings there. We both prayed and gave thanks to the Lord late into the night.

The next day had barely dawned before I received a call from Pastor Pradeep saying that he had spoken to the rest of the ministers, and that they had all agreed to unite their entire congregations and arrange a big public meeting closer to the capital to accommodate more people.  He asked if I could make it in December, but I told him I needed that time to be in prayer for the year ahead, and to finish up with this year’s pending church work, and our regular year end church building repairs and renovations. I asked if we could make it in January, and he agreed.

Do pray for the churches is Orissa, for God to continue to preserve His children as He has been doing, so that they may stand strong even in the face of persecution and social stigma, and hold fast to His unchanging Word.

Do uphold Pastor Pradeep and his family and all the other ministers of Orissa in your prayers, that God may continue to move among them, that many more souls may enter His kingdom in this last hour, and that they may present a united front against the powers of Ecumenism in this age.

Do also pray for the meetings which are tentatively scheduled for February 2018 in Orissa.

6 comments:

  1. God Bless you Pastor, for all the strength you had for the day in your ministry in Orissa, will keep you & pastors, brothers and churches in Orissa in prayers, God Bless & Tq

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  2. Thank you Pastor for sharing & for allowing yourself to be used by God in spreading the good news. It was moving & touching for me to read your post. I sure will keep you in my thoughts & prayers. Shalom!

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    1. God bless you bro James willie. Thank you so much for your prayers

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  3. A Great and Detailed report that let's us inside the ministry of this late hour. Thank you and I pray for the continued success of the meetings for fellowship to all mentioned in this report. Places I never knew existed, yet God is calling out each individual from the remote. No bride wants to be left at the altar! And this report proves that they certainly wont! God bless all, Maranatha!

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    1. Thank you bro David Curtman for you encouragement. God bless you.

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