Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Introduction to the Mission

I should probably begin my reflections on India by telling you why I was there in the first place.  In a very real way, I was there because of a meeting of two men that took place in 1969.  One of the men was my traveling companion and is my grandfather-in-law, T.W. Terral.  The other man is M.A. Thomas.

M.A. Thomas, I believe, is originally from southern India.  As young man, he felt the call of God to go north to begin a church.  He and his wife obeyed that call, and so they began walking north.  Yes, I believe that they walked.  Their destination was a city in the state of Rajasthan called Kota.  

Upon arriving in Kota, Dr. Thomas was promptly beaten by a hostile mob.  His books were burned, and I think that his skull was cracked.  (I know that it has been broken twice, and I believe that it was at this time that it was first broken.)  Nevertheless, he remained obedient to God’s call and stayed in Kota with his family.  They handed out gospel tracks, lived on next to nothing, and saw a few people come to Jesus Christ.

It was a few years after this that Dr. Thomas and Bro. Terral met.  Bro. Terral was in India for a short mission trip, and he heard that a pastor in Kota would like someone to come and stay with him.  My grandfather agreed.

When Bro. Terral came, the church had grown to around nineteen members.  Bro. Terral remembers that they had a wonderful time of worship together.  As he and Dr. Thomas fellowshipped, Bro. Terral began to ask Dr. Thomas why he didn’t try to do church planting in other areas with other willing pastors.  Dr. Thomas said that he had never heard of church planting before, but for $25 a month, he believed he could sponsor a pastor to church plant.  Bro. Terral agreed to help with the money, and he pledged to return and help with crusades and to help meet any other needs that they might have.  A few years later, Dr. Thomas would begin an orphanage.  I believe that he supported nine of them at first.  They lived in a three-walled hut with a tin roof.

Every pastor that would subsequently be sent out by Dr. Thomas faced the same persecution that he and his family faced.  Most endured.  Some were actually martyred.  They all still face hostility today.  I have seen it with my own eyes.

On this trip, Bro. Terral and I and our other companion, Dr. Willie Greer, a pediatrician who has accompanied Bro. Terral on many trips since the early eighties, visited Dr. Thomas and some of those original orphans.  That small church of nineteen has spawned a national denomination which today has over 500,000 members.  The one church has become 20,800 churches.  Nineteen orphans has become over 10,000.  Some of those orphans now have orphanages and churches and Bible schools of their own.  It was quite the trip for my grandfather and for myself.

There is more to this grand partnership than I can here tell.  There has been more fruit than can be expressed in numbers.  As I relate the details of this trip, I hope that some of the story is more fleshed out for you.  It is an incredible story of the faithfulness of God, the grandness of Christian partnership, and the ability of the Church to thrive in a hostile environment.  I hope that you are challenged and encouraged by what you read of the men and women of God that I met in India.


Daniel said...

I am looking forward to hearing more. What a wonderful work God has started there!

brother terry said...

Welcome back!

What an amazing story! I wonder sometimes whether or not I really believe that my God is big enough to do such mighty works.

Thank you brother!