What a remarkable day we have had! Where do I begin?
The team had the opportunity of a much earned rest and a sleep in this morning. We decided to have a late breakfast which would double as lunch, because we were heading off at 12.30 this afternoon for the dedication of a Life Centre and Commissioning of 10 students who had completed their diploma in Church Based Ministry Training.
The bus took us to a village nearly 2 hours away. The village of Badampudi has 3,000 people and we manoeuvred only a short distance through narrow streets to stop beside the river where the water buffalo were resting and grazing. I am sure that a mini-bus load of 9 Aussies is not a common sight, rather a unique sight for this village. Under the gaze of the gathered villagers, we met and were welcomed by the area coordinator and the pastor of the church and his family, who have been ministering in the village for 10 years. With financial support from a consortium of churches from Wichita, Kansas, USA, they built their Life Centre, recently completed. We were ushered inside and one of the children, a girl by the name of Apple, served us chick peas, Thumbs Up (Cola) and delicious grapes.
We began the dedication of the congregation, the pastor and the building, with prayer and cutting of the ribbon at the doorway. A balloon above the doorway was burst and confetti showered down. Inside, we unveiled the plaques recognising the support of the Wichita churches and the opening of the building by our team.
This was a huge occasion as the IGL mission director, the state coordinator, area and regional coordinators were all present, along with some 130 or more men, women and children.
The atmosphere was festive as we sang and prayed together. Pastor Prasankumar, the pastor of the church, gave his testimony and the state coordinator, Pastor John, spoke of IGL’s Vision 2000, telling everyone that they each had to bring 2 new people to the church in the next year! We all felt that our vision was too small!
I preached from 1 Thessalonians 1, urging people to see this as the beginning of further ministry. Elyse, Mike and Keith prayed dedicating the people, the building and the pastor to the service of the Gospel.
After a short break, we commissioned the 10 graduating students. For this part of the proceedings, they were robed in gowns, as were Pastor Benny and me. Pastor Benny, the IGL mission director commended them for their Christian character and urged them to keep growing in knowledge and skills (Romans 15:14). We presented them with their Diplomas and a Bible each, to remind them that they were ministers and teachers of God’s Word. As part of their training, we heard how they had already planted four or five churches each. Adele prayed for these students, thanking God for the training they have received, and asking God to prosper them in their Gospel work as they went back to their different churches in the area, to continue their ministries.
More than 3 hours later, after many photos and handshakes, we left for the 2 hour journey back to our hotel in Vijayawada.
A late dinner at 8pm and a sad farewell to Pastor Benny, who had other commitments to attend to this week, brought our day to a close.
Please pray that we can have some relaxation tomorrow as well as preparing thoroughly for the start of teaching on Tuesday. Ask God to uphold us in the training this week and that we might do all that we need to do well. Pray that our energy and zeal would not flag as we come to the second week of training.