Jul 29

The gift of faith

The mission helpers returned back to the US this past Monday night.

It was a busy two weeks! We split into two teams. I and 4 others stayed with the CLCI and visited 9 congregations. We did a VBS program for the children at each congregation that covered seven major events from the beginning of time to the end of time: Creation, Corruption (the fall into sin), Catastrophe (the world-wide flood brought on by man’s sin), Confusion (the tower of Babel, another result of man’s sin), Christ, Cross (the suffering and death of Jesus to pay for our sins and reconcile us to God), and Consummation (the return of Christ Jesus at the end of time). We shared this message of man’s sin and the salvation God provided through His Son Jesus’ death and resurrection to over 500 children (it is hard to get an accurate count when they are all sitting in a group and squirming a bit).

Jyothi reports that the pastors and members “were greatly encouraged spiritually by this wonderful trip” and “all the Sunday school teachers responded very positively and some of the new Sunday school teachers said that they have never seen anything like this before.”

Faith necklaces

Faith necklaces

At the end of the lessons we distributed some gifts to the children: New Testaments and a Bible workbook in Telugu, some stickers, a pen/pencil box and a pen, some candy and a balloon.  But by far the most popular item was a necklace with cubes forming a cross which reads “FAITH”. Everyone wanted one, including the adults.

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God tells us through the Apostle Paul:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus’ payment for our sins – our salvation – is received by faith. The forgiveness of sins and our faith are both the gift of God. None of it comes from ourselves.

Pray that the children and adults who heard the message we shared will appreciate the gift of faith and salvation God has given them and may the necklace we gave them remind them of this great gift!

 

Apr 19

But we have this treasure in jars of clay – P. Moses (Updated)

The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:7 that we carry “in jars of clay” the treasure of the good news that Jesus has paid for all of our sins and the sins of the whole world, reconciled us to God, and earned us a home in heaven. This fact was sadly illustrated this past Friday at the BELC district chairmen’s meeting where I learned that one of the chairmen, P. Moses, has been hospitalized and has has 3 stents and hearts valves replaced via laparoscopic surgery. He is now discharged and recuperating at home for the next 2-3 months.

In addition to serving his congregation, Moses is the chairman of 3 districts where he teaches and encourages the work of over 115 pastors. He also conducts evangelism meetings and continually invites pastors from other church bodies to come and hear the pure teaching of God’s word.

I have had the privilege of working with Moses during the Mission Helper trips I have been a part of and for past three and half months that I have been stationed here. The end of May I was in Bengaluru to teach the 30+ pastors in that district about the Means of Grace and Baptism. I was scheduled to go back the end of April and continue discussing Baptism, but due to Moses’ health problems that trip has been cancelled.

Please pray for a speedy recovery for Moses, as that Lord wills, and that God would comfort his family and many friends and coworkers.

But also pray for the other BELC chairman: Bhaskar, D. Paul, Deepak, Rajamani, Sampath, and Victor. Together with Moses they train and encourage over 700 pastors to faithfully preach the good news of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection in a land where most sit in darkness of open idolatry, whose only exposure to “Christianity” is likely to a religion that does not look very different, with statues of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus – a “Christianity” that wrongly teaches that one must do good works to pay (at least in part) for one’s sins. Into this darkness the truth that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus’ payment for our sins on the cross shines like a great light.

And pray for Jyothi, the other leaders, and the over 320 pastors in the CLCI as they shine the light of the Gospel in the villages were they live and preach.

We do indeed have this treasure in “jars of clay” – bodies subject to illness, weakness, and sin:

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (ESV)

Do not loose heart, even though our outward self is wasting away; by God’s grace our inner self is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). May God continue to work in and through all of us with His surpassing power. Amen.

UPDATE (April 19) – Pastor Moses has been discharged from the hospital and will need to rest and recuperate at home for the next two or three months.

UPDATE: (May 15) – Pastor Moses is doing much better.  He still at home resting and recovering. I have also learned (and updated the above information) that he had 3 stents put in, not angioplasty, in addition to the valves.