TIME TO REAP
"The town of Whitefield, India, lies just outside of Bangalore...A
stately old town square is crowded now with a jumble of makeshift
stalls set up in dusty spaces. The once regal whitewashed
pillars of the general store are flaking and encrusted with
the stain and disrepair of years of neglect, and in their
shadow leathery-skinned women in ragged clothing sell their
fruit and vegetables to anyone who can buy. Gaunt, hollow-eyed
men sit cross-legged in the dirt holding out coconuts to passerby,
while goats and dogs vie with the flies for the garbage rotting
at their feet. And everywhere the children play, barefoot
and dirty, unconscious of the stench rising from the streets
In the midst of it all are the ever present signs of man's
eternal search for God. Hindu women, the marks of their cast
on their foreheads, enter an ancient temple across from the
market; Muslim women, covered from head to toe in garments
of black, bargain with the vendors for what they need; and
the seller in a shaded stall offers pictures and the literature
of the Sathya Sai Baba.
But the smiling reverend is not discouraged. "What God is
doing here," he said, "is remarkable!" The whiteness of his
teeth struck a contrast with his smooth, brown skin and his
black eyes flashed with excitement. "Let me tell you how the
JESUS film has helped us here. "Many missionaries have ministered
in Whitefield long years with no results, only discouragement
and Satanic oppression. Walter Cowen and his wife came from
North America and became so disheartened that they deserted
their faith and gave all they had to Sai Baba. "These few
who have dared to follow Christ were openly persecuted by
others. One radical Hindu group entered a home where several
Christians had gathered, beat them severely and told them
they could no longer meet to worship Christ. In spite of it
all, God is in control.
"One day, I heard about the JESUS film and the training
in evangelism that Campus Crusade provides. I remember praying
earnestly one night that somehow God would let us use this
film; I asked Him for ten showings in our area. The very
next day God sent Charlie Abro from India Campus Crusade to
my house. He explained that he was training film team
workers to go into north India and he wondered if I would
like to use them for the next forty days!"
He laughed out loud, remembering the excitement of God's answer
to his prayer. "I can't tell you how wonderful it was, Paul.
Hundreds responded to the message."
"How many people are in this area?" I asked. He took me to
a hand-drawn map tacked on the wall. At the top he had written
in large letters. "Goal for Evangelism and Church Planting."
He tapped the center of the map with his finger. "In about
five square kilometers there are thirty villages and thirty-three
thousand people. But you know, during the forty days that
the film teams were here we reached every one of the thirty
targeted villages and between a thousand and fifteen hundred
came to each showing. Fifteen to twenty in each village accepted
Christ as we followed up."
The reverend was completely absorbed in his ministry. It showed
all over him as he talked with great animation of what the
Lord was doing in Whitefield...
The reverend's living room was nothing more than a small cube
furnished with two old chairs, a cabinet overflowing with
follow-up literature and stacks of New Testaments, a few books,
and room to park his motorcycle. I could not help but wonder
how many others would even consider living as simply as he
did, yet to him to be part of evangelizing Whitefield was
a God-given privilege that he loved.
"How many of the thirty-three thousand have seen the film,
Reverend?" He smiled proudly. "All of them have seen it at
least once. So far, twenty-three thousand have seen it twice."
"Tell me about the results." "We have four churches now and
at least twenty-five people in each have been baptized and
become members. Many more attend each week who have received
Christ, but you must understand that in this Hindu culture
baptism often results in persecution.
"Anyone may attend the church but we require baptism for membership
and we don't baptize new believers until we are sure they
have counted the cost of their new commitment and really understand
what it could mean to them personally. It's not unusual for
a new believer converted from Hinduism to be beaten severely
by his own family. Some have had their clothing burned and
been thrown out of their homes. Disowned.
"But people keep coming. Besides the four new churches we
also have five new prayer cells with twenty to twenty-five
members in each. We are praying these will also become churches,
but we need more pastors first."
How different from in America where we so often feel the need
to court and entertain our church members to keep them coming.
Here in India, in the face of persecution and hardship, this
incredible brother is pastoring four churches and leading
five prayer cells. What just a little help would mean to him!
Miracles happen every day in places like Whitefield. As the
reverend went from house to house distributing invitations
to a film showing he asked a woman to come. She pointed to
her daughter with the pain of dysentery. "I cannot come,"
said the worried mother. "My daughter is too ill. She has
been like this for days."
"Would you come if your daughter were well?" he asked. The
woman said she would, and the reverend prayed, asking in the
name of Jesus that the child be healed. As they watched, the
pain left the child's body and she stood to her feet, strong
and well, the dysentery gone. That night the mother came to
the showing as she had promised, and she brought thirty friends
and relatives. Nearly all of them are now believers. (pp.
The film is often well received when other evangelistic methods
are not. In a village in Karnataka a gospel team trying to
conduct open air meetings was driven away as nationals threatened
to burn their van and literature. The film team arrived the
next day and was given immediate permission to show the picture.
More than five thousand people came to see JESUS and asked
the team afterward to take it to other nearby villages. (p.