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"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 around them.

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. 125-129)

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. 130)



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