Things are much different here in Kaddapa than they were in Nellore. We have been told that there are many factions here in the Kaddapa and Kurnool districts. Pastor Victor was very reluctant at first even to let us walk around in town by ourselves. But we are venturing out a little more now.
I talked more to pastor Barnabas in Allaggada where we spent two days teaching the pastoral classes. He said that it used to be a very dangerous place to spread the gospel. It is an area of India that has had a lot of violent factions between Moslems and Hindus and they have both attacked Christians in the past. He said there were many bombings and killings. But he said that has changed much in more recent years. Things have settled down a lot. The prime minister of this area now is a Christian, which has no doubt helped many things. So we feel much more comfortable now.
Our first day of classes in Allaggada went very well. We had 12 pastors gather from the Kurnool district. They were very receptive of the instructions. Pastor Barnabas invited us to his home for lunch. He was very happy to say that we were the first people from the CLC to eat at his house.
In the afternoon we had our largest group of children so far. There were about 95 children and several adults. They were so good and eager to learn. They listened very attentively for our hour and a half lesson. We gave them some time to stretch and get the wiggles out. They really like to study the pictures carefully. Pastor Barnabas said that only about 1/3 of those children were from his congregation. We pray that the Lord will work in the hearts of the over 60 children that were not in the church.
Pastor Barnabas told us that he started that congregation in 1991 with seven people meeting in his house. That was during the time when it was very dangerous to publicly proclaim the gospel. But he said the Lord blessed them and now they have about 80 members and enjoy much greater peace and safety. It is very heartening and inspiring that the Lord moves people like him to risk their lives for the work of the gospel. And to see the Lord's blessing on their efforts is a cause of great joy.
They have a very nice church in Allagadda, one of the nicest we have seen so far. Pastor Barnabas built that with his own money. He had owned some land somewhere that he sold and was able to buy this property and build the church. Now he has plans to enclose the whole property with a wall, and eventually build up other buildings for teaching. He is new to the BELC. He has been with us for a little over a year and is a very dedicated man. What a blessing to have him working for us in this area.
The second day here, the rest of the team had to go without me since I got very sick. David Lueck took my notes for the pastoral training and he went through that with the pastors. And Allison Hansen took my story with the chidren. They went to a village called Suddapali. The power went out in the church, which is a common thing, so they had the VBS outside. They had a large crowd of about 150 people, probably 65 were children. Once again they were all very eager to hear the message we have to bring. I did not hear a figure, but I am sure most of those were not from the church. Praise the Lord. That is one of the great advantages of us coming over to teach these VBS lessons. Our presence attracts a lot of attention. We can't even walk down the street without everyone staring at us. So many people come, they hear the message of salvation from creation to judgement day and eternal life. Then we encourage them to come back and learn more from the pastor in the village. We tell them they are very blessed to have a pastor here to teach them the word of God. So just as Paul says, We plant, someone else waters, but God gives the increase.
I feel like I missed out, but there is no way I would have been able to make it. I am thankful that I had the day to rest and recouperate.
Today is a day off, which is good. Pastor Victor took us on to a botanical garden that was planted in honor of Rajiv Ghandi, the son of Endira Ghandi. He was the previous prime minister until He was killed by a radical group of insurgents.
I pray that God will be with you all, and bless you.