Wednesday, February 24, 2010

India Images

Pastor Charles teaching the Bible School students and graduates

Graduation procession

The visiting Americans honored with garland

A traditional Indian dance

People respond to the Gospel

Cooking for 3,000

Passionate worship!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

India Reflections

I returned home to much snow still covering the ground, and taller-than-me piles of snow lining driveways, roads and parking lots. I missed a historic snow event here in the DC area, but I participated in a historic spiritual event in India.

The teaching by Pastor Charles, the size of the crowds attending the crusade at Ecclesia Ministries, and the number of people who responded to the Gospel and were healed physically were unprecedented. I always remember what my wife says when I go to India: "God shows off, and Brad gets to be a part of it." He truly showed off  this time.

Being on the front lines of mission work allows me to see what local pastors and missionaries on what we call the mission field face every day. We who travel on short-term mission trips fly in, minister, and fly out. They are there today, tomorrow and the next day, serving in sometimes unbearable conditions.

I am grateful for the privilege of going to India to minister, to represent Immanuel's Church, and to assist my Senior Pastor while there. Pastor Daniel and I have already planned my next trip there this April, where he and I, along with a team of doctors and nurses, will be conducting medical camps and crusades in Kashmir, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

Sounds like showing off time for God again!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

India: Final Times Of Ministry

Saturday evening began with praise and worship led by Freddy (my motorcycle chauffeur - see two Blog posts ago). I preached a simple message on salvation and faith, and Pastor Charles complemented it with another salvation message.

The altar call brought well over 200 people who put their faith in Jesus. It was a cool sight! Then we prayed for people with sickness and hurts. We stayed on the stage praying for people and hearing their testimonies of healing for over another hour.

Several posts ago I mentioned the daughter of a police official who was flailing, thrashing, and who pretty much "beat me up" as I tried to pray for her on Tuesday night. Well as we were leaving on Saturday night her mother rushed up to me with her and wanted me to see her. She was calm, peaceful and smiling. I took her pic, and she didn't take a swing at me! Seriously, the Lord did an incredible work in her life.

Today was the official 25th Silver Jubilee Anniversary celebration for Ecclesia Ministries. Both Pastor Charles and I brought messages of challenge and encouragement.

There were presentations, histories read, prayers, "garlanding", ordinations and praise and worship. The entire service lasted five hours! It was great though to celebrate with Pastor Daniel and his family and team. The Lord is good!

I am writing this post at the airport in Hyderabad as Pastor Charles and I wait for our respective flights. It has been a great week of ministry. Now I get to go home and shovel snow...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More People, More Power

Friday evening we were treated to an authentic Indian dance performed to genuine Indian music by some of the children of Ecclesia Ministries. It was great to see the children display their culture, and the result of weeks of preparation. We were blessed!

Pastor Charles and I both preached evangelistic messages, and when the altar call was given about 200 people responded to the call to salvation. We led them in prayer and rejoiced as they began new lives! Following that we prayed for sick people. It was a great night!

This morning at the Bible Conference, Pastor Charles, Pastor Kumar (who is the main translator), and I all brought messages of hope and faith to a gathered crowd of over 3,000. What a privelege to be able to speak words of truth and life to a hungry people.

After the teaching time, we were ready to move into a time of prayer. The crowd was too large to invite people onto the stage and lay hands on each one, so Pastor Charles and I walked through the crowd laying hands as went. With worship going on as we prayed, he task took over 30 minutes, and when we were finished, we invited people who have received healing to come to the stage and testify.

Over 200 people came up and shared one by one how the Lord touched them. We recorded three people who received sight after living in blindness (pictured is one lady), and scores of others who were instantly healed from various pains, fevers and diseases. A lady (different from the other day) brought her two-month-old baby on the stage and testified that she was prayed for by me last year after being barren for many years, and now she has a child!

This picture is of a lady holding her baby with a tumor on its hip the size of a grape. I had prayed for the child two nights ago when the tumor was the size of an egg (I saw it). I am believing that by the end of the weekend the tumor will be nonexistent!

Tonight is the final night of the crusade. We are believing that many will be saved and many will be healed. This is the India I love!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Do You Believe In Miracles?

Last evening began our evangelistic crusade, where after a great welcome from the children, Pastor Charles preached. During the altar call, many responded to the message of salvation in Jesus. Following that, Pastor Daniel and I prayed for the sick and infirmed.

Many people were prayed for, and after we would pray for about ten, Pastor Daniel would stop and allow for testimonies.Many publicly shared, giving testimonies like deaf ears opened, chronic pain lasting for years was removed, and then my favorite...

Last year I remember praying for a couple who after three years of marriage had still not conceived a child (very important in the Indian culture). I prayed for them, believing that God would give them a child. I even was bold enough to say that when I came back next year, they would have a child.

The woman found me that evening, and presented her baby as a miraculous answer to prayer! She said she became pregnant the next month after I had prayed for her last year. This is a picture of her holding her two month old baby. Now that is HUGE! You can see why I would say it was my favorite of the evening.

This morning Pastor Charles and I tag-teamed the morning convention teaching, me delivering a message on Jesus' call of Peter, and Pastor Charles continuing in the book of Acts. After a quick lunch I was whisked by my good friend Freddy by motorcycle back to the crusade stage where I spoke on the healing of the cripple in Acts 3 (Pastor Charles wasn't the only one using Acts today).

What followed was 45 minutes of prayer, miracles and healing. We prayed for a man with AIDS, saw a deaf woman's ears become unstopped, and numerous other healings including headaches relieved, back pain removed, and more barren women to conceive (I see a trend...).

Pictured here is my casting out a demon in this man. I prayed for about ten minutes as he thrashed, convulsed and spat, and was finally taken quietly away by his companions. The Name of the Lord is Jesus, and Jesus is Lord over ALL!

This evening we continue with evangelistic messages by Pastor Charles and myself, followed by an altar call and more prayer for the sick. I can hardly wait to see what God will do next!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

India Graduation And More!

On Wednesday evening Pastor Charles continued his teaching on the book of Acts. When he was finished, we had a time of laying hands on and praying for the over 350 attendees at the Bible Conference.

The Spirit of God was strong as Pastor Charles and I moved through the kneeling crowd, stopping at each one and anointing them with oil. There was a strong presence and power as these passionate believers received this blessing. I know that India will be more like the Kingdom of God because of this evening.

Today (Thursday) was a special day, as we graduated the 11th class of the Immanuel's School of the Bible in India. Again there was a strong presence of God as words of blessing, challenge and encouragement were brought by two of Pastor Daniel's brothers, Pastor Charles and myself. It was almost as if the graduates couldn't wait to get on the mission field.

Not only did we graduate and commission the Bible School students, but we had the privilege of ordaining several pastors to the ministry. These anointed and powerful men and women eagerly received prayer and anointing with oil, calling out for the Lord to empower them to preach and pray with passion and power.

Perhaps the highlight for Pastor Charles and I was ordaining a former Muslim, whom God reveled himself to while he was reading the Koran. He committed his life to Jesus, and now seeks to bring the Gospel to the Muslim people in India. Wow!

This evening we will begin our outdoor meetings, as thousands of believers and seeking Hindus & Muslims will sit under the Word of God. I know it will be a great night!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

India: Pastor Charles Arrives!

After a two-day delay (because of the snowstorm) and then a two-hour delay (re-scheduling of flights), Pastor Charles' flight finally left DC bound for India. He left behind another snowstorm and a recovering region.

I began teaching the Wednesday morning Bible Conference, and was just beginning to move to my last teaching point when spontaneous applause erupted from the students and pastors. I didn't recall having said anything too profound, but then realized that Pastor Charles had entered the room behind me.

Well, I quickly wound my message down, desiring to give Pastor Charles as much time as possible to make up for the day-and-a-half of the conference he missed. After a brief introduction, the traditional garlanding (mine came last Sunday), and his first-hand account of the historic DC snowstorm, he began teaching on Building According to the Pattern, a study of the book of Acts.

The eager students and pastors diligently took notes and followed along with a syllabus that Pastor Daniel's son Jesher had translated into Telugu and printed for the conference. The teaching was excellent, the material was powerful, and the Spirit was strong.

Pastor Charles will continue this afternoon and evening with more teaching from Acts, then we will ordain some former Muslims as pastors, and anoint and pray for all of the conference attendees.
The snow may still be falling in DC, but the presence of God is falling in Kazipet!

Former communist Karnakar, jailed after giving his life to Christ, and Mark-Paul, a graduate of the 1st class, follow Pastor Charles' teaching.

Over 350 graduates, pastors and students learning from the book of Acts.

 Although I sat under the teaching with the other students, I still had time to make some new friends!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

India: Bible Conference Beginning

This morning the annual Bible Conference for the Immanuel's School of the Bible in India began, but without it's founder Pastor Charles Schmitt. He is currently in the air on his way, having been delayed two days because of the DC snowstorm (my scheduled flight was a few hours before the snow began to fall, so I was able to step in and get things started).
Standing in for Pastor Charles, I followed Pastor Daniel and we brought the conference's first messages. I focused on Proverbs 3 and the value of seeking wisdom. It was a moving sight as I looked out over more than 350 hungry past and current students, intently listening and eagerly taking notes as I taught.

As I spoke, I encouraged and challenged the students and pastors to seek wisdom above everything else. I challenged them to surround themselves with a group of mentors who will give Godly counsel as they seek to make wise decisions, no matter what their experience.

The vision that Pastor Charles had over 12 years ago has been fulfilled each year for 11 years now, as Biblically trained students are commissioned to go to the remote parts of India and start churches and ministries. They return to Kazipet and the Ecclesia campus each year for a week of teaching (mostly led by Pastor Charles), and evening crusade meetings where the Gospel is preached and thousands of people attend.

Not only did I stand in for Pastor Charles in the Bible Conference, but I was also called upon to give a blessing to the newly married daughter and son-in-law of Pastor Joy-David Kalyanapu, the brother of Pastor Daniel. The couple will be living in Maryland, just 20 miles from my home. (And she cooks authentic Indian will be a great friendship for my wife Elaine and I!)

This afternoon we continue with the Bible Conference, and then tomorrow I will pass the baton to Pastor Charles, as he will have arrived in the small hours of the morning. Continue to lift up Pastor Charles and myself, as well as the rest of the team from India. The week has started strong, and will continue to build! 
Question: When have you been called upon to step in for another person and fill a gap?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Unexpected Sunday Night Fireworks

I was about to be driven to my room after we had a late home-cooked authentic Indian dinner (do I sound like I love home-cooked authentic Indian food?) when pastor Daniel asked me to join him in praying for a young lady whose family had brought her over.

The young lady was exhibiting periodic outbursts of screaming and flailing, when she wasn't docile. In her docile state, she repeatedly gouged her thumbs into her eyes. We later found out that she had some mental challenges, and her behavior, though "normal" for her and her family, was still something of a concern as her outbursts were becoming more frequent.

I began to pray for her while Pastor Daniel anointed her with oil. She in turn began to hit me with her fists on my arms and legs (she was sitting on the floor). I've been punched by a girl before (Junior High...long story), and these blows carried a little more punch.

We continued to pray, and were joined by some of the local team at the church who were already in a prayer meeting. The girl eventually calmed down and remained calm, because the peace of God settled on her.

She and her family are Hindus, and Pastor Daniel will continue to minister to them. I believe as a result of this experience, they will come to trust in Jesus very soon.

I must say it was an unexpected encounter. My plan was to return to my room and study for the teaching I will be doing beginning on Tuesday (Pastor Charles' flight was canceled again. He will arrive very early in the morning on Wednesday...hopefully). Instead, I stepped into a lively encounter where the Good Guys won!

Question: When have you had your plans altered by an unexpected encounter?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

India 2010, First Day Of Ministry: 4 Lepers

As my family and friends in the DC area try to dig themselves out from under a historic snowstorm, I had the privilege of speaking at the Sunday morning worship service of Ecclesia Ministries in Kazipet, Andhra Pradesh, India. I feel bad that I am not with my family to help them dig out, but I am here (with their blessing of course).

Ecclesia Ministries, under the leadership of Pastor Daniel Kalyanapu is celebrating 25 years of ministry this week, and I was called upon to deliver the first message of the week-long celebration. I felt led to speak about the four lepers in II Kings 7, who when expecting to die because of a famine in their city (they were under siege from the Armenian army), went to the camp of the enemy hoping to be spared and given some food.

What they found was a deserted camp because the Lord God had caused all of the Armenians to flee, leaving a camp full of food, clothing, silver and gold. The four lepers ate, drank and hid for themselves the silver and gold found in the first tent they opened. They went to the second tent and did the same thing.

Realizing that all of the tents contained the same food and riches, they said to each other, "What we are doing is not right." Choosing to do the right thing, they went and told the city officials of their discovery, and thus the city was saved.

I challenged the members of the church to not sit back and enjoy the blessings of the 25 years of successful ministry, but rather continue to share what they have, the good news of Jesus Christ.

I believe that the Lord has even greater things in store for the many thousands of people who call themselves part of Ecclesia Ministries. If it takes four lepers to teach us how to share what we have with others, that's OK with me.

Question: What are you sharing with others?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

DC Blizzard...I Missed It!

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BWI, JFK, Dubai, Hyderabad, Kazipet. I arrived safely in India very early this morning, and after retrieving my luggage, I was met by my favorite translator Jesher. We drove the 2 1/2 hour trip to Kazipet, I had a shower, a nap and a fabulous Indian meal, and now it's Blog update time.

I understand from my wife Elaine, whom I chatted with while I was in Dubai (and whom I miss dearly), that I got out of DC just in time ahead of the snow. So while my family and friends back home are enjoying(?) the blizzard, I am basking in the near 90 degree heat of south-central India! Not a bad trade-off (my wife and kids know where the snow shovels are).

Tomorrow I have the honor of preaching in Pastor Daniel Kalyanapu's church, as they are celebrating their 25th anniversary. I always count it a privilege to speak to Pastor Daniel's people, and this event makes it even more special. Then I will be preparing to kick-off the Bible Conference, as my senior pastor, Charles Schmitt, travels here, having been delayed because of the blizzard. (I didn't plan on speaking right away at the conference, but that's what snow delays will do...)

I intend to post to this Blog daily, as we minister at the Bible Conference, Bible School graduation, and crusade. Keep following, and please leave your comments!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

India Calls...Again!

I will be leaving for India on Thursday, partnering with my Senior Pastor for eight days of ministry in Kazipet, Andhra Pradesh. We will be teaching at a Bible Conference, graduating the 11th class of our Bible School there, and preaching at a nightly crusade.

Although this is my seventh trip to India in the last three years, I do not take lightly the responsibility and privilege that I have in participating in what God is already doing among the Indian people. My wife says that when I go to India, "God shows off, and Brad gets to be a part of it."

Please check this Blog regularly, as I will be updating with daily posts (once I am on the ground after two days of traveling). If you are a Facebook member, please 'friend' me (Brad Lewis). Also, if you Twitter, please join the conversation (@bigcloudmusic).

And please leave comments below...

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