India Crusade Report
“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9).
The Sunday before I was to leave, I ministered at a church in Richmond. My message was on the third day church and how God was raising up a people who would be wholly committed to Him, willing to serve Him at any personal cost. I didn’t realize then how soon these words would be tested in my own life.
I was scheduled to leave on Wednesday, July 18th to arrive at my destination in Tuni, India on July 20th. I would fly from Richmond to New York to Delhi. I would then catch a domestic flight from Delhi to Visakhapatnam. Pastor Ratnam would pick me up to drive 200 km to Tuni. I arrived at the airport only to find out that my flight to NY had been cancelled due to tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in the NY area. There would be no more flights that day. Shocked, I immediately started asking the Lord what to do. All of my tickets were nonrefundable and the flight segments to NY and to Delhi were separate. I then went to every airline at the Richmond terminal to try to find another flight. I soon learned that everything to NY was cancelled for the day. I then found out one airline was chartering a bus to NY for its passengers. I checked but found out it would arrive too late to catch my flight to Delhi. The only thing I could do was to continue to pray and head back home so I could get on the phone to see what could be done. I immediately called Air India and told them of my problem. They told me that the next available seat would not be until Sunday, July 22nd which would get me to Tuni on Wednesday the 25th. I called Pastor Ratnam to inform him of the situation. He could not believe what I was telling him because the meetings were all set up. Some 40 pastors would be arriving from around India for this conference and there was no way to contact all of them to change the dates. He said there must be another way and that he would contact the church to begin praying.
I prayed some more and I felt impressed to call the travel agent in Atlanta. When I told him of my predicament, he told me that I had to get there and that he would drop everything to find me a way. I then found out that he was a Christian Indian. He told me that I didn’t understand how important it was that I get there on time for these meetings. He said that for me to take the Gospel to these people was like giving a starving man 1000 loaves of bread. He then said he would find another flight but I would have to get Air India to cancel my reservation without losing all of my money. I spent the next several hours on the phone with various agents trying to get my ticket cancelled and was finally able to get them to do it with a $400.00 cancellation fee. Although this was a blow to me, I was reminded of my own words, “at any personal cost,” and I felt it was necessary to do His will. So I accepted and waited for the travel agent’s call. He found a way whereby I could leave the following day and arrive on Saturday but it would take me from Richmond to Chicago to Frankfurt to Dubai to Mumbai, India to Viakhapatnam and it would cost me about $300.00 more than my original ticket, but again I felt it was a cost that had to be paid. The enemy was obviously mad at my going but I sensed in my spirit that the Lord had a great plan to be fulfilled.
It was an exhausting trip but I made it to Visakhapatnam where I met Pastor Ratnam. We traveled to his home in Tuni where I was able to get a few hours of rest and adjust to the 9 1/2 hour time zone change before beginning ministry on Sunday morning.
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols” (Acts 17:16).
The area of Tuni, India is a beautiful country with lush, fertile greenery, mountains, palm trees, rivers, and vast farmlands. And yet it is a land of extreme poverty and sickness. I have seen many images of India on TV over the years, but the reality of the situation there does not hit you until you see it first hand. If you ask the church there why this is so, they will tell you without hesitation that there is a curse upon their nation because of the gross idolatry. The people of India are obsessed with idols. Everywhere you look there are shrines and temples to idols. It seems that they worship anything and everything and build shrines to every god. The entrance to every town and village has an idol set up. Along every roadway idol temples are built to different gods. Not only has this idolatry brought the curse of the true God upon this land but their idolatrous customs have added to their problems as they allow what they consider sacred livestock to roam freely through the streets and villages causing sanitation problems which must add to the health problems there.
India has a population of 1.16 billion people out of a world population of 6.6 billion people. Of that population, 82% are Hindu, 12% Muslim, 2.5% Christian, and 3.5% other religions. It is estimated that 350-400 million people live below the poverty line. 40% are illiterate. It is hard to conceive that so many people can live under a veil of darkness. But all of this emphasizes the great need of laborers for the harvest of the kingdom of God. During my stay in Tuni, I was the only white person to be seen much less a Christian missionary to help these people.
To give you an understanding of the blindness idolatry brings to the heart, let me give you two examples of what to us would seem like utter foolishness. As we were traveling back from a church service, a cobra came out of the bush and stood up in the road. All of the traffic stopped and many people got out their vehicles to walk up and begin worshipping this cobra. Then like a sign from heaven, a mongoose ran out of the brush and began attacking this snake.
I was then told of an incident where a woman was standing in the street selling something. In order to have her hands free, she had strapped her small child to her side. Being there some time, the child went to the bathroom and his droppings fell onto the street. Fearing the people might beat her if they saw it, she quickly covered the dung with some powder she had with her. The next day the dung had dried and was glistening in the sunshine from the powder on it. A man cam walking down the street and saw this strange phenomenon and decided it must be a god to have changed like that. He then began calling people in the street to come and see this new god and they all began worshiping this child’s dung.
When the Christians in Tuni built a church in one village area, the man across the street was so upset that he built an elaborate shrine with a huge idol in it in hopes of destroying the church. With as much poverty as you see in India, there seems to be no lack of funds to build all of these elaborate and ornate shrines and temples to false gods.
The streets of India are unbelievable. The traffic consists of pedestrians, bicycles, pedi-cabs, scooters, motorcycles, 3 wheel automobiles, motorized cabs, regular autos, oxcarts, pigs, goats, oxen, and Brahman cattle, all vying for the right of way. Any semblance of two-way traffic is removed as everyone rides all over the road weaving in and out of traffic. Even the main highway down the East coast, a four lane divided highway, has oxcarts slowly plodding along even going the wrong way on the wrong side of the street as cars and trucks whiz by at 60 and 70 miles an hour. You rarely see a modern auto. A dealership we passed only sold old Ambassador autos from the 60’s or 70’s. Most Indians either walk or ride bicycles as they can’t afford a car. The most prevalent automobile is a three wheel diesel engine ATV with a cab attached. They are about the size of a golf cart. These are used for personal autos, taxis, and cargo. Some will modify the cab to make it into a small truck. It is amazing to see five and six people crammed into these little vehicles speeding down the street.
Most Indians in this area live a very simple life with few if any amenities. In the village areas they live mainly in thatched roof huts with dirt floors. There are no facilities or appliances. A spigot from a well in the center of the village is the main water supply for all of their needs. They survive off of a diet of mainly rice. The sanitation conditions are terrible as many go to the bathroom wherever they may be. Plus the animals keep the roadways filled with dung. A number of the men wear only a loin cloth. It is mostly a life of subsistence. It is difficult to understand the conditions there in this day and age as this is not some tribal area but rather a city of 50,000 people.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Although this was one of the most powerful crusades I have experienced, it was also the most physically trying. When we began the meetings the temperature was in the 90’s but after the second day it zoomed into the hundreds. We were holding three intense meetings a day in this heat, some in cement block buildings and some outdoors. (There is no air conditioning anywhere!). Those of you who know me, know that I don’t preach 15 minute sermonettes. I labor in the word until the work is finished and then I minister to the people for impartation. The services generally lasted three to four hours. By the time I was finished ministering, every article of my clothing was wringing wet with sweat. This takes a lot out of your body. Along with this, these people are desperate. Everywhere you go multitudes want you to pray for them for healing and help. I have never seen so many extreme disabilities within a population of people: leprosy, blindness, deafness, dumbness, lameness, HIV, diabetes, etc. They don’t want a general prayer over a crowd. They want you to individually lay hands upon them and anoint them with oil. And then, they bring their own bottle of oil with them and want you to pray for their bottle of oil. So along with the oppressive heat and humidity sapping your strength, the people draw every ounce of strength and spirit that is left. Every meeting, hundreds would come for healing besides the many that want ministry prayer. Once you start praying for the sick the lines seem to never end. It finally got to where I had to just sit in a chair as the people filed by for prayer.
The heat also affects your appetite. You don’t feel like eating much. Everything they cook is very spicy and they eat a ton of rice. When your body is not used to this type of diet it affects you also. You need to be careful about everything you eat as there are many problems with the food supply in India. Plus you have to be extremely careful about getting any of their water in your system as it will make you very sick for an extended period of time. With all of this caution, I still managed to get something in my system a couple of days before I was due to leave. This had a further effect on my physical strength. Add to this the difficulty of getting a good night’s sleep because of the heat and you will get a picture of the difficulties faced just to be able to have the strength and stamina to do this type of ministry. I was definitely borne along by the Spirit of God.
To give you an idea of the intensity of these meetings, I went through four interpreters. After a few meetings the first interpreter lost his voice. Then the second interpreter lost his voice. The third interpreter had trouble keeping up with me and we got a fourth. Finally we had to switch back and forth between the interpreters. They could not believe that my voice never faltered through so many long, intense meetings, but again, it was just the power of the Holy Spirit sustaining me every step of the way. All of your prayers gave me a bountiful supply of the Spirit of Christ.
The interpretation was also a supernatural work of God. One of my concerns on this trip was being able to flow with an interpreter without losing the spirit of the ministry, especially the way I tend to minister in the Holy Spirit. The people in Tuni speak a language called Tulugu. But from the very beginning of ministry there was a divine flow present that was very obviously the work of God. It was as though the Lord made us one voice and one spirit to speak with one anointing. The interpreter did not just translate my words, but every intonation and action. If I raised my hand, he raised his hand. If I raised my voice, he raised his voice. You had to be there to see it, but it was a supernatural work of God. And the word came forth in power as many testified that they had never heard the word ministered is such demonstration of the Holy Spirit.
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
The Pastor’s conference was three days of intense meetings of the word, prayer, imp-artation, repentance, consecration, and anointing. Some forty pastors came for the meeting. They slept on the cement floor of the church and the host church provided their meals and travel expenses. Many others had wanted to come but were limited by the accommodations and funds available to take care of them.
From the very first meeting the Lord came in power to minister to these men. The most common comment heard was that they had never experienced the power of the Holy Spirit like that. They were soon calling other pastors to let them know what was happening. Pastors from around India began calling Pastor Ratnam wanting to come and be a part of these meetings. Unfortunately, we had to turn them away because we did not have the funds to accommodate them. But Pastor Ratnam assured them they would have me back next year so they all could take part. Even when the conference was finished the pastors wanted to continue with the meetings to get more of what the Lord was doing. They then had a friendly squabble about whose churches I would minister in during the rest of the week.
What made these meetings so powerful was that these pastors were so hungry for the word of God, so teachable, and they believed the word of God. They literally drew the Spirit out of you. The meetings seemed to grow in power from one to the next toward a glorious climax on Wednesday. When I arrived for the Wednesday meeting the Lord immediately redirected everything and led me in a process of preparation for what was about to happen. We stationed pastors about the church and consecrated and anointed the building. We then entered into prayer and intercession to tear down the strongholds and clear the atmosphere for the liberty of the word and Spirit. We then entered into a time of personal introspection, cleansing, and consecration. The Lord led me in several exhortations of preparation and commitment. And then the Holy Spirit fell in that place as we prayed and received the cleansing work of the blood of the Lamb. All forty pastors were gloriously sanctified in a mighty move of God’s Spirit. We then received a fresh infilling of the Spirit and held a special anointing service as I laid hands upon each one for the new wine of God’s Spirit to bring a fresh oil of anointing upon their lives and ministry. Every pastor was gloriously touched by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only God knows the extent of the work done in each life but He allowed us a witness of His great work and the fruits to come.
“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it’” (Mark 8:34,35).
This trip to India was a life changing experience for me. I had a mountaintop experience with God during my stay as He revealed so many truths from His word to me. He also showed me the reality of the condition of the American church, the depth of which I had never seen before. I gained a whole new perspective concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ and saw how far much of the church has slid off the foundation of true Christianity. Billions of dollars flow through the church every year and there is little to none real fruit to show for it. The American church is a complete and utter failure when it comes to producing the true fruits of the kingdom of God. We have been preaching what Paul calls another Gospel which is incapable of producing what God desires and it is instead leaving millions of people in a state of deception and blindness. While millions of Christians gather together for entertainment every Sunday morning in American churches, billions of people are going to Hell around the world for a lack of laborers in the harvest. And it is mainly due to the fact that we do not really believe word of God. We have lost all concept of sacrificial living for the Lord, denying oneself daily, and taking up the cross for the kingdom of God.
The pastors in India live on virtually nothing. When they become Christians they also become the offscouring of the world, outcasts in Indian society. Pastor Ratnam shared with me that if they could receive just $30.00 per month they could support their families and do the work of the Gospel. 300-450 million Indians live below the poverty level. Many Christians bring a bowl of rice to church for an offering. They have nothing in the way of money. As I shared earlier, many live in huts with virtually nothing but a dirt floor and a mat to sleep on. They strive just to eat each day. The Pastors will tell you, they could do something else and make a decent living but they are constrained by God to preach the Gospel. The Hindus persecute them. I could not believe all of the news articles I read before leaving of the violence carried out against Christians and especially against the pastors in India. But these men still choose to sacrifice all to share the Gospel in the midst of persecution and trials to a nation which is 97% lost in sin and false religions.
And then on top of this, even though they have little to nothing materially, they take seriously the Biblical command to care for the widows and orphans. By faith they take children off the streets and set up orphanages and they start feeding programs for the widows. CNN just recently had an article about widows in India. Their custom is that if a husband dies, the family would take all of the assets and kick the widow out. They used to burn the widow alive when the husband died. Now they just take everything they had away and abandon them to the streets. She is now considered an outcast even to her own children. One city in India is filled with widows begging for bread or prostituting themselves to survive.
I spent time in the orphanage Pastor Ratnam now runs. They started with five children and now have 29 from three years up to sixteen years old. Their parents have died from HIV (a huge problem in India) or some other tragedy or they just abandoned them unable to care for them. They have church services every morning and night where the children sing songs and worship, have prayer time, and learn stories from the Bible. And when they sing, they put their heart and soul into it from the youngest to the oldest. Their faces light up with smiles whenever they see you and it just breaks your heart when you see the conditions they live in. They are staying in a block building with virtually nothing in it. I did not see a single toy. They each had a couple of sets of clothing which they kept in a backpack or old ratty suitcase someone had discarded. They had no furniture, no beds, not even a bathroom. They would have to go into the woods to relieve themselves. They slept on mats on the concrete floor. The church manages to feed them at least rice every day. They sit in neat little rows for church and call Pastor Ratnam ‘daddy.’ They are the politest and cutest kids you ever met. I never heard one complaint. They appeared so happy and could not seem to stop smiling even though they had nothing material to be happy about. What a difference from what e see here in America where kids have so much they don’t have room for it and they still they moan and complain about wanting more.
The church in India does not have much in the way of material goods but what they do have they share with one another. And what they don’t have they pray and believe God to supply. Miraculously they continue on doing the work of the Gospel. I think the Lord calls this ‘loving one another as you love yourself.’
But the sacrifice of these pastors does not stop there. There are many tribal areas in India where uncivilized peoples live who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These pastors take it upon themselves to risk their lives to make treks to reach these people on a regular basis. Rebel factions live in these areas that will kill you on sight. Plus some of these tribes don’t want outsiders coming into their areas and they will kill you. Yet the pastors believe they have an obligation to reach them with the truth of Jesus Christ.
“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did” (John 2:23).
Ministering in India was like living in the book of Acts. God responds to hungry hearts and He sends deliverance to those who cry out to Him. Every meeting hundreds would come for healing prayer. It got to where all I could do was lay hands on each one and anoint them with oil with a simple invocation of the name of Jesus. But that is all it takes to release the power of God for healings and miracles. There was no time or desire to make a show of it or to hype it up by parading people around like we like to do in America. These were desperate people just needing a touch from the Almighty hand of God. I could feel the presence and power of God flowing forth mightily in every meeting as multitudes lifted up their faith to a merciful God. But one service, just to get a sense of what the Lord was doing, when I had finished ministering I asked all those who could definitively tell that there was a physical manifestation of healing in their body to stand up. Over 200 people stood to their feet praising the Lord. And then to show the extent of His miraculous power, the Lord allowed us to see an example of His divine work in our midst.
This came right out of the Gospels. One night, a group of Hindus who had heard about what the Lord was doing, carried a paralyzed man on a litter. He was totally paralyzed: his legs, arms, and even his voice. The crowd that night filled the ground right up the very front of the platform. But when I gave a call for healing prayer they lifted the man up and forced their way to the very front desperate for a miracle. Again, there were so many to pray for I took a bottle of oil and stepped down into the crowd and began moving from one to another laying hands and anointing with oil including this paralyzed man, moving from one person to another without stopping to see the results. Finally, exhausted, I finished praying and came back to the platform. That’s when the pastors brought this man to my attention. He was standing there with the biggest smile you ever saw, raising and clapping his hands and giving praise to God. I later watched as he walked away in his own power. He then came back to the next several meetings and would sit right up front with a big smile on his face. Then after the third meeting he came up and renounced his idols and gave his life to Jesus Christ!
Another night the Lord redirected everything to bring about another miracle. Paul said that he did not baptize many people because his primary calling was the perfecting of the saints so that they would do the work of the ministry and they would do the baptizing. I have a similar calling. I am not an evangelist. The Lord has called with an apostolic/prophetic ministry to perfect the saints in a ministry of discipleship. So I don’t give a lot of evangelistic type of sermons or even give a lot of salvation altar calls because most of those I minister to are already saved. But this one particular night as we were on the way to the meeting I kept getting a check in my spirit as to the word I was to share. I kept asking the Lord what it was He wanted me do. What was the word He wanted to speak to this particular group? What He knew, but I didn’t, was that there was going to be a group of Hindus at this meeting. As I sat on the platform I continued to seek the Lord and even asked if He wanted me to skip preaching and just pray for people. Then, just as I was called upon to bring the word, the Lord spoke in my heart to preach on Acts 17. So I turned there in my Bible and began reading, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols” (Acts 17:16). Then beginning there I opened my mouth and the Lord gave me a powerful word proving that there could be no other gods and as Paul declared, what they were worshiping were not gods but rather demons. The very entities they were worshiping were the ones bringing them all of this poverty and sickness. Now you must understand that this is not the kind of word you preach in an open air meeting in the middle of Hindu country where they attack and even kill Christians just for being Christian much less preaching against Hinduism. But when God does it, you have no choice and you know He has a plan. When I finished, I was led to do what I don’t ordinarily do: I gave an altar call for salvation. As Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Twelve Hindus came forward to renounce their idols and surrender themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ! This is why it is imperative that we are led by the Spirit of God in everything we say and do.
These are just examples of what the Lord was doing on a continuous basis. Plus all that He does in the hearts of people that we will never know about in this life. I feel like I could write a book on all that the Lord did and revealed to me.
“Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Matthew 9:37,38).
Thursday morning we held a special meeting for young people to which all ages came anyway. The Lord gave me a powerful word from Matthew 28:19 dealing with the Great Commission (which most Christians have changed into the Great Suggestion). The word came forth with great power and authority. At the conclusion I gave a very clear call for laborers and 30 people committed themselves to the work of the Gospel. So we had an anointing service and then began praying for the sick. People just kept coming and coming and even as we tried to leave they were coming to us in the street asking for prayer.
One of the things the Lord made real to me during this trip was how great the harvest is and how few the laborers are. Just in India alone, there are one billion people living in the kingdom of darkness and very few laborers willing to make the sacrifice to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to them. As Americans spend week after week seeking a better lifestyle and learning ever more ways to obtain more material possessions, billions of people around the world are walking toward the fires of Hell because the church is too self consumed to be the ambassadors of Christ. How many of our excuses will be acceptable to God Who has done everything in His power to make us reconcilers of men and we continue in a life of disobedience? The only reason we don’t do the works of God is that we don’t really believe the word of God. And as James said, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14).
I left India one day before the monsoons hit India. I passed through Mumbai, one of the areas affected by the severe flooding. Nineteen million people are affected by these floods. What little they did have is now gone and many are dying day by day. Most of these people are lost. What will it take to wake up the church to the works of Christ? How many people must die and go to Hell before Christians get a heart for the souls of the world?
Pastor Ratnam and his fellow ministers are doing a good work in India, sacrificially laying down their lives for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are saving children off of the streets of India. You can visit their web site at http://www.agwaindia.org. This is good ground to sow seeds of financial aid for the body of Christ.