by Michael Sove
Rita Springer, in a song called “You Said,” writes the following: “You said, “Lift up your eyes; The Harvest is here, the kingdom is near. You said, Ask and I’ll give the nations to you.” Lord, that’s the cry of my heart. Distant shores and the islands will see Your light as it rises on us. O Lord, I ask for the nations.”
This has been the cry of my heart for years. I would have never dreamed as I cried out to God for the nations that He would burden my heart for India. I have just returned from my third trip to the land of 300 million gods. The one true God showed Himself strong during my four week journey as 500 plus people gave their hearts to Christ, and I was also able to share cell church principles in a multitude of settings.
Over my next few blogs I want to tell you about this amazing experience and challenge you to ask God for the nations and watch as He delivers on that request. For me it began three years ago as I received an e-mail from a pastor from India who visited the Joel Comiskey Group web site.
He said after reading one of my articles that he felt we had a similar heart and vision and asked if I would like to mentor him in cell church principles. This is where it all began. Now after three years I have a whole group of pastors from India I’m connected with and it is growing all the time.
This trip took me to the State of Andhra Pradesh as well as Karnataka. I spent the first week and a half in a remote area of Andhra Pradesh and a town called Giddalur. Pastor Samuel has spent his life ministering in Giddalur and the surrounding villages. He has access to 60 villages and God is doing amazing things in his ministry. On New Years Day 2000 people walked to his location on the outskirts of town.
During the week I had the privilege of visiting many villages and branch churches that he has planted. The people are hungry for God and will sit for hours to hear the Word of God. What amazes me is that my team and I are the only foreigners to have ever visited these villages. As a result we have wide open doors to share the Gospel. People come out of curiosity and are excited to meet us and hear what we have to say. Every time we spoke and gave an invitation people opened their lives to Jesus Christ.
Obviously India is predominantly a Hindu nation but God continued to tear down barriers. After spending a few hours in one village just loving on the people and giving out balls to the children, a woman who was like the spokesperson for that village, came to my translator and said, “We would like to lay aside our religious differences, could you ask them to pray for us.” For the next 20 minutes we laid hands on those Hindu villagers and asked God to open their eyes to the light of the glorious Gospel!
At a Sunday service in Giddalur my wife preached a message on God’s love and His passion for His children. A Hindu man who had been attending the services there for two years gave his heart to Christ when the invitation was given. He went forward and asked to be baptized that day, along with others who had given their hearts to Christ. Three pastors spent quite some time asking him if he really had given his heart to Christ because for two years this man was very stubborn and refused to surrender to Christ. The man insisted he truly had received Christ during the invitation and when asked what finally changed his mind, he said that if a woman was willing to travel around the world to tell him and others about this God that loves them, and how much He cares for them and how precious they are to Him, then He must be real. To God be all the glory!
Most of the people we came in contact with are considered the “untouchables” and they don’t know how to respond to even a simple hug. My wife and two other women accompanied me on the first 18 days of this trip and it was awesome to watch as they would hug the women they ministered to and in many cases the women would break down and cry as they have never been held like that or cared for like that.
The Indian believers are passionate for God and really understand the importance of prayer and fasting. They all want to be prayed for at the end of a message. We would end up some times praying over individuals for an hour and one half after the message was finished. At the start of every month they have three days of fasting prayer at the church facility which is really just a roof supported by pillars and slabs of stone for the flooring. People come expecting God for healings and miracles and I heard many stories of God’s amazing works among them.
One of my favorite experiences is to hike up “Prayer Mountain.” The pastor goes up here almost every day with many of the believers. From the top of Prayer Mountain you can see Giddalur and many of the surrounding villages. When they reach the top they separate and spend time seeking and listening to God. Then they gather back together to share what God has shown them or revealed to them. Prayer is the key behind this ministry and the growth of this ministry.
Pastor Samuel has great vision for the future as he desires to start a Bible training and retreat center as well as plant churches in surrounding cities. Some of the factors that hinder his ministry is the lack of transportation and support for his pastors. Another thing I’m asking God for is a simple discipleship approach that they could use to grow believers and raise up new leaders so more cells and churches could be planted. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”