Australian evangelist helps plant church at school in India
Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained enlightenment in Bodhgaya, a town in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. The Director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bihar, Pr Alex Dang, describes the region as the “graveyard of Christianity.”
But in 2013, I presented an evangelistic series with Alex and half a dozen local volunteers at the AoZora school near Bodhgaya. The result: the planting of a Seventh-day Adventist church at the school.
A young minister, Pr Dularchand Kumar, served as one of the volunteers. He wanted to continue working in the area after Alex and I left. When I returned this year, Dularchand told me he now has helped form 27 small groups in the area and baptised 450 people. Not all of the members of these groups attend the church—some live too far away—but Dularchand visits regularly. He took me about 20 kilometres away from the school to speak to one of the groups. About 25 men and women were there to meet us, and we sang and prayed and read from the Bible together.
I traveled to India with a parishioner of mine, Dr Andrew Matthes. Andrew and colleague Gail Ormsby are lecturers in the Discipline of Education at Avondale College of Higher Education. They led a Ministry of Teaching Overseas team of eight students who completed a 15-day practicum at AoZora.
The students taught from seven to 11 in the mornings then presented health tips at the beginning of each of the meetings Alex and I presented in the evenings. In the afternoons, I presented a Bible study at the school for staff members and members of the community.
Before the beginning of the series of evening meetings, I walked through the village distributing flyers. I enjoyed meeting some of the people from my previous visit. One man, Ramjatan Das, could hardly walk three years ago. He attended some of the meetings in 2013 and continued to attend the church plant. Gradually, his legs got stronger. Now, he walks well. When he saw me, he embraced me like a brother.
Dularchand and I baptised 21 people in Dobhi just south of Bodhgaya on July 2, just before I’d left India. He contacted me a week later. Six more baptisms, including the principal of AoZora, Tinku Saran.