Paul, as an Apostle of Christ, was instrumental in establishing the early Church. He did this by the grace of God and instruction of the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite verses is found in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Despite Paul’s God given grace and work ethic, Paul was still a man. He was limited by space and time. He was limited. He needed help, and help he had. Paul was almost always in a group. Very rarely do we see Paul alone in ministry. Some of the men that were a part of Paul’s ministry were Timothy, Luke, Mark, Barnabas, Silas, and Titus. However, even this group was limited. As the gospel spread through Judea, Samaria, and the Ends of the Earth, this band of brothers just wasn’t enough. Similar to Paul, they couldn’t be everywhere at all times. So what was the solution? Pastors.

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—”Titus 1:5

The Apostle Paul commissions Titus to appoint elders. Elder is just another name for Pastor. For the early Church, Pastors were crucial in the expansion of the Kingdom both in depth and in breadth. Over the years, nothing has changed. It is still God’s desire to have Elders in every town, including the towns in India.

This is one of the goals of Epaphroditus and Grace Christian Ministry (GCM), to have Pastors in every town in the nation of India. Having said that, this is easier said than done, for a Pastor is more than a warm body, despite what you might see in American pulpits today. Titus 1:9 tells us that a Pastor “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”.

Pastors must be trained up to know and to teach sound Biblical doctrine, and this is one of the primary focuses of GCM, to train up Pastors to instruct and rebuke. GCM achieves this is two primary ways, a Bible College and Learning Centers. It has been GCM’s past practice to not charge a tuition for their college or their classes so as not to put an obstacle in the way of men who feel lead to become a pastor.

And this is where you come in. Epaphroditus exists to act as a messenger between GCM and the Church in America. It is our purpose to present needs that exist on the front lines of gospel ministry in the nation of India, and then allow God to move in hearts as He wills. One of the primary needs in India is financial support for training up Pastors. It takes only $30/month to support one Bible college student. If God is calling you to support this endeavor, please partner with us to provide an elder in every town in the nation of India.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. – Psalm 98:4

Day 1 of the pastor’s conference is in the books. It went from approximately 6:00pm-9:30pm local time. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the pace has been an adjustment here compared to the busy lifestyles and full schedules we keep in America. Knowing that and experiencing it are two different things. As we arrived at the conference, we were rushed from our car to the open air worship area and were ushered to our seats. Many of the pastors and other locals were already there. Some have traveled a large distance as Babu has been involved in planting 40+ churches in the area.

Continue reading “Patiently Worship”

I love how God works. Today we left India and I was sitting in the India airport reading 2 Corinthians 8. If you have a minute or two, take a look. To sum it up, Paul was telling the Church in Corinth that they have been blessed and that they should give out of their abundance. Specifically, they needed to give to other churches that were in need.

The verse hits like a hammer seeing and hearing about the churches in India. They have next to nothing and American Churches have so much. We spend money of things that they can’t even dream of. They are struggling to pay pastors $25/month, and we might spend $25/month on coffee.

Continue reading “Out of Abundance”

We have arrived in India. Babu Samuel is the President of Grace Christian Ministry and is our host for our trip. We are staying at his residence and he has gone to a lot of trouble to make us feel at home. HIs hospitality is overwhelming.
Since I (Phil) was here last things have changed. A new government has taken over and they are anti-Christian. Babu has stated that there is a strong push to re-convert Christians to Hindu. The persecution has caused GCM to change their strategy in reaching the lost. They now are taking on a more covert approach in proclaming the Gospel with more focus on personal evangelism and less on large public events.

As I reflect upon this, I see it as a blessing. Persecution only occurs when God is on the move. Babu has informed us that GCM now has 35 Churches. Three years ago they only had approximately 23 Churches. In addition, they have 20 Bible College graduates who are willing to go and plant Churches; however the biggest problem is financially supporting them.

It is hard for our hearts not to be stirred to give more. God is working, and here we sit with large homes, multiple cars,exploding wardrobes, and toys galore. Imagine if we were to lay up treasures in Heaven? Perhaps a nation the size of India would repent and trust Christ.

The harvest is plentiful…

On Monday we attended the funeral of Aji Anthony’s mother. We drove for about an hour and turned down a one lane rock road. When we pulled up to the church there were a couple hundred people gathered outside the building around the body. When we stepped out of the car, Aji Anthony quickly walked up to us and gave us huge hugs. It was hard not to cry. He ushered us straight to his mother’s coffin, which set outside and was in the midst of the crowd. We stood in front of her body which was lying in the most simple of coffins with a white shroud around her. The crowd sat staring at us. For some of them, they had only seen a white person a hand full of time.

After this they had people move from their seat so that we could sit down in the second row. This act of generosity was not uncommon on our trip. All week we struggled with their hospitality. They treated us far greater than we deserved, even at a funeral. After we sat down, Aji Anthony came up and whispered in the ear of Babu Samuel. Babu turned around and said to us, “Aji would like you to say a few words.” At that moment, my heart jumped to my throat. Javan responded, “Whatever Aji Anthony wants. We are here for him.” Javan and I started to rifle through the Bible looking for guidance. What seemed like 10 seconds later, Babu turned to Javan and said, “John, you come and say some words.” He stood and walked forward in front of the people and spoke. Babu interpreted for him, which by this time we had become comfortable with. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Javan spoke graciously. Later, I asked him about how he felt, and Javan said “Surreal”.

Once again, it is hard to explain the depth of the brotherly love that we feel hear in India. It is only explainable through Jesus Christ. By the power of Jesus’ blood Aji Anthony and us have been adopted into the same family of God. In that sense, it seems perfectly reasonable to speak at his mother’s funeral, a lady we have never met. However some day we shall due to her genuine belief in our Savior. After this they had people move from their seat so that we could sit down in the second row. This act of generosity was not uncommon on our trip. All week we struggled with their hospitality. They treated us far greater than we deserved, even at a funeral. After we sat down, Aji Anthony came up and whispered in the ear of Babu Samuel. Babu turned around and said to us, “Aji would like you to say a few words.” At that moment, my heart jumped to my throat. Javan responded, “Whatever Aji Anthony wants. We are here for him.” Javan and I started to rifle through the Bible looking for guidance. What seemed like 10 seconds later, Babu turned to Javan and said, “John, you come and say some words.” He stood and walked forward in front of the people and spoke. Babu interpreted for him, which by this time we had become comfortable with. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Javan spoke graciously. Later, I asked him about how he felt, and Javan said “Surreal”.

Once again, it is hard to explain the depth of the brotherly love that we feel hear in India. It is only explainable through Jesus Christ. By the power of Jesus’ blood Aji Anthony and us have been adopted into the same family of God. In that sense, it seems perfectly reasonable to speak at his mother’s funeral, a lady we have never met. However some day we shall due to her genuine belief in our Savior.

One of the local pastors lost his mom yesterday. I believe she had cancer. Tomorrow we are going to go with Babu to the fuenral. Aji Anthony is the pastor’s name. He is a very good pastor we are told. We have heard him preach, and we couldn’t understand him, but he preached with power and the people seemed to connect. He is a about our age. He is also one of the pastors that Javan and I seemed to connect with. Even though we can’t communicate very well, we felt that we were on the same page.

I post this to ask for you to pray for him and his family. His mom believed in Jesus Christ so the funeral will be a celebration, but they will still miss her.

We spent some time talking with Babu today about the struggles of GCM. He said a lot of it is financial. Right now the orphanage was shut down by the government, and the people of each church are so poor that no pastor is being paid. Every pastor of GCM is getting a place to stay but absolutely no income. I wonder how many pastors we would have in America if they didn’t get paid? It is another example of their love for Christ and their understanding of the Gospel mission.

I may be a little off on this number but I think GCM has four church buildings out of about 30 churches. The other churches have to rent space from local property owners. A lot of GCM money goes to rent each month, just so the people have a place to meet. Right now one Church meets in Babu’s house, but it is far from adequate. I don’t know how they fit.

Babu told us that his goal is to pay his pastors $25 a month. That is right, a month. He asked us what American pastors made and he was surprised by the amount.

The need here is overwhelming. It is going to be hard coming back to the States. I am guessing I will have a new perspective on life.