"Now when Jesus had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught." Luke 5:4
Now after sixty-six years of learning at the Feet of Jesus and labouring in His vineyard, for us to be playing around in shallow waters would be most unpardonable and completely unacceptable. Our Master requires us to launch out into the deep with renewed purpose of heart and resoluteness of mind. Age, like childhood has its disadvantages. A movement slows down and those who should be tending the spiritual engines to peak performance, can get sleepy and even slow at the controls. Thus to get out of step with Gods high purposes is something which can happen quite imperceptibly.
The first waves of revival which were experienced beginning in the early 40s have continued with us over the years and even now break out in fresh rivulets and new ripples of power and blessing. Now this is producing a great expansion in the work, covering an extensive physical area. Now it is the sheer mercy of God that fresh outpourings of Gods cleansing power are being still experienced.
A constantly-growing work requires a continually-increasing faith. But this is hard to secure or guarantee. The succession of faith does not always follow the pattern of Elijah to Elisha, Moses to Joshua, or Paul to Timothy. The Christian climate of today of low spiritual standards, has caused a burgeoning trust in money and money-power to flourish. Now this is the opposite of faith in the Living God who is the Creator, Sustainer and Supplier of "all our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus." Out in the world, one always encounters men and women who operate on the strength of their job, status or money. Were these the strengths of David, when he brought down Goliath? No, he went with only five smooth stones and a sling but relying on the Name of the Lord of Hosts.
Now this year has witnessed certain changes. Bro. Joe has been constantly exhorting the elderly and ageing leaders, that the baton should be handed over smoothly and graciously to younger people so that continuity will be ensured without any disruption. We are but men that die, but of the increase of His kingdom there shall be no end. Many immature minds stake all their trust in only aged saints. Such shallow men fail to see that the Bible is full of young people whom God anointed and used in their youth and that the Scripture warns, "Let no man despise thy youth" (I Tim. 4:12). Hence, for many years now, Bro. Joe has been seeing his prime responsibility to be that of transmitting of faith to the younger generation and encouraging them to rise to a higher level of spiritual responsibility.
But as new generations have come into the Fellowship and the work, there is clearly visible a lack of seeking the deeper things of God. Many parents too have begun to exult in the material advancement and monetary well-being of their children, like non-Christian parents. This kind of declension Bro. Joe takes so much to heart that he literally puts on sackcloth at times, both for his failures and those of the Fellowship. Repentance and brokenness of heart is the key to cleansing and deliverance and he maintains that a leader should be the first to repent. It is extremely difficult for people in localised situations to see that one is far from sounding the depths, especially when one is being used of God and striving whole-heartedly to ply the mechanics of Christian work. How subtle is the danger to take volume for value and quantity for quality! We should shut our ears from hearing the praises of men and flee far from flattering lips. Only what God thinks of us counts.
All around us are influences which do not conduce to depth. People want to work for God with money in hand and a pattern of budgeting for this project and using another big sum for another item of the agenda, etc. But God has taught us down these years, to operate with hardly anything in our pockets. Today people look at our centres and the halls, but they do not realize that when Bro. Joe negotiated with the sellers of the lands which were needed for Gods work, he did not have the money but just went ahead in faith. Nothing can be more false than thinking that Gods work can be done by money. The modern mind refuses to be purged of this crippling misconception but this Fellowship ought to know better and be filled with the triumphant cry, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6). Falling from this level is a disastrous fall indeed!
Yes, this is our need todaythose who launch out into the deep; simply obeying the word of the Lord Jesus. Will you be the next to do so? With such a wealth of knowledge of what God has done for all those who trust in Him and for us, in spite of our small faith; shall we not trust God to speak through the mouths of babes and sucklings? Shall we not look unto our Risen Lord to strengthen us to do those greater works which He has promised us in His Word? Yes, we shall trust Him, in whom there in no shadow of turning.
To think that sixty-six years ago today,* Late Bro. N. Daniel arrived in Madras as a stranger to a large city, with few to greet him except a lone friend who received him at the train station, is a challenging and sobering thought. On that same day, in a little hired house, on a busy street known more for its small businesses and grocery shops than for private residences, together with this friend he knelt down and prayed and committed this Fellowship to the Lord. There were neither men nor material at hand to build anything. All had to be started from scratch. Bro. Daniel had left behind him in the town of Kakinada his little family which consisted of his wife, who is still with us today, and three young children, with the fourth one expected. He plunged into the deep knowing that Jehovah-Jireh would provide for him and trusted Him for all his needs. His net seemed empty and so was his boat. True to His word of promise, "Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men" (Luke 5:10), God gave him catch after catch of eternal souls. Almost a year passed before his wife, Deevanamma Daniel, joined him with the children, having resigned her job. Even thus came this family to be in the Hands of the Almighty, to be directed from that point by the Lord Jesus who promised His disciples, "Lo, I am with you ALWAY, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20).
Although Sikkim is but a small country* away from the beaten track, yet two days were given to the proclamation of Gods word in the biggest public hall of the capital city of Gangtok.
When Bro. Joe reached the hall after the very long drive up the lower Himalayan ranges from the airport far below in the plains, he found a packed hall with people seated huddled together until the porch. Some of the important officials of the government too were present. Some of them said that they had been stirred by the straight preaching of Bro. Joe some twenty-five years earlier in a mountain town, Kalimpong, not far away in West Bengal. Many Buddhists were present and the walls of the hall too had Buddhist inscriptions and murals. Now all these things did not distract from the message which focussed on Jesus and brought the Saviour of the world into full view.
There is an open invitation for us to go back and the Lord is laying upon our hearts to plan moves by which many in these remote regions and neighbouring Himalayan countries will be able to taste the Saviour of the world who alone gives men the Living Water whereby they never thirst again.
Agra and Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh
Our young doctor who has been utilising his time well learning the language is relocating from Agra to Jhansi. The Lord has been helping him to travel from city to city in this region, treating and operating upon some needy neurological cases.
Bro. Inbaraj from Nagpur travels from time to time to join forces with Dr. Jeremiah to reach some medical students and others with the Word of God.
Mangalapur and Bharatpur, Nepal
Our small work out of Mangalapur is relatively new. Not only have Dr. Karunakaran and his wife gained acceptance amongst the people, but our brother is in great demand as many congregations earnestly receive the message, which he brings to them from the Lord. Despite sicknesses and accidents this young couple (they are scarcely into their mid-seventies) are labouring faithfully for the Lord. We have not yet been able to strengthen their hands with revival meetings in this new area.
Our young teachers too are holding their own and are reaching out to others in the nearby town of Bharatpur.
Gudapakkam Prayer Hall, Madras
The name of the place suggests a remote little place and it is true to its name. This is about 30 km from Madras. Of the four nights given to the revival meetings here, Bro. Joe managed to go one night to help our team who were labouring here.
One of our brothers, who as a Hindu soldier was converted during his Army days when he heard the Word of God in Delhi, firmly set his heart upon establishing a witness amidst the strong non-Christian environment of his birth-place. Thus he and his family together with a few willing helpers, built a lovely prayer hall. It was packed to capacity for the meetings with more than half the crowd seated outside the hall. These meetings served the purpose of dedicating the hall to the Lord.
This dear brother did not live to see the meetings. His wife and children however are actively reaching out to souls and building the Body of Christ, which is the Church.
The New Guntur Prayer Hall
During the revival meetings here in January, the Guntur prayer hall was dedicated. No special ceremony of any sort was held. But the revival meetings themselves were the dedication.
It was a sight to warm the heart of anyone who loves the Lord Jesus. From end to end our huge grounds were filled with a vast congregation. The word of God as usual went forth with great power. Mrs. Lily Daniel was also used of God and her message which was directed to the great need in the family and in training and nurturing of children, was lapped up with great earnestness.
What hurts us very deeply is that the multitudes being so large prevents our being able to deal with people one by one. This was our forte before. But sadly we are nowhere as thorough in dealing with souls as we used to be. This can introduce a great weakness into the work. Hence we must gear our team to labour, until everyone in our huge congregations is turned into a disciple and soul-winner.
Jaggiahpet and Kondapalle, Andhra Pradesh
In this busy place on the highway to Hyderabad, Jaggiahpet, a little work had been going on for some time. It was a great surprise to Bro. Joe to see a nice, roomy, airy hall at the end of a street which ran right into green fields, with plenty of room for expansion.
Although it was mid-morning of a working day, the place was full. Earnest people filled the newly-built hall and paid full attention to the word of God. The dear Lords Name was glorified.
Thus it transpired that on his way to the revival meetings in the city of Hyderabad, Bro. Joe was halted on the highway, by motorbike riders who took him to speak briefly at another hall, newly built at an industrial centre called Kondapalle. Even school children had skipped classes for half a day to be present at this short meeting! The zeal and earnestness of the people at both places was most touching.
Nuzvid, Andhra Pradesh
During the years of late Bro. Daniel, he visited this place once and again, though it was an uninviting, out-of-the-way place, and preached to some of the poorest people that one can find anywhere, who barely seemed to keep body and soul together. Bro. Joe had accompanied his parents during those early campaigns.
In the fifties of the last century, there would just be a sparse congregation, many of whom would come very tardily to the meeting and sit scattered under a poorly-built pandal. Seeing that they worked as day-labourers, in the hot fields throughout the day, the mere fact that they were present at the meetings, spoke of hungry hearts.
Dr. Jayasingh too was sent to speak at our earlier meetings here. An indisciplined, unfaithful and selfish worker caused a great setback to the work some six or seven years ago.
When Bro. Joe preached at the only night meeting, which he could accommodate in his schedule, there was an overflowing crowd vastly different from the poverty-stricken people which he had seen at the beginnings of the work. There were men and women of all sorts present, including university research students. People drawn from a wide range of communities and many who would have never come to our meetings in those early days due to the pride of caste and status, sat shoulder to shoulder with people of moderate or no education at all. Many of them had been transformed by the touch of God, at our meetings held in the neighbouring areas and had flocked hither on hearing about the meetings.
With the power and reality of the Gospel so strikingly visible in the composition of the crowd, indicating how many had been converted in recent times, how wonderfully a preacher is strengthened to raise the message of the Gospel, to the note of universality and triumph which rightly belongs to it!
Currently the foundations of a commodious prayer hall are being laid.
Buchireddipalem, Andhra Pradesh
On February the 5th morning, long before it dawned, after concluding the meetings in Nellore the previous night, Bro. Joe was on his way to this village of Buchireddipalem. Illuminated with many lights, strung out from the road to the new hall, there stood our congregation lining the path, which led to the new prayer hall, a little distance from the road. As Bro. Joe preached and launched into the message, the dawn began to break. The message rang out, the loudspeakers carrying it over that section of the village, telling the early-risers of the love of Jesus and the power of His propitiatory death and Resurrection.
One of our engineers who takes care of the work here, labours hard to build the kingdom of God in this large village. This new church building was barely ready. Teams of them had worked night and day, to get the place ready enough to be dedicated that morning.
Annur, Tamil Nadu
In this place where the bazaar or shopping area appears to be always teeming with people, the testimony of the Lord is scarcely visible. Situated close to the Blue Mountains, this town is a key hub of bus routes.
Over the years, revival meetings were held with great difficulty in narrow courtyards and unsuitable places. With much burden of heart, our team members, including Dr. Samraj, Dr. Jesudas, Late Bro. Christy Pandian, Bro. Paul Athi and several others, laboured faithfully over the years, although the numbers were few and people were dull of hearing. Yes, they had to be brought in one by one from ancient and closed family circles, many of whom hated and despised the Lord Jesus, though they scarcely knew anything about Him.
The prayer hall which now stands in this place really speaks of the power of the Gospel to save sinners. Quite a large group of us gathered for a season of prayer in this newly constructed hall. To many of us, it was the culmination of many efforts to find a suitable place. Satan thwarted our moves for years. Then again, we want to emphasize that anything which is built without the exercise of faith will only prove to be an empty shell. Bro. Joe believes that Gods money should be spent most carefully as it is only made available as an answer to much prayer. Building halls is of little consequence if the saving Word does not go out with power from there.
Many years ago a large exhibition was held amidst fields way out from the built-up and inhabited part of Madras, a little distance from an arterial road into the city. As the years passed, this desolate tract of land has become a well-planned, teeming residential area which stands out almost as a sister-city.
The Scripture notes that, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18). How true this is when one looks at areas like Annanagar today and realizes how little we have done for souls there! One feels ashamed and sad at the failure to catch the vision at the right time.
At long last, however, as the pressure from the Lord increased showing us our poor foresight and failure to grasp the vision, Bro. Joe knew that meetings had to be held without further delay. With the big Retreat so close at hand, it seemed well-nigh impossible to squeeze these meetings into an already heavy schedule. Yet four days were slated for these meetings, from 4th May.
With some difficulty we secured the use of a small ground in the branch school which is a spill-over from the prep school in which the Daniel children had studied. The founder of the original school was a Miss Bain, a Scots lady who had a great love for children and had extraordinary talents which she put to use training them. She had taught Bro. Joe recitation of English poetry!
With so much to do in the Beulah Gardens, preparing for the Retreat which was fast approaching, it is a great tribute to the hard work put in by our team, that the whole quadrangle of the school was electrified and an adequate Public Address system was set up, and the four nights of meetings from May 4 to 7 were greatly owned of God. It is mainly the word of mouth, which draws the people in increasing numbers.
Thus a start has been made to draw in new souls and to augment the little ministry, which has continued down the years on the terrace of Bro. Chakravarthis house, about a kilometre away.
The Burgeoning Cities of India
With the population of India shooting past the billion mark, the awesome thought should not escape us that one in six inhabitants in the globe is an Indian. The Indian abroad is pretty ugly in his aggressiveness and even arrogance and those who stay home in this country are sullen, insular, proud and so steeped in superstition and caste that at every turn they make a supreme effort to turn mythology into history. The above of course is a generalization and like any generalization does not apply to every person.
The huge urban sprawls and slums around the big cities, which are still in the throes of industrialization and massive population shifts, makes many Indian cities stand out as dirty and disorderly shanty towns. Covering these cities with even small attempts to awaken people to the call and fact of eternity is no simple task!
In Delhi, even the police get highly excited and want to know what these meetings are all about, as though some huge subterfuge or dangerous plot affecting national security is afoot! Bro. Joe makes it clear from the platform that there is not an inhabitant in the land who does not require spiritual conversion. From the biggest man in town to the humblest dweller in the slums, men need to turn away from their sins of deceit, perpetual lying, hatred, immorality and all uncleanness and turn to the Saviour who became the sacrifice for all mens sins. Hence these sleuths who are sent to check on our meetings cannot escape being stricken in their conscience and quietly desist from even putting in an appearance after the first night or two.
But it is evident that a concerted effort is clearly being made by a blinkered, government-driven repression, to close most public halls to Christian meetings. Thus our meetings in Delhi, though well-attended, were held in the hall of a Christian Assembly. Our preference is always a public hall which people can enter with no inhibition or religious prejudice.
Nagpur, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Bombay and Guwahati
In spite of the great distances between these cities, the Lord enabled Bro. Joe to labour from city to city. After the meetings closed in Delhi, it was two nights in the open-air in no less a city than Nagpur, known for its militant and irrational hatred of Christianity and for that matter all other minorities whom they seem ready to obliterate from the face of the planet. In the face of various hardships, which are of course to be expected, our little team there is advancing with faith.
In Chandigarh and Ludhiana in the Punjab, there were more people at the meetings and the sowing of the Word of God can never be in vain.
In Bombay, in the Railway Institute Hall, people gathered with great earnestness. In this great, rich, expensive city, where we never did seek out and possess a hall to seat at least a thousand people, it is always hard to find the right hall. The above lapse in our asking and receiving indicates the grave lack of faith in us.
At Guwahati, Assam, amazingly the huge hall of Don Bosco School was given to us at short notice. Some of our brothers have been a very good influence in this school as teachers. This capital city of the sprawling state of Assam is passing through a state of great instability due to several different groups of insurgents and a weak government.
The Lord drew a large number of people to the meetings. In the face of many difficulties, our little work here is steadily advancing.
Youth and Childrens Camps
There is not enough cognition of the fact that the Bible is full of young people whom God called to fulfil a very special function in His Everlasting Kingdom. That our meetings continue to have a super-abundance of young people is a great token of Gods mercy and favour, indicating that He is still with us, though we scarcely deserve His presence in the midst.
At our Youth and Students Retreat in October, there was such a large number of young people from far-flung regions and they sat drinking in the Word of God. We want critical appraisal which settles it for ever in their minds and hearts that Jesus is the only answer and viable solution to the problems of society and the world today. We dont want head-nodders and gallery-viewers, nor even those who dance around shouting in a great display of emotion. We want them to fall at Jesus Feet in total surrender.
During the Discussion Groups there are many points raised and the leaders are given specific instruction to encourage the young people to speak up.
The Spirit of prayer descends on many and there is plenty of room for them in Beulah Gardens to get alone and pray and we found many doing that. This camp is short and therefore it is quite concentrated. We praise God that in the midst of exams, assignments and numerous difficulties of travel and shortage of money, so many young people voluntarily come to the Youth Retreat. On the first day it was 1200 and the numbers grew until we were 2000 people, most of whom were living in.
Our Childrens Camps
Several of our brothers and sisters operate in good, cohesive and effective teams at many childrens camps which are held each year. Many children receive a touch from the Lord.
One real drawback in our camps is that we have not hitherto emphasized that the Christian disciple not only fears sin but that Christ in them enables them to overcome the floods of evil and temptation which will descend on them, as they proceed from primary school to high school and then to the universities. Hence after a touch from the Lord, many are found to slack off during the turbulent teenage years. However it is clear that some stand steadfast. The quality of our Childrens camps and the teaching imparted needs to be vastly improved. Also we need to take our childrens camps to pioneering areas, where children from predominantly non-Christian backgrounds need to be taught the basic truths of the Gospel.
Royapuram, Salem, Coonoor, Kolar Gold Fields, Vellore, Coimbatore and Bombay managed to host these camps during these past twelve months.
Campaigns in Andhra Pradesh
In what was perhaps the longest succession of campaigns, which followed in a continual stream, from January into the latter part of March, Bro. Joe addressed vast crowds in various strategic centres in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This state which was carved out of the erstwhile Madras Presidency, extends nearly 1000 km from South to North along the Eastern sea-board of India. It was in the middle and Northern regions of this State that revival first began, in the early forties of the last century, under the labours of Bro Daniel (Senior) and Mrs. Deevenamma Daniel. During these hectic ten weeks, quite a number of our able preachers were sent to help at these heavy campaigns.
The campaigns began with Stuartpuram, which was notorious as a township formed for criminals, where an unspecified and unprecedented number of people heard Gods word. The team, which ministered, was quite large and laboured most tirelessly. Bro. Whitson generally opens these meetings, being the speaker at the opening sessions.
On the penultimate day of the meetings at Stuartpuram, which was a Sunday, after addressing a congregation of about 100,000 people, upon whom the Spirit of God swept in great power, Bro. Joe was driven to Vijayawada, some 90 km away. There another vast concourse of people received the word of God with great hunger, that same evening. Early next morning he was able to return to Stuartpuram to address the last meeting of the convention.
John, Bro. Joe's oldest boy, also preached at these meetings and his messages, though straight and hard-hitting, were received by many with joy.
It must be remembered that these large meetings are followed by smaller meetings in scores of towns and villages in the hinterland. Nearly thirty of our teams fanned out to conduct meetings even in some very small places, in order to gather in the harvest. We still believe that if a preacher or speaker, however celebrated he may be, if he is not capable of following-up his platform work with travail for and with individual souls, is hardly worth his salt. Hence many of our preachers spend many hours praying with and counselling souls. This of course is physically very demanding and spiritually draining.
Now for well over fifty years, under the good Hand of God these meetings have continued and gathered strength in this large throbbing city of Vijayawada. While tens of thousands have turned to the Lord with strong crying and with repentance, we must ask ourselves the sobering question, "How many men of the calibre of Sundar Singh, Francis of Assissi, Hudson Taylor or Charles Studd have we produced.?" It is obvious that Gods Almighty Spirit is at work, creating hunger for Gods word in the hearts of men of other religions and even those of a fanatic disposition, causing them to come and fall down at the Feet of the Saviour.
Immediately after these days at Vijayawada, the scene shifted to the capital of Andhra State, Hyderabad. Our large hall was full and much of the room available in our compound was occupied by many people who came in from even distant places. God graciously touches strangers and new souls nearly all the time.
What is of grave concern to us is that none of these bright young souls who are being reached should contract spiritual infections and diseases from those who have been for years at our meetings and have never found full release from the world and its benumbing leprosy. The devil apparently has dullened the ears of many and they cannot hear God's call, "Whom shall I send?" and hence the response, "Here am I, send me" is scarcely heard.
Some of the leaders here expressed the fear that the roof over the huge hall would come down with the next high wind. Bro Joe was told that the hall should be immediately rebuilt. Bro. Joe who normally does not pay much attention to alarmist fears, said, "You men pray that no powerful wind will assail this high roof, not even monsoon winds." The monsoon was just round the corner at that time. The Lord in His mercy kept the rickety roof intact and the hall from collapsing, for a whole year. In the last month, the Lord enabled a strong and sturdy roof to be put in place. Nightly, after a whole days work in their offices, men and women have been working earnestly for hours, helping to make the hall more commodious.
During these many years of pioneer work and constant evangelistic effort, all we were able to put up were small huts, sheds, bamboo and palm-leaf structures, and make-shift improvisations. The little money which was in hand, which often amounted to almost nothing, was spent for the meetings, to reach souls and lead them to true repentance. Now as these big new replacements of our humble structures are coming up, Bro. Joe is constantly sounding out the warning, "Halls mean nothing, they often bring with them only vanity and powerlessness."
Then followed the meetings in the port city of Vizag. The one meeting which was specially held for the university students, was very well attended. It is imperative that we should do far more than what we are doing to meet the spiritual hunger amongst many students in this area. Now it is all the more amazing that more and more young people are being won to Christ, while many religious bigots are drumming up opposition to the preaching of the Gospel.
Anakapalle and Annawaram
Leaving Vizag, the morning after the meetings closed, Bro Joe preached in the business town of Anakapalle, barely 40 km away. A new work is beginning to take shape here.
While passing through a place of Hindu pilgrimage, another 80 km down the road, Bro Joe stopped to preach to a small gathering of earnest souls. In this town of Annawaram, every Lords day some gather to worship the Lord Jesus.
Kakinada and Rajahmundry
At Kakinada and Rajahmundry, the meetings took place almost at the same time. Now this was only possible as Bros. Whitson, Johnston and other team members alternated with Bro. Joe, and criss-crossed from town to town and maintained the continuity of the meetings. Kakinada, which is a prominent educational centre is just about 70 km from Rajahmundry. Some of you will recall that it was from Kakinada that God called His servant the Late Bro. Daniel.
Eluru is a district headquarters town which has for years been a hard place for any deep work of God to grow. Although even at the time of late Bro. Daniel, some little ploughing of the soil was done, no continuing or abiding work was possible, especially due to selfish and shallow men, who never sought "the honour which comes from God only". A small testimony for the Lord was however kept alive, by the Sunday worship which for years took place in the premises of a school, which was being run in the place by one of our girls.
One of our faithful young men was transferred to Eluru by the railways. This young official persisted, prayed and laboured tirelessly, until a small prayer hall was built by the Fellowship barely a couple of years ago. Led by the Spirit of God, hardly aware that his days on earth were to be all too brief, this brother Yesuratnam resigned his post and gave himself wholly to reaching out to souls. One morning quite suddenly Gods call came for Him, and he was translated into the Presence of the King of kings.
The marvellous thing is the work of the Lord continues here, unabated. Bro. Yesuratnams wife and young children courageously continue to serve and build Gods work. In fact the childrens camp which was scheduled for that weekend still took place, though Bro. Yesuratnam had been called Home a few days earlier. Bro. Whitson, who conducted the funeral service, stayed on to help at the Childrens Camp. The three days given to the revival meetings saw an increasing number of most unlikely people pouring into our compound to hear the Word of God. Bros. Moses Charles, Whitson and Joe were used of God in this place.
Leaving Bro Whitson to preach at the last meeting at Eluru, Bro. Joe went directly to the campaign in Guntur 120 km away. The same evening he was able to address a huge crowd which overflowed our new hall. More people were seated on the grass and the chairs outside the hall, than within the hall.
Leaving this huge crowd to be finally addressed by Bro. Whitson, Bro. Joe travelled around 75 km to a place called Addanki where another great expectant crowd was waiting and addressed them until almost 10.30 pm.
Bhimavaram, Chittoor and Repalle
From almost the time of the first waves of revival, which began to spread into even remote villages, some of the rural areas around this big bustling town of Bhimavaram began to experience blessing. Hence the late Bro. Daniel (Senior) began to preach even in some of these villages. Thus Bhimavaram became a venue for our revival meetings annually for many years. After Bro. Daniel's Home-call, Bro Joe saw the need to move the meetings into the heart of the town, from the corner where Christian mission institutions had existed for over a century. This led to many students being drawn to the meetings and the general public being exposed to the plain preaching of the Gospel.
This year the meetings for the first time were conducted in our own plot of land which the Lord had given us, after much prayer. Even at this first campaign in this new location, so great was the drawing power of God's word, that the place overflowed and people were standing in the street in front listening to the Word of the Lord.
The meetings in Chittoor, which is situated in quite another part of the state of Andhra, drew more people than we have ever had in recent times. In fact many from neighbouring towns too were present and were pleading that their places also should be given these big meetings, that many souls may be touched by the Lord in those new areas too.
Now Repalle occupies a place of great importance in the history of the
Fellowship, inasmuch as one of the earliest and most powerful manifestations of God
breaking down Communists, drunkards and most violent men took place here. The revival
which broke out here, over 55 years ago, is still spreading to new areas.
This years meetings were special as a great multitude heard God's word in our own centre. The construction of the prayer hall here had just begun but that was no hindrance to the meetings. The people sat in the wide open land which was hardly level and eagerly drank in God's word.
Labours in Tamil Nadu
It was in fact the biggest crowd that Bro. Joe had ever addressed in Salem and the people were drinking in the Word of God at these meetings, which were held from September 30 to October 2. The pre-monsoon rains did not chill the ardour of the crowd.
These meetings had coincided with a holiday weekend. Hence we scarcely knew how many children of our school here were present at the meetings. Many non-Christians were drawn by the Word of God. The people who had come from many surrounding areas will surely carry the fire and glow to many remote regions.
The University-Town of Annamalainagar
It pained Bro. Joe when he was told that it was thirteen years since he last visited this strategic university-town. Many years ago the Lord gave him a burden for Annamalainagar. God also showed him in prayer a location where He had a place for us, although he had no knowledge about the layout of this university campus or town. Even as the Lord indicated, there was just the place for us. There we built our prayer hall and a tiny room, which was later converted into the dwelling place of the resident evangelist. Many snakes would come into our grounds but never was any one of them permitted by God to bite us.
At these meetings, which were held from February 18 to 20, a growing number of students and others from outlying areas began to attend the meetings. Dr. Samraj, who had himself been converted in his student days, was used of God and Bro. Joe and Sister Lily followed him and preached on the final night of the meetings.
This university-town adjoins the temple-town and pilgrim-centre of Chidambaram. The very location therefore of this university leads to students being ensnared into various sins of the flesh. But when they are touched by the Lord, they come out voluntarily with the confession of their dreadful profligacy and uncleanness.
Pallamcottah, which is only 80 km from the Cape Comorin, which is the southernmost point in India, continues to be an educational centre on a big scale. Several of our present workers have been former students in these colleges. Late Bro. N. Daniel and Bro. Joe having laboured so much in this very large Cathedral town and parish, this place occupies a place of special significance to the Fellowship.
Thus during the few days of meetings given to this town from May 30 to June 3, we were able to minister to many who had been touched by the Lord at our meetings in years gone by. Dr. Jayasingh and Dr. Jesudas commenced the meetings, and several of our brothers laboured in various capacities. The meetings in the mornings were well attended too. In the evening meetings, there were an increasing number of people who kept coming in from many places.
During the last three days of the meetings we had another audience too. Right in front of us, forty metres from our gates, was the Soccer stadium, which was conducting its Annual Tournament. Hence many in that great crowd too would have heard bits and snatches of the message which was going out over powerful loudspeakers. The Lord granted His word to go forth with power and Sister Lily Daniel too was enabled to share some important truths which God had taught her, as a home-builder under God.
Bro. Paranjothi and sister Winnie, though weak in body, have been labouring faithfully for the Lord and we rejoice to see younger men rising up to take up the burdens of the Kingdom. Yet, we simply need to see the Lord ARISE and do new thing in this whole district.
Leaving the last two meetings of the campaign in Pallamcottah, to be addressed by the team members, Bro. Joe and Sister Lily were driven nearly a hundred kilometres to this place where one can see enormous temples everywhere.
Many years ago, when Bro. Joe laboured with his parents in the Anglican Church here, this town was passing through several years of prolonged drought Hence, at the meetings the convention committee had designated the Saturday evening meeting as the special meeting at which prayer would be made for rain. Now the people had begun to repent and faith was coming into hearts, where sin had hindered hitherto.
It happened that the same evening that this special meeting was scheduled to take place, Bro. Joe was going to catch his train back to Madras. Late Bro. Daniel remained behind to conclude the meetings. Now as the time for this special meeting drew near, the sky darkened dreadfully and it began to thunder and pour. It was with difficulty that he even managed to get to the train station. Of course the jeep which took him to the station could hardly keep him from getting drenched! Water was flowing down the street. Hence the Lord answered before the "Special meeting for rain" could even get started. God's Word was vindicated again, "Before they call I will answer..." Isaiah 65:24
Now there was a large audience which had gathered to which Bro. Joe and Sister Lily ministered. The small work here has been just kept going by one of our young men who travels frequently to this place to give Gods word here. This is an arid district which desperately needs showers from on high.
Leaving Srivilliputtur after a quick meal, Bro. Joe had to traverse quite some distance across several districts to get to this new centre where souls have been getting savedDharapuram.
Bro. Jeyaraj who had been a foreman in a bus company, introduced Bro. Joe saying that the Lord touched and saved him and his wife, in the one hour, years earlier, while having a walk in the park, they saw something was going on and stepped into the tent where he was preaching. Yes, the Lord was there and as Jeyaraj said, he was delivered forthwith from his drink and his old life of sin. Some few years ago, though in poor health, he was sent to labour in this important business centre.
Now at this special meeting, a large audience gathered to whom Bro. Joe and Sister Lily ministered. We owe much thanks to God that He is using so many of our brothers to win souls for Christ.
The annual Retreat of the Fellowship has from its inception been a time
of great challenge and exercise of faith. This Retreat was the same. There were problems
to surmount which were beyond human strength such as a critical lack of water in the city
of Madras. From the start, Bro. Joe was given the simple understanding that this could be
no problem to God. The water springs and resources are His, hence at the command of God
the springs of water at Beulah Garden started to supply water in super abundance such that
some of the 3,000 residents at the Retreat were able to take four baths a day!
We ran into a real heat wave yet God in his mercy did not allow the sun to smite us by day.
Yet another hurdle to overcome was our antiquated kitchen. Our dependence on log fires seemed to be okay, when the numbers were small but with 3,000 people to feed three times a day we needed modern equipment. A manufacturer of kitchen equipment at short notice supplied us with cooking gear, which could handle a much greater crowd.
The logistics which involved carrying a large number of people from the train station to the Beulah Gardens, 25 km away besides conveying another 3,000 daily from the meetings to the city bus terminals, was well handled by our brothers who were entrusted with the job.
The message from first to last was focused on faith. This is where we are failing. We are not applying the limitless power of God to challenges which in effect are no challenges at all to God. The Fellowship is growing older but not necessarily deeper. So it is for each one of us to search out wherein we are falling short. This is no time for smugness. Yes, the Lord was dealing with us and many were found praying all over the garden, late into the night and early into the morning. One person said, "It was like being so close to heaven that one did not want to leave the place." Many were blessed and rejoiced at the continually widening fields where souls are being transformed and the expanding vision which the Lord is setting before us.
On the Literature Front
It is very gratifying to see that notwithstanding the big wave of television purchases and the numerous channels now available, our readership appears only to increase. Hence we constantly run out of stock of our publications. In Telugu alone twelve reprints had to be made.
Then there is the challenge of the new areas which we are constantly reaching. Although Hindi is widely spoken in the Punjab, there are quite some people who love the local language Punjabi. The testimony of Sadhu Sundar Singh was produced in Punjabi for mass circulation.
It was in West Bengal that the great missionary, William Careywho incidentally published the first newspaper in Indiaset up his press and began to translate and print the Bible in approximately thirty-two languages. However when we began to attempt to publish Christian truth in Bengali, Satan appeared to withstand us greatly. But we prevailed by the Blood of the Lamb and therefore our first Bengali books are going forth. Only two titles are currently being distributed: "Victory over Demons and Fear" and "Mao and Marx Bound UsChrist Freed Us". This latter book, which is a compilation of the testimonies of Communists who were converted in our meetings, is certainly going to speak to many who have for a record number of times voted a Communist government to power in West Bengal.
Two books in Hindi"Jonathan Goforths Revival in China" and "Victory over Demons and Fear" have also been published this year.
In the Spanish language there is a continual growth in our publications. Seeing that most of South America and Mexico in North America speaks Spanish, we must pray that our outreach in this language will be more effectively used for the saving of eternal souls. Bro. Klaus Klingler, often supported and helped by his children, produces these books and booklets. Our magazine "Christ is Victor" is also put out in Spanish.
Sundar Singh's life in Greek has been going out in the island of Cyprus and on the mainland in Greece. Let us pray that many in the hard and resistant Orthodox Greek Church will be challenged and awakened by story of this simple disciple of Christ, who walked so like His Master.
In German, after much hard work put in by our literature team there, the story of Bro. Joe's Youthful Years is ready to go out. Let us pray that this first volume of his life will be a blessing to many young people.
A new feature of our literature ministry are the book-fairs in key centres of population. Now these book-fairs were held in Coimbatore, Vijayawada, Nellore, Tambaram and Kolar Gold Fields.
From the prices posted on our books people seem to realize that we are not there to make money. So strangers warm up to us quickly and the response is whole-hearted.
Our local brothers and sisters pitch in and provide much of the infrastructure for the setting up of these book-fairs. They evince so much interest and strengthen our hands greatly both with prayer and with steady work during the days of the fair.
There are so many regional languages, that to be able to move into distant states without the adequate availability of Christian books in the respective regional language, is becoming a great hindrance. Thus considering the extensive need, what we are doing is indeed totally inadequate. Pray that we might be able to reach the remote corners of this vast sub-continent too with these book-fairs.
We have but given a partial and cursory look at the growing work. Many of us sowed, some watered, but "God gave the increase."
We have not been able to even mention certain advances, moves and campaigns which are of strategic significance. But our dear Lord is at work and still uses the hidden ones. No one seems to notice them, but their hidden life of prayer and real sacrifices, when they have served and given "without their left hand knowing what their right hand doeth", is all chronicled in Heaven.
Do we deserve His mercies and blessings? No. We have been extremely slow in moving on into perfectionthe image of Jesus.
Countless times we have fallen short of His will. Our small localised minds have kept us from "lifting up our eyes and looking on the fields". If God in His mercy will renew us and empower us in the inner man and extend the days of our pilgrimage, we shall certainly make amends for our tardiness and live only to show forth that to Jesus alone belong "the kingdom, the power and the glory."
Laymens Evangelical Fellowship International
NEWS FROM OVERSEAS
"Christ died for all." "Jesus our Lord rose again taking captivity captive." But alas, there are millions to whom these words are totally without meaning. In our travels for the Gospel constantly we meet men and women who have never met anyone who has told them that there is freedom from sin in Christ Jesus. In other words, they never came across someone who was truly transformed by the power of God.
Then again there are those who are pure traditionalists. They will follow tradition whatever it might say. And alas, what a number of people still live around us, to whom religion and righteousness are completely unrelated entities. Thus in spite of the swelling ranks of even fanatic religionists of all sorts, thefts, deceit, drug abuse, greed, drunkenness and plain disregard for all morals is spiralling out of control in advanced as well as under-developed countries. In fact the condition of the world around us reflects and reveals our total disobedience to the Saviour's command to "Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News that the Lord Jesus who sets the captive prisoner free from the prison-house of sin and one's own nature, is at hand to SAVE." Even the Name of Jesus is unknown to millions. Surely it is high time to quit mouthing platitudes and to go out and bring HOPE to the hopeless.
Eastern religions are jostling each other frantically to fill the tragic spiritual vacuum in Western lands. In so doing they are transporting even some of the crudest elements of their occult origins, into both urban and rural communities in Europe and the US, thereby greatly increasing nervous disorders and suicides.
Over the radio and through the television in countries like Guyana, in South America, the dear Lord is enabling us to lift up the Saviour. Many who come under the sound of the message are being freed from these deceptions of the devil.
In the United Kingdom
Our retreats both in summer and winter continue to draw people, who receive much needed spiritual quickening during these times, when we sit under the Word of the Lord. The Lord in His mercy, continues to presence Himself amongst us.
The retreat in January, which was held in our hall in the rear area of our Bookstall, in Brixton, London, drew several new people. But then London seems to be full of restless, shifty and rudderless souls, who when drawn to the Gospel, want to be on the milk bottle all the time. But the true Gospel produces soul-winners, overcomers and those who will "obtain the Crown of Righteous".
The distribution of Bibles in many languages, as well as carefully selected Christian books which will bring real blessing to the readers, is constantly on the increase. It is just a handful of our people who man this effort but faithfully they persevere, even in the midst of a market-place where sometimes pilferers of Bibles or costly items like CDs, respond by showing the knives under their coats, when detected or caught
While our retreats and youth camps continue, protracted meetings for revival are sorely wanting here. The need for such campaigns is ever present with us but the sacrifice needed for scheduling such meetings is lacking. Thus a whole generation is growing up, which has not witnessed any real manifestation of revival power lately. Several years have passed since young women and men have gone out from among us, moved by the pure compulsion of winning souls to Jesus. Of course this involves giving up all thought of comfort and truly renouncing worldly prosperity. Now the thought patterns pressing upon young people everywhere today, is all about making big money, buying cars and houses and pursuing earthly security.
The spiritual desolations of former East Germany have been knocking at our hearts, making us painfully aware that we have done very little for the salvation of the people there. Missionaries sent out from these very areas in earlier times, challenged the Christian world of the18th and19th centuries, with the quality of their dedication and single-heartedness. Their incredible lives of sacrifice, service and even scholarship in the native languages, puts us to shame today. Ziegenbalg of Tranquobar, and Schwarz of Tanjore were amongst those stalwarts.
Youth and Children's Camps
In Germany each year separate camps are held for children, teenagers and young people who are either at high school or University. For the Children's Camps several of our team members work very hard. It is not easy today to take care of children as in many homes there is quite a breakdown in discipline. We cannot teach the children everything in five or six days. Yet the seed is sown in their hearts with faith.
At the Youth Camp we continue to have a goodly number who whole-heartedly partake in all the meetings. However, at some point we are failing because we are not turning these young people into great spiritual pioneers and those who advance into dark regions with a heavenly vision. Bro. Joe has always made it a point of finding the time to be with these young people at this special weekend retreat. There is still hope in him that God will raise up mighty men and women from this group of young people who steadily come to our Retreats.
In UK, our Childrens Camp attracts some children from totally dysfunctional families. The team of brothers and sisters who work hard to make the five or six days at camp a telling experience know that they are scattering the seed which is the word of God in tender hearts which are greatly oppressed in their own homes.
Labours in Paris, France
We are currently working amongst the poorest people in Paris, many of them being refugees from Sri Lanka. Most of the people here are from strong Hindu background. Several among them have little education and therefore find only small jobs which afford minimum wage only. Their problems and struggles are great.
Bro. Thilag and his wife Stella are labouring faithfully and are seeing great victories despite many limitations. As the work expands, the need for our own centre in this expensive city is getting to be a pressing one. Currently our prayer meetings are held in small family apartments. Let us pray that God will awaken many French people to an understanding of their desperate need for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Labours in the US
Our Retreat in August is perhaps the biggest of our efforts to build peoples lives in faith and to wean them away from the world. Many who attend this Retreat, which has been held for some years in Sebring, south of Akron in Ohio, value this time with God greatly. Hence, they plan in advance to obtain leave to be present at this Retreat.
There is a great deal of teamwork, which makes the kitchen to run smoothly. The young mothers share the responsibility of cooking for this group which is steadily growing. While it is found that not all the men are expert at the wash-up, yet they try to perform as best they can without a grumpy face.
Last years Retreat was hit by an unusual spell of cold weather in mid-summer for which many were ill prepared. In the midst of the increasing tempo of American life and the expectation of companies from their work force, this Retreat is like a breath of life-giving breeze from heaven. The spirit of God impresses upon us the need for us to maintain a broken and contrite spirit continually. The other two Retreats are of short duration, one in November and the other at Easter time. Slowly but steadily more people with spiritual hunger are being drawn to these Retreats.
In Miami, Florida
Usually on their way to South America, Bro. Joe and his wife Lily stop for a single day to minister in this city. This years meeting was very significant as many earnest people gathered and heard God's word in a church. A small prayer group has been meeting for prayer in this city so full of travellers, vacationers and old retirees. What we are doing of course is far too tiny to even mention.
In New Jersey and New York
In New Jersey, where James Daniel is currently working, at a church which was almost written off as a lost cause, a young pastor is exercising faith and praying for revival. A small prayer group meets on Saturday nights for prayer in Metuchen. Out of this prayer and burden a ministry is emerging which we believe will touch many lives and families. Bro. Joe was able to preach one Lords Day both morning and evening in this church.
Dr. Samuel Johnson unfailingly takes Bro. Joe to preach to some Indian church or another in New York City every time he can get hold of him. It is not however to the liking of Bro. Joe to preach to just one ethnic group seeing that at our meetings nearly all the races are represented.
The Unseen Congregation
As our broadcasts go out in many areas and urban centres both in the US and Canada, there is a growing body of people who are being quickened by Gods word. There is a fear in America that if one should write to a radio speaker, he would be badgered with many appeals for funds. Hence, though the response in terms of letters is not great we know that many are listening. Those who do know us know that we never appeal for funds.
The International Version of "Christ is Victor"
An increasing number of these magazines are constantly going out to a widening group of universities, hospitals and even prisons. These magazines, which are left in the college notice boards, are being picked up and read by many who appear to profit greatly from them. Now we need to pray with real faith that God will use the broadcast message both by print and by radio and bring a great harvest of souls in.
Labours in South America
Bro. Klaus Klingler, though he appears to plough a lonely furrow at times, is seeing precious souls being touched. Sometimes he stands on the street with a tiny book-table with several of our Spanish books, booklets and Bibles spread out and scatters the word of God in this fashion. On occasion this creates a great stir and even rage amongst some people.
Then also with much prayer he deals with souls which have been demon possessed for years. Some of these demons are found to inhabit several members of a family. The Lord gives light and direction so that he gets them to remove the charms, amulets and other paraphernalia from their houses. It is only after that the demons flee.
While dealing with some stubborn cases, he rings Bro. Joe and asks him for prayer over the phone. The demons react violently with this and cry out and scream in an eerie manner and leave. The gracious Lord enables Bro. Klaus to persevere in this difficult ministry.
In Guyana, several of our meetings are still small, yet the Lord enables his Word to be preached out with freedom. Dr. Danny has been involved in the literature ministry in some of the outlying places. Sometimes one wonders how he is able to take a full load of medical work and still engage himself so much in reaching souls.
Our meetings annually culminate in the big National Cultural Centre of Guyana. Some of the messages are carried live over their National Radio Network. So every year much exposure is given to the word of God at these meetings. Annually we meet people who come seeking deliverance from fear, demon oppression and even physical mauling by demons. Gradually we are beginning to reach out to remote areas also.
The students work continues and Israel Dwarakanath has adjusted well to the new surroundings and his work both as a lecturer and a researcher is getting to be recognized. The Lord must help us to inject more spiritual warriors into this needy work.
Although our team is very small, yet God is enabling them to televise some of our messages and through this means reach both high and low in this country. We need to pray for the strengthening of this team.
In Australia in the little town where Dr. Sydney is working, a small work is beginning to take off. We need to pray more for this country and the continuing work in Perth, Western Australia.
The Radio and Television Ministry
The scope and reach of our radio ministry continues to grow. It is amazing how the Lord supports this ministry in spite of the fact that our radio listeners are neither told nor urged to send money to support this very expensive part of our work. The dedicated gifts of quite a small number of people, who give as unto the Lord, go to support this very effective means of ministry by which to reach millions of unseen listeners.
While letters are received from pastors in Africa and other listeners, we even received a moving letter from a man in the death row of a Zambian prison. One does not even know whether he has already been sent to the gallows!
If and when Bro. Joe moves to a location closer to our recording facility in Detroit, he hopes to record in person. In the meanwhile, John Daniel continues to reconstruct and put together parts of the messages taken out of addresses given at the Retreats. As the technology is constantly changing, he is having to upgrade the equipment to suit the new systems in current use. Not surprisingly, several Christian broadcasting stations are finding it to be very hard going, considering the escalating costs of operation. This is true of broadcasting stations in the US too!
It gives us particular joy to receive the report from Australia that our broadcast is being aired twice on Sunday in Australias national capital of Canberra. We are currently broadcasting over seven radio stations there, which even cover some large cities like Melbourne and Sydney too.
It is becoming unmistakably clear that there is a class of people today who are simply stuck with the television and swallow so much sullage as they spend hour after hour before the idiot box. Not having our own equipment to produce television programmes has been a great disadvantage to us. The three occasions in which our television broadcasts were aired over the Indian National Television Network and on a popular private television channel, caused us to realize how prohibitively high the production of even an half-hour programme is, when one uses outside equipment and expertise.
It is the mercy of God that our new television production studio is nearing completion in Madras. Although not all of the equipment is yet in place, we can surely trust the Lord our God to provide the needful.
Currently our only television broadcast is the one broadcast weekly over a television station in Guyana, South America. Our team there is so small and their earnings relatively so little, that it is truly amazing that they are persisting with faith in this very expensive ministry. Surely and steadily impact is being made on that nation.
The Internet Ministry
It is simply impossible to gauge the magnitude, effect and fruitfulness of this ministry, as literally millions from across the world can be reached by the message, if indeed the authentic grace, power and punch of Thus saith the Lord is present.
The team which is labouring in this field to keep our website at the cutting edge, is projecting the message in Chinese and Hindi also, besides English. The number of people logging on to either read or hear the message is continually increasing. The potential thus created to reach millions who would otherwise perhaps never be reached, simply cannot be measured. Now it is up to us to pray that people will log on as they surf the Internet and have humble and honest hearts to receive the Loving Saviour.
Would you, dear friend, be also a partner in this worldwide ministry of immense potential by encouraging your friends to visit our website at http://lefi.org ?
There are those who, being unable to come to our meetings, say that they are being fed and sustained by the message from Gods word, posted on our website.
Where fanatic or Communist governments have imposed a black-out, by blocking the Truth and Bibles from entering their countries, what a Life-line the message of Jesus over the Internet is proving to be!
Now the International "Christ is Victor" in French, is also being posted on our Website. This is a recent addition to our outreach in international languages. Let us pray that this will greatly redound to the glory of God as French-speaking peoples in Africa, the islands of the Atlantic, French-speaking part of Canada and people in France itself begin to read and yield to the sovereign and legitimate claims of the Loving and ONLY SAVIOUR.
Now this whole wide-ranging ministry is made possible by the faithfulness of God and the reliability of His promises. We want everyone who shares in this ministry and prays for us to be very careful to give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ only. "For without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5) As we press on in our short earthly pilgrimage let us do so with fear and trembling looking only to Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.