Delron made his first mission trips to India in the late 1970s. On his first mission to India, he was teaching at an evangelism conference for the Church of South India. Although this denomination is not particularly open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, his theme was on the need for the power of the Holy Spirit to evangelize. One particular little white-haired Indian man from Tamil Nadu State, who had been trying year after year to win his Hindu village for Christ, grabbed hold of the message. Though the people’s hearts and ears were closed to everything he had said previously, he left the conference with some new principles about the Great Commission and a new power to back up his message. Returning to his village, he found that an old lady in the village had been gored by a water buffalo. Laying his hands on her, he commanded that she be totally healed. Instantly, her crippled legs received strength and her mangled body was straightened. Since the whole village had seen the woman’s condition after the attack and then saw her miraculous recovery, everyone suddenly believed that the old man’s message was real. The village that had rejected his testimony for so many years was converted overnight! But the miracles that happened in the lives of the Indians were not the only impact of Delron’s first solo mission; the following excerpts form his journals about that trip share how the Lord preformed great miracles of guidance and provision for Delron on that mission.
“As my friend prayed for me, I almost laughed in his face. Whoever heard at “amenities in India”? Surely, there has been a time when India was a glittering jewel in the Far East, but today she has lost her luster. I could only imagine her as a great, gaping wound, filled with millions of starving, diseased beings who somehow had been deprived of their humanity. I had heard countless stories of the people living, eating, sleeping and dying in the streets. I could fill a volume with pictures of starving children in India which had been sent to me by charitable organizations asking for money. So, as he prayed that in India I would find “conveniences and amenities” to make my visit as a missionary pleasant and profitable, my mind was filled with vivid scenes of flies swarming over food arid dunghills.”
“I remembered as a child I used to watch the Jungle Book Adventures on TV every Saturday morning. Hosting the program was a rotund old fellow sitting in his favorite chair, who would reach for a volume of Rudyard Kipling’s tales about India–the mystical, mysterious land of elephants, monkeys, tigers and jungles. How I longed to step through the TV screen and find myself seated on top of one of those elephants! But as those childish days gave way to maturity, the elephants and monkeys in my mind were replaced with knowledge of Shiva, Vishnu, Krisha, the caste system, the Atman, confusion, poverty, and despair.”
“In the first century the Apostle Thomas took the gospel to India. In the sixteenth century, Francis Xavier pioneered Catholic missions to this sweltering, tropic region. And in the eighteenth century, William Carey, the “father of modern Protestant missions,” traveled and preached extensively throughout this land; but India, bound up in Islam and Hinduism, scarcely responded to the Christian witness. In view of this, I realized that any love for India on my part would have to be expressed in terms at my helping to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to those people suffering from superstition and ignorance of the Truth. Yet any actual participation on my part seemed less likely than my crawling through the TV tube to join the Jungle Book Adventures. But here I was getting ready to go.”
“I recalled graduation day in June, 1977. We were waiting to enter Binkley Chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to receive our degrees, wondering as we were about to go our separate ways, in what strange ways and places God would bring some of us together again. I was talking quietly with Santana Krishnan, a student from India, when he looked at me and said, “When you come to India, I want you to preach at my church!” Prophecy? I was not sure, but as the processional sounded and we started into the chapel, a new excitement stirred in my heart–India!”
“A few days after graduation, I left on my first missionary visit to Japan. I developed a deep love for the beautiful, humble Orientals and promised to return for a longer visit. Several months later, when I began to make these arrangements, Pan American Airlines introduced a new around-the-world package flight which made it less expensive to visit both Japan and India than to go straight to Japan and back. It looked as if God were making the way, but I still had to have the money. Even at the reduced rates, the trip would wipe out my account I had been saving for a car. I needed confirmation.”
“As the odometer in my car clicked over to 144,000 miles, I thought about the 144,000 saints in the book of Revelation. Surely, if God stopped counting saints at 144000, I could stop counting miles. Even though the rattles and faulty transmission told me it was time to buy the new car I had been saving for, my heart wanted to use the money for tickets to Japan and India. My mind was in a whirl. I spent Easter break from school checking out new cars. But when I picked up my accumulated mail, there on top of the stack was Decision Magazine. “That’s what I need right now,” I thought, “another decision to make!” Well, the feature article in the magazine was about Billy Graham’s recent trip to India. In one of the other articles was the statement, “The major problem with American finances is buying new cars. That did it! Decision helped me make my decision. The next day I went to the travel agency to start making arrangements. Then I shot off a letter to my friend, Santana Krishnari, in Madras, India.”
“That’s when the trouble really started: ten weeks of cancellations, rescheduling, unanswered letters and phone calls, and blind alleys. At the end of that time, when I still had not had any response from Santana, I began to wonder if I had really heard the Lord’s voice. I wondered if I would arrive in India with no one to meet me at the airport. I was not prepared to face all that poverty, disease, and starvation alone. Several prayer groups joined in praying that Santana would meet me in Madras. That’s when my friend prayed for “conveniences and amenities.” Somehow it all seemed a bit too hard–even for prayer. But I took the step of faith and kept making preparations. Then the day came, and I boarded the plane.”
“As I flew into New Delhi Airport, my fears mounted. I now had to leave the safety of the plane and face whatever was “out there.” And sure enough, the heat and humidity, even at 2 o’clock in the morning, were unbearable. This international airport was nothing more than a warehouse with a ceiling fan that sluggishly churned up the heavy air. Three-inch roaches scampered happily across the floor. The customs check was followed by a five-hour wait for the flight to southern India where I reluctantly deplaned again, this time in Madras. I could identify with Saint Thomas, patron saint of the city; I, too, was a doubter! I actually feared the unknown!”
“Inside the terminal there was no Santana. I searched every face for the slightest indication that someone knew about me or at least cared that I was there. Someone did. A baggage porter rushed up to help me with my bags! I asked him about hotel accommodations. My head was still spinning. I soon found myself bumping down the road to the Chola Hotel in downtown Madras. One accident and two fist-fights later, the driver deposited me at my destination. The Lord liberally answered my friend’s prayer for “amenities in India.” Even though I was paying only a few dollars per night, the hotel was one of the most deluxe properties I’d ever seen. It had the elegance of any hotel property in the US but here, in the land where I expected utter poverty, I found dinner on a silver platter for less than $2.00.”
“After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Santana by phone, I discovered his office “by accident” as I wandered the streets. Here in a city of millions, the Lord had put me in the hotel only two blocks from his office. All the things that seemed haphazard to me, were actually the refined details of God’s wonderful plan.”
“The next day Santana and I visited with national missionaries who were starting new fields of ministry. Many of these men were teachers and government workers who had given up their positions of authority, influence and responsibility to become messengers of God’s Word to the slums and villages. Since most of them were from denominational backgrounds, they were unfamiliar with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. But the Lord had been using Santana’s testimony and experiences to show them the power of the Spirit for witnessing and sharing the message of Jesus.”
“India is on the brink of revival. Thomas, Fancis Xavier and William Carey planted and watered, but this generation will see God bring the increase. God let me go there to see the little sprout sticking its head up above the ground. Now I have an adventure story that out shines any that Rudyard Kipling ever spun. The Kingdom of God is coming to India! The jewel that lost her luster is now being polished to be one of the crown jewels of the King of Kings!”
“But there is plenty of evidence that other influences are strongly at work there, too. Hinduism has yielded little in its tight control over the people’s minds and emotions. The caste system, though officially outlawed, still deprives masses of the population of their human dignity. Poverty, although not to the extent I expected, seems to rob them of any chance of reclaiming their lost human identity. The slogan “No God” appears scrawled across bridges, buildings, and posters throughout the cities. However, some ingenious Christians have begun to add the words: “but Jesus” to the slogan, to show the world that Jesus will have the last word. No God but Jesus.”
Peggy’s first mission trip was in 1983 when she joined Delron on a trip to the major cities of the country. One of the highlights of that trip was the interview we had with Mother Teresa. During their trip to Calcutta, I asked the Lord to make a way for me to meet Mother Teresa, and He did just that! She and Delron finally made their way to the convent where she lived. Because of her busy traveling schedule, we could only pray that we had picked a day she was at home. As we entered the simple, clean, concrete building, we immediately sensed the presence of God. What a sweet spirit was in that place. We never expected that we would actually have the privilege of talking with this great woman. We thought that perhaps we would get a welcome from one of the sisters there and a tour of the facility.
A nun warmly welcomed us and replied that Mother was busy in a meeting, but if we could wait a minute, she would ask Mother if she could see us. In just a few minutes, the door opened and she entered the room. This saint of God had dropped all that she was doing to visit with strangers who had shown up at her door unannounced and without an appointment or invitation! Her welcome to us was as heartfelt as if we were her closest friends or outstanding celebrities or officials. But that was Mother Teresa. To her, every human being was of ultimate worth — royalty or street beggar, it seemed to make no difference to her. She graciously shared with us about her work around the world and her original call into the ministry to the poor in Calcutta.
She then invited us to the Home for the Dying. Peggy was overwhelmed with emotions and told her, with tears, how she wished that she could visit this wonderful work Mother was doing but had to decline. Peggy explained to her that she thought she was dying from all the pain and misery she was experiencing from what we had seen on the city streets. She went on to tell Mother that she had never seen anything like this. Mother just patted Peggy’s hand and told her that this was a normal reaction for a first trip. She said that many come from other countries to help, but many find it too hard to live and face what Calcutta has and they end up leaving. She said again, “That’s okay, dear. I understand.” The glow in her eyes was a window straight to the heart; it told us that she really did understand. She knew not only the hurt of those on the street, but also the hurt of those from the outside who were strangers to this level of anguish. On his following trip to Calcutta, Delron did have an opportunity to visit the Home for the Dying where volunteers from around the world were caring for the destitute of the city. Then he made his way to the door where he had been welcomed before. This time, a handwritten note was posted, “Mother is not able to receive guests. She is in prayer.” Apparently, only God Himself was more important to Mother Teresa than the humans who made a constant trail to her door and into her life.
As we talked about all that she had accomplished around the world, we never felt the slightest bit of pride or feeling of accomplishment from her — just the overwhelming, gnawing feeling about a job that still was not yet done. Through the outstanding quality of that one conversation, she turned the discussion away from herself and began to ask us about the mission work that had brought us to India and the neighboring country of Sri Lanka. After a few more minutes, she politely mentioned that her staff were waiting for her in a meeting. We asked if we could have a photograph taken with her before she left. When the picture was developed, we both laughed at the way we were stooped just like the aged saint. It was only later that we realized what had actually taken place. Mother Teresa was gentle and gracious, yet at the same time, she had such a powerful personality that we had actually begun to take on her qualities in just those few minutes. We could only pray that her faithful caring and loving would become evident in our lives as well. Her parting remarks to us were in reference to the necklace Peggy was wearing. It was a metal piece that had a little dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. “I see that you have the Holy Spirit. I do, too.” Her life and works certainly proved it.
After we became actively involved in the work in Nepal, we discovered that Nepali people were not isolated in the actual country of Nepal, but were widely scattered throughout the Himalayan region—especially in Northeastern India. As a result, we extended several of our trips to include ministry in these Nepali-speaking regions, especially among the tea plantation areas of Darjeeling. We were also privileged to minister to the pastors and leaders in such in remote areas as Assam, Sikkim, and Nagaland—areas were we had to obtain special entry permits beyond a general visa to enter India. On one of these trips, we were detained at the border because one of jeeps we were riding in had been involved in a hit-and-run accident with a sacred Hindu cow just before picking us up. The car and driver were held by police for a lengthy interrogation. When we were finally allowed to leave, we were so far behind schedule that Delron had to rush right into the pulpit without taking a shower or even changing clothes after the all-day trip in the sweltering heat and dusty conditions. The pastors were so eager for the Word that they had waited for almost an hour after the preliminaries of the meeting had concluded. These meetings drew pastors and leaders from as far away as the country of Bhutan.
In addition to our actual personal ministry in India, TAN has reached out financially to assist the believers there. We regularly support a school that our good friend Zac Patnaik runs for the children from slums in the city of Calcutta. After violent anti-Christian persecution erupted in Orissa State, Teach All Nations was able to send a special gift to help the suffering believers. Our funds were used to rescue twenty-one persecuted believers from dangerous enemy territory to safety in Christian homes in another state. Even though they are in only small mud huts, they are alive and safe–all because of the difference your compassion made. After the devastation of the tsunami on December 26, 2004, TAN also provided relief funds to help sustain survivors in Pondicherry.
Having flown since Friday morning, Delron finally arrived in Nagpur, at 8:30 on Sunday morning. After a brief stop by the hotel to shower and change, he headed directly for the church. As soon as he concluded his message, he was rushed across town to the second church where he ministered to a second hungry congregation. Stepping out the pulpit from this meeting, he was ushered directly to a waiting car to be hurried to yet another church and waiting congregation. Finally, after having ministered to three congregations, he headed for the hotel for a well-deserved rest. Later, that afternoon as he dressed for the evening service, he was greeted with the news that a special Hindu event was being held next door to church and that the Hindus might interpret having a foreigner take part in the church service as a direct affront to their festival; therefore, plans had to be changed. Rather than preach as planned, he was to use the free evening as a chance to visit the abandoned Bible college building several miles out of town. The Bible college–started by one of our Bible college students, Noah Bower–had been the subject of attack and vandalism by the radial Hindu element in the community. With the generator, transformer, and all the electric wiring stolen, the building had to be abandoned until a security fence could be build and the repairs done–projects which will have to wait until at least $10,000 above the already-overtaxed budget could be raised. In the meantime the students had been relocated to a safe location in a village a number of miles out of town. Under the protective cloak of darkness and guided by the flash light of the resident security guard, we walked though the defaced building and prayed for its soon restoration and the resurrection of the Bible college.
Monday and Tuesday were full days of ministry at the Nagpur Christian Leaders’ Conference. On Monday evening, Delron had the privilege of visiting the Lester Sumrall Legacy of Faith Library, a gift to the Christians of Nagpur from the LeSEA Global Feed the Hungry ministry. After the concluding session of the conference on Tuesday evening, Noah and Delron headed to Jamlapur where he was to minister to the students who had been transferred from the abandoned Bible college. Although they didn’t arrive until past one o’clock on Wednesday morning, they were “up and at ‘em” bright and early and ready for a full day of teaching and ministry to the students. Thursday began with a meeting with the directors of the Bible college followed by the long drive back to Nagpur in preparation for Delron’s Friday departure to Kathmandu, Nepal.
But before leave the story of the trip to India. Let us share just one story about an unusual miracle that occurred at the seminar in Nagpur. At the end of the meetings, the gentleman who had been hired to provide and run the sound system came and asked to speak to Delron. In private, he told him that he was a Buddhist and that this was his first time to hear the gospel message. He then asked for prayer and directions on how to become a Christian.
Teach All Nation’s 2006 Mission to the Roof Top of the World began in the city of Darjeeling, India. TAN hosted a conference with over two hundred delegates from Bhutan, Sikkim, and northeast India. It was especially exciting to see how God is opening the doors to Bhutan where Christianity is still a persecuted faith. In addition to ministering in four local churches, we also had the opportunity to participate in the opening of a new church for the Tibetan community that has been very closed to the gospel until just recently. Following our time in India, we moved to Nepal to hold pastors’ conferences in two different areas, Women’s Aglow conventions in two cities, numerous church services, and much personal ministry.
India’s tourism department has coined the expression “Incredible India” to publicize their country; and this is the exact impact no matter how many times we journey there.
The main purpose of this visit was to introduce a group of students from Charis Bible College to what life on the mission field is like–and did they ever have an incredible opportunity to do just that! For all the six students, it was the adventure of a lifetime–including preaching in local churches, sharing in home cell groups, ministering in an AIDS orphanage and a facility for the mentally challenged, and teaching in the India extension of the Bible college. And that is without even mentioning experiencing the food and culture of India. It is always a thrill to see the expressions on the newcomers’ faces as they weave their way through the congested streets filled with cows, oxcarts, and peddle-rickshaws as well a gazillion honking motorbikes, auto-rickshaws, cars, and lories.
The adventure started as soon as the team was dropped off at the airport in Denver. Delays at the check-in counter because of complications with the checked bags almost made them miss their first flight. Once in Houston they were bumped off the international flight due to a connection problem in Europe. They were to be re-routed through Dubai, but that meant a lot of paperwork, which almost made them miss the new flight. In Dubai, additional paperwork delayed them until they barely made it to the next plane. After all the hassles they encountered getting there, everyone was really happy to finally be on the ground once they reached India–not knowing that they would be leaving the country on the day the pilots for their airline were scheduled to go on strike! Yes, that meant re-routing and a lot more paperwork. Due to the fact that theirs was on one of the last planes to fly before the strike went into effect, there was an incredible number of people at the ticket counter, trying to do the same thing they were doing. Fortunately, Delron’s frequent flier status allowed them to bypass a lot of the crowd and get some priority treatment so that they made it to the aircraft before its scheduled departure time.
Even though it was already past two in the morning when the team arrived in Chennai and almost daybreak by the time they collected their bags, cleared customs, and found their way to the cars and on to the house which was to be home for the next several days, the team still had a full schedule on their plates for the day. So, after a few hours of rest, they were up and at it full steam. After a bit of orientation and a delicious Indian meal, the students were off to get acquainted with India. Delron and Peggy headed to the Bible college to teach the part-time students who attend evening classes each Saturday. Delron remarked that he was very impressed with the students who had been attracted to the school, even in its first year of operation–a university professor, an international consultant, and an attorney, along with several full-time ministers. Since the students had already taken some of Delron’s courses via video, they were thrilled to have him and Peggy with them in person.
On Sunday, the group split into teams and went out two-by-two to minister in various churches. As always, it was a blessing to be able to not only preach to the congregation but to also meet the individual believers. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings the whole team went to the Bible college and the students from the US Bible college taught. It was really a blessing to see how the American students developed and matured in their teaching in just the few days they were in charge of the lessons. After lunch each day, the US students headed out to various ministry assignments while Delron and Peggy stayed back at the school to teach the afternoon classes. Just as with the part-time school, Delron commented about how impressed he was with the student body in the full-time classes. They had moved from cities all over India to be able to attend the classes.
Thursday was a relaxation day for the mission team as they visited a local beach resort. Delron and Peggy took the free time to hold a one-day teaching conference for about a hundred and fifty of the local pastors and Every Home for Christ workers. The theme of the conference was on church planting, and the teaching was centered on the five keys Paul mentioned in I Thessalonians 1:5 as his technique for planting the church in their city: the Word of God, the power of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, assurance, and his personal moral character. Delron was also able to present most of the delegates with free copies of his book Tread Marks. There was a last-minute increase in the number of attendees, and he ran out of books before each person received a copy.
Friday was an interesting day as the team visited an orphanage where they spent some quality time with the children and presented them with gifts from America. Next, the group was off to a Christian facility where mentally challenged individuals are housed. The director of the facility gave up a occupation in cell phone engineering and repair–an in-demand career–to open the facility. Though many of the patients were very severely impeded–some were even tethered with leg irons to ensure that they would not escape–they all were eager to receive prayer and loving ministry.
Saturday brought Delron and Peggy back to the Bible college for one more session with the part-time students. In the question-and-answer session that followed the scheduled lesson, Peggy began to see a pattern developing through the questions–an interest in the baptism in the Holy Spirit. So, after a short teaching on the topic, she invited those who had not been filled with the Spirit to come forward for prayer. About half the class came forward, and all of them were baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in new tongues within five minutes!
Sunday was the last day in India, and again the group split into teams of twos and headed in several different directions to minister. Peggy and Delron were assigned to the Christian student fellowship at an local engineering college. The private school was founded by a Christian man who wanted to accomplish two objectives–provide a quality education to young men and women who will become leaders in emerging India and, more importantly, to have an evangelical outreach to these students. The twelve-hundred-member student body consists of students from all different backgrounds–Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. Christian fellowships are openly provided for the students, but no one is forced to participate. However, the dynamic outreach has reached a large number of the students and brought them to Christ. The service that Delron and Peggy attended was led by one of the faculty members who energetically and joyously demonstrated the life of Christ. After Delron ministered on knowing God’s will and focusing on the necessity to be led by the Holy Spirit, Peggy invited the students who needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit to come forward. About sixty of the two hundred students present came forward to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Before long, they were experiencing Pentecost on the campus!
Back at the mission house, everyone had a little time to rest before sharing the last meal together and heading to the airport to return to the US–well, at least for long enough to wash clothes and repack them for the next trip. With just over a week’s break, Delron was on another plane headed right back to Asia. His destination was the nation of Sri Lanka–just a short flight from Chennai, India, where he had just been.
During their Easter mission to Nepal and India, Peggy and Linda Easton made a stop in Kalimpong in the Indian Himalayas to minister in at a three-day Women’s Aglow conference. There were many baptisms in the Holy Ghost and numerous healings. One family that came to Christ from Hinduism came to the leaders afterwards and said that they were ready to destroy all the idols they had in their home.
I stopped by the hotel in Hyderabad just long enough to shower, have breakfast, and check on the emails that had arrived during the day and a half since I had left home for India. Within four hours of touching down at the airport I was in the pulpit preaching. The same scenario in reverse occurred one week later as I headed back to America. On my last day in India, I preached in one of the historic congregations–presently celebrating its one-hundred-thirty-fifth anniversary– in Hyderabad, had lunch, stopped by the hotel to change clothes, and was headed to the airport within a matter of four hours of stepping out of the pulpit. And the week in between was just as full of ministry.
From Monday through Saturday, I had the privilege of introducing a new discipleship curriculum and training method to a group of forty-five Christian leaders from all across India, some whom had traveled for as much as four days to attend the training. Although I did the training in English with Telagu interpretation, the impact of the message will mushroom as soon as these men return to their regions and begin to communicate it in all of the eleven languages represented in the group. I wish that there were a way for me to have captured the energy and excitement in the room during these group sessions. I would love to be able to come back home, uncap the bottle, and let it explode. It was wonderful to see these leaders capture the excitement of studying and sharing the Bible!
The material I was teaching in the conference was the result of about a year’s worth of effort by an international team assembled by Every Home for Christ. I was honored to be part of this team in developing this new cutting-edge ministry tool. We had examined many existing discipleship programs and evaluated their strengths and weaknesses to determine which one would best serve the needs of the rapid growth that EHC is experiencing around the world. With more than forty thousand discipleship groups having been birthed in the past two years and the present growth rate of fifty-eight new discipleship groups per day, the EHC leadership knew that they needed a simple, quickly translated, and easily reproducible program to meet their specific needs. As a result, the team decided to tackle the task of developing a unique curriculum and method specifically adapted for their particular needs. Now, I was in India to introduce and explain the resulting materials to the EHC national leadership. All the leaders immediately recognized the value in this fresh approach to discipleship and readily embraced it. One delegate said that even though he has a bachelors degree in theology, he was not sure that he was teaching people the right things in the right way. Now, with this new curriculum, he feels confident since all the teaching is directly from the Bible itself, not a theology book.
While with these Indian leaders I also distributed copies of my book, People Who Make a Difference, checked on the progress of the translation of Finally, My Brethren into Telegu, and made plans for its publication.
Thank you to all who support Teach All Nations with your prayers and financial gifts, allowing us to be able to travel to the far corners of the earth to help equip and train this new developing generation of Christian leaders.
The Indian Tourism Department promotes their country with the slogan “Incredible India.” Delron summarizes his recent experience there as “Incredible God in India.”
After a series of delayed, misconnected, and rescheduled flights, Delron and the team of nine students from the Colorado Springs campus of Charis Bible College finally arrived in Chennai, India, where they were to spend the next nine days ministering to and with the students and staff of the India branch of the school. Delron already knew most of the local staff of the college and the India office of Andrew Wommack Ministries because most of them were students in the school when he visited the campus three years ago. He also knew the international team who run the school because they were all students in his classes at the Colorado campus. In fact, they had all also been with him on their mission trips when they were in their second year of study there. Lance Welgen had gone to Mexico with Delron, his wife Gerri had accompanied Delron to Russia, and Jessica Klecker had been part of the team on the previous mission to India. Delron said that it really made him happy to see how the seed of missions that had been planted in their hearts while on these various trips had taken root and blossomed into full-fledged mission ministry in their lives.
The first two days of the visit were focused on ministry at the college itself. Each morning, the students from the US taught the classes at the Chennai campus and had time to interact with the local students. In the afternoons, Delron taught. Since all the Indian students already knew him through watching videos of his class Finally, My Brethren, they greeted him with a joyful, “Finally, our brother!” The course that he took them through, based on his book, So You Wanna Be A Preacher, covered a number of practical lessons concerning recognizing the call of God upon your life and how to then move into that ministry that God has for you. After the classes, many of the students came up to express their appreciation for the teaching, saying that they had been grappling with the exact issues discussed in the classes. One young man showed Delron his notebook where had written down some of the exact verses that Delron had discussed in the classes. The student said that he had marked them the previous week and had been meditating on what they could mean in his life. As Delron taught the lesson, their meaning finally came alive to him.
On Saturday morning, the team took some free time to attend a cultural event in the city. As they were standing on the street corner waiting for the parade to pass by, a man stopped and asked if he could take a picture with Delron. After getting over the surprise of the fact that a random stranger would just walk up and ask for photo (or snap, as he said in the Indian culture) Delron realized that this must be a divine appointment and asked him a little about himself. It turned out that the gentleman was from about two hundred fifty miles away and was in town to have surgery at the major hospital there. The mission team, of course, prayed for him for healing and shared the plan of salvation with him. Although the team saw no immediate results when they laid hands on him, they believe that they will eventually hear a good report because the gentleman’s son asked for the Facebook address of one of the team members.
That evening, the team assisted with a community outreach held at the school auditorium. After a time of praise and worship, the students presented a drama and shared testimonies. Delron gave a message on keys to getting your prayers answered and invited the guests to come forward for prayer, expecting that they could actually use the keys and get results. When the team prayed individually with all those who responded, many of them testified that they genuinely felt that they had received their answers. The daughter of one of the students at the Bible school had been involved in a cultish movement at the university where she studies. As a result of her association with this group and its teachings, she had fallen into a deep depression. Her father flew her into Chennai for the weekend specifically so she could receive prayer at the praise and worship night. When Delron prayed for her, she was instantly delivered and left the meeting with a brilliant smile rather than the glum countenance that she had when she arrived.
The rest of the week was dedicated to giving the mission team a varied Indian experience. They began Sunday morning with a church service where the students sang, gave testimonies, preached, and prayed for the people. At least four people accepted the Lord as savior during the prayer time. That evening, the group traveled to a village about sixty miles from the city to hold an open-air crusade. They arrived early so that they could spend some time visiting the homes in the village and learn a little about the lifestyle of the Dalit (untouchable or outcaste) people. The villagers immediately accepted the guests and welcomed them into their huts. The children especially enjoyed making friends with the foreign strangers, repeating in their very best English the few phrases that they knew from their school lessons, “My name is ____. What is your name?” Four young boys clasped Delron’s hands and led him through the village to show him their homes, goats, turkeys, and vegetable gardens. After the singing, drama, testimonies, and gospel message at the crusade, many of the villagers came forward for prayer, and ten of them prayed to receive salvation. The pastor who sponsored the crusade said that this meeting was the most effective event that he had ever held in the village. Since there were only about two hundred people in the village, the salvation of ten new believers in one service was indeed notable results.
The following day was spent at an orphanage that cares for thirty-three HIV-positive children. Before going to the facility, the mission team met a couple of the staff members from the home at a local market where they purchased clothes to give to all the children. Once everyone arrived at the home, the team members had a time of interaction with the children, doing various crafts with them, making balloon animals for them, and painting their faces. The close interaction with each child gave the students excellent opportunities to hold them and pray for them individually. One teenage boy named Bob seemed especially drawn to Delron and wanted him to just hold and comfort him — an understandable emotion since all these children understand that, except for a miraculous intervention from God, they are all destined to a short lives filled with serious difficulties and much physical and emotional pain. What a blessing it was to bring Bob and all the residents in the home a little taste of love, laughter, and life.
One morning, the team visited St. Thomas Mount, the site where the Apostle Thomas was martyred. Although they were there simply as tourists, the guide who showed them around the Catholic holy site assumed that the group was on a religious pilgrimage and that the leader was a priest. He therefore, asked for a blessing. Of course, the team responded with the laying of hands and a Spirit-led prayer of anointing upon him.
That same evening, the team ministered in a home for destitute women. Most of the women in the facility were suffering from Alzheimer’s or other serious mental disabilities that had left them incapable of caring for themselves and too big a liability for their families to care for. As a result, they that simply been abandoned on the streets — essentially left to die. Fortunately, this charitable ministry had collected over two hundred of them from the streets and brought them in to be loved and cared for. Although the women were not able to understand anything that the team members shared with them, they certainly responded to the love, hugs, and prayers. One lady especially attached herself to Delron after he stopped and greeted her. When Delron pointed to his camera to indicate that he wanted to take her picture, she smiled back with and ear-to-ear grim that revealed a mouth of missing teeth and a twisted array of the few that remained. After Delron showed her the image, the old lady grabbed his hand and eagerly pulled him to one patient and staff member after another, indicating that she wanted him to snap her picture with each one individually.
The final day of ministry found the team at a gypsy camp where they did a crusade that was originally planned as a children’s outreach, although all the adults also gathered around to see what was going on. Because most of the gypsy children had never been to school, they were not accustomed to sitting still and had very limited attention spans, making ministry very difficult — essentially impossible. However, the team members were determined to communicate the gospel and kept the testimonies lively and the drama as entertaining as possible.
Delron had one extra program on his list before leaving India — a meeting with the staff of the Tamil Nadu staff for Every Home for Christ. About forty of the office staff from the headquarters and the field staff from around the state along with a number of invited guest including donors and local pastors gathered for a time of training and encouragement where Delron taught from his new book Interfaces and also gave each delegate a free copy. After the main session, he held a smaller session with the staff who are personally involved with the BFAM (Be Fruitful and Multiply) discipleship program that Delron helped develop for the ministry.
As the team packed up to head back to the US, Delron wondered where he might see these team members again. Would this trip also produce new missionaries like Lance, Gerri, and Jessica?
India November 2013
Even though I had just visited India only six months before, I readily accepted the invitation to return to Chennai because of the wide open door that the Lord had given me in the city. I was to speak at a one-day conference for pastors and leaders from this important hub of Christian ministry that impacts not only their own community but also all of India and even extends far beyond the borders of their own nation. I was to be the keynote speaker at this meeting of approximately three hundred ministers and then address a special convocation of the top donors for the Every Home for Christ ministry in this southern region of India. Five thousand copies of the Tamil version of my book on disciple making were printed for distribution at the meetings and for future circulation among other leaders and donors who would not be able to attend these special meetings.
The leadership rally was especially exciting as I was able to share how the scriptural principles of evangelism and disciple making must go hand-in-hand in order to fulfill the Great Commission and to explain how the church has been robbed of its most powerful tool through the misconception that disciple making requires a special level of qualification and education. I believe that the message opened the door to a whole new dimension of effective ministry among the delegates at the conference. Many delegates approached me after the training to express their appreciation for opening their eyes to this biblical principal.
At the EHC donors’ meeting, I shared a number of stories to illustrate what is happening around the world because of their prayers and financial support. Using the statistic that it costs less than two rupees (about four cents) to produce an effective piece of gospel literature, I told the stories of several individuals whose lives had been transformed through evangelical tracts; I then encouraged the donors to realize that their two rupees were not just coins in the offering plate but were the widow’s mite that moved the very the kingdom of heaven. The donors were especially impacted by the story of how Peggy was rescued from committing suicide by one simple piece of gospel literature. I then thanked them for their prayer, gifts, and courage in sharing the gospel and prayed for them that they would always be aware of the part they played in tearing down the kingdom of darkness and building the kingdom of God.
On Sunday morning, I was invited to preach at one of the largest churches in India with an estimated twenty thousand believers in attendance at the service. The Lord had placed a message concerning open doors on my heart for the morning, but the topic was miraculously confirmed as I walked into the building. The first words I heard as I entered the sanctuary were a prayer by one of the staff pastors, “Lord, give us open doors”! After I delivered the sermon, the senior pastor, Sam Sundaram, addressed the congregation with a short message in which he quoted the same verse I had preached from and emphasized many of the same points I had brought out, saying, “God has kept an open door before us.”
That evening, I preached at another large church on the other side of the city. As the pastor was introducing me, he quoted from one of my recent books, mentioning the exact point that I had on my heart to minister on that evening. He emphasized his point by saying that he was actually busy with something else when he felt led to stop and read a couple chapters from the book. I had not shared with him what I had planned to preach on, and I’m still not sure how he even obtained a copy of the book since it has not yet been made available for distribution and only a few copies that I have given to close friends are in circulation.