A New Congregation in India
In November of 2004, Bobby Holmes and I had a wonderful opportunity to travel to India, and preach the gospel. We were in the country for the full month, and much was accomplished in the effort, due to the grace of our Lord and the power of His word.
I kept a journal of our activities, and took many pictures, which have been posted to the internet. Anyone who is interested in an in-depth, blow by blow account of our time in India can go to this site and read of our time there. The URL is:
For the rest, perhaps this editorial will be an interesting and encouraging report of the good which can be done when the precious gospel is taken to such foreign lands.
While Joshua Mahendranath was working in Kuwait, he determined to use his time away from his family to study for himself the truth of God's word. He signed up for many correspondence courses over the internet, and from them found that those courses he received from churches of Christ were different. They were challenging and Bible based, and from them he learned the truth.
He requested information regarding any Christians who might be in the area, that he might be baptized into Christ. Marvin Dotson who now is a member at the Northside congregation in Mansfield, TX, was at that time employed as a pilot for the Royal family of Kuwait, and the two were able to meet. Marvin was able to teach and baptize seven Indians (including Joshua) before returning to the states.
After his time in Kuwait, Joshua returned to Bangalore, India, where his wife's parents and brother live. He and his wife Aruna continued to grow as Christians, spending a great deal of time corresponding with Bobby Holmes, who many know is the evangelist for the Northside congregation where brother Dotson attends. Joshua and Bobby became very close, and when Joshua asked for him to come to India and help establish the church in the Bangalore area, Bobby could not refuse. He asked me to accompany him, and the trip was planned.
Highlights of the Trip
While in India we had an opportunity to preach to hundreds of people, both Christians and members of various denominations. While I believe that the Hindu population of India would be a a fruitful field to harvest, (80% of Indians are Hindu), our time on this trip was spent in preaching mainly to those in "Christian" denominations, and Christians who were involved in Institutional practices in the Bangalore area.
Our first week was spent in Banglore, studying with Joshua and Aruna during the day, and preaching in the evenings to Christians who met in the area. There is a preacher in Bangalore by the name of Jacob Chukka who was educated at the Sunset School of Preaching in Lubbock, TX, and has spent about 25 years establishing congregations and preachers in South India. Unfortunately, he has cultivated a great influence, and the social gospel has a strong hold in the area.
While Jacob was initially receptive to us, and encouraged his members to come hear us preach at Joshua's home, when we questioned his practices and teaching regarding institutionalism and the social gospel, he became very angry, and cut off any further contact.
However, due to our efforts in Bangalore, a congregation consisting of 5 adults now exists. Too, there have been several other visitors who have indicated an interest in placing membership and working with the Bangalore church. As Joshua has an opportunity to contrast the appeal of the pure word of God with the institutionalism and social gospel preached by Jacob and his band of preachers, we are confident that others who have a love for truth will repudiate the error that has held sway in Bangalore for so many years.
While in Bangalore (the final two weeks of our stay), we also had opportunity to study with Aruna's family. Her parents, brother and sister-in-law were very receptive, and we are hopeful that they too will soon accept the truth of the gospel. At present they are members of the Church of South India (a denomination which has a strong Anglican influence, as it had its origin through British Missionaries).
In week two we traveled to the small village of Caddupah, where Joshua's sister Padma and her husband Bhaskar live. We preached to many in the days there, and Padma and Bhaskar obeyed the gospel. Bhashar was able to travel to Bangalore late in our stay, and we spent some time grounding him in the truth. Too, Joshua has since traveled back to Caddupah to study and worship with them.
We also traveled in week two to Kurnool, where Joshua's parents live. His father, Abhishekem, is a retired pastor for the Church of South India. We perhaps did our most effective work while here. We had the opportunity to speak to over 100 people each day for a three day meeting, including about 20 denominational preachers on the final day. Interest was good, and many questions were asked. Joshua's father was very impressed, and admitted that what we taught was the truth from God's word, (even though we dealt with infant baptism and instrumental music, among other practices that are characteristic of his denomination). He has asked for more materials, and we are hopeful he will accept the truth.
While in Kurnool, we met fifteen preachers from an institutional background who traveled many miles to hear us preach. We took the opportunity each night after the preaching was done to invite them into our hotel room for further study. As a result of our efforts, all fifteen of them have repudiated Institutionalism, have taken the materials we have given them on the subject of authority, and have gone back to their congregations and taught the truth. Of course time will tell, but we are confident that their efforts are sincere, and Joshua is in contact with many of these men to continue to establish them in the truth regarding these issues.
One note about these men. Most of them are struggling mightily. They rightly desire to preach the gospel, but the congregations where they preach can not fully support them. Many of them have families. If any individuals or churches have an interest in supporting them in their stand for truth, much good could be done with only a few dollars. Money goes a long way over there, and even $100 dollars a month could make the difference in a man being able to feed his family and care for them as he preaches the gospel. Any who are interested in knowing more can contact me or Bobby for more information. We will be glad to do what we can to facilitate the support of these men. We believe them to be worthy of our help.
The final two weeks of our stay were spent back in Bangalore. We had opportunities to study with Joshua and Aruna, and Joshua's brother Ravi, who had come back to Bangalore with us from Kurnool. As a result of our studies, Ravi was baptized into Christ. He has since returned to Kurnool to study with his wife and parents, and to establish the Lord's church in that city.
We also had an opportunity to preach to two institutional congregations. Jacob Chukkah had invited us to preach at two of the three congregations where he preaches each Sunday. After a Sunday where we laid the groundwork to address our differences, Bobby Holmes preached on the following Monday night on the subject of apostasy. In pointing out the errors which led to divisions in America, he asked the church there for authority for some of their practices, including a sponsoring church arrangement they were a part of, and their practice of eating together as a congregation immediately following worship services.
This was when Jacob became angry, and accused Bobby of sin because he had not talked with Jacob privately before preaching the lesson. As we sought to reason with him he became more angry, and rescinded his invitations for further studies the rest of the week. He did this unilaterally, without any discussion with the other men of the congregation. It became obvious that he dominates these churches and many of the other preachers in the area through his personality and will. He reminds me of Diotrephes, (cf. 3 John 9).
Again, though we were not allowed to preach any more in those churches, the contrast between truth and error was made. Those who have an honest heart, and are interested in faithfulness rather than the social gospel now have a choice in the Bangalore area. We are hopeful that much good will come as Joshua continues his efforts in that area.
The Bottom Line
The following was accomplished in our trip November 2004:
What is Needed
There are so many areas in the world where the gospel needs to be preached. Reports from those who are working in the Philippines are a good example of the power of the gospel when it falls upon honest hearts.
While I can not say that the work in India is more important than any other, it surely has a special place in my heart. These are good and faithful Christians, and the potential for the salvation of many souls is very clear. As is always the case, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few" (cf. Matthew 9:37).
Brother Holmes' health is a bit tenuous, and it is likely that the trip in November will be his final trip abroad. There is the need for faithful men to make the investment in time and money to spend a few weeks in India helping the brethren there. There is a need for churches or individuals to support the native preachers who are faithfully laboring in the country. There is the need for articles and sermons to be translated into various Indian dialects for the purpose of teaching. There is the need for daily prayer for our brethren in India, and for the millions of lost souls in that country. It is my prayer that some who read this report will consider the challenges, and determine to do something to help the Lord in the work being done in that country.
If I can be of any help in expediting such efforts, feel free to contact me.