EYE-WITNESS REPORTS – JANUARY 2015
THE VIEW FROM AN INDIA NEWBIE
This blog is written by Alan Carton who is accompanying Jerry in India this trip.
I was excited when the opportunity came available earlier this year to accompany Jerry Schmoyer on his annual India trip. The first thing he warned me about was that this was a work trip . . . . not a churchy vacation. I was fine with that, because it is also my philosophy when I have done missions trips in the past to Venezuela and Peru. Having been on more than 20 such trips, up to 6 weeks in length, I was comfortable with the month Jerry had planned. Truly, it is a working trip, especially for him . . . . but I am finding it truly wonderful as well.
It is fun to watch a master teacher at work. Jerry has perfected the art of teaching the heart of complex biblical ideas on a level that poorly educated pastors can grasp and enjoy. Part of this involves the many magic tricks he integrates into his messages. He has adapted tricks we have all seen, but that the pastors probably have not, in ways that make the message he is conveying truly memorable to them.
India is a big country, so even though only 2 – 3 percent of the people are Christians, there are still 35,000,000 of them. In the Dhalit and tribal groups where Jerry works, the percentage is probably quite a bit higher. The churches are generally small, often house churches with 10 to 50 members. Because they are the lowest classes, it also means many of the pastors are poorly educated. They have been systematically denied education opportunities forever. Taken together, this means that Jerry is uniquely meeting the training needs of a huge number of pastors . . . critically needed training needs. As he trains pastors of all denominations, he will never run out of those needing his training.
My ministry is one of enablement, so that is the prospective that I have tended to view this work with. What do these pastors and church leaders most need in order to function more effectively? How can they be helped to reach the other 97.5% of Indians they come into contact with every day? Their needs are overwhelming. They are all poor. They have not been well educated or trained. Their congregations and those around them have incredible needs. Bibles are very hard to come by because they are expensive for poor families needing to eat. Many pastors lack even rudimentary transportation. Where should we focus?
Lepers are fairly common here. They can’t work to support themselves in most cases. That is one huge way to reach lost people. Orphans are also common. That is an outreach that touched my heart deeply when we went to see a small orphanage supported by Pastor Moses, our translator, driver and overall project coordinator. How can your heart not go out to the 20 orphans being cared for at a cost of only about $12,000 a year . . . $600 a child . . . especially when you realize there are 20 more in the street on their waiting list. Another way to help is to promote the sewing training ministries that enable women to support their families. For about $80 it is possible to teach a woman 2 hours a day, 6 days a week for 6 months. At the end, they are good tailors, able to feed their families.
We also visited a large tent city of slum dwellers. These are tribal people, the lowest of the low. We gave milk to more than 40 children . . . also a little candy. The slum, located on the banks of an open sewage canal, is prone to foul smells. This is public property, so they squat there for free . . . each family in a tent of 10’ x 15’ or so. They have nothing. The children’s greatest wish, one they prayed for while we were there, was for shoes and books so they could go to school. How can you not want to help these people? They make up about 20% of India’s population.
A bicycle enables a pastor to be far more efficient . . . for $100. Even better, a small motorbike allows him to bring his whole family, microphone and other things when he goes . . . for $700. $25 a month in support will hugely improve the lives of a pastor’s family.
After thinking about it, my mind tells me that pastoral training and Bibles are, rationally, the greatest need. My heart however, keeps striking out in the direction of helping those who are so severely in need. For $5 a Bible can be put in the hands of a new believer. For $1400 a 2 day pastor’s conference can be held, with each pastor given 4 valuable books to take home and study.
Long after I go home however, my heart and mind will be wrestling with what I have seen here and how best to help reach this huge treasure trove of lost people. I hope as you read Jerry’s blogs, you will engage both your heart and your mind. This is one of God’s greatest opportunities for us, His church, to touch lives. How is He telling you to help? Please pray about this.
God bless you as you pray for Dr. Jerry and his amazing work here in India. I hope you too have an opportunity some day to experience it as I am right now. Alan Carlton Former Current or Former President of numerous businesses and organizations, 20 years mission experience in Venezuela and Peru. (Vijayawada, January 13, 2015)
DR. JERRY’S AMAZING TRAVELING SEMINARY SHOW
TOP DRAWER QUALITY AT BARGAIN BASEMENT PRICES!!!!!!
(Written by Alan Carlton) As I have accompanied Dr. Jerry Schmoyer and Pastor P.K. Moses across India, it has become clear what a unique and valuable work is being done here by them . . . all on the cheap. As an engineer, I am all about efficiency; the best product for the best price. I like cheap . . . so long as the quality is there.
What Jerry and Moses bring to the poor pastors of south-central India is a travelling seminary . . . the only one like it I know about. They give studies the pastors need, presented locally so it’s possible for them and their wives to attend. Courses taught include both practical things they need to know (What God Expects from Pastors, Leadership Lessons from the Bible, Christian Family Relationships and Spiritual Warfare) as well as Bible studies (Bible Survey, Heaven, The Rapture, Prophecy and Specific Bible book studies). These are all presented in a clear, well-structured manner, with the ideas all understandably and culturally translated into Telugu by Pastor Moses. They are also accompanied by neat magic tricks that provide visual images that help them to remember what was said.
Pastors and their wives comments afterward are unanimously very positive. “We have never had teaching like this.” “I just returned from a conference taught by our denomination where I didn’t understand the teaching . . . here I did. It was wonderful.” “Pastors’ families need this teaching.” “I feel encouraged.” “I learned how to become a mature Christian.” “The books are great for studying.” The only critical comment ever received was several years ago when a demon-possessed woman ran to the front and fell to the floor, raging and screaming “you can’t teach them about casting out demons.” She was talking about the Spiritual Warfare teaching just completed. The pastors all surrounded her, praying in Jesus’ name and the demon left her.
All Christian denominations are welcomed and taught. This year, conferences were held at Baptist, Pentecostal, Mennonite, Church of South India, and Independent churches. Teaching more than 1400 pastors and wives this year, attendees were from Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran E&R, Independent, Church of God, Mennonite, Church of Christ and other churches. All teaching is basic Bible truth, with all pastors in harmony.
Fellowship between all the Christian pastors is a side benefit. Time shared eating, sharing chai and sleeping together facilitates joint work for God’s glory in the future.
All of this benefit, given free to them, only costs about $15 per person (a little more for 5 day seminars), including the books they are given covering the material taught . . . about what you pay for a movie, popcorn and a coke. Jerry’s and Pastor Moses’ time is a gift from them and their wives, as is airfare to get there. They are totally uncompensated. For free, each attendee receives:
· 2 days of top quality teaching in their native language (Telugu), delivered near their home
· All meals during the conference
· A small financial stipend to defray travel costs
· Books covering all subjects taught . . . in Telugu
· A blanket and pillow and space to lie down in the church on the night between the conferences
· Fellowship time with their wives and other pastors
· The ability to serve God and their churches better
Donors should know that both Pastor Moses and Jerry know how to pinch a penny hard enough to make it squeal. They are both frugal, Godly men with a passion for honoring God by training other pastors. If you are a financial partner in this ministry, rest assured this is being done with very, very good stewardship. When you get to heaven, you will meet many Indian Christians who will thank you for helping their pastor . . . and through him, them.
Gifts to support this work can be sent to: Christian Training Organization, In Care of Jerry Schmoyer, 252 W. State St, Doylestown, PA 18901. For a tax receipt at the end of the year make the donation out to Christian Training Organization. By Alan Carlton (Hyderabad, Sunday, January 25, 2015)
(written by Alan Carlton) As Jerry and I near the end of our India visit, my mind wants to step back and consider the significance of it all. As we began, I had no idea of what to expect. It was my first trip to India. Jerry and I had never met. I did not know what he really did on his annual trips to India. Pastor Moses was only a name, the first two parts of it being unpronounceable. I had never heard of the places we would go. It was an interesting sounding clean slate with the possible potential to Honor our Lord.
Every day, I give God my blank check. I tell Him, whatever you want me to do, I will do. Whatever you want me to give, I will give. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Last year, God said “Go to India with Glory’s dad, Jerry.” . . . and here I am, nearly ready to return home. I can’t say the trip exceeded my expectations, because my ignorance kept me from having any It did, however exceed my fondest hopes.
Playing the part of Barnabus to Jerry’s “Paul” was both interesting and enjoyable, though probably more for me than for him The thorn in the flesh is a part of Paul’s journeys that Jerry understands. Persistent stomach pain and occasional nausea, when combined with a serious dislike of travel and discomfort around strangers pricked him every moment we were here . . . yet he radiated the joy of teaching God’s truths each day so brightly that the pain was hidden.
I taught a little, took over 5000 pictures and videos (so far) and helped however I could. For most of the trip, Pastor Moses was our rock . . . constantly driving, arranging, translating, answering questions, and making it all happen with few bumps in the road.
The needs and opportunities here are both phenomenal. This ministry is unique and I hope will grow. I am listening each day as I give God my blank check for how He wants me to participate, both now and in the future. You can too.
We are teaching in xxxxxxxxxx Gilead Seminary during our final week here . . . Jerry, many topics . . . me, Heaven. Yesterday, I talked about Jesus’ story concerning Lazarus and the rich man. At the end, the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn those he loves, his 5 brothers. Clearly, it is too late for the rich man, but not for those he loves. God gives each of us the choice to follow him, but only while we live. Ultimately, our time for choosing ends.
If we truly care for our loved ones (and this should include all people, as it does for Christ), we need to warn and inform them while we and they are still alive. Life has an expiration date. It was too late for the rich man to warn his loved ones, but it is not for you and for me. We need to use each and every day for the Glory of God while we have it. One key part of this is sharing the wonderful gift He has promised us . . through prayer, living in Christ’s image, talking, or any other means we can think of. This is something that won’t “keep”. It’s expiration date becomes irrevocable with our death.
As I return from a far and rich part of the Mission field, I am reminded that white fields surround us every day. In one sense, I am returning from a mission journey, greatly filled and satisfied that I was faithful in it. In another sense, I am returning to the mission fields that surround my home every day. Will I be equally faithful in those fields? I pray that God will show me how . . . show me what He wants done . . . what he wants me to give . . . where He wants me to go . . . that He will return my blank check filled out with my next mission . . . for His Glory. I pray the same for you. Alan Carlton, (Bangalore, February 3, 2015)