While, of course, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ Indian village pastor, nevertheless I will describe him to you. It’s my way of getting you to better understand the men I speak to each day. I’ve spoken to about 3,500 pastors and about 1,000 wives in my first 7 years here and will speak to more than 1,000 men and 350 women this trip. Better yet, this year I will speak to them for two days, not just one.
We go to different villages each day and pastors come from miles around. They are fine, godly men and a real encouragement to me. Their commitment and sacrifice is top notch. Persecution, even martyrdom, is very real and all these men can tell stories about themselves or those they know/knew. Some have scars that are still visible. Their lives are filled with personal sacrifice, done with a smile and a deep love for Jesus.
The typical pastor who comes is a married man with children, no more than 2 or 3, who are still living in the home. He probably grew up in a Dalit or tribal family. These are the lowest groups in India, the ‘outcasts.’ His family of origin may or may not have been Christian. There is also a chance he is from a Hindu background.
He can probably read, but there is very little chance he had any Bible training. He speaks only Telugu. He owns a Bible but very few, if any, other books. He is probably Baptist, though may be Pentecostal. Except for worship, there is little difference here. Whichever group brought him to the Lord is the one he stays with. There is no denominational structure, each church is totally independent.
God put a desire to pastor in his heart and he started evangelizing, then training those who responded. His people meet in his home for church. If he works hard he may have built a shed of straw or concrete block for a church building. He spends his time praying and going to villages in his area and evangelizing, as well as helping the people in his church and village. They have church meets Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Every day the church is open for prayer or fellowship and people often come. To get around he either walks, rides a bike, or makes payments on a used scooter/small motorcycle. He lives on the equivalent of $30 ton $100 a month, which makes it very hard on his wife to make ends meet.
His wife is a dedicated, committed believer, from the same social class as him. She busy with her family and serving the people in her church in any way she can. She works side by side with her husband, often doing the jobs no one lese wants to do. She is quiet, faithful, giving and a real support for her husband. He often ignores her needs and she accepts that, never having known anything different in her culture.
He comes to the conference not knowing what to expect but having hard good things from those who have heard of this ministry. He knows his travel will be paid, he will be fed and given a blanket and pillow at night. His wife receives these as well if she comes, and also attends the conference. He longs for fellowship with other pastors and some training to help him minister better. He finds both, more than he ever imagined. He is encouraged, better trained and equipped, motivated and finds himself part of a support group that will continue meeting for fellowship and follow-up training several times a year. He is given books on What God Expects of a Pastor, Spiritual Warfare, Marriage and Ministry and Prophecy, all topics he has heard. The books give more details and allow him to study these subjects in more detail as well as preach them to his people. He will pass the books on to others he knows who weren’t at the conference. He may even receive $25 a month if he is particularly needy. Some may even receive a bicycle, scooter or financial help for his church building, depending on his need and our resources. He leaves telling us how much he needed this and how very, very much it helped. He asks if we will come back again soon (we won’t there are too many who have never even had one conference).
The cost for the conference is about $15 a person/couple. The books are about $1 each. So for about $20 we can provide this. While $20 each isn’t much, when more than 1,000 come the price adds up. I thank you for your contributions, for without them this wouldn’t be possible. We would like to do more as far as follow-up meetings, helping pastors and their families, making more books available, providing scholarships for their children to attend Bible college, helping them get bikes instead of walking everywhere, helping them erect building to meet, etc. Pray God would direct and provide as He would have us minister.
Romans 10:1-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Pray for these men and their wives. Pray often and in detail, especially now while we are here with them. They have an enemy whole will stop at nothing to destroy them and the light they bring to the darkness here. Pray for them as they attend these conferences. Demonic resistance is stirred up quite a bit when God works in these ways.