The first week of February found me traveling from Indiana to North Carolina and New Jersey. I had the privilege to preach missions conferences for two young pastors who were former Bible college students of mine in Texas. Both Pastor Mark Foster and Pastor Phil Erikson are doing a tremendous job. Each of them lead their church in supporting missions and are building a successful New Testament Baptist church for the Lord.
On February 11, I returned to Bangkok to prepare for the upcoming Tangkhul Naga Baptist Convention to be held in the state of Manipur, Northeast India. The convention meets every 4 years. This year over 300 Tangkhul Baptist churches attended. They met in a remote village called Nongdam located about 45 minutes from Imphal. The population of Imphal is about 2 million.
This was the largest meeting of Baptist churches I have ever had the honor to preach in. They constructed a huge tabernacle made out of bamboo and covered with plastic tarps. It was truly a massive structure made to seat 10,000- plus. Thousands of people literally lived outside in 40-degree weather for 4 days with no heat (outside of a campfire), no electricity, no running water, and no public restrooms or shower—and no one complained! I could only compare it to going to a Christian camp over 100 years ago. I was overwhelmed when over 1,000 souls responded to the preaching of the Gospel over the 4-day convention. I preached the first service at 7:00 a.m. to a full tabernacle, and over 300 people came forward to surrender their lives to full-time service to the Lord. Praise the Lord!
There were many honorable guests and high-ranking public officials commending this large gathering of Christian Tangkhul people. Our pictures appeared in the local newspaper, drawing the attention of the Naga underground. Threats were made to do harm to the people attending, and bomb threats were made to destroy the meeting place. The India military assigned many soldiers to the event for security. Dr. Jim Starr and I were the only 2 Americans attending. The military asked us to sleep at a remote Army camp to protect us. We were under constant, 24-hour watch by armed soldiers while we preached, ate, and slept. We were not allowed to travel without an armed escort.
To God be the glory; great things He has done! I will never forget the second night of the meeting. One national pastor refused to attend because of the terrorist threats, so I was asked to preach in his place. I preached a salvation message and saw hundreds come to Christ. I hope one day to be able to send out footage of that invitation lasting almost one hour. People were wiping away tears as they accepted Christ, and thousands began praying for God to send a revival. It was amazing!
While in Manipur I preached in a number of other Baptist churches. I also taught at Covenant Baptist Bible College in the city of Ukhrul. Ukhrul is where an American Baptist Union pioneer to the state of Manipur, William Pettigrew, started his work at the turn of the last century. Pettigrew established the first Baptist church there in 1904, which is still in existence today.
Covenant Baptist Bible College is staffed and run by nationals. The college has 45 students, which are mostly from Burma. They will have their first graduating class this spring. These good folks live in very harsh conditions in the mountains of Manipur. It gets very cold, and there is no system for heat. Even though they have no electricity and they depend on rain water for all their needs, these young people are very happy to be there learning to serve the Lord.
On Wednesday night I visited a Baptist church in a remote area close to the Burmese (Myanmar) border. The church was over 60 years old and located several miles away from any kind of a road. It took 4 hours to drive back to Ukhrul. I told my wife that if I had died there, my body would have never been found!
After another 5-hour trip through rough mountain roads the following day, I checked into a hotel in Imphal, where I was able to take my first shower after 7 days. I slept in a bed with real sheets in a warm room, and I ate some real food that I could recognize!
I spent Sunday with Dr. David Wijunami, pastor and president of Chil Chil Baptist College and Seminary. He invited me to preach the evening service for the college students. What a blessing! I am presently putting together a container of English KJV Bibles for his 3,000 students and for church planters in Northeast India who have no Bibles. Pastor Wijunami has asked me to preach the graduation service at Chil Chil in May 2015. Please pray that I can complete this Bible project soon. The need for Bibles is great, and the people are hungry for the Word of God.
I was truly impressed with two young preachers, Shimreipam Phungshok and Ninglum Wungkhai, graduates of Dr. Paul Chappel’s college in California. Both of them are being used of God to establish independent Baptist churches in Nagaland and Myanmar. They are nationals from that area, were saved as young boys, graduated from Bible college, and are now serving in their own home area.
I flew back to Bangkok to await the arrival of my good friend, Charlie Vest. We spent a few days in my office in Pathumthanee making plans for the Second Annual Pastors’ School in Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar), scheduled for the first week of March. Burmese Bibles were successfully smuggled into Burma for the second time by a Burmese pastor to make ready for the meeting.
Pastor Praun invited me to preach the Gospel at a public school in the Rangsit area. There were over 1,500 students and staff in attendance, and nearly 1,000 received Christ. They were all given several Gospel tracts and a John & Romans from Bearing Precious Seed. God truly blessed!
Into all the world,