A small church was founded in the 1960s in the Indira Colony of Ponnur, a very poor community of about 15 families. Only a few families joined the church. The church grew, but only because the families grew.
In October 1997, Vision Ukraine was looking for a global outreach missionary to support. Vision Ukraine Pastor Danny Shaw found Pastor David Wilson through Sermon Central on the Internet. Vision Ukraine adopted Pastor Wilson as their missionary, committing about $10 per month support. This meager support allowed Pastor Wilson to become a full-time pastor, and the Ponnur congregation started to grow.
In November 2002, MATTHEW 25:34-40 Ministries Senior Pastor John Townsend was visiting Ukraine and reading the correspondence between pastors Danny and David. David made a plea to Danny about a disaster in the colony. A tropical cyclone had blown down high tension electrical wires over the village and sparks ignited a fire, burning down all of the thatched homes and the church in August. The Church had taken all of their resources and bought thatch to rebuild the homes and to replace the necessary utensils that had been lost. But there was nothing left to rebuild the church. Pastor David was asking for $80 to buy thatch to rebuild the church. Pastor John asked, “How much would it cost to rebuild the church with brick?” The answer came back, “It would be very expensive, almost $2000.” John called his wife, Susan, who was at home in the US, and related the situation. Without hesitation, Susan agreed that $2000 was a small cost for a good investment in the Kingdom. Further correspondence with India settled the design and that the new church building would also house some local orphans, a kitchen would be needed and a water pump. The village men would provide the labor.
Because of the commitment of the Church to rebuild the village, nearly the entire village became committed to serving Christ. From the commitment of funds, a new church building was constructed. Within 4 months, the building was built,complete with a hand pump for water drilled to a depth that “sweet water” (pure drinking water) was being supplied (a miracle in the specific region).
Pastor David and Pastor John worked out an agreement for MATTHEW 25:4-40 Ministries to provide spiritual cover for Pastor David’s ministry, “Full Gospel Outreach Ministries” (Full Gospel meaning preaching both the Old and New Testaments). John and Susan Townsend were already deeply involved in Mission San Diego with Billy Graham, taking courses and receiving instruction in all the details of the Crusade: inviting people, ushering, security, prayer room, choir, the altar call process, sorting response cards, matching responses to churches, follow-up discipleship, and pastoral prayer teams. The Mission San Diego in 2003 was wonderfully successful.
The FGOR Ministries did annual crusades following their traditions. Pastor David Wilson and his partners were (and are) passionate about bringing others to the saving love of Jesus Christ. They would post hundreds of flyers, offer food following music and Gospel messages to as many as 3000 people. Many hundreds would respond to the altar call, but only 2 or 3 would come and join the church. John shared with David what he was learning what he was learning from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA) and together they designed new approaches for the 2003 FGOR Crusade. Only about 2000 came, and only 219 responded to the altar call. All were invited to go through follow-up training with 30 lessons on the basic beliefs of Christianity. The people went through a lesson a day, and at the end of the month, 217 had finished all the lessons and had confessed Christ Jesus as their Lord. A new church was founded in a new town, and David’s ministry had more than doubled in size.
Also in 2003, there was a drought in the part of India (Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh) where FGOR was located. The people of the Ponnur church hand-pumped water from the church’s well and carried buckets of water to flood the fields for their crops. The drought persisted, but the crops were watered and the weather led to a very bountiful crop. The people of the Church took what they needed of the crop for food, and sold a portion of the surplus to buy a broken tractor and a wagon. They fixed the tractor; it is still in use as transportation. The last of the surplus food they took to a neighboring village to share with those who were hungry. Their gift allowed them to tell of the love of Jesus, resulting in many being saved (and the founding of yet another church).
In 2004, there were several local disasters (floods and tornadoes), culminating in the Dec. 26 Tsunami. The Ministries were on the scene for each, helping those in need and supplying what others didn’t. The Tsunami damaged the fishing boats at Nizampatam. The government and international aid missions responded to the Tsunami with supplies and assistance to fix roads, houses, and with relief supplies. The Ponnur church went to Nizampatnam and helped repair the fishing boats, staying until the fishermen were back at sea. The result of these ministries: every disaster resulted in increasing the number of churches in the Mission. Although the many new congregations were small, they were dispersed across rural country sides and isolated from each other.
Developing new leaders became a problem, so the Ministries started a 2-year Bible College. Pastor Townsend provided guidance and visited in 2007 for the first graduation. Since this time, the Mission has concentrated on leadership development within its congregations, especially with mature believers and with the youth. Over the subsequent years, the Mission has grown senior pastors, junior pastors, pastors-in-training, and congregational elders which are now able to serve hundreds of congregations while still planting new churches. Each congregation develops its own deacons as well.
The pastors have scooters and motorbikes, allowing them to cover multiple congregations and to help the local elders grow. The growth of the elders allows very effective on-on-one ministry, counseling, and discipleship.Congregational worship is irregular, but usually more often than weekly. (In rural India, one day is like any other. In the Mission, every day is the Lord’s day. People don’t have clocks, watches, or calendars.) The Mission provides its own hymn and praise book from which the people learn the songs. Worship services are usually in the evening, after the day’s work in the fields. Drums start playing about an hour before the service, and the people come and join in the singing. After a period of singing (allowing everyone to arrive and participate), there may be some announcements, especially if there is a Mission baptism planned, and then a suitable Gospel message is given. The people expect 60-120 minutes of Bible instruction. Afterwards, there is communal and individual prayer followed by a congregational meal. The people go home to rest and ready themselves for work at sunrise. During the day, the various leaders are visiting congregational members at their work or home to encourage them and pray and hear about whatever success they may have had reaching out to neighbors.
The India Mission is not concentrated in cities; rather, it serves rural villages and towns. An on-going problem in rural India is potable water and timely health screening. Health screening clinics (especially for diabetes), eye screening, and first-aid clinics are held regularly in central locations to help the communities. Water filters have been provided to most congregations to serve the needs of their villages. Also, leprosy is still a problem in rural India, and the Mission churches help support the several leprosy colonies. The Ministry supports medical outreaches to provide treatments to cure leprosy and to prevent its spread, but the cost is high for people in rural areas (about $300 for the full course of treatments for a cure), and most rural residents can only afford perhaps $10 for medical issues. The Ministry has supported several of its young people in medical studies, enabling them to return to the rural areas to ride circuit, treating people who would otherwise not get adequate medical treatment.
Poor Hindu families sometimes abandon their young children who they can’t support or sell them to labor traffickers or sex traffickers. Many of the churches in our Ministry Association in India have orphanages caring for children adopted by the church. The Church in India actively seeks to eradicate trafficking, but it is a continuing problem. MATTHEW 25:34-40 partners with the India Rescue Mission to identify traffickers and to free the children and take them into church homes. The Mission supports 3 orphanages in Andhra Pradesh (AP) with about 100 total children; there are nearly 40 churches in the Ministry Association supporting orphaned or abandoned children.
The Mission does periodic jail ministries and regular hospital visitations.However, these facilities are in the cities, not the villages. Some city-based churches have a regular jail ministry or hospital visitation program as an outreach. It is more effective for the Mission to work with city-based churches and denominations in these areas, but Mission churches do care for their own when they are hospitalized.
Drunkenness is a major reason (or underlying reason) for incarceration. The Ministry translated the Most Excellent Way Program Manual into Telugu and widely shared it in India and also to Nepal. The Mission has used it effectively to promote sobriety and to also train leaders to work with people having substance abuse issues. Drunkenness among fishermen was (and is) a very common problem that also led to spousal abuse and marital problems. Taking Christ to the fishermen through Talking Bibles, the MEW program, a Marriage By God’s Design seminar,and through those who came to Christ after the Tsunami outreach, has dramatically increased sobriety and belief in Christ among those touched by the Mission.
Providing Bibles to people is a constant issue for the Mission. The Mission ensures that every person who comes to Christ and is baptized receives a Bible. The Ministry has provided the Mission with audio Bibles to provide The Word to the blind,those who are lack literacy skills, and for small group Bible studies. Church members (mostly women) like to plan a Bible study for neighbors (mostly Hindus), which is a major form of outreach. Members also do Bible study outreaches to relatives, who often live in neighboring villages; this often results in new church-planting opportunities. The elderly in the church who cannot work in the fields anymore volunteer to care for the small children,enabling the parents to work in the fields and do the daily chores. The elderly tell the children Bible stories, often reading directly from the Bible. The children are taught to memorize bible passages. This has resulted in whole families coming to faith and joining the church. The Mission sponsors Bible memory competitions annually. Over the years, a few children have memorized the entire New Testament by age 12. One of the elderly women memorized the New Testament and all of the Old Testament except for Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah,Hosea, Joel, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Malachi before she went to be with her Lord at 90 in 2014. She was an inspiration for many children to learn and memorize Scripture.
In 2011, one of the Mission pastors (Prasad) was inspired to go to a remote mountainous region in northern Andhra Pradesh. The region was without roads and sparsely inhabited by nomadic people living primarily on tree nuts (cashews)and fruits. The people speak an ancient language which is similar to Telugu and Orissan mixed, so he was able to communicate with them. They were troubled by wild elephants and gangs of communist rebels (really just violent thugs stealing for a living). Prasad reported finding these people to the district government, and they hired him to locate and help settle the people so the government could provide them with services. Prasad and a few others went out on survey trips, locating groups of these people and bringing them to suitable locations for a long-term camp. The government brought in pre-cast concrete housing and walls to protect against elephants, provided electricity, lighting,cellular mobile phones and services, and satellite TV service so the children could receive public education and news. Several roads were paved and bus services provided. Police patrols came in to provide protection against the roving gangs. Access into the area by motorbike expanded the ability to get to more people.
In 3 years, Pastor Prasad and his co-workers had brought the good news of Jesus Christ to the people, established 24 churches in camps and raised up five church leaders. It is named the Hilltop Mission. Then a tropical cyclone,Hudhud (a CAT 5 storm), hit the area in October 2014, destroying entire forests, knocking down electrical lines. But the people in their new settlements were safe. The Mission team helped the local government reach the Hilltop people with relief supplies. brought the good news of Jesus Christ to the people. Many hundreds of new people were discovered, including people injured by the cyclone and including about 2 dozen children orphaned by the storm. (Many had been killed by the storm, fallen trees, flying debris, or flooding.) A church orphanage was established near a school in the Srikakulam city and a network of churches to provide support to it.
More villages have been built in the Hilltop region (along with new churches).Church and government agriculture people helped the people plant gardens in protected compounds so they are more self-sufficient but still make an income from harvesting cashews and selling them to a co-op established for their benefit. The Mission has provided water filters and is now training the people how to read, using the Bible as a text. Many more leaders have been raised up in the Hilltop Mission churches.
The MATTHEW 25:34-40 Mission India continues to grow rapidly throughout its region, doing everything that the Ministries do elsewhere in the world in meeting needs of the people for Christ. The needs may be different and varied, but the Mission responds to meet those needs. The innovative responses of the India Mission have provided valuable lessons for other parts of the Ministries,especially in remote and impoverished areas.
The models of service, leadership, and church growth used by the India Mission is very effective and efficient. Other church organizations in India have seen the accomplishments and decided to join the Ministry Association. In addition, some denominations established under the British Empire are now struggling and reorganizing. The result has been more focus by these older churches on ministries in the cities, where they are doing well. The rural congregations of these denominations are becoming orphaned and have sought to be adopted by our India Mission. They are welcomed, and they have learned to prosper under our Mission leadership and spiritual cover.
Thanks to social media, our contacts with churches and other ministries in India have grown tremendously. Many dozens of churches (many with orphanages) and ministries are now using resources developed by or for Mission India. Many have joined our prayer networks and are corresponding with us regularly. There is even a loose association of independent churches now sharing sermons and discipleship plans over our network. The India Rescue Mission is one of our valued India partners;they do a very valuable work. We have also developed partnerships with churches in Pakistan. (We would like to have a much closer relationship with our friend sin Pakistan, but the political situation between India and Pakistan precludes it. Divided in the world, but united in Christ.) At least we can all pray together and for each other on our networks.
The Name of Jesus Christ is glorified, and the Body of Christ grows.
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These are various ministers that support this overall mission. Each supporting ministry comes with its own supporting resources and courses.
Human Trafficking is a scourge in almost every nation of the world. It is a cruel form of slavery. There is Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking; both are a cruel evil.Download Resource
The Bible, as God's word to us, is very important to everything we do across all of our other ministries.Download Resource
Community ministries are those services intended to address the needs of an entire community rather than just individuals.Download Resource
Discipleship Ministries include those that are teaching others why, what, and how to answer the call of Christ and to live like HE wants us to live.Download Resource
Youth ministries abound and MATTHEW 25:34-40 has multiple forms of discipleship programs for youth of ages from preschool to young adult.Download Resource
Jail and Prison Ministries seek to minister to the inmates, those who are at-risk, and those seeking to re-enter society plus their families.Download Resource
Matthew 25:34-40 describes a series of activities for which the righteous are rewarded because they have done them.Download Resource
Military veterans often suffer from unique combinations of issues related to experiencing the violence of combat.Download Resource
In many places, We are a minority ministry, but in almost every community we are in, we are leaders in organizing activities and recruiting the Body of Christ to serve the needs of the community.Download Resource
The Ministry maintains a series of prayer networks (many dozens in each language) supporting local issues, national issues, missionaries, ministry needs, special events & disasters, personal needs, etc.Download Resource
Prayer is one of the most important activities of a Christian's life and group pray is most important to congregational life and the community of faith.Download Resource
Support for Life in the Womb is a comprehensive ministry supporting women and men in making good decisions to bring their baby to a full-term, healthy birth and growth to be a healthy adult.Download Resource