Dear friends, supporters and prayer partners,
Greetings to you and thank you once again for your continued support and prayers for our brothers and sisters in South East Asia who serve under the Advent Christian banner. Thank you especially for your prayers concerning the issue of a visa to enable me to visit India – my visa was issued on 18 August and I arrived in Chennai on 3 September and spent eight days with Immanuel visiting those who lead those organisations which are ministering in partnership with Yesuway Jeevan Mission in and around Chennai and further afield in Tamil Nadu State. This update will concentrate on giving you an up to date indication of the wonderful job that these folk are doing as they care for and meet the needs of disadvantaged children and their families. In some cases the emphasis has had to change within the ministries, usually because of new government regulations and requirements, which in typical Indian fashion seem to make it more and more difficult to do the task of caring for folk who the government can’t or won’t care for itself!
BIHAR. Because of time and distance I was of course not able to visit the Advent Christian Conference’s outreach in Bihar State which we support, but Pastor Paul Sunder Raj happened to be in Chennai while I was there and I was pleased to be able to spend some time with him and was able to get a view of their ministry activities and St Xavier’s School which continues to be their very valuable bridge into the community in Khagaria.
Paul advised that their ministry team which now numbers 11 pastors in addition to Paul, is in good heart (in spite of the fact that the AC Conference has not provided funds for their salaries for several months)and they have just commenced building their third church building in their area.. God continues to work in the hearts of those to whom they minister and they have been having fairly regular baptismal services of quite large numbers of new believers. Paul has of recent times been carrying the responsibility of the principal’s position at St Xavier’s School but he told me that they had two good candidates for the position of Principal and once an appointment is made he will be released from these extra responsibilities and will be able to again concentrate on leading the ministry team. He will retain his position as Assistant Principal which enables him to keep an eye on the overall activities of the school. The school enrolment at present is about 680 students from standards 1 to 10 who learn in English medium, and they have a very good team of teachers, most of whom are Christians. The school continues to be highly regarded by the community for the contribution it makes to the city of Khagaria.
Please continue to pray for Paul and his wife Sudar and their children William Carey and Joanna, (pictured at right in their winter woollies) and the pastors and their families and the principal and teachers of St Xavier’s school. Pray too that the AC Conference will soon be able to send funds for salaries for their workers.
GUINDY HOSTEL. The hostel is caring for 102 children at present. Because of its very serious financial position the AC Conference has not provided any funds for many months – the Mission has doubled its monthly contribution and is presently their only source of funds. Contributions from regular donors in New Zealand have allowed necessary capital works to be carried out to keep the hostel running – we have recently sent funds to enable them the drill a bore-well and provide a pump and tanks etc. to provide a good water supply for the children. The cook resigned because she was not being paid and the warden – Nelson – and his wife who are not being paid either (pictured) are carrying a huge responsibility and are under great pressure as they care for all the children. They need our prayers, as do the leaders of the AC Conference who sadly seem to have lost sight of their responsibility to care for these precious lives which are under their care.
The SHELTER TRUST HOSTEL, which cares for 20 children and 10 adults who are all HIV positive, is a beautiful ministry which God is blessing and using to give wonderful quality of life and eternal hope to these folk. Rev Solomon who leads this ministry is tremendously committed to his calling and task, and explained that their aim is to bring love – Christian love, and quality of life, and laughter to these 30 folk whose length of life is inevitably limited by their illness. As they do this they of course point them to the Lord Jesus Christ who can give them eternal Life.
My heart was deeply touched as I talked with these folk, as they danced and sang for us, and as I saw their happy, smiling faces and the joy that was obviously part of their lives. God is using Rev Solomon and his team of helpers in a wonderful way.
Immanuel and I were honoured to be asked to dedicate and formally open some new dormitory and activity areas and medical facilities on the first floor of their building. A fine treatment room is empty of required equipment at this stage – please pray that the LORD will continue to provide as He has done so wonderfully in the past to enable the room to be fully equipped as soon as possible. I was also able to see the next area to be developed – on the second floor where they intend to build an isolation room, an area for the adult ladies to rest and have privacy, as well as facilities for visiting family members to stay.
Sadly the PEACE CHILDREN’S CARE HOME at Dharmapuri, near Salem, recently had to close. This was because of new Indian government regulations which no longer allow organisations to care for underprivileged children in rented premises. The premises in which this organisation looked after approximately 25 children and young people whose lives had been affected because of their parents contracting HIV/AIDS was rented and although the organisation owns land on which it ultimately plans to build their own hostel, they very reluctantly had to transfer their children to other organisations, but have done so on the basis of being able to continue their care of them once the property situation is settled. The property they own is to the east of Chennai near the coast and they are preparing plans for suitable buildings to enable them to recommence their full time care of disadvantaged children. As always, funding for those buildings is a major obstacle and at this time they have no idea of when construction will begin.
In the meantime they are running a day-care session for several hours at the end of each day, for six days a week, after school finishes, for approximately 80 children from nearby fishing villages. They assist them with their school studies and homework (most of the children’s homes have no electricity and so they cannot do this at home) and have Christian input and teaching and give them a snack meal each day. Once again, my heart was touched as I listened to these children sing Christian songs and recite Scripture verses – they were very obviously “at home” and enjoying the time they send with Rev John Matthew and his helpers. As with children everywhere they enjoyed the “treat” of savoury puffs and cake and soft drink which we took for them.
CHRIST SPECIAL HIGH SCHOOL at Sankarapuram is now in its own new custom built building and caters for about 65 children who are physically or mentally or both disadvantaged. It is a residential school and once again the staff- teachers and carers and cooks led by Mrs. Banunrathy Sugintharaj who with her late husband founded the school in1991 – do a wonderful job of giving loving care and attention, a good education (their students do very well in external, government examinations) encouragement and spiritual input to these children. Their new building was funded largely by churches in Australia and they still need to expand the building to provide additional facilities, especially for live-in staff and they are looking to purchase adjacent land to use for play and recreation areas for the children.
Once again we had the opportunity to interact with the children and it was wonderful to see their smiles and to hear them sing Christian songs and perform dances for us. It was especially touching to see children with physical handicaps joining in the dances – the school is obviously a place of happiness and peace.
The ABISHEK KARUNYA (Mercy Anointing) PRIMARY SCHOOL for Gypsy children which was also started by Mrs. Banunrathy Sugintharaj and her late husband, operated from a school building constructed in a Gypsy settlement at nearby Kallakuruchi. Unfortunately, again because of Indian government involvement, the school had to cease operating as their approximately 50 children were compulsorily transferred by the government as the basis of a newly built government school in the district. Mrs. Banunrathy Sugintharaj and her helpers have retained their contact with the children with after school hours activities and are now teaching the mothers of the children sewing skills and jewellery making – with the aim of enabling the ladies to gain the skills to either get jobs or start their own small businesses and thus to increase their family incomes. So the primary school has become the ABISHEK SEWING SCHOOL. The New Zealand Special Fund recently provided funds for two new sewing machines and tables and other associated equipment for them and YJM is providing a small monthly amount to pay the two tutors a small allowance. They are teaching groups of up to 20 ladies for a six month sewing course or a course in jewellery making – necklaces, bangles etc. Of the first class of 5 ladies who recently completed the first course, three have already become self-employed and have been able to purchase their own sewing machines and obtain contracts for sewing for clothing manufacturers.
Pastor Kirubakkaran, who we know as the “Baby Saver” is in the process of registering his hostel for approximately 32 children at Namakkal with government authorities. In the process it has been renamed the FPTL NEW LIFE HOME. (FPTL stands for (Faith, Prayer, Tract Link). 29 of his 32 children are at school in the nearby village and three are under school age. Their rented house is very small and they desperately need to have their own land and buildings both to give them more room and to comply with government regulations.
Kirubakkaran continues to minister the Gospel in the nearby Kolli Hills and has services every Sunday in two different places, using church buildings which have been made available to him by wealthy citizens on the plains. He continues to save babies (and at my enquiry advised that he has now saved a total of 189. PTL!) from being sacrificed, but now, again because of new government regulations, he can no longer keep them in his own hostel – he has to find suitable Christian homes for them. He indicated that he had rescued two little ones a couple of weeks before my visit.
Here too it was wonderful to hear the children, home from school for their lunch break, recite Scripture verses and passages and sing Christian songs. They enjoyed the special lunch meal of chicken briyani which we had provided for them.
The ADDRES CENTRE (Alcohol, Drug De-addiction RE-habilitation Service Centre) has also recently undergone changes in its activities and emphasis. Whilst one of the reasons it has been necessary to make changes is because the government has reduced funding to it and other NGOs working in this area of need, the funding has been reduced as the programmes they have been implementing have been so successful that the number of addicts has reduced dramatically. Pastor Paul Nilavan indicated that most of the alcohol and drug addicts in the area of Chennai in which they were working are now rich, young people who can afford to buy their drugs and alcohol and who he leaves to pay for their own treatment. ADDRES Centre continues to assist with the rehabilitation process of those they have helped in the past, and I was able on their behalf to hand over a food parcel and a voucher for their child’s education to a couple who they have been helping for some time. The man, a recovered addict, was going for a job interview soon after I met him.
As well as continuing to care for their earlier contacts, they are now moving into providing training to enable rehabilitated folk to learn job skills to allow them to earn a living for themselves and their families. Their new ministry is named STEPPING STONE INNOVATIVE and they are starting their ministry with a Catering/Cooking course, a Beautician’s course and a TV and Radio Announcing course. They have recruited prominent people from the industries concerned who have agreed to give their time to teach the members of the courses the skills they need to enable them to seek employment in the relevant areas.
They are presently in rented premises but have purchased a plot of land and in time hope to build their own building.
The Mission/Yesuway Jeevan Mission assists all of the above partner ministries, together with the AC Conference’s outreach ministry at Adda Road in the State of Andhra Pradesh, which is led by Pastor Paul Gantham, financially each month and as our income increases in the future it is our intention to assist them as much as we can to assist them to achieve their goals and continue their very valuable practical ministries to those to whom they minister, who are in all cases underprivileged in some way. Of course the best way we can support them is in prayer, and I ask that you pray for all of these ministries and particularly those who have the responsibility of leadership, on a regular and perhaps rotating basis.
We are in the process of preparing a Trust Deed to enable us to register YESUWAY JEEVAN MISSION as a charitable and religious organisation with the Indian government, and we are seeking the LORD’s will in respect to Christian brothers or sisters to act as trustees. It is hoped that there will be the opportunity for representatives of ACGC to continue to have a leadership and guiding role in the new Indian organisation and to thus maintain the link with the on-going ministry of the organisation and its partners which has developed over the many years that our missionaries have ministered in India. Please pray for wisdom for all those involved in these preparations and for the LORD’s leading in these matters. Please pray especially for our Advocate (lawyer) in Chennai, Brother Ravi Paul, who over recent years has worked very hard for us in many difficult situations and who ultimately will be the one who will negotiate the registration of the new trust for us.
Thank you once again for your partnership with us in the LORD’s work. If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you as you serve him with us.