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On December 13, l981 Mohan Bas and several men formed the Bharath Evangelical Lutheran Church. Bas had decided to leave the India Evangelical Lutheran Church (LC-MS affiliate) over doctrinal concerns.

It is now twenty years since that step was taken. What has the Lord done?

Mohan Bas inquired of different Lutheran churches, one of which was the CLC. When he inquired of us, correspondence was initiated with the Mission Board’s secretary as directed by the Board.

As correspondence proceeded, it appeared that he was in agreement with us on what was written. The point was reached where a face to face meeting was called for. Although the Mission Board in January 1983 had sent a team to India to have doctrinal meetings with what became the Church of the Lutheran Confession in India, one year

later another trip was called for that was well worth the expense.

In January 1984 a visitation team of Pastor Norbert Reim (an experienced overseas missionary) and Pastor David Koenig (secretary of the board) met with Mohan Bas. The meeting at Trivandrum disclosed an agreement on the teachings discussed and a willingness of Mohan Bas to continue in the Word.

At the July 1986 CLC Convention it was formally recognized that confessional fellowship existed between us and Pastor Bas and the Bharath Evangelical Lutheran Church.

We called Mohan Bas “pastor” because he functioned in that office, though his theological training had been brief and not completed to become a pastor. This caused him difficulties in the southern tip of India where there is a concentration of Christians. Other Christians accused Mohan Bas of being a fake, and not truly a pastor. The problems that arose caused Pastor Bas to investigate a new area of work which culminated in him moving his labors to an area outside of Madras (Chennai) in 1990.

What has the Lord done? See for yourself. In 1986 the BELC consisted of two pastors serving six congregations totalling about 300 souls in the southern tip of India. In 1990 the BELC, centered at Uthukottai outside of Madras, numbered about 2,000 souls. In 2000 the BELC had about 150 congregations and preaching stations with 4,636 souls. They have members and contacts in seven Indian states. Even as this is being read, new contacts are being made and outreach is going on (so that the statistics are outdated).

The membership growth of the BELC is found in three groups generally: converted Hindus, Christians scattered in villages not served by a pastor, and pastors and congregations which find in the BELC a church that is in the Bible and seek to affiliate. This last group was demonstrated dramatically when a group of about 1,200 in 1998 in the Nellore District sought to join. Nellore has now become a faithful center of the BELC’s work alongside of Uthukottai.

We pray for God’s blessings to be continued to the people of India through the channel of the BELC. May God make the pastors and people of the BELC faithful witnesses of His grace and love in Christ Jesus.

What God has done we pray He continues and increases!

–Missionary David Koenig, Reporter