[The following is a report from Pastor Jyothi Benjamin on “public Gospel meetings,” a recurring evangelism effort of the Church of the Lutheran Confession in India (CLCI), of which Pastor Benjamin is chairman. The report is lightly edited for clarity.]
“We organize the Church of the Lutheran Confession in India (CLCI) public Gospel meetings several times a year in various villages of South India. It is said that ‘India lives in the villages,’ so mainly we concentrate on Indian tribal villages. These CLCI public Gospel meetings are one of the ways we reach the unreached and start new CLCI Congregations with the help of our CLCI members in surrounding villages. This evangelism through our CLCI public Gospel meetings is about God working through our CLCI congregations to develop vibrant witnesses to the Good News of Jesus Christ here in India.
“Before we start, we pray and ask for guidance and courage to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ and to go where God is leading us to plant new CLCI congregations in various Hindu villages where there are no churches.
“We provide special training to equip our CLCI youth to become more comfortable in doing the survey in various villages to promote these public Gospel meetings, and to avoid opposition from local antisocial elements. We take time to identify witnessing opportunities. Then we make perfect planning to organize the Gospel meetings. We plan in such a way that no one will want to miss them. We invite people to come! Sometimes it is necessary to spend some money on publicity through pamphlets and canvassing.
“Usually these public Gospel meetings last three days. Services are held in the afternoon and in the night. Meetings are held in open air under temporary tents, and sermons are amplified with loud speakers. Anywhere from 500-1000 people attend these meetings. Depending upon the number of people attending, sometimes we hire a sound and music system so we can join the angels in singing ‘Glory to God in the highest!’ We sing melodious Lutheran hymns with music to attract people and introduce them to Jesus Christ. Every public meeting starts with sincere salutations and supplications to our Lord God Almighty. Every meeting includes joyful singing led by our CLCI choir team. People gather spontaneously and with expectation participate in these meetings. We offer a short Lutheran worship with confession of sins.
“We share the Word of God with the people and observe how the Word of God fills people through the Holy Spirit. The Word ignites the minds of the people to the purpose of their existence on earth. The inspiring messages from our CLCI leaders and pastors refresh the newcomers, and promise the way to salvation and eternal life. The Word of the Lord penetrates the hearts of many, changing their lives and bringing a dynamic Christian life. The Word, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, urges each individual to receive Jesus as their Savior. Jesus Christ won the hearts of many people, including children and youngsters.
“Sometimes we see positive results, and sometimes we face some opposition from local antisocial elements and other religious groups. We are glad to inform you that there has been an especially great response to the Gospel in the tribal villages, where social ills such as alcoholism, robbery, prostitution and superstition are common. These are the devil’s strongholds in these tribal villages. At the end of the prayer meetings we pray for each and every individual so that people would be delivered from the evil powers and know the Savior of their lives. Even though it is very difficult to conduct Gospel meetings in these tribal villages, we are glad to report that many tribal people have received Jesus as their Savior and been baptized through these meetings. We are even starting new churches.
“Through these CLCI public Gospel meetings, we preach and teach the Good News of Jesus. As you know, the promises of the Good News of Jesus are meant to be shared with others. Some of the non-believers in villages also attend the meetings. Mainly we aim our sermons to present the Gospel to unbelievers present. After each prayer meeting many come forward to have individual prayers. This shows that the Word of God is working in their hearts. Sometimes village elders are seen responding to the Gospel. With the present results we are not satisfied—we keep moving ahead for more results with the gracious help of our Lord. We firmly believe that the Good News of Jesus changes lives of people. Please do pray that God may grant us His grace to do a good follow-up in these unreached villages. Rejoice and pray with us, this is the Lord’s harvest time here in India.
“We welcome people, we sing, we preach, we always remember our mission: Bear witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus. From the bottom of our hearts we convey our heartfelt thanks to all the CLC USA members who have been upholding us with your wonderful material and spiritual support.
“Gracious God, we give You thanks for opportunities for mission and ministry form. Continue to guide, empower and strengthen us to boldly witness your love to the many perishing souls here in India, in Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.”
Pastor Jyothi Benjamin is the Chairman of the CLCI. His home is in Nidubrolu, Andhra Pradesh State, India.