...with your whole heart

Kardias Ministries 2011 Year-End Report Supplemental

This page gives more information and tells more stories about the Gampala family, their trial and successes in 2011. If you would prefer to read the short-form update, please go here.

Table of Contents

India Report Supplemental
    Baptismal Pool Completion
    Lanka Church of God Remodel
    P.A. Systems
    Schooling and Bicycle
    Prasad Gampala and the Kakinada Congregation
        USA Visit
        A Sudden Wedding Miracle
        A Virtual Ordination
    Widow Adoptions
    A Horrible Persecution
    Medical Provision
    Personal Ministry Trip
    Mission India 2012
Conclusion

India Report 2011 Supplemental

It has been a year of growth, maturity and trials for our precious brethren in India. Kardias has been blessed by the grace of our Lord and your generosity to be able to make provisions and fill the physical needs of the congregations in Rajupalem and Lanka during 2011. Our primary goals continue: To embolden our brethren to continue in the faith, and to empower them to preach the Gospel to the Hindus around them. Were it not for this ministry and your efforts in support of our mission it is a sobering thought to consider where our brethren might be right now.

By God’s blessing, Kardias has accomplished many things for the congregations and brethren in Andhra Pradesh, India, in 2011. As we review the accomplishments we continue to be amazed at what God has allowed us to provide through your love and support for these Christians who work hard on the front lines preaching the Gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ.

We may never fully know how much your support goes towards actually turning a suffering individual to Jesus Christ and the gift of Salvation. Some things are easily seen for their intended purpose and directly related to Matthew 28:19-20. And sometimes even innocuous things will become a way in which our brethren are able to do the Work our Lord has set for them to accomplish in His Fields of Harvest in India.

Baptismal Pool Completion

During Mission India 2010, Brian Smith and Michael Deering marched with the congregations down to a river canal about 5 km from the House of God to perform baptisms. While it was a joyous occasion, we could not help but notice the amount of hatred and hostility in the eyes of the Hindus who watched us from their porches as we walked by. The brethren, however, were not daunted by the hard looks, but rather sang and rejoiced loudly before them.

Walking to the baptism ceremony
Full-water baptisms at the local river.

Chitti Gampala had noted for us that during these baptismal processions, they sometimes endure cursing, and rocks and bricks will be thrown at them at the behest of village Hindu leaders. While Brian and Michael were with them, the shield of God was protecting the congregations from such persecution. But after they left, the village leaders paid the Gampalas a visit and sternly warned them and the congregation NOT to defile their “water god” again with our Christian ritual, on pain of death.

This was no idle threat; many in the congregation and those Hindu converts seeking baptism were sore afraid, and no one was willing to risk the danger to be baptized. Chitti made this situation known to Kardias and by your love and support Kardias provided funds for the Gampalas to build a cement baptismal pool atop Pastor John’s home.

The pool was made large enough for both pastors and a convert to comfortably stand and allow full immersion for the new babe in Christ. To fill the pool, water is carried up to the roof by an electric irrigation pump used in rice fields. After the baptism, the water is simply let out and the water runs off the same way rainwater does.

Upon completion, the brethren were no longer afraid to commit themselves to the ordinance of baptism. While the congregation may miss the long congregational procession, the ability to baptize new converts without the fear of reprisals is a tremendous blessing to them.

Chitti stands atop the new baptismal pool, built on top of Pastor John's home.

Brother Chitti demonstrates the depth of the baptismal pool.

A new convert is performing the rite of baptism.

The pastors pray for God's blessing on a new convert.

Lanka Church of God Remodel

The front gate of Pastor Chitti's home and House of God.

The congregation appreciates the finished look of the House of God.

The home of Chitti Gampala also serves as the church home in Lanka, where the sanctuary is built atop his house. This building was made after horrible floods destroyed his previous home in 2005. Since then, the congregation has been able to meet comfortably atop his small home.

However, with the cost of the home included in the need, the church area was usable but not completed. In 2011, by a generous donation from brethren in the USA, funds were provided to complete the sanctuary, including electricity, lighting, and fans to cool the congregation in the very hot and tropical climate our brethren reside.

They are most grateful to be able to meet in such a beautifully appointed atmosphere to worship and praise our God. Many thanks to the donors who supplied the funds for this to happen.

Notice the paint, lighting, and decorations.

New electric wiring, lights, and fans make this place of worship very functional.

The new fans are not only functional, but also beautiful.

P.A. Systems

Johnson demonstrates the new PA system.

Thank you for the donations!

In India, a spiritual battle takes places in the air as loudspeakers atop temples and minarets blast Muslim or Hindu worship throughout the land.

As the Gampala ministry preaches the Gospel throughout the slums and villages, being overpowered by a cacophony of noise from competing religions threatens to drown out their message of redemption through Christ.

To assist in those efforts when preaching outdoors, or on the porches of brethren in the city of Kakinada, Kardias has provided funds for the Gampalas to purchase two loudspeaker systems that are now in use as they proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. These portable systems allow all in attendance to clearly hear the message.

Schooling and Bicycle

In India, no distinction is made between adults or children who are Christian by the majority Hindu and Muslim population, they suffer persecution just as the adults do and the effects can sometimes be devastating.

Public school in India is not only substandard for Christians, but creates opportunity for institutionalized persecution to be visited upon the children of Christians in India. In addition, promotion of Hinduism in the classroom makes it very difficult for Christian children to retain their faith.

Dina Grace shows off her birthday gift.

As such, Kardias continues to assist in helping to fund the Gampala children in their schooling at a private school that benefits their education and future use in the ministry of the Lord. It is very expensive as uniforms and books cost more than most Indians make in a year, but by your love and support the Gampala Children are being blessed with the opportunity for a better education without Hindu indoctrination.

Earlier in the year it was learned that Dina Grace was not allowed to ride the public bus to school due to her faith. Her brother Johnson possessed a bicycle of his own, but he could not ride his sister and their books the distance. Funds for a bicycle were provided and Dina can now go to and from class in style with a place for books or other cargo to ride with her.

Prasad Gampala and the Kakinada Congregation

God continues to bless the ministry of the Gampala family. After the 2010 mission trip, a congregation sprung up in the port city of Kakinada and the need for servicing this group of Christians became a priority for the Gampala family.

Pastor Prasad preaches to the children.

Kakinada is a 45 minute drive from the Gampalas in Lanka and the burden of providing two sets of services each Sabbath is both a financial burden and wearisome obligation. Pastor John’s son, Prasad, answering Our Lord’s call and is willing to serve this congregation and the people the Lord will bring to his Gospel preaching efforts in this city.

Prasad is a very energetic and accomplished youth pastor, and even set up a Bible camp at the grounds of the House of God in June of 2011.

Pastor Prasad overseas the children's programs.

His desires to be in full service in the city of Kakinada and to help the many street children there burned in his heart. But obstacles presented themselves to Prasad, of which had to be overcome.

USA Visit

Prasad had felt inadequate for the role of Pastor, and desperately prayed for Kardias to assist him in providing a good biblical education to prepare him for caring for a congregation on his own. He requested that he come to the USA where he hoped the brethren in the church would be able to teach him all the scriptural wisdom, knowledge, and skills he wished to learn for the task God laid before him.

Kardias made arrangements for Prasad to come in August, 2011, for a 3 month educational visit where his biblical education and leadership skills would be taught. Kardias paid for the Visa application and Prasad’s trip to Hyderabad for a Visa interview with the American Consulate. Prasad opted for his interview to be done in English, thinking the demonstration would benefit his approval. He was however, worried about giving details about the reason for his visit to the USA. We explained to him that there is freedom of religion in the USA, and that citing a biblical education so he could return to pastor a congregation would be a bonus towards his approval.

It turns out Prasad’s worries were justified. The American who conducted the interview rejected Prasad’s Visa without giving a reason. The officer explained if Prasad still wanted to come to the USA, he would have to reapply and pay the fees again after 6 months. Prasad was devastated by the turn of events, and it was learned after some research that the current policy of the U.S. State Department is to disallow any Christian outreach or missionary visitors Visas to the United States.

We were all saddened by the news, but God had other plans for Prasad, plans that would accomplish what he wanted to do for the Lord - but in a way none of us were expecting.

A Sudden Wedding Miracle

In the Indian culture of Southeast India, it is not permissible for an unwed man to be in charge of a church, school or group of people. To be a leader, even of a Christian church that most reject and hate, modesty rules in India would require Prasad to wed in order to be allowed to teach.

Weddings in India are largely arranged marriages, where the practice of dowry remains untouched by modern society. Caste and the “price” of a wife play a major role in marriages in India.

The Gampala family had been diligently seeking a wife for Prasad for some time, but finding a Christian woman in India who is caste compatible with the groom is a daunting task. Of the many cultural rules, it was also not possible for Prasad to wed any of the women from the congregations the Gampalas pastor.

Prasad, of course, had a checklist of things he sought to accomplish in order to pastor the Kakinada congregation: A biblical education, followed by finding a wife, and then accepting the pastorship - but God does not always work on our own schedule or timetables.

During a time of schooling and work in Hyderabad in 2009-2010, Prasad met a woman named Anusha in one of his classes. She was bright, pretty, a good age, could speak English and was also a Christian (albeit from a different denomination than Prasad). The two became smitten with one another and Prasad pursued her for marriage.

Pastor Prasad and his new bride Anusha.

But both families had to approve of the marriage. Anusha’s family did not. They were of a higher caste than Prasad and their biblical faith and efforts to preach the Gospel did not fit with their tradition. But both of them were in love, and despite many attempts of the Gampala family to plead with Anusha’s family – hers refused to allow the marriage.

Shortly after Prasad’s Visa to the USA was rejected, Anusha’s father discovered that they were still in love, and kicked his daughter out from his home. Having nowhere to go, Prasad’s father John allowed her to stay with them in his home as they continually beseeched her family to allow the marriage.

Allowing Anusha into the Gampala home suddenly caused a cultural problem, and accusations of promiscuity were a very real possibility. It was necessary for Prasad to marry Anusha to avoid potential charges by the local villagers.

But such was not an easy solution. Indian weddings are far different than those in our country where a couple can go to a courthouse for nuptials. Not so in India. Recognition of a marriage requires a public event and approval of village elders and people. This may account for the reason that so many men in India are older than their wives, as the need to amass a dowry and wealth to conduct a wedding is a cultural requirement. The Gampalas did not have the financial resources to have such a wedding, and Indian culture requires that a bride and groom provide a banquet to guests and the village elders who will approve of the union, provided the wedding banquet meets their expectations.

An emergency request was made to the brethren in the USA about the situation, and the Faith Fellowship congregation in Nashville TN responded, along with several individuals collectively to provide the funds necessary to fulfill the obligation the Gampala family had to provide for the witnesses and village elders. The happy couple was wed on July 28, 2011.

Pastor Prasad and his new bride Anusha.  The bridal party. Looks like fun, huh?

A Virtual Ordination

Following the wedding on the following Friday, the Gampala family had asked for our blessing on making Prasad and his new wife pastor of the church in Rajupalem and Kakinada. Brian Smith and John B. Wilson wrote invocations and Michael Deering prayed and read them at a “virtual ordination” via Skype on the computer through the internet on the morning of August 5th. While separated by half a world away, technology made if feel as though they were together.

On the Sabbath of August 5th, the Rajupalem and Lanka congregations laid hands upon Prasad and anointed his pastorship by prayers to God for His blessing. That afternoon, Prasad and Anusha were welcomed as the official pastor in the small congregation at Kakinada, India.

By God’s blessing, the congregation will only grow from here.

Widow Adoptions

In India, the plight of widows and orphans due the caste system is horrific, beyond the scope of most Westerners to wrap their minds around. In short, orphans and especially widows are considered cursed things that are to be thrown away like trash. As dictated by the Hindu culture, Christian widows and orphans are double-cursed and face even greater scourge and want than their Hindu counterparts.

One of the primary ministries of the Gampala family is to aid the widows in their midst, dutifully following James 1:27. There are roughly 39 widows they serve in the Lanka and Rajupalem congregations. Many have been widows for decades. Through Kardias, the Gampala family is able to provide a single meal to benefit the widows they serve. While it is a blessing, it is only sustenance enough to keep the widows alive, nothing more. The Gampala family desperately wants to be able to do more.

Through your generosity, Kardias has provided monthly funds for the Gampala family to “adopt” six of the neediest widows, treating them members of the family. These “adoptees” live, eat, work, sleep and worship with the Gampala family at the House of God and Chitti’s home. For $35 a month each, Kardias is able to provide the food, clothing and medicine to provide for the needs of these widows. For these six precious jewels in the church, living with the Gampala family is akin to living in a palace. They exclaim that living with the Gampalas as family members is perhaps the most wonderful time of their lives, certainly in comparison to the streets or “widows homes” most widows in India are consigned to beg and survive in.

Widows eat their meal in the Gampala's home. 

A Horrible Persecution

In 2010, during the House of God dedication, the Hindu leader of the village addressed the congregation and promised them that he would not persecute them any longer. The Gampalas told Michael and Brian that this man was a thorn in their sides towards preaching the Gospel, and doubted that he would honor his promise.

During the Feast of Tabernacles that year, on the opening night – this leader spearheaded a violent raid of beatings and confiscations of property, arresting Chitti, John and Prasad at the House of God. The charge? “Offending the Hindus” with their worship and music for God.

The small banner on the new Church of God.

At end of the Feast of Tabernacles 2011, the Gampalas printed a banner and hung it on the House of God, which said “Church of God Ministries”. The Gampalas had said during the Mission trip in 2010 that they hoped one day to “write the name of the church” on the building when they felt things were calm and quiet.

This infuriated the village leader who demanded the Gampalas appear before him. He demanded them to answer why they dared to have a church in their home when the plans submitted were for an addition. He told them that if they knew it was for a church, they would not have permitted them to build it atop John’s house.

This is an untruth, for this man was AT the House of God dedication in March 2010 and knew exactly what the building was for. This leader then demanded to know who gave the Gampalas the authority to care for the “cursed” widows that they feed and house. Chitti showed him in the Bible that they are commanded to care for them, and this infuriated the leader even further.

He demanded that the Gampalas immediately evict the widows and pay him a bribe of 50,000 Rupees (about $1,200 US) to go to his election campaign for president, or this man would file criminal charges against them and force their eviction from their homes and thus destroy the congregations in the villages of Rajupalem and Lanka.

The elders of the church all pleaded with this leader saying to him that they were poor and had no ability to pay his bribe, but, like Pharaoh, he hardened his heart against them. He summoned the federal authorities and they gave the Gampalas an ultimatum: They must immediately erase the name of God from their church and publicly evict the widows in their care to the streets, or face expulsion from their homes and the prohibition to hold any services for their faith. Failure to abide their ruling would result in further criminal action being taken against them.

Frightened at the prospect of not only losing their homes, but the congregations as well, the Gampalas threw themselves at the mercy of the village leader and prostrated themselves before him, begging for leniency. He refused. They were to either comply, or lose everything. They had no choice.

The following Sabbath, after services, with much grief and tears, the congregation had to escort the widows to the street where the village elders were looking on. The Gampalas were begged by the families of these widows not to allow them to starve to death on the streets, but there was much fear in continuing to provide provisions to them when they were ordered not to assist the “cursed creatures”.

On counseling with Chitti Gampala, Kardias encouraged him to continue serving the widows by providing their meal, in secret if necessary. We cited the verses in Acts 5:29, wherein the Apostle Peter told the leaders of his day that, “It is better to obey God than men.” As such, despite the orders from the local Hindu leaders, Kardias will continue to provide what we can to aid the plight of the widows in the congregations.

While the sorrow of our brethren in India is great, there is hope that a visit by Michael for several months will provide a shield against the ongoing persecution, and it is hoped that Michael’s presence alone may allow the widows to return to what the widows consider to be a “palace”.

Medical Provision

One of the blessings that come by ministering to our brethren in the third world is our ability to pray earnestly for them, as they pray diligently for us.

Because of our involvement with the Gampala ministry in India, our hearts have become intertwined with theirs and we feel their joys, sorrows, and heartaches. When they get sick and hurt, we suffer with them in spirit, and are motivated to provide what help we can, by prayer and financial support.

In June, Kardias was distressed to learn that Johnson Gampala, the 11 year old son of Chitti, had become gravely ill. The diagnosis was Typhoid fever. Chitti also soon came down with the same sickness. The doctors in India put them on several mild antibiotics and it took a long time for both to recover well enough to be able to resume normal activities. Johnson has been plagued by joint pain and fatigue ever since.

They suspected that the typhoid came from bottled water they purchased, as corruption of water companies in India using tap water is common.

But over the months, we began to hear of other members of the Gampala family contracting sicknesses. Dina Grace was suddenly plagued by fever and a rash. Sister Ruth, wife of Pastor John, who cared for the children when they were sick, also became ill, with complaints of “itching in her head.”

Michael’s wife Ericka, who is an RN, suspected that the family has a virulent Strep bacterial infection that they were passing back and forth. She suspected that the diagnosis of Typhoid was inaccurate from the beginning. Misdiagnosis is a common occurrence in third world Asia, and if Strep is not treated properly, it can manifest as rheumatic fever, rheumatic arthritis, scarlet fever and a host of other problems that. If left untreated, Strep can even lead to kidney and heart failure, especially in children.

In discussion with Chitti via Skype, Ericka was convinced of her suspicions and prescribed a necessary set of medical actions that the entire Gampala family and the widows that lived with them must comply with. The regimen requires the entire Gampala family travel to the doctors in Kakinada and have blood tests to determine whom is carrying the bacteria, followed by proper antibiotics being taken by all who have the bacteria, even if they are not sick.

By the generosity of brethren in the USA, from Faith Fellowship in Nashville and Kardias, funds were sent for the Gampala family to have this problem addressed, and hopefully this episode will be resolved and the family cured of this infection. (As of this writing, this was still a recent event, so this has not been brought to resolution.)

Personal Ministry Trip

Evangelist Michael Deering and his wife Ericka.

In January, Michael Deering will travel to India on behalf of Kardias to the Gampalas to stay with our brethren and serve their needs for several projects and activities. He will be with them until late May 2012, when he will travel home with the Mission Team scheduled for Mission India 2012.

One possibility is that Michael’s visit may be part of answered prayers for the alleviation of the persecution the Gampala family and the congregations have been suffering in 2011. In India, white men are considered of a higher caste. It is possible that Michael may serve as a shield against further actions by the Hindu leader against the brethren while Michael is with them. If the opportunity arises, we pray that God may use Michael as a vessel of the Lord to bring peace between this leader and our brethren whom he persecutes with such vigor.

Pastoral Training for Prasad

Because Prasad was unable to come to the USA, the training in biblical studies will come to him with assistance from Kardias and Michael. Brian and Stephanie are currently preparing some guidelines and materials to assist Prasad in his desires to be more confident in his understanding of the scriptures and God’s Laws. Michael will be able to work with Prasad directly and enrich the biblical acumen and understanding desired.

Doctrinal Teaching Program

In 2010, Michael desired to write a simplistic biblical teaching program for the brethren in India, to be used to teach foundational biblical doctrine so that the brethren would be firmly grounded in their faith. The secondary purpose was so that the brethren would be able to use scripture to defend themselves from attacks coming from Hindus and Muslims that challenge them using the Bible.

But in 2011, when attempting to put this program together, blocks and obstacles created major difficulties in writing the project here in the USA. Michael determined that perhaps God wanted the project to be written in tandem with the Gampala family so that a program FOR Indians would have the most impact befitting their culture and challenges. Michael is prepared to write the program with direct guidance from the Gampalas during his time in India.

Prep for Mission Team

In the months preceding May, Michael will work with the Gampalas to prepare for the Kardias mission team in May. Sometime in February, Michael will travel with the Gampalas to Palakol town in Andhra Pradesh to meet Sagar Jalli and tour Hebron Home, a government-sanctioned orphanage where the Jalli’s care for over 200 orphaned children full time. There, plans will be laid for the mission team in May. It is our joy that God is bringing together these Christian brethren in India who existed unknown to one another. At the same time, we rejoice that our Father is involving brethren in the USA to come together for this great work being done in His Fields of Harvest in India.

Teach Graphic Art Skills

Since 2008, Kardias has explored the possibility of purchasing farmland for the Gampala ministry to cultivate so as to provide not only food, but a means to earn an income. However the cost of an acre of land without private property rights made such a desire impractical.

Prasad Gampala has some basic skills in computer graphics that he has used for the Gampala ministry. Michael will capitalize on Prasad’s talents, and while in India teach Prasad how to use graphic art software to create print projects, signage and web sites, so it may be possible for Prasad to start a small business in Kakinada, and perhaps earn an income for the Gampala family.

By the generous donations of many brethren in the USA, a laptop is being purchased for Prasad. Michael will bring it with him and leave it in his care with the hopes a career may blossom from its use.

Window Screens

One service project Michael will assist the Gampalas is to install window screening in the House of God and the Church of God. Mosquitoes during the monsoons in India are a constant problem and they carry many diseases, including malaria. It is hoped these screens will alleviate the many insect bites that the Gampalas and the widows endure during the rainy season.

Mission India 2012

About every two years, Kardias prepares a mission for Christian brethren from the USA to go to India to serve the brethren God has involved us with and assist in preaching the Gospel personally.

Mission India 2008  Mission India 2010

It is our pleasure to announce that plans are underway for Mission India 2012, and we cordially invite you to become involved in whatever way Our Father leads you, and most especially by your prayers.

Lives are always transformed for the better by the experience, and if you feel God may open doors for you to actually go to India, or support the efforts and make possible the success the Team seeks to achieve, we welcome you most heartily to this effort.

The Mission Trip will take place from May 14-29, 2012. Brian Smith will serve as Team Leader, and the trip will begin at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on the first leg of the flight to India.

In India, some of the tentative plans for Mission India 2012 are for the following:

  • Visit orphans at Hebron Home in Palokol town and greet Pastor Sagar Jalli and the many church congregations he heads.
  • Serve at Bible Camp Kardias for the 200 children at Hebron Home.
  • Serve the brethren in Kakinada, Rajupalem and Lanka with the Gampala family.
  • Worship on Pentecost with the Brethren at the House of God.
  • Perform baptisms.
  • Preach the Gospel with the Gampalas to Hindus and Muslims who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Our hearts swell with joy to serve “the least of these” brethren our Lord has allowed us to come to know. There is so much work yet to be done that our Lord’s people in India are called to do.

2011 has presented many challenges for our brethren in India, but it has also provided challenges for our ministry. The storm clouds of a bad economy and uncertainty in the world darken the horizon. Donations to the monthly support Kardias provides for the Gampala Ministry and the Burmese Scholarship fund have dwindled appreciably in 2011. We know the times are very tough for most of us, but in comparison to the plight of many Christians in the third world, we as Americans are still blessed above and beyond the comprehension of most of our brothers and sisters in Christ living in Asia and India. There is still time that we can redeem to serve in a mighty work our Father is performing directly for His people there. We so much appreciate your support and help that we cannot adequately express our gratitude. If you saw the faces of those brethren your support directly helps, no amount of money in the world can buy such love and thanksgiving that they convey.

We are reminded of the words of Christ: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4) We pray our Lord would give us the strength to complete the work to which He has called us.

Please continue to join us in this effort with your whole heart, as we continue to serve in the Lord’s work with ours.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Agape,

Brian, Stephanie, Michael, and the Kardias Family