1,200,000,000 Precious souls in India need the Gospel
From 9th -16th October Clive Allen and Heather Mercer were privileged to visit Chennai in India to share in the 60th anniversary celebrations for Dr Bill Scott, the founder of India Bible Literature and to visit various places where the work of IBL is carried on. Revival Movement Association has been working in partnership with IBL for the past 15 years and sends a 19 tonne container of Gospel literature in 11 languages to India every month to be used by them and shared with other missions. The following is their report:-
Facts about India
India has a population of 1.2 billion. Chennai is the fourth largest city in India with a population of 13 million. It is estimated that one in every six people in the world is Indian. The population of India is 80% Hindu, 15% Muslim, 3% Christian and the rest are other religions. The apostle Thomas is said to have brought the Gospel to India. However, India today is dominated by the caste system and idol worship.
India Bible Literature
India Bible Literature was founded 60 years ago by Dr Bill Scott who came originally from the Sandy Row in Belfast. IBL distributes 57,000 pieces of Gospel literature every day, but their aim is to increase this to 100,000 pieces per day, so that India will be reached with the Gospel. When our container arrives, the literature is distributed within a week. Every day 12 people fast and pray that the literature will have a 100% result.
Diary of our visit
Saturday 9 October –We were collected by the driver, Bashir, who took us to a Bible and book exhibition which was being held at the IBL Headquarters. In addition to what they receive from Every Home Crusade, IBL also receive a container of second-hand Bibles and books each month from Ty and Wendy Hartman, who operate Advance Global Literature in USA. It was great to visit the IBL store and to see copies of our Gospels of John, Scripture Booklets and children’s Bible lessons in many languages.
After lunch Bashir took us to the shops. What a nightmare experience of crowds, noise and traffic with cows and goats wandering through the traffic! The Dalit people (Untouchables) are living on the streets and the poverty is indescribable, but what made us angry is Satan’s part in all this! When a person sins, that gives Satan a foothold in their lives. But imagine a country where Satan is dominant, through Hinduism, with its 330,000 gods! Everywhere you go there are shrines and idols – monkey gods and elephant gods as tall as telegraph poles. There is also the Caste System with the Brahmans being the top 2% and the Dalits or Untouchables at the bottom. It is a rigid system that you cannot move out of, ie if your grandfather was a road-sweeper, your father will be a road-sweeper and so will you.
Sunday 10 October – After breakfast Bashir collected us and we went to Prasanna’s church. (Prasanna is the assistant leader of IBL). His church is the Baptist church for Telugu speaking people. These people came originally from Northern India. Many of them live in the slums in Chennai and work cleaning toilets or sweeping the streets. Yet the grace of God has transformed their lives and their faces are shining. Eric Johnston of CLIO Trust preached and Clive brought greetings. Afterwards we went up onto the roof of the building where they want to build a multi-purpose room which could be used for conferences and also act as a Bible school for Telugu speaking people. A number of beggars gathered outside the church. Many were lepers with no hands.
Monday 11 October –We met with the staff of IBL for devotions. One staff member shared how at a recent Hindu festival 150,000 of our Gospels of John were distributed to Zoroastrian, Muslim and Hindu people in a tribal area. Anthony, another member of IBL staff uses our Hindi Gospels of John in Mumbai. So far this year he has distributed 150,000 of these. Acet Samuel distributes our literature in Northern India and Samuel Swain in Delhi.
We then went with Eric and Aileen Johnston to visit the John Gabriel School which was founded in the early 20th century by the Strict Baptist Mission. The children are taught the Bible as part of the curriculum. Most of these children are Hindu children from the slums. Their mothers work as maids or servants and very often raise the children on their own without the help of a father or husband.
On our way back from the school, we visited a Hindu Temple. The power and grip of Satan upon India is immeasurable. It reminded us of the verse in Jeremiah 6:16 “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”
Tuesday 12 October – At 8.30 a.m. we left for the Conference Centre south of Chennai where we would meet with 500 pastors from all over India to give thanks to the Lord for the ministry of Dr Scott and IBL over the past 60 years. Bashir drove along the beach so that we could see the slums where the fishermen and their families live. Fish was being sold at the beach and the boats were there too – very small boats. Apparently there is a lot of drinking among the fishermen, no doubt an attempt to escape from the hopelessness of their lives.
We drove south, stopping to see men carving idols for temples, hotels and homes. The craftsmanship was fantastic. Each piece is carved out of a single piece of black granite. Many of these idols are huge and have to be lifted by crane. Some of the larger pieces cost 150,000 rupees which is approximately £2,000.
We stopped at a village. The people there were most welcoming and life seemed better than in the city. We stopped at the roadside where women were digging out a riverbed to make a culvert. Women do a lot of manual work in India. For example, they carry bricks on their heads up the ladders to the men who are working on building sites. A woman was there acting like a secretary. She had a work card for each woman with her photo on it, and she was marking down the hours which they worked.
Wednesday 13 October – Clive and other mission partners from Northern Ireland, USA and Finland had the opportunity to speak at the Conference. Among the pastors who came to speak to us was Shekra who works in Andhra Pradesh. He is involved with 4,000 people who are living in the forest and he provides them with some food. Again there is a lot of alcoholism. Shekra uses our Telugu Gospels of John and is seeing lives changed.
We also met Pastor James. Pastor James is 77 and has only half a lung working. He wrote a little booklet about the life of Jesus Christ which we have just finished printing. So far he has distributed 5.3 million Gospels of John in 11 languages and thousands of New Testaments. He is working in Andhra Pradesh and would like to distribute one million of the little booklet which he wrote.
Thursday 14 October – After the Conference finished we drove to St. John’s Matriculation school. The children and the staff greeted us most warmly and showered us with petals. We were led to our seats and the children put on a great programme of singing, testimonies, memory verses etc.
We then visited a village to see a children’s ministry. Fifteen years ago children in this village would have been running around naked. Now they are hearing the Gospel message and learning Bible verses. Truly God’s Word has transformed this village.
We drove on to a village church. The roof was made of leaves from the coconut tree. The pastor was converted from Hinduism. Some years ago when he and his wife discovered that they could not have any children, he became suicidal, but this was the start of a journey that ultimately led him to Christ. The people sang and it was such a privilege and blessing to be there.
Friday 15 October – We made a 4 hour drive to a village in Andhra Pradesh, a state which has experienced persecution. We arrived at the village to be greeted by singing and flower petals. We followed the villagers to their church, a small structure with a grass roof. The church members sang and some testified. One man had terrible constipation and was unable to go to the toilet for 15 days. He visited a number of witch doctors, but to no avail. A pastor suggested that he pray to Jesus. He did, and was healed and then trusted Jesus. The Lord spoke to him and told him that he would greatly use him in his village. This man then changed his Hindu name to Luka (Luke). A A girl told a similar story of being very sick and the Lord healing her. She too loves the Lord. This is a very primitive village and they are called the Yanande people. They have no electricity or running water and their diet is field rat and fish from the river. Prior to becoming Christians, they were receiving a small amount of government assistance, but when they turned to Christ that assistance stopped. Their only hope for the future is Heaven because life is so tough.
A number of young men are being trained as evangelists. They were presented with copies of our Telugu Gospel of John and two ladies sang. Then we all walked down to the water hole where three people were baptised. The first man changed his Hindu name to Peter. The second man took the name “Moses” and the girl the name “Esther”. The water was very muddy. When a person is baptized in India they are signifying their willingness to die for Christ, if necessary.
Saturday 16 October – Today was a Hindu Festival when people worshipped cars, instruments and machinery. At our hotel, a jeep was decorated with leaves and offerings were laid out before it. A Hindu Priest was there. We will never forget the sight of an elderly lady crouched down in the dirt praying to an idol. We trust that the Lord will bless the work of India Bible Literature and continue to enable us to support them as they work to spread the Gospel in a very, very needy land.
Conclusion – In 1950 God gave Dr Bill Scott a vision to put a piece of the Word of God into every home in India. (This was similar to the vision that God gave our father, Ernie Allen, to place a piece of literature in every home in Northern Ireland). That was too big a vision for Dr Scott to share with others at that time, but 15 years ago Dr Scott was at a conference of 700 national leaders in Chennai and he heard Indian nationals say that in their generation every home in India would hear the Gospel. God can take something small and do something great through that small thing. As William Carey said many years ago, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” and “Generation after generation needs to hear the Gospel anew”.
Clive Allen and Heather Mercer
PS – It was with great sadness that we have heard of the sudden death of Mr Eric Johnston of CLIO Trust who travelled with us to India and accompanied us for much of our visit. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Aileen, son, Stephen and daughter, Jill.
Please pray for William Brown who works with UFM in Ivory Coast. He has agreed to visit some of the French speaking countries of Africa on our behalf. He will be meeting church and mission leaders to let them know that they can receive French Literature for their ministries from us. William will be travelling to Burkina Faso from the 15th to 2nd December. Please pray that he will know the Lord’s protection as he travels and that he will know the Lord’s guidance as he locates and meets with many church leaders.
Please continue to pray for all the work as it continues in the Factory. Also continue to pray for the huge financial commitments we have in the production of millions of pieces of Gospel Literature in many languages.
Yours for a Great Revival,
Samuel Adams & Clive Allen