By Tom Shanklin
What can you say about a 17-day whirlwind journey to India?
When I think back, it seems almost like a blur. Church buildings filled with hungry hearts. Many of them responding to the call for salvation. Hundreds of pastors wanting more of God and His purpose for their lives, dedicating themselves without reserve to serve Him. Women responding to Susan’s ministry, as she encouraged them concerning their value and purpose. Seemingly stiff pastors becoming light-hearted and full of joy as they received her dramatized sermons. Men and women coming alive with divine purpose to reach a nation in desperate need of Christ.
Then there were the blaring horns, the colorful buses, the sea of humanity, along with herds of water buffalo and goats filling the roads. Beggars knocking on the car window. People. People. People. More than enough people, crammed together in this plot of land called India, crying out for life, hope, purpose. Crying out for food and sustenance. Needy, hungry people, with hearts ready to be filled with glorious truths about a God who loves them and sent His Son to die for their sins.
Susan and I worked with two missions organizations while in India—Calvary Commission India (which we have been working with for nearly 10 years) and Bible Living Ministries (which we have also worked with recently in Nepal). Working with these established ministries is a good plan. There is follow up, consistency, and pastors are there to see that the harvest is preserved.
We were so busy each day that my record taking was not the best, but in looking over the photos, I estimate that we prayed with 160 or more people for salvation. Many others were baptized in the Holy Spirit and many received instant manifestations of healing. Mostly it was pain instantly leaving their bodies. They testified that Jesus had healed them and removed their discomfort. Many others were ministered to for various ailments that only time and perhaps eternity will reveal to us. But I am certain that lives were changed, directions were altered, and that we will see a great harvest of souls as a result of this missions trip when we meet the Lord.
Perhaps the greatest harvest will come from those who we encouraged in their ministries, and who the Lord of the Harvest sent forth into the vast harvest fields of the 1.3 billion people of India. We held pastors conferences in three different regions.
First, there was a three-day conference in Karimnagar, Telangana (about 100 miles north of Hyderabad). Over 250 pastors attended the conference, which was organized by Calvary Commission India. The emphasis of my ministry there was evangelism. I spoke on “Preaching the Evangelistic Message.” “Sharing Your Faith as a Lifestyle,” and “The Ministry of the Evangelist.”
I saw Susan’s ministry come alive and ignite the pastors. She encouraged the pastors, their wives, and lady ministers with messages on “Failure is Not the End,” “Who Am I?” and “Nurturing New Believers.”
We also gave away about 250 copies of the Telugu translation of my book, “You Can Touch the World” there. We divided 1,000 books between the two ministries which we worked with, leaving those which were not distributed during our time to be disseminated later. I praise our God for making a way where there seemed to be no way for the books to be published. The translation was in progress for weeks before we came, but it looked as if we would not have enough funds for the printing. However, we received an extremely good price on the printing and were able to stretch our budget to pay for the printing. Thanks, partners, for your prayers and giving for this. I am quite sure that there will be souls in heaven as a result of the teaching and inspiration of this book to the ministers in India. This fruit is now included in your heavenly bank account.
After leaving Karimnagar, I was blessed to preach at Living Word Community Church in Hyderabad, a missions-orientated church which we have supported. I spoke of the characteristics of a missions church, basing the message on the church at Antioch, which held a prayer meeting that changed the world, in which Paul and Barnabus were sent forth to begin their apostolic ministry (Acts 13). The message was an encouragement to the pastor and his team, who are trusting God to use their church to reach the nations.
Another great highlight was Susan’s ministry at Zion Fellowship in Hyderabad, mainly to a congregation of English-speaking 20 and 30-somethings, who soaked up every word with great zest. About 20 people came for salvation and many more for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We prayed until late in the night for needs there and finally got back to our hotel and fell off to sleep at nearly 2 a.m.
The next morning we left Hyderabad at 8 a.m. with Pastor Elisha of Bible Living Ministries for meetings in Darsi, Andhra Pradesh, southeast of Hyderabad. There we held a one-day pastors conference. Pastors from many denominations came from a radius of 40 miles. I spoke again on evangelism and we distributed 200 copies of “You Can Touch the World” in Telugu. The meeting was a tremendous time of refreshing for them as they rejoiced together with singing and drum playing. The joy of the Lord is their strength and I have no doubt that they returned to their places of service encouraged to reap the harvest.
The next day Susan spoke at an historic, first-of-its-kind women’s conference with about 200 women and some men. By then, we both were extremely tired, but her messages lacked no zeal or potency. She spoke on Elizabeth and Mary the mother of Jesus from the book of Luke, encouraging the women about their value in the work of God. In the afternoon, she spoke on “The Woman with the Issue of Blood.” I was enlisted to play Jesus, as she dramatized that woman touching the hem of His garment and receiving what she needed from the Lord. She encouraged the women to take hold of what God has for them for their lives, their families and ministries and to not let go.
We both then ministered by the word of knowledge and called out various needs. Many women stood when I had a word about those who had been “hurt by a man,” such as a father, spouse, sibling or others. Surprisingly, a few of the men in the crowd also stood for prayer for this need. We began by forgiving those who had hurt them and then released emotional healing. The women’s conference was a tremendous blessing to the ladies. The women responded with rejoicing hearts and big smiles. In fact, women were touched everywhere we went, as both Susan and I encouraged them in their value to God and potential for service.
The church where we held the women’s conference was growing in numbers and praying for an expansion of their facility. It was obvious that they were touching their world for Christ. When Susan and I needed to use the restroom, the pastor’s wife took us across the street to their Muslim neighbors, who welcomed us. I talked to the man of the house about Jesus and Susan told his wife that they were going to be “good church members.” I’m not sure how much they understood, but I sensed in my spirit that we had made a spiritual connection with that couple and I believe that the day will come when they receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
We then traveled to hold a two-day pastors conference in A. Konduru village, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, east of Hyderabad. Again, pastors from throughout the region traveled to attend the conference. A spirit of revival pervaded the meetings at A. Konduru. Susan and I laid hands on over 100 pastors, pastor’s wives and lady ministers for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The pastors again were encouraged in the ministry of evangelism. I also spoke on “Stepping into the Miraculous,” from the story of Naaman the Syrian, who was healed of leprosy. I encouraged the pastors to get out of their comfort zones and to step out in new directions as they are led by the Lord in order to see a release of the miraculous in their ministries.
Again in A. Konduru, I saw a great receptiveness to Susan’s ministry. She spoke on David and Goliath. I played Goliath, and I think I did pretty good, until Susan literally knocked me in the head, bending my glasses and nearly blackening my eye. She said it was an accident, and I believe her, since the Bible says that love believes all things. I also forgive her, but I’m not sure I’ll be anxious to play Goliath again any time soon. Susan also spoke again on “Nurturing New Believers.” She encouraged the pastors to love, feed and care for those who come to Christ in their ministries. We felt in our spirits that the message opened the eyes of some of the pastors concerning their responsibilities to the flock of God.
Most nights, after teaching at the pastors conferences, we went out to the nearby villages to hold evangelistic services. It was there that we prayed with many for salvation and saw the manifestation of God’s healing power. In those meetings, I preached the simple Gospel, gave an invitation for salavtion, and then we prayed for the sick. Whenever people came for salvation, we encouraged them to be baptized and to be steadfast in attending church. We also encouraged the pastors and others to follow up and care for the new believers.
At an open air meeting in a village near Karimnagar, about 30 people came for salvation. Afterward many others came for healing. Two Muslim men, after feeling God’s healing touch go into their bodies, then prayed to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Many Hindus also came to the Lord in this and other meetings.
At one village meeting, I had a revelation about women who had experienced miscarriages. Two women came up immediately, but later several others came for prayer, desiring and asking God to give them successful births. We prayed for many other women who were barren, too, in many cases along with their husbands, and we are expecting to see a “harvest” of healthy births in the next year.
There is much more that could be said about this trip, but I think you get the idea. There was much fruit…and only eternity will reveal the totality of it. But one thing I am sure of. The fruit of this trip is accounted not only to Tom and Susan and the two ministries we worked with in India, but also to the many friends and partners who sent us with their love, special offerings, regular support, and prayers. You are champions to us, and we love and appreciate you deeply.
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