February 2013 Update
PV & Aruna Joseph (1991)
Growing Pains and Blessings on Mt. Zion:
In the beginning our vision was to train young men to go into neighboring villages and pastor churches. It seems that God is now bringing the villages to us. This is something I never saw in the beginning days of the ministry here. Several years ago we started a small school for the children of the men studying here. Then neighboring children asked to attend, and our school grew. Many letters have mentioned our need for a bus to transport the children coming to us from the surrounding villages. We now have two buses and need a third. The school continues to grow. Three hundred and seventy children are enrolled in grades nursery through ten. Fifty-four children are staying on campus at Mount Zion. It is a joy to see even non–Christian children in our dorms having devotions every day.
Remember ours is a Christian school in the sense that God’s Word is taught daily through Bible study, memorizing verses, and stories. The teachers are born again, God-loving people. Except for a few kids from Christian homes, most of our students now come from non-Christian homes. It is our commitment to love the kids in word and deed. The opportunities to witness to them are innumerable.
The kids come from six different villages. We are expecting to enroll several more children next year and are praying for another school bus year to meet the demand.
There is the other dimension to this work with children and youth. Room! We have converted what was our chapel into a boy’s dorm, shifting our chapel and worship activity to a tin roof hall. With no families on campus for ministry training this year, we used those quarters for girls’ housing. A lot of you are praying for a girls’ dorm. Some of you gave and continue to give. We need space for pre-primary and primary kids, and older girls. We added a temporary section to meet the need and even that is full. We are eager for more space for the children. The dorms form an important part of their lives and our ministry. Many of the children come to know Christ while they are here. We have a tradition of a watch night service on New Year’s Eve. This December, it was past 1:00 in the morning when everyone retired to their homes and rooms. I went over to the boy’s dorm to see if there was any New Year’s mischief. Instead, I saw several boys, small and big, on their knees having their devotions. Many come from non-Christian homes!
Parents come for special meetings, where the gospel is always presented. Our second Saturday prayer meetings are open to all our churches and attended by an average of 200 folks at each meeting with 65 – 70 children. We are reaching out into hundreds of homes and to many children in many villages around us. Would you pray with us that we can simply provide a way to reach them for the Lord? We have plenty of acreage on Mount Zion. We just need to put up accommodations.
Spilling into the Communities Around Us:
There was a request from a local youth ministry to use our campus for their discipleship meetings. It was a vacation time for the school and we were glad for the good use of the property. They also asked PV to bring a missions challenge to them. The Lord seems to have used that time to touch many lives. At a bigger gathering later, expecting around 400 youth, they ended up with 700 delegates. They asked PV to bring the message at their Sunday morning worship. There were a few hundred that stood to their feet to give their lives to God afresh. This is opening up many doors into youth ministry. We will be focusing on developing work with the youth even in our village churches. We are praying for bigger ways to get involved in the lives of the youth. Pray for wisdom.
Work is in full swing to remove the huge sand pile near our house. We will soon begin construction on a much needed girl's dorm. Ground breaking was on February 1st. This is another huge act of faith as PV has hardly enough in hand to even raise the columns required. Pray! We all have seen the unfailing hand of God's provision every time we step out in faith. We need space for pre-primary and primary kids and girls as well as more classrooms. To build a dorm for 200 kids works out to about $700,000. This is huge. Instead, we want to build accommodations for one hundred kids which could in the beginning stages serve as space for the four classrooms we desperately need on the ground floor. We believe we can squeeze the dorms a little longer. Then, we can build the first and second floors. To complete the ground floor section, we need $100,000. We have $40,000 on hand. Would you join us in praying for the remaining $60,000 to come? I have learned in this calling of building God’s kingdom that when the need is clear and the Lord has given the seed money, the seed must be planted in the ground for it to grow. It is a step of faith. Will you join me as we prepare to break the ground on February 1st?
Thanks to the many who sent Christmas gifts over and above their regular giving. We were so blessed and encouraged. Christmas for us is always a church and community event; drawing a lot of non-Christians to the church, too. It is not just a celebration by the believers, but by the village communities. I wish America was never ashamed of saying “Happy Christmas.” Here non-Christians also greet us with “Happy Christmas.”
We had a wonderful Christmas celebration presenting the Gospel to hundreds of our children’s parents. This year we had more parents come than ever. We even ran out of cakes!
The closing day of the year 2012 was remarkable. Sixteen men and women were baptized, saying, I am dead to sin and now alive in Christ. It was a great delight for me to baptize them all. They were drawn from several different villages. Their pastors stood rejoicing, praying and giving thanks even as new members were added to their little congregations. We have more being prepared for the March annual meetings. Would you pray for them?
March 7-10 is the annual fellowship meetings for the little village congregations. These little churches are like small Bible fellowship groups in some of your churches, with our village missionaries as pastors. Too small to be on their own, they are helped financially by the fellowship which comes from your contributions. Many do not even have male leadership. They are coming along slowly but steadily. To meet the different needs and challenges, the annual fellowship meetings are a time of solid teaching and commitment. We also have other meetings including special classes for missionary pastors, youth, men and women. Would you mark your calendar for March 7-10, 2013, and pray that there will be salvation decisions, a number of baptisms, and renewed commitment to serve and grow.
A Repeating Pattern:
The Damaluru church design is the one we now have in ten villages. Each village has a congregation of 10 - 30 folks that come regularly. Considerably more come on festival days. Each church has space enough for 200 folks to sit quite comfortably on the floor. Two churches were opened in Ramireddipalli and Pallagiri villages on Nov. 16 and 17, 2012.
Help from New York
Jessica, a 20-year-old from New York State, was here for a period of 4 1/2 months. She did an excellent job teaching in the nursery section of our grade school.
Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support to God’s work here in India.
PV and Aruna
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