by Russell & Sandra Board
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SOUTH INDIA FOR CHRIST
In January, a twelve-day tour in India took me (Russell) from Delhi to Hyderabad to Vizakhapatnam to Srikakulam and back, and included strategic leaders’ meetings, pastors’ conferences, local church ministry, and more. Every stop showed evidence of God working through faithful ministers to make disciples and plant churches in spite of hardships and obstacles.
At the annual South India pastors’ conference in Hyderabad, more than a dozen pastors came forward to pledge financial support for a new missions outreach. There are more than 2,000 unreached people groups in India, encompassing 90% of the population. Our South India pastors are making sacrificial efforts to get the gospel to these areas.
In spite of last-minute itinerary changes, large numbers of believers showed up at every stop for hastily-arranged meetings, eager to worship the Lord and listen to His Word. In Srikakulam, dozens of chairs had to be set up in the street to accommodate the overflow crowds on a Tuesday night. Songs of praise filled the evening air and carried to neighboring shops and homes.
We had the privilege of visiting several village churches, where pastors and their families are pioneering works in primitive and resistant areas. In one location, local children came to bless us by singing praise songs they had learned in church. In another location, believers spontaneously assembled during our afternoon stopover, and we held an impromptu service of worship and teaching.
In the village of Kosta, believers are pitching in to donate materials and labor to construct a new brick church to replace the old wooden and leaf structure. Even the Hindu village elders have contributed, in gratitude for the blessing the church has been to the community. Pastor Rao raises up and trains church planters, who have started four daughter churches in nearby villages.
FAREWELL TO A PIONEER MISSIONARY
Rev. Samuel Lamanilao, a truly apostolic leader highlighted in our last newsletter, went to be with the Lord on December 15th. We thank the Lord that Russell was able to be with him in the hospital at his sudden passing at age 47. With faith and courage, Sammy answered the call of God to leave his home in the Philippines to pioneer a new work in Cambodia. In spite of hardship and opposition, he ran his race with faithfulness and perseverance. He leaves behind much fruit in the form of new churches, multiplied disciples, and trained leaders.
POINTS FOR PRAYER
• Pray for mission efforts targeting the tens of thousands of unreached villages in India.
• Pray for freedom, justice, and protection for believers in India, who are subject to financial restrictions by the national government and violent persecution by extremist Hindus.
• Pray for Merlen Lamanilao, who has assumed leadership of the churches in Cambodia after the death of her husband. Pray also for their 14-year-old daughter, Kezia.
• Pray for health, protection, strength, and wisdom for us as we travel to oversee the work of IPHC World Missions across the Asia/Pacific region.