Orissa is among the poorest and most Fundamentalist Hindu-dominated states in India. Our host was Pastor Subodh Kumar Jena. The town of Bhawanipatna is in the District of Kalahandi, one of the least desirable districts in Orissa.
Our host Subodh explained: “Let me briefly tell you about the state of Orissa. It has 30 districts. This is the ‘village state’ in India. It is known as one of the poorest and hottest states in the world. It’s the tribal state in India.
Bhawanipatna is the district headquarters of Kalahandi, known for being the poorest and hottest area in the state of Orissa. It is also known for famine, the selling of children and being a malaria prone area. Every year thousands and thousands of people go to other states to do find work as laborers. This year a very sad incident took place. When laborers went to work outside of Orissa the people there cut off two laborers’ hands.
The Elijah Challenge was held in a place called Kalyani Mandap which is opposite to the Sai Temple and five hundred meters from a very famous temple called Maa Manikeswri. On the first week of October each year a festival called Chatter is held there where 20,000 cows, buffaloes, chickens and other birds are sacrificed by local residents to Hindu gods. Around 10 lakh (one million) people will gather together for this. [This is done to placate and appease the wrath of their gods so that they will not do harm to them and their loved ones.]
Around eighty servants of God attended The Elijah Challenge Training from various churches and missions (and from various districts) such as CNI (Church of North India), Baptist, GFA (Gospel for Asia), New Creation Ministries, IET (India Evangelical Team), ICRM (Indian Church Revival moment), etc.
Our Evangelistic Healing Crusade was held just near to that temple. It was the first Christian meeting where the majority of people who attended were Hindus.”
After the gospel was preached from John 3:16 and John 1, the trained disciples stepped forward to heal the sick as proof to the Hindus that the gospel is true. The Lord’s grace was very evident. The disciples very effectively applied what they had been trained to do.
Many, especially Hindus, were healed of their infirmities and came up to the stage to testify of what the Lord had done for them. Among many other infirmities, partial blindness and deafness were healed and the sufferers could see and hear clearly.
Pastor Subodh wrote: “The wife of a retired DSP police officer came with a leg problem and she was healed. A few were healed as the gospel was being preached with the demon and sickness leaving instantly. Many others were healed as the trained disciples ministered to them. I believe this is the first direct message to the Hindus in Bhawanipatna that Jesus is the only true God. Some elders of the CNI (Church of North India) present at the meeting were in wonder when Hindus testified that Jesus had healed them.”
When after the testimonies Pastor Subodh gave the altar call for people to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior for the very first time only, many of the Hindus came forward. He then led them in a prayer to accept Christ. It was an historic harvest for the kingdom of God in that Hindu area. In the photo below, Hindus are coming forward to believe on Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior.A Church of North India Bishop from the capital of Orissa named Bishop Senapati who was present at the meeting was deeply impressed by what he saw. He invited the team to return to Orissa for an event in the capital where he said he could gather 4,000-5,000 people.
Reports immediately following the event
Event host Pastor Subodh later shared with us:
“I received feedback from many leaders informing me that they were personally touched by the teaching. Several told me that they had never before heard this teaching in their entire lives. With great expectation they anticipate seeing changes in their ministries in the days ahead.”
“The Elijah Challenge Training as well as the healing crusade broke with tradition and opened the eyes of the servants of God. And it made history for Christianity in Bhawanipatna.”
“Let me share the reports which I have received from servants of God and from believers.
First of all, we thank God that He heard our prayer. It was very cold in Orissa with heavy rain. The cold climate changed to pleasant just 3 days before our training.
The Training has broken the tradition of many leaders. They informed me that for sick people they used to simply close their eyes and pray for them. One pastor told me the seminar gave him a new ministry and opened his eyes to stop just praying for the sick only.
A pastor named CH Pradhan Kandhamal who attended our Training informed me that he returned home with much authority and power. He has two small fellowships. That Sunday after returning home he ministered to the sick and many stood up and testified for the first time that the Lord had healed them from throat infection, burning body and back pain. He asked me to come and teach his fellowship so that they can multiply especially since they are surrounded by Hindu villages.
An evangelist came from a place called Rayagada. His Senior Pastor could not attend the Training due to their New Year’s program. This man of God listened very carefully went back home after the training ended. The Lord used him miraculously for the first time in his ministry as he ministered to a partially blind man through the laying on of hands, and his eyesight was restored. He has never before tried to minister to such severe infirmities. But now he is reaching to move big mountains.
A senior pastor with 22 years of ministry in a district called Bolangiri shared with me after the Training. He thought he might have missed precious time in not winning as many lost souls as he wanted by not ministering as Jesus did. If he could have known this method earlier, he could have been fruitful. But with great expectation he is stepping forward to the unreached villages by using the power and authority.
On that very Sunday an evangelist Sujit ministered to a Hindu lady who was suffering from fever and she was instantly healed.
You may remember a woman came to you on our first day and requested prayer as they are going to dig a well. She informed me that the place where they later dug overflowed with water.
A young evangelist from Tumdiband (in Kandhamal District) called and told me that he had changed forever. He saw that this Training is completely for unreached places. After our Training he went to a village and went house to house to minister to the sick. Many were healed instantly. There was also a woman who was possessed with a demon. As this brother commanded her to go in Jesus’ name, she screamed and fell down and the demon left her. The villages were astonished seeing the miracle. This evangelist told me this is just beginning and you will see more in the days ahead.
In the TEC training, two young college students participated. On Friday night one of the brothers suffered from stomach pain and they both laid their hands upon the stomach and ministered directly. They gladly informed me that the boy was healed instantly.
My father-in-law Jeremiah is from a typical Baptist background. He is a Senior Associate Pastor from a big Baptist church. I saw him at the healing crusade ministering to the sick on the final evening. He was personally touched by the teaching. He told me to have a bigger training event in his own area on a suitable date where thousands will participate, and in the healing crusade over eight thousand can attend. He has never seen Hindus coming to Christ after the founders—the Canadian Baptists—left India many years ago. But now he saw it with his own eyes. Praise the Lord.
I hope to receive more and more reports from the servants of God from various [mission] fields. Thank God, in the beginning of this year God has done a wonderful work. Please pray that the Lord will open the door for us to equip the servants of God to reach the Hindu villages with power and authority.”
“One more good news—about the children in our orphanage. Today afternoon Rosy went to their school and met with the headmistress. The headmistress of the school informed that our children are very disciplined and obedient. Two of our girls are got top grades in their classes. Thank you and all our supporters for your prayers and support for these children. They are from a very remote village and now going to a town school, and scoring the top grades. This is the blessing of God. We hope our other children will do the same in the days ahead.”
Photos from Bhawanipatna with mission team members
Al & his daughters: waiting for the train to Orissa
Homeless people sleeping on the platform of the train station
On the train to Orissa
Team members Charlotte, Victoria & Margaret
Team members Alan & Maggie from Malaysia with host Orissa Subodh at left
Team member Effie from the USA
Team member Lucy gets fitted with a sari
Breakfast at the hotel with Al at the head of the table & Lisa at his left
Dinner for fifteen at a nice restaurant cost US$50
Hostess Rosy (2nd from right) provided saris for all 7 women team members standing to her right
Charlotte & Victoria worship the Lord