August 23, 2016

The Power of a Godly Heritage

Post by Brittany Tedesco

Elderly Indian man.

He lived to the age of 105. He didn't want to live that long. He wanted to see the Lord Jesus face to face. But God saw fit to keep him on the earth, in an old body in North India, to intercede for the vast numbers of unreached people living there.

"Do you know why my father lived that long?" asked James*, a ministry leader who recently visited us. "Because of Ezekiel 22:30."

In Ezekiel 22:30, the Lord tells of how He searched for a man who would "stand in the gap" before Him on behalf of the land of Israel—desperately wicked at that time—to intercede for it.

We can't see what goes on in the spiritual realm, or why the Lord required that man to intercede for the people of his nation until 2010, when he finally went home to his Savior. What we can see is the fruit of that man's decades of prayers.

Public evangelism rally in India.
Thousands have begun attending the gospel crusades that James' ministry holds

In a region where the population is almost entirely Hindu and Muslim, people are beginning to come to the Lord like never before. The harvest is here—and it's here in a big way.

James has begun holding gospel crusades—unheard of in that area just a few short years ago—and thousands are showing up. He held the first crusade in 2014, two in 2015, and is planning on holding three before 2016 comes to a close. His ministry rents a tent, chairs, and a giant P.A. system. While just under a thousand people can fit inside of the tent, thousands more surround the tent to listen to the message. Last year, nearly 8,000 heard the gospel during the two crusades and just under 800 made public professions of faith.

For 44 years, James has served God in fulltime ministry. The day before we interviewed him, he turned 70. "And I didn't receive any gifts!" he joked with us. He was traveling alone on his birthday, so no one could celebrate the milestone with him. I count myself honored even to have spoken with him, let alone to have wished him a happy birthday.

New Testaments distributed by Indian missionaries.
Children attending the school started by James' ministry receive New Testaments

Along with 22 coworkers, James has discipled and trained hundreds of local ministry leaders and planted somewhere between 70 and 80 house churches. They've led thousands to Christ.

The illiteracy rate is extraordinarily high in that region. In response to requests from some of the high caste people, the ministry started an English school, provided they would teach the Bible to all students and that there would be no difference between high and low caste children inside of the school. Close to 400 children currently attend the school, all of whom hear the gospel. Many of the graduates chose to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

A few days before James visited us, I read a tribute written by the daughter of another ministry leader in India, Jaya Thasiah, who passed away in May.

As a young newlywed, Jaya left her home in southern India to move to Mumbai (then Bombay) with her husband to minister to the millions languishing in extreme poverty. Nearly half of the city's population lives in the sprawling slums, thick with stench and misery.

Jaya, native Indian missionary
Jaya Thasiah 1932 - 2016

"She was an ordinary housewife, but a prayerful one," wrote Jaya's daughter. In 1979, Jaya and her husband started a prayer ministry with a few other women in their home. Jaya's goal, to tell Mumbai about Jesus, was always before her; it propelled her into the slums where she distributed tracts, shared the gospel, and prayed for people.

The humble prayer meetings blossomed into a charitable organization that shared desperately needed food, clothing, and medical aid with orphans, widows, and those with leprosy. This compassion so touched the hearts of leprosy victims in one colony that they began responding to the gospel and formed a church.

Gospel films and special outreaches to prostitutes, hospital patients, and students have ushered many into God's kingdom. Jaya and her husband started a Bible school, an English school for children, an orphanage, and a medical clinic. They planted 25 churches with thousands of members.

"Through her 37 years of ministry in Mumbai, she touched the lives of thousands of people. She encouraged people to know their calling and walk in their calling, thus pastors, evangelists, apostles, Bible teachers, and prophets have risen up and are shining now for the Lord," wrote Jaya's daughter.

Native Indian children.
Jaya's gospel workers share the hope of Christ in Mumbai's slums

"Her greatest accomplishment was that she and my dad brought us all up in the ways of the Lord, and saw to it that we all married godly spouses. Her greatest desire was that her children and her grandchildren would serve the Lord. And it is just as she wished for us!"

Jaya's daughter and son-in-law served alongside her for the last 18 years. They've now assumed leadership of the ministry. Jaya's other four children are also serving God in ministry.

I couldn't help but notice the striking similarities in James' and Jaya's stories. They both moved from southern India—where many more believers live—to the North, where millions of unreached live. They both started English schools, dedicated their lives to nurturing poor, illiterate people, and have led thousands to Christ.

During our interview, James kept stressing the fact that all of his other six siblings are serving the Lord in some capacity. Five are in fulltime ministry. One of his sisters, who recently passed away at the age of 83, planted one of Nepal's very first churches. His older brother has worked in fulltime ministry for the past 58 years.

Native Indian missionaries with youth.
Thousands of lives have been transformed through James' and Jaya's sacrificial work.

I realized why he kept coming back to this. He was honoring his father's legacy—that godly heritage he so treasures.

Just as it was Jaya's greatest accomplishment to bring her entire family up to serve Jesus Christ, so it was for James' father.

It didn't matter that James' father was a subsistence farmer who struggled to put food on the table. Didn't matter that James and his siblings grew up in poverty. Their lack of worldly goods didn't deter any of them from following their father into the ministry.

A good deal of the ministries that Christian Aid Mission supports today are led by the sons and daughters of ministry leaders we supported decades earlier.

I've learned, however, that not all of these sons and daughters seamlessly transitioned into their parents' ministries. Some, having never tasted of this world's goods, wanted to pursue wealth. But so many of them became bored and restless after a few years and decided to take that promotion from the Lord—even though it came with risk, danger, and very modest living conditions.

Native Indian missionaries distributing literature to children.
The leaders of many ministries, assisted by Christian Aid Mission, have followed their parents into the work.

Throughout the past 60 years, we've seen this pattern. We've seen the power of a godly heritage.

One of the reasons Christian Aid Mission started a child sponsorship program many years ago is because we wanted to provide the lowliest of children with a godly heritage. The indigenous ministries we support have started orphanages and children's centers for young ones living on the streets, abandoned or abused. They rescue these children, redeeming their lives with love, care, education, and discipleship in God's Word. So many of them grow up to serve the Lord.

Do you have a godly heritage? Thank the Lord if you do. But even if your biological parents didn't or aren't following God, someone led you to Christ—and hopefully someone was or is discipling you. This is your godly heritage.

The only question that remains now: how will you continue the legacy?

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