Rain, rain and more rain! I have seldom seen so much water coming down at once. It seemed like the heavens had been opened. We had just arrived at our destination – Churachandpur, a town in Manipur, a province tucked away in the very corner of North East India. For five months the farmers have been struggling as there had been no rain. Now they rejoiced as the water drops pounded on the earth splashing everywhere and penetrating the dry cracked ground forming it into a muddy pool. This is what they needed! Without water, there are no crops. Without crops there is no harvest. Without harvest there is no food. Many people of Churachandpur and surrounding villages had been praying for rain. Now the rain had come. It came the very moment we arrived. The Adventists in the town had also prayed for rain, but not just when the meetings were to begin! The rain kept the people from coming on the opening night of our revival/evangelistic series “Hope for the Future.” Still we agreed that the rain was a blessing. We gathered together praying for another type of rain to fall during the following ten days we would spend in Churachandpur. We all longed for the showers of blessing, the outpouring of the Spirit of God.
We had been told that this is the very first time that foreigners were to preach the Three Angels’ Message in Churachandpur. Churachandpur lies about sixty kilometers (40 miles) from the capital city of the province of Imphal. When you see the people here you would not think they are from India, as they look much more Asian. Even though North East India belongs to India and is connected by a small stroke of land North of Bangladesh it has quite a different culture and way of life. Several provinces in the North East have fought for independence over the years. At this time there are still several provinces where fighting is taking place and these areas have become protected areas with a restriction for foreigners to enter. One of these troubled areas is Manipur. We were able to gain a permit to enter this province for ten days. There is a heavy presence of the Indian army in the town we stayed in and tensions were recognizable. But the four angels are still holding back the winds of strife so that the final message may go into the entire world with great power.
The Lord blessed the evangelistic effort and rewarded us with dear souls seeking for truth. We are grateful for the showers of blessing we could experience in Manipur. Many of those that came to the meetings were Baptists, as this is one of the main denominations in this area. The Sabbath truth was new to them. There are very few Adventists in Churachandpur and only one small church. Many people in the town had a misunderstanding of what the Adventists believe and teach. Some thought they only believed the Old Testament while others thought they did not preach about Jesus. The first pioneers of the work in Churachandpur faced many challenges. Three lay men have begun three schools that are running very well. People gather at the schools on Sabbath to have worship. The schools also function as a wonderful way to reach out to the students as hundreds and hundreds of children attend these schools. Many of the students attended the evening meetings and quite a number are requesting Bible studies and have expressed their desire to be baptized. With the students and the town people coming to the meetings we had a crowd of about five hundred people during most evenings. During the day we would visit some of the people in their homes.
We enjoyed the visits. We could see that the people appreciated the visits and several had important things they wanted to discuss with us. One dear lady that we visited lived in a very simple home with her children with hardly any furniture. But what they lacked in earthly wealth was richly supplied in spiritual wealth. She told us that after the presentation on the Sabbath she had gone home, but could not sleep the entire night, as she was thinking how she could practically follow this message. She was anxious to see how her family and friends would respond. She related how some years back she had ridiculed her husband because he had shared something about the Sabbath with her. She felt bad because of this and anticipated that the people in her village would treat her the same way.
But despite these fears she was determined to live for Jesus and follow His commandments. She had a big smile on her face which testified to the joy she felt over her new found faith. We also visited some homes of more influential people in the town. When we came to the home of the chief of a certain area of town he said that he had believed the Sabbath all along, but had never found a support for this truth in his church. He was very happy to attend the meetings. Another Baptist elder felt heavily convicted by the messages. One of the Bible workers asked him what he thought about the studies so far. He replied that the people including himself either had to make a decision for that which was presented or stop going to the meetings! “We can’t just sit here,” he said. The Holy Spirit was truly convicting the hearts and doing a work that none of us could possibly do. We prayed for rain and it rained!
We realized that the enemy was not pleased with the work that was carried out. A spiritual battle was taking place. From the very beginning we saw how we were almost hindered from even going to Manipur. It began with our visas. We had sent our passports to the Indian Embassy but after a delay received them back without visas issued. We had to drive into Oslo twice to get everything sorted out. We finally got visas on Friday just before Sabbath. We left for India early Sunday morning. Because of the visa delay we also had a delay getting our special permit to enter Manipur. We ended up getting it the evening before we were scheduled to fly to Manipur! It all happened at the last minute. During the series of meeting we could also sense a spiritual battle. Both Silvia and I felt weak and a little sick but God raised us up each time we needed to speak to the people. One night just before the meeting I had a heavy nose bleed due to the warm weather. The workers prayed and eventually it stopped and the evening meeting was carried out. One evening we had heavy rain but the people did not want to leave and so they pressed together under the canopy. Others found a place of shelter close to the meetings and followed along carefully.
On April 4, we had our final meetings. It was a Sabbath. We had a special day with those that had attended the meetings during the week. In the afternoon 73 precious souls were baptized and added to the newly established church. It was very impressive to see the work that had been done leading these individuals to this step. Quite some time before we arrived Bible workers were doing ground work and studying the Bible with people from the town. We are convinced that the preparation work has a lot to do with the success of a series like this. The follow up with the contacts is of great importance. We were so happy to know that there is a dedicated team of workers committed to establish a vibrant church fellowship and lead the newly baptized into a deeper experience with Christ.
About half a year ago, I did not know that there existed a province tucked away in the corner of the North East India called Manipur. I didn’t know of a town called Churachandpur. Neither did I know of a group of committed brothers and sisters that love the Lord and were willing to risk all in order to reach out with the Three Angels’ Message. Now Manipur is a place that we will not forget. Our brothers and sisters in Churachandpur have a place in our hearts. Though this is a place known to be dangerous and troublesome we will remember the smiles and love of the people. Their open homes and hearts reveal hope for something better. They are looking forward to the Kingdom of God where there is no suffering, pain, and death. They are looking forward to a world where there is no corruption and where the gates shall not be shut for there is no night there (Revelation 21:25). This kingdom is already present in their hearts by faith. The principles of this kingdom find expression in their lives as they seek to shine for Jesus Christ through out Manipur. Please join us in prayer for this newly established church and its members and workers. Pray for rain and showers of blessings!
By Daniel Pel, Living Water Ministry, Bølbekkveien 8, 2860 Hov, Norway. Telephone: +47 61 12 22 48.