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Deerfoot funds Indian ‘prayer huts,’ trains pastorscomment (0)

January 13, 2011

By John Evans

A church camp is under assault in India.

As the children at the camp gather for lunch, a group of enraged Hindu radicals swoops in, smashing things, flinging Bibles on the floor and tearing up Sunday School materials.

Mayhem ensues as the radicals even beat the children, kicking the rice plates from their hands and pouring out pots of food onto the ground. The radicals want the blood of the camp’s leader, who is quickly barricaded inside a house. Before they can break down the door, the radicals are chased away by villagers who rush to the scene.

For many in India, this is simply part of following Christ.

“In the first century, when a person became a Christian, it could mean death, persecution or rejection,” said Roger Willmore, pastor of Deerfoot Baptist Church, Trussville. “The same is true in India (today).”

Members of the Birmingham Baptist Association church recently showed their solidarity with believers in India by helping to fund eight village churches, called “prayer huts,” and funding a conference to help train Indian pastors.

The effort continues a partnership between Deerfoot Baptist and Indian evangelist Ramesh Joshua, who is training Christian leaders in his country.

“I don’t say this lightly, but I compare him to the apostle Paul,” Willmore said of Joshua. “He has that kind of vision, passion and courage. He’s penetrating parts of India with the gospel message that many people would be fearful to go into.”

Joshua wanted Christians to have an actual structure for worship in their villages, an idea he shared with Deerfoot’s congregation during a 2005 visit. “We just got convicted that he needed some help,” recalled Deerfoot member Jim Daniel. “He was trying to build several prayer huts around that region, and we as a church undertook to fund as many as we could.”

An anonymous donor offered to match whatever funds the church raised. Within what Willmore describes as “a matter of hours” after Joshua spoke, church members contributed $40,000.

“Our church leaped on it like a bird on a bug,” said Ken Kelley, missions coordinator for Deerfoot.

The prayer huts were constructed in 2005 and 2007, bringing visible symbols of Christianity to predominantly Hindu villages.

“One thing that really strengthened [the Indian pastors] in that effort (of bringing the gospel to these villages) [was] to have a church with a cross on it, because the Indian people know what that is and what that means,” Willmore said.

“It’s very small but still it’s a place people can come to hear the Bible taught and preached.”

The prayer huts are connected with Joshua’s ministry, and he personally discipled their pastors as part of his method to train leaders who will, in turn, train others.

Willmore visited the prayer huts during a Dec. 1–13 trip to India, where he also spoke at a conference for more than 250 pastors Joshua trained.

Willmore taught on the life of Elijah and modeled expository preaching with the Book of 1 John; he also taught on the lordship of Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Deerfoot covered the pastors’ costs to attend.

“We’re just a missions-minded church,” said Kelly, who believes Deerfoot members understand the need for the gospel overseas.

Daniel agreed, saying church members have found unity in working together to spread the gospel in places around the world.

“It’s part of the Great Commission,” he said.

“God says to go into all the world. God is not only the God of Deerfoot Baptist Church, but He’s also the God of the people in India.”

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