STEWARDS OF THE GOSPEL
The greatest stewardship given to believers is not the stewardship of money, talent or time. It is an amazing wonder to the universe that the Son of God sacrificed His life to provide forgiveness for the sins of mankind! It is an additional great wonder that "He has committed to us the word of reconciliation" 2 Corinthians 5:9 (NASB).
The triumph of Jesus in the great controversy with Lucifer is dependent on human believers to make disciples for Jesus among all peoples. (Matthew 28:19.) This is to take place successfully in every city and village on planet earth. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 28, 29.)
Of the seven billion humans presently living on planet earth, 17.6% or 1.31 billion people are in the modern India. The fourth largest state in India in area and in population is the Telugu speaking state of India with 65 million people.
They gave time, talent, and treasure, to assist in sharing the gospel and constructing more than 5,000 chapels for worship and several residential schools for the Christian education of the children of the new believers."
The first decade of this century saw a wonderful revival in the Adventist stewardship of the gospel, where a spiritual awakening occurred. At the beginning of that decade Adventists had 135,000 registered believers among these people. By the end of that decade there were more than 800,000 registered believers. When Adventist church members and pastors in other regions of the world heard of this spiritual awakening several hundred men, women, and youth came from North America, Europe, and Australia to exercise successfully their stewardship of the gospel. They assisted the local believers in planting thousands of new congregations of disciples in this area.
They gave time, talent, and treasure, to assist in sharing the gospel and constructing more than 5,000 chapels for worship and several residential schools for the Christian education of the children of the new believers. One American business family networked with others and funded gospel meetings to plant churches in some 750 locations. Arrangements were made for the construction of chapels for worship in these same locations. Several members of the General Conference staff participated in conducting revival meetings and constructing houses of worship.
Supporting ministries of the church such as Maranatha, Gospel Outreach, Quiet Hour, ASI, Amazing Facts, and Asian Aid, as well as the church’s It Is Written joined the local members and pastors in this stewardship of the gospel. Local churches in the developed world as well as local conferences, and unions, pastors, laymen and laywomen participated.
It is estimated that 3% of the population of this state with their families are now part of our end-time movement. Many believe the Lord is pleased with this successful expression of the stewardship of the gospel.
One illustration of how the Holy Spirit is changing lives in Andhra Pradesh can be seen in the Venkatraj family.
Mr. Venkatraj, with his wife and three small children, was a farmer in a non-Christian settlement in coastal Andhra Pradesh in India. His wife worked alongside him in the rice fields. It was back-breaking labor.
When they came home from the fields in the evening his wife would begin to prepare their food, but Venkatraj would go to the local bar and drink alcohol (toddy) to ease the pain of his limbs and muscles.
The family suffered as there was little to eat and few clothes to wear as the result of him spending his money on drink. His wife would scold him and he would beat her amid the cries of his naked children. The beatings grew worse and his neighbors were frightened for the health of his wife and children.
Then one day the village elders heard about a series of meetings that Adventists were holding in a nearby town. They urged Venkatraj to attend with them. He started to go every night. He became very excited when he learned that Jesus Christ was to return to earth soon to gather his faithful disciples.
If you ask him now if he beats his wife, he replies with a twinkle in his eye. "Now she beats me."
When the speakers pointed out that those preparing for Jesus return would give up bad habits like drinking he decided that it was the right time for him to make a major change in his life. He accepted Jesus as his savior and was baptized with his wife.
He completely gave up alcohol and wife-beating. Today he is the respected elder in his village and indeed all the families in the settlement are now Seventh-day Adventists. The health and the cleanliness of the village have entirely changed. Many of their former health problems have disappeared.
If you ask him now if he beats his wife, he replies with a twinkle in his eye. "Now she beats me." The families are determined to raise their children to love the Lord and obey His word.