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
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.