FROM THE DESK OF DAVID ABBOTT
This was a trip with many twists. All was well until the day I was leaving on the night sleeper to go to India. I opened an email from the orphanage I was going to in Andhra Pradesh telling me of strikes halting all public transport in that state for any four days out of seven. Chennai where I land is in Tamil Nadu so that bit was okay. Barbara and I agreed together that God still wanted me to go, so off I went. At Heathrow my plane out was delayed by three hours owing to body work problems, finally arriving in Chennai at 6.00 am. There all went extremely well until I came to exit arrivals. There we were ushered backwards while we watched the army bomb squad test and open a suitcase left by the arrivals door. Fortunately for us all its only contents were someone’s dirty clothes!
I was there and in God’s hands. No chance of getting to Andhra Pradesh then but the day after I arrived God opened the door for me to go down south five hours by road to an orphanage I have been to once before. It’s well remembered as the place I caught malaria! I spent two days there before I could get a seat on a plane to Visaq three hours from Rajahmundry, my original destination. Arriving at the orphanage it was soon clear why God sent me there. A Christian orphanage and school run by a Christian but great need among the children and staff. Most of the children there now are different to when I was last there and the leader told me only two out of the eighty nine were Christians. So into the gospel message we went all three sessions and the result, different children. When I made an invitation to receive Jesus almost all responded apart from an older Hindu boy and the youngest children. The final session the invitation was to put their lives in God’s hands to live for Him as Peter in the bible did and almost the same number stood and prayed from their hearts, a wonderful conclusion The final evening a large group of the older ones asked me to go for a walk with them. They speak very little English but as we walked they individually pointed to their hearts and said, ‘Jesus’. They knew his presence in their lives, praise the Lord. I left rejoicing that, ‘all things do work together for good’ and that I had been where God wanted me to be.
Nor was this the end of the twists, not an hour from the orphanage the car broke down and we had to wait for a replacement to pick us up. A day later, a journey by road, air, then road again and I was finally in Rajahmundry and being met by some very excited children. The down side I had only three days instead of nine so a revised programme was arranged. But the up side I was greeted by testimonies from my extra visit in March. In that series of rejection seminars were two boys of the same name, both brought along after the first session by their friend. The older of the two has now left and is the first to go to bible school because he feels the call of God to ministry. The other had been sexually abused when young resulting in extremely bitter anger towards the abuser. We saw his face changing as he kept receiving ministry but now it is radiant and he has a very soft and gentle spirit, in total a completely different boy indeed.
I was able to make a start on taking the second group of children through the rejection seminars. I intended there to be twenty again but ended with twenty four as you can’t reject children from a rejection seminar!! This time I had a small ministry team of three boys to help me who were set free in the March series one being the younger of the boys mentioned above. They soaked up every word and at the end of each seminar everyone responded and put their pain on the cross. One sixteen year old was in tears as he confessed his hurt to God and was crying on my shoulder for ages. At the end of the first seminar when I dismissed everyone, no one moved. I thought to say it again but the pastor/interpreter said no they are under the influence of the Holy Spirit. When they finally moved it was in absolute silence, unheard of normally! As we went on we began to see children change but sadly I had to stop with six more seminars to go. So even though I said that this year’s extra visit was a one off I have to go back next April for a very flying visit to finish as twelve of this group graduate in June and could have left the orphanage before I go in August. (I haven’t space in my diary to make just one longer visit in April or before that) Please pray for this.
To complete the trip by the time I came to leave the orphanage to go to Uganda the strike had intensified and roads in and out of the town were being blocked now to private vehicles as well as commercial. I had managed to get a flight out of Visaq again but had to get there. We found that there was a small window sometime every night when roads were not blocked so we finally left there just after mid-night. I arrived in Uganda having lost one and a half nights of sleep and somewhat tired but God had gone before me and my friend there had felt that the first two days should be free days before we went into a busy schedule.
In Uganda I had the joy of being joined by Jan Otto & Rossa Nesse, a couple who are close friends of twenty years and Pastors from Norway, so we were able to enlarge the programme this year. Jan Otto ministered in church services while Rossa had two days of mainly ladies meetings and a youth day while I had for the second year a two day children’s residential conference in the host church, children’s ministry in two villages and a children’s day.
The conference was special, we had just over eighty children who had hearts after God, were beautifully behaved, always on time for meetings (very un-African) and the presence of God hovered over the place. There were beautiful times of worship led by children and ended the conference with a rip roaring time of praise and dancing African style and they loved it. We had eleven in the ministry team of children, some were new to in the team and we saw lives change as they ministered one on one. Ministries and giftings developed and new ones were raised up. My first ever child interpreter in Africa now thirteen interpreted more times this year than before and for the first time interpreted a whole message and the call for prayer. Another twelve year old launched out and interpreted part of my message in one meeting while another thirteen year old who knows he is called to be a pastor preached his first message. He made the mistake of telling Janet my missionary friend there of his call and that he would like to start to preach sometime. She brought him to me where we found he had a message on his heart so to his shock I said next meeting you can share it (He never expected to do it while I was there.) He went beyond anything I could imagine, he spoke for about fifteen minutes, stopping to let my adult interpreter translate to English as he went along. I expected that he would just speak and my interpreter would simultaneously translate it for me, that was so much God for his first ever preaching. The ministry concluded with baptising six children in water including our boy preacher.
Then followed two days of ministry in two different villages, the first was the furthest away and Jesus style, preaching to seventy-three children under the shade of a tree. Most of those were from Muslim homes but there with parents’ permission so I was able to preach the way of salvation as normal in the three teaching sessions and finish with an invitation for prayer, only word it getting to know Jesus better and leave the rest in God’s hands. In the second village we had one hundred and fifty all manly Christians in a little mud wall church building. In all three sessions almost all responded and the three who were not already Christians got saved. We divided the ministry team into two and added those who had been baptised and had a ministry team of ten different children each day to take to the villages to minister with us. Our young child interpreter translated two messages and invitations and for the first time translated for me the local language into English (much harder to do than the other way). The final meeting all of us felt that he was ready to go it alone and my adult interpreter should not come in so that he could not just fall back on him. The young man rose to the challenge and he did it perfectly so it has been decided that next year at only fourteen he will be my only interpreter doing everything, he is very excited. During the year one of the leaders will take him under his wing and use him to interpret. At thirteen and only his second year of doing it, he had translated six half messages, three whole messages and once the opposite way around and he had had no opportunity to translate in a public meeting since I was there last year. The other young interpreter translated for two half messages and the young preacher preached again for longer this time. So again this year I saw more of my heart’s desire fulfilled seeing children in Africa use their gifting to minister and serve God.
I know that you didn’t know all the details all the time of what was going on but I am sure that at times God led you to pray in strange or different ways because He knew what was happening. All I can say is that God worked the practical details out, sent the blessing and touched lives in both countries and I had to just follow after Him. Thank you so very much that you prayed, interceded and stood together with me. I was very much aware that I was not alone in this but we were together across the miles working together, bless you so very much.
Much Love & Huge Thanks,