With Grateful Hearts…

November 26th, 2014

With Grateful Hearts

In Philippians 4:6 Paul writes, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

This way of worry-free reliance on God, which may sound like a far-fetched ideal at first, is cultivated as we pray. God can do things we can’t. Jesus insisted that “…with God all things are possible,” and prayer is the place where we learn to embrace that truth wholeheartedly, without reservation.

Yet even as we follow Paul’s admonition to “pray about everything,” we also need to “thank [God] for all he has done.” Prayer and thanksgiving are two sides of the same coin. Both are necessary. Both invite us to commune with a loving, all-powerful God. And both infuse us with the wisdom and strength we need to deal with the complexities of life and faithfully live out our callings.

As a faith-based ministry, we really do believe that prayer is the primary means by which we accomplish our mission. It undergirds everything we do. But giving thanks to God is just as crucial, so this month we want to turn to God with grateful hearts and thank Him for what He’s doing all around us. His grace is evident everywhere we look.

THIS MONTH, WE THANK GOD FOR…

Protecting us during Cyclone Hudhud and providing for our needs in the aftermath of the storm. Things could have been so much worse, yet somehow all we sustained was property damage. Though some of it was severe and is still in the process of being repaired, rebuilt, or replaced, we want for nothing. God has graciously supplied all of our needs and allowed us to meet the needs of so many others. May we never forget that God cares and keeps His promises.

Allowing us to provide Pastors Marsel and Pradeep with the money they need to build new homes. These men and their families have been experiencing intense persecution as they serve Jesus in the state of Odisha, and when Hudhud came barreling through their villages last month they lost their homes. Thanks to the generosity of our partners and friends in the U.S., Marsel and Pradeep are now in the process of rebuilding. May we be ever mindful of Jesus’ words: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Healing Pastor Dhanu Nayak. Dhanu, who like Marsel and Pradeep serves Jesus in the state of Odisha, was rendered blind by a curse, or what is known locally as “black magic.” Area pastors convened at his home, fasting and praying for Dhanu and asking God to restore his sight. We just got word that Dhanu received a “great healing.” He can see. May faith rise in our hearts as we remember that we serve a miracle-working God.

The opportunity to train indigenous leaders. Through Master’s College of Theology, week-long conferences, and regional training events, we are able to equip hundreds of men and women for ministry every year. God has graciously sustained this aspect of our work for more than two decades — we’re continually amazed by His faithfulness. May we never lose the sense of awe we feel when God, in His mercy, acts on our behalf.

Empowering us to care for at-risk children. Though we’ve been involved in transforming the lives of children for almost 20 years, we know that our work is far from over, that God has more for us to do, and we are genuinely excited about what lies ahead. The “God of orphans” has not been silent. In fact, in recent months He has been inviting us to expand our ministry to India’s vulnerable, abandoned, and orphaned children. May we continue to be responsive to His voice.

Placing us in a country where there is more human need and more unreached people groups than any other nation on earth. To be able to proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in India is an extraordinary privilege, and we are so humbled that God has called us to serve Him in this context. May He be pleased to continue building His church through us. And please keep our pastors in your prayers as they share the Christmas story with rural villagers during the month of December. Many will hear the Good News of Jesus for the very first time.

A church planting ministry that continues to grow. New churches are forming in the state of Odisha, and every month our pastors, along with their families, are venturing out in faith to bring the Good News of Jesus to those who so desperately need to hear it. May thousands hear and respond to the Gospel as a result of their obedience.

Bringing Gouri safely back to Visakhapatnam. After suffering burns on her body while working in the Middle East, Gouri was brought to the hospital and left for dead. There was no one to look after her and no one to pay her medical bills. Completely destitute, she was able to contact some Christians in her hometown, and they paid for her to be transported back to Vizag, where she’s now recovering. May the Great Physician restore Gouri in mind, body, and spirit, and may the kindness of her brothers and sisters in Vizag remind her that she is a precious daughter of God.

The money to build new churches. Right now there are three church buildings currently under construction, with plans to break ground on two more in the next few days. And on December 5, we’re dedicating Pastor Devaraju’s new building. We thank God for providing the financial resources needed to build these new facilities. Apart from Him, none of this would be possible. May each new building we erect become a place where people can encounter the risen Christ.

The wisdom and strength to carry out our mission. As we continue to plant churches, train nationals, and care for the orphans and widows in our midst we are so grateful for God’s empowering presence in our lives. May we never forget that apart from Him we can do nothing.

We are so grateful for your support of our ministry, especially in the wake of Cyclone Hudhud. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Thank you for your kindness, your encouragement, and your generosity. We are humbled and thankful that you have chosen to partner with us.


Since 1992, Vision Nationals has been planting churches, training nationals, and caring for orphans and widows in India. Through your prayers and financial gifts God has graciously sustained our work.

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Master’s School Reopens

November 7th, 2014

masters school reopens

Cyclone Hudhud left Master’s School’s classrooms in total disrepair, which meant that our students and teachers had to meet in makeshift classrooms inside our dormitory and administration building for the last few weeks. After a lot of hard work to remove debris and replace the entire roof, we reopened our classrooms on Monday.

While there’s still more work to be done, including having new ceiling fans installed in each room, students and teachers were eager to get back into their classrooms and resume a normal routine. We’ve made remarkable progress since the storm, and as you can tell from the the picture above, our students are happy to be back where they belong.

Your generous donations to the Cyclone Relief Fund have made our recovery efforts possible — thank you!


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November Prayer Points

October 31st, 2014

nov_prayer_points

As we deal with the aftermath of Cyclone Hudhud — a powerful storm that swept through our city nearly three weeks ago — we have been consoled and empowered by this simple prayer found in Isaiah 33:2: “Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.”

As you have opportunity, would you ask God to strengthen us in every conceivable way? We know that He is not reluctant to do so. In fact, Isaiah reminds us that “…the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.” Join us in laying hold of God’s grace and compassion, especially on behalf of our city. There are still so many who are suffering.

THIS MONTH, PLEASE PRAY FOR…

All those affected by Cyclone Hudhud. Thousands are still without electricity, access to potable water, and other basic necessities. Throughout the month of November, we plan to do as much as we can to help those in need. (If you’d like to make a donation, a Cyclone Relief Fund has been established.)

Pastors Marsel and Pradeep. Over the last several months, these men and their families have experienced intense persecution as they serve Jesus in the state of Odisha. Now they’ve lost their homes. Hudhud barreled through their villages and swept everything away. Using money that’s been given to the Cyclone Relief Fund, we are now in the process of helping them rebuild.

Master’s School. Our classrooms were nearly destroyed by Hudhud’s high winds and heavy rains. After assessing the damage, we went to work, removing all the debris from the classroom floors, replacing the entire roof, and fortifying the walls that sustained structural damage. Two days ago the school reopened. There’s more work to be done, but we are grateful for the progress we’ve made so far.

Our pastors. So many were impacted by the cyclone; their stories are still coming in. For those who sustained property damage, whether to their homes or church buildings, we’ve been able to offer financial assistance so that they can rebuild.

Master’s Fellowship. Unfortunately, Master’s Fellowship’s new building, which was dedicated in late August, suffered extensive interior damage. Hudhud’s high winds blew the the glass out of the windows and caused large sections of the ceiling, as well as most of the lighting, in the new auditorium to come crashing down. The church’s leaders have asked us to pray that “all be restored.”

The unreached people groups of India. What we know based on research compiled by Operation World is that “the world’s least-evangelized peoples are concentrated in India. Of 159 people groups of over 1 million people, 133 are unreached.” Pray that God would continue to use our ministry to bring the good news of Jesus to those who so desperately need to hear it.

Our church planting ministry. Last month we started new churches in the state of Odisha. Continue to pray for the safety and well-being of our pastors and their families as they venture out in faith. And pray that many will hear and respond to the Gospel as a result of their obedience.

Current building projects. There are four church buildings currently under construction, with plans to start building two more next month. We thank God for his provision for each one of these projects. Please pray for those who are overseeing construction of these new facilities.

Wisdom and strength. As we deal with the aftermath of Cyclone Hudhud and continue to plant churches, train nationals, and care for the orphans and widows in our midst we need God’s wisdom and power to rest on us.

We are so grateful for your prayers. We take great comfort in knowing that there are hundreds of you seeking God on our behalf. Thank you.


Since 1992, Vision Nationals has been planting churches, training nationals, and caring for orphans and widows in India. Through your prayers and financial gifts God has graciously sustained our work.

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After the Storm

October 28th, 2014

Sixteen days ago Cyclone Hudhud made landfall in Visakhapatnam (Vizag). With winds topping out at 130 mph it ravaged the city where our ministry’s headquartered. Countless trees were uprooted. Thousands of utility poles were knocked down. Homes and businesses were flooded. Roads were rendered impassable. Not even Vizag’s airport could withstand Hudhud’s fury.

By the time the cyclone had weakened to nothing more than a low pressure area over Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, it had damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes and affected (at least) 2.1 million families.

As storms of this magnitude often do, Hudhud made a mess of things, not only in Visakhapatnam but across the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. As cleanup continues throughout the affected region, there is little doubt that things could have been much worse — mandatory evacuations and early warning systems minimized injury and loss of life.

Though our campus wasn’t immune to the damage caused by Hudhud’s high winds and heavy rains, we continue to thank God that our students, staff, and teachers were kept safe. Our children, too, were protected from the storm’s ferocity. And not one of our pastors has reported anything more serious than property damage.

With our Vision Nationals’ family intact, unharmed — which is such a gift from God — we’ve been able to concentrate on rebuilding. We’ve already removed much of the debris that blanketed our campus and started repairing what Hudhud damaged or destroyed. Like the rest of Vizag, we have a long way to go, but everyday we’re making progress.

As you have opportunity, remember to pray for us, our city, and all those affected by the cyclone. During this phase of the recovery, the needs are great, and we want to be in a position to help as many people as possible.

Help us rebuild. Give to the Cyclone Relief Fund.


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The Genesis of Vision Nationals

October 22nd, 2014

How we grew from a single church plant into a multi-faceted ministry that touches thousands of lives each year can only be described as an act of God’s pure grace.

It all started when Jesus called a young man from a Hindu family to follow Him…

“I was seventeen years old when my father, a devout Hindu, came to Christ after a miraculous healing from paralysis. From that time on he studied the Christian Scriptures and vowed that all of his family would serve Jesus Christ as the only God. Despite the miracle, I was not about to trade the gods and scriptures I had loved since my childhood for a “Western religion.” I could not deny Jesus was a god; he had healed my father, after all. But by no means would I serve Christ as the only God.

“Angry at my father’s conversion and convinced that the Bible would affirm the plurality of gods, I poured over the Bible my father had given me, looking for the evidence I needed to convince him that the Bible was consistent with our Hindu beliefs. What I found instead was: ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them…know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.’ (Ex. 20:4-5; Deut. 4:39)

“Still angry, unconvinced and certain that the plurality of gods must be affirmed somewhere in the Bible, I studied the Scriptures for six months looking for the answer I wanted. Then one morning, I awoke a Christian. To this day I can’t explain what happened, except to say that everything changed. As I looked out my bedroom window at the people walking by, a thought occurred to me that I had never had before: ‘They need Jesus!’ And so it began that from the moment He saved me, God burdened me to plant churches to reach people with the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Together with my wife, Raji, we give thanks for all that God is doing through Vision Nationals. His faithfulness is astounding. How we grew from a single church plant into a multi-faceted ministry that touches thousands of lives each year can only be described as an act of God’s pure grace. Yet even today there are millions upon millions of Indians who have never heard the simple refrain that so many of us take for granted: ‘Jesus loves you.’ We invite you to partner with us as we carry that hope-filled message to those who so desperately need to hear it.”

If you’d like to learn more about our ministry, download our new brochure and watch our latest video.


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Cyclone Relief Fund Established

October 16th, 2014

Many of you have asked how you can help our ministry repair and rebuild what’s been damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Hudhud. Your willingness to engage in our efforts to provide immediate and long-term help to those who have been affected by the storm has been amazing, and we are so grateful. The outpouring of support has been a great encouragement to Arjuna and his team as they deal with the aftermath of the cyclone and assess the damage.

Thankfully, no one within our network of ministries was injured or killed by Hudhud, which slammed into Vizag at around noon on Sunday. However, our campus, which is located just miles from where the eye of the cyclone made landfall, sustained heavy damages: windows were knocked out; all of our trees were uprooted; Master’s School’s classrooms were completely destroyed; our library has a foot of standing water inside; and a significant portion of the concrete wall that forms a perimeter around our campus has been knocked down.

Additionally, Master’s Fellowship’s new building, which was dedicated less than two months ago, suffered extensive interior damage. Hudhud’s high winds blew the glass out of the windows and caused the ceiling and lighting in the new auditorium to come crashing down.

Obviously, the situation in Vizag is severe. After being completely exhausted within hours of the cyclone’s arrival, the city’s supplies of gasoline, potable water, milk, and other basic necessities are now being slowly replenished. The communication, energy, and transport infrastructures are being gradually restored, though Arjuna said that it will be quite some time before the city’s power grid is back online, due mainly to the fact that some 20,000 poles that carry electricity to Vizag’s homes and businesses were knocked down.

As Arjuna continues to assess the immediate and long-term needs of our pastors, their churches, and the city at large we’re asking not only for your continued prayers but also for your financial help. The news stories, pictures, and videos that are emerging online reveal a city and two states (Andhra Pradesh and Odisha) that are reeling after experiencing one of the worst cyclones in recent memory. Our on-the-ground response to this natural disaster will need to be undergirded by the generosity of our partner churches and other concerned individuals. If you can help at all financially, please do.

Thank you so much for caring about our ministry and the precious people we serve. Your kind words and prayers, which have been steadily streaming in over the last 48 hours, have been a bright spot in an otherwise dire situation.

Give to the Cyclone Relief Fund.


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Cyclone Hudhud Hits Vizag — Please Pray

October 14th, 2014

Cyclone Hudhud Hits Vizag

UPDATE: If you’d like to help us repair and rebuild what’s been damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Hudhud, a relief fund has been established.

***

At around noon on Sunday, Cyclone Hudhud made landfall on India’s eastern coast. Vizag, which is where our ministry is headquartered, was hit hard. Though we don’t have any immediate reports of injury or loss of life within our network of ministries, the cyclone, with winds in excess of 100 mph, tore through the city, destroying homes, toppling trees and power lines, blocking roads, and displacing thousands of people. According to Indian officials, Vizag has to be entirely rebuilt.

Across the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (formerly Orissa), damage is widespread. According to one report, “winds demolished about 80,000 thatched homes belonging to poor tribal people.” Though Indian disaster teams have already begun relief operations, the BBC is reporting that “further heavy rains have been forecast in Orissa, prompting fears of flooding in the wake of the cyclone.”

cyclone_hudhud_donate_4_aWith 70-80% of Vizag’s trees uprooted, its airport closed, and its roads impassable, it’s going to take a herculean effort to clear the debris and begin rebuilding. In the meantime, a shortage of essential supplies, like milk and drinking water, has created a sense of desperation among Vizag’s two million residents. And with no electricity, not even cellphones can be recharged.

This is an unprecedented moment for our ministry. As of this morning, we’re not sure if our campus, which is located just a few miles from where Cyclone Hudhud came ashore, has sustained any damage. More importantly, we have yet to hear from the majority of our pastors, many of whom live in rural areas, and all of whom were affected in one way or another by this devastating storm.

Please pray, especially for those who have lost loved ones. As we get more information out of India, we’ll do our best to share it with you.


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