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, we’d encourage you to 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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October Prayer Points

October 1st, 2014

October Prayer Points

Recently we saw two incredible infographics produced by our colleagues at Operation World. The first one compares the population of Indian states (and union territories) to that of other nations. What it makes obvious is that India’s a big place with a lot of people, many of whom live in extreme poverty.

The second infographic focuses on the Christian population of Indian states and territories, as compared to the Christian populations of other countries. What it makes clear is that there remain millions of Indians who have never heard the simple refrain that so many of us take for granted: “Jesus loves you.”

Both infographics include a prayer focus that we want to bring to your attention: India has more human need and more unreached people groups than any other nation on earth. Believing that Christ is the key to human flourishing, we know of no better way to begin addressing these enormous challenges than through prayer. On our knees we can begin to see the needs of India (and our world) from a new perspective.

THIS MONTH, PLEASE PRAY FOR…

God’s continued guidance. As the footprint of our ministry continues to expand, we are constantly reminded that we need God’s help to make wise decisions that are in sync with His will. Our heart’s desire is for God to be glorified in all we do.

Pastor Dhanu Nayak. As we shared with you last month, Dhanu was rendered blind by what is known locally as “black magic.” Please ask God to restore his sight completely. There is no shortage of evil in this world, but God is greater still.

Pastors Marsel and Pradeep. With religious hostility on the rise in certain parts of India, including the state where these men live, Christians are suffering. Marsel and Pradeep have had their food rations cut off and are not allowed to access the village well. During this outbreak of persecution, ask God to protect and provide for Marsel and Pradeep, along with their families and congregations.

Pastors Surya, Satti Babu, and Anandha Paul. Two months ago, each of these men, along with their families, stepped out in faith to start new churches. Pray that many will hear and respond to the good news of Jesus as a result of their obedience.

The unreached people groups of India. According to Operation World, “The world’s least-evangelized peoples are concentrated in India. Of 159 people groups of over 1 million people, 133 are unreached.”

Our church planting ministry. Starting this month, we will begin planting new churches in Rayagada district, which is in the southern part of Odisha. Pray for the safety and well-being of our planters and their families as they venture out in faith.

Master’s College of Theology students. During the third week of October, all of our students will be involved in hands-on ministry in and around the city of Vizag. Please ask God to surround them with his favor as with a shield as they proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel during this week-long practicum.

Master’s Fellowship. After moving into a new building in late August, Master’s Fellowship, also known as Madhurawada Church, continues to flourish. Just a few days ago, through the generosity of one of our partner churches in the U.S., God provided the congregation with the financial resources they needed to buy a new sound system.

Current building projects. There are four church buildings and a school currently under construction. We thank God for his provision for each one of these projects; it has been nothing short of amazing. Pray for those who are overseeing construction of these new facilities.

Master’s Children’s Home. Our new children’s home in L.N. Peta, Srikakulam District, opened just a few months ago. Nearly two dozen kids now call it home. Pray for the children and their caregivers.

God to be glorified in all we do. As we plant churches, train nationals, and care for orphans and widows in India we long for God’s name and renown to be known and treasured among our people.

Thank you so much for praying for Vision Nationals.


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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Amy Carmichael and the Courage of Faith

September 24th, 2014

Amy Carmichael

On a weekend away to a small seaside town, I walked the grounds of a stately brick church. The front walkway was blanketed on both sides by bright white grave stones marking the resting place of long passed congregants.

Prayer Labyrinth

The Prayer Walk

I made my way to a side door admiring the stained glass while listening to the congregation sing hymns. It was there that I spotted an open area with a circular stone path built into the green grass. It was a prayer walk — a place to pray, concentrating on God while following the tightly wound path from beginning to end. As I followed the granite stones, I thought of all the people who completed the path before me, and I imagined all our prayers creating a circular pattern in the air, eventually funneling up to the sky.

I thought of my own long-prayed but unanswered prayer. I send it heavenward again and again but God remains silent, even though I know he’s listening. Unanswered prayer reminds me of a Sunday school story about the God-called missionary to India and children’s advocate, Amy Carmichael (1867-1951). The story goes that as a young child living in Millisle, Ireland, she admired the pretty blue color of her mother’s eyes. She wrote, “ I prayed…without a shadow of a doubt that my eyes would be blue in the morning. I had gone to sleep and the minute I woke, I pushed a chair to the chest of drawers on which was a looking-glass and climbed up full of eager expectation and saw — mere brown eyes.”

While Amy didn’t receive the answer she wanted or expected, God still heard her. Years later in 1895, she landed in Southern India. She took up the cause of innocent children, often rescuing them from a life of slavery in the Temples. In order to do so, she disguised herself as a National by staining her face, hands and arms with coffee.

God knew Amy was meant to have brown eyes. It was His plan all along, so he wasn’t ignoring a prayer whispered fervently with a child’s trusting faith. Instead, he knew of a far greater plan for Amy’s life; one that began to tug at her heartstrings when she was a young girl. She remembers a specific call from God as she spent the afternoon with her mother at a tea shop:

A little girl came and stood near the door and looked in…Delicious cakes and sweets were set out in that window. As we left the tea shop we saw the little girl with her face pressed close to the glass…She was a poor little girl in a thin, ragged dress. It was raining and her bare feet on the pavement looked very cold…Then I remember sitting by the nursery fire and writing in large letters on scrap paper…a little rhyme:

When I grow up and money have, I know what I will do,
I’ll build a great big lovely place
For little girls like you.

And though the little girls who were to come…were not to be the least like that little girl…they were in need…And the wonderful thought of our Father was far, far greater than mine. He had sons as well as daughters in His heart that day.

Over one hundred years and thousands of rescued children later, Dohnavur Fellowship, Amy’s life’s work and home for 56 years, stands as a testimony to God’s working through a girl from Ireland who patiently committed to His leading and plan.

My unanswered prayer is not yet realized, but I’m taking some advice straight from Amy’s pen: “Pray for the courage of faith; for the patience that waits and does not hurry on before God’s leading…”

So I’ll continue with my daily “prayer walk,” trusting in and waiting on God. In the meantime, I’m headed to India to visit the ministry of Vision Nationals. I’m anticipating what prayers will be realized while there and what new prayers will form deep down in my soul as a result of God’s leading.

This post was written by Rachel Knapp, a writer, blogger, pastor’s wife, chef, and follower of Jesus. Like Amy, she waits on God, even when the waiting is hard. Hopefully, we’ll hear from her again this November, after she and her husband, Joe, return from India.

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Master’s Fellowship Needs Our Help

September 16th, 2014

Help Master's Fellowship

UPDATE: Just a few days ago, through the generosity of one of our partner churches in the U.S., God provided Master’s Fellowship with enough money to purchase a new sound system.

***

One of the first churches we started in India was Master’s Fellowship, also known as Madhurawada Church. Today it’s a thriving, urban congregation with a passion to transform the city of Vizag by making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Last month we dedicated a new building for this growing church. During the inaugural service we took some time to reflect on all that God has done over the years. His guidance and care have been our constant companions. His empowering presence has been with us every step of the way. What started as a small group of committed Christians meeting in a home has morphed into a flourishing congregation that includes hundreds of first-generation believers. Only God can do that.

Master's Fellowship Exterior

One thing Master’s Fellowship needs is a permanent sound system. Right now we’re renting a sound system at a cost of $70 per week. Financially, that’s unsustainable. While Master’s Fellowship is certainly growing, it is by no means a wealthy congregation, even by Indian standards.

Ribbon Cutting

Early estimates indicate that we can purchase a complete sound system for $3,500. Would you prayerfully consider helping us buy this equipment? In a space as large as our new worship center, which can easily accommodate a few hundred people, the amplification of sound is a necessity. And you’d be amazed by how many people listen to our services, which are now offered in English and Telugu, from outside the building.

Master's Fellowship Interior

If you’d like to make a donation so that Master’s Fellowship can buy a new sound system, you can do so online, by phone, or by mail. Just let us know how you’d like your gift to be designated. Gifts given in excess of our $3,500 goal will be used to help other churches in our network buy similar equipment.


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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September Prayer Points

September 1st, 2014

Prayer Points SEP vv

There are many who have written about the spiritual life, but few have done so with as much depth and clarity as E. Stanley Jones. A passionate follower of Jesus, Jones’ missionary endeavors in India were and are legendary — and that’s a modest assessment. One well-known Bishop, a contemporary of Dr. Jones, described him as “the greatest Christian missionary since Saint Paul.” While that may sound like hyperbole, there’s a great body of missionary work to support such a stellar endorsement, including the Christian Ashram movement, which continues to this day.

Dr. Jones understood the importance of prayer and wrote extensively about it, even going so far as to say that “all reformation, individual and collective, begins in some one’s prayer closet.” Though we may have never put it as succinctly or eloquently as Dr. Jones, we have, from the earliest days of our ministry, embraced the truth that prayer changes things. It “digs the channels from the reservoirs of God’s boundless resources to the tiny pools of our lives.” There’s nothing like it in the world. For more than 22 years we’ve lived on the receiving end of unimaginable blessing, and that’s because an omnipotent God has chosen to respond to the persistent, believing prayers of his people.

THIS MONTH, PLEASE PRAY FOR…

The healing of Pastor Dhanu Nayak. Dhanu is a faithful servant of God and an important part of our ministry. He pastors in the state of Odisha, which over the last several years has become a hotbed for violence against Christians. Dhanu was rendered blind by what is known locally as “black magic.” We are asking God to restore his sight completely so that the villagers will know that Dhanu’s God is more powerful than the god of this world.

Our dear brothers, Pastors Marsel and Pradeep, both of whom are part of the Vision Nationals’ family. Like Dhanu, these men and their loved ones live in the state of Odisha. Because of their Christian faith, they are experiencing intense religious hostility from those in their village. Their food rations have been cut off and so has their access to the village well. Please continue to pray for the safety and well-being of Marsel, Pradeep, their respective families, and their congregations during this outbreak of persecution.

The three new churches that were started in August by Pastors Surya, Satti Babu, and Anandha Paul. Pray that the gospel will continue to take root and grow and that many in the surrounding communities will hear and respond to the good news of Jesus.

The flourishing of the Indian church, especially in those areas where religious persecution is on the rise.

God’s continued blessing on Madhurawada Church, which serves as an outpost of the kingdom of God in the city of Vizag. We thank God for providing this growing congregation with a new building and a new opportunity to minister to more people through a second worship service that is done entirely in English. As you pray for God’s continued blessing on this extraordinary church, please keep her leaders, parishioners, and not-yet-Christian neighbors in mind.

The completion of the four church buildings that are currently under construction. It is our prayer that in the months and years to come these buildings will be filled to capacity and become a testament to God’s grace in the predominantly Hindu communities in which they’re being built. Pray for Pastors Jeremiah, Joseph, and Devaraj as they oversee construction of these new churches.

The 20 kids who are now being loved and cared for at a new children’s home we opened in L.N. Peta, Srikakulam District, two months ago. As the footprint of our ministry continues to expand, please pray that God will provide the resources we need to minister to the most vulnerable, potential-laden population in India: children.

The completion of our new school, which we’re hoping to finish in the next few months. Again, it bears repeating: God’s provision for this project was nothing short of amazing, and we give him all the glory. Once it’s ready for occupancy, this new building will provide us with the space we need to educate hundreds more children, many of whom come from materially-poor families.

God’s favor to rest upon us as we plant churches, train nationals, and care for orphans and widows in India.

Thank you for praying for Vision Nationals — it “moves the arm that moves the world.”


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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