Immanuel, 29, lives in a village of 2,000 people, about 12 hours by bus from Chennai.
Knock, knock, knock. Immanuel tapped politely on the door of the house. Nobody came to the door, so he knocked again, a little louder this time. He had just decided that there must not be anybody inside when the door opened to reveal a woman with tears streaking her face.
Immanuel was surprised, but after a short pause he told the woman his name and that he was a Global Mission pioneer pastor. He told her he was planning some prayer meetings in the village, and was knocking on all the doors to invite the people to come. He was also planning some meetings for children, with singing and storytelling.
When he said that, the woman began crying again, so Immanuel gently asked her what was wrong, and if there was anything he could do to help. It took a little coaxing, but pretty soon the woman began to talk.
“There are so many problems, I hardly know where to start,” she said. “But maybe the biggest is that my husband and I have not been able to have children. That has made us very sad. It is amazing that you knocked on our door when you did, because my husband and I were just preparing to commit suicide. We have been having such troubles, and my husband heard a voice that told him to kill himself, and me too. We are preparing to die.”
Immanuel listened carefully to the woman’s story, then he said: “I am so glad that I was in time to bring you good news. Did you know that God loves you and has a bright future planned for you? I don’t know what is in that future–only God knows–but I do know that He can help you and make you feel joyful and happy in your life.”
The woman invited Immanuel into the house, and he spent a long afternoon talking to her and to her husband, reading the Bible and praying with them, and talking about his work.
The next day he went back to visit again, and he continued to visit the couple. They became happy in their newfound faith. While they still wished for a child, they forgot the deep despair they had felt previously. After a while they began knocking on doors with him, visiting neighboring villages, giving Bible studies, and sharing the story of how hope had come into their lives at the very last minute.
Immanuel has been a Global Mission pioneer pastor for about a year. When he first came to the village where he lives, there were only two families of elderly people who said they were Adventists. It is a poor village, without many options for jobs. People grow food in their gardens, but the rain isn’t consistent. There is a scarcity of water. Some villagers travel to another town to work in a cotton mill.
Immanuel could see there was a lot of work he could do, bringing hope into the lives of the people in the village. While he could not give them all jobs, he could introduce them to a heavenly Father who cares for them.
He started by inviting the children to listen to Bible stories and sing. He believes that children are central to evangelism–not only are they the next generation of believers, they can also help to reach their parents when their hearts have been touched.
For six months Immanuel just held meetings for the children. As he got to know the children, he began to get to know their parents, too. He was able to help some of them who had difficulties, which he had learned about from the children.
The families were grateful for his help and his prayers, and they began to tell their friends about the power of God. Soon Immanuel was hosting Bible studies and prayer meetings for adults too, until there was a large group of believers in the village meeting in a coconut grove.
Immanuel works hard every day to make a difference in the lives of the people he works among. He knows that God is always present, guiding him as he spreads the good news of Jesus’ love.
Our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build churches in India so that believers such as these will have a church in which to worship. Please plan to give liberally on June 28.