Drought is gripping 17 of the 39 districts in the Indian state of Bihar. In many of Bihar’s 45,000 villages the only water source is a deep water well bored by Transformation India Movement, a Christian ministry led by Biju Thomas and supported by many North Carolina Baptist churches.
Thomas, a regular speaker in recent NC Baptist Men’s annual NC Missions Conference, said villagers blessed with TIM wells, say, “Yeshu Baba” (Lord Jesus) bore wells are working.”
Wells dug in Jesus’ name and that declare Jesus as the Living Water provide an entry point for church planters trained by TIM. Times of drought demonstrate the perilously thin margin between survival and catastrophe to many millions of villagers.
In one village, Rajput’s, or higher caste people, opposed drilling a well to which poor people would have access. Now Rajput’s wells are dry and they are glad to use water from TIM bore wells, wherever they are dug.
Thomas reported in his most recent newsletter that 19 wells were dug in April. Well drilling was temporarily suspended when the TIM well drilling truck was confiscated by police to transport police and election personnel. It was only released after “much request and prayer,” Thomas said.
To North Carolina Baptists, Thomas said, “The wells you sponsored are life giving as well as a great relief in high temperatures for villagers in Bihar.”
The well drilling success has created demand for more wells, which is the cycle Thomas was anticipating and hoping for, because each well is a key to open the door to a village or the gospel.
Other TIM Ministries Changing Lives
More than 150 women are training at seven sewing centers offered by TIM.
Gaining the skill to sew offers these women an economic opportunity they would not normally have. It makes them more attractive as a potential spouse, and they have gained the currency to begin their own business.
Several students have received Christ as savior while they were in training, reported Thomas.
Typically, each graduate receives a sewing machine just like the one on which they trained. TIM currently does not have the funds to provide the machines to all graduates, which cost $100 each. They are foot powered machines so they can operate anywhere.
To buy a machine for a sewing school graduate, send your gift designated “sewing machine” to NC Baptist Men, 205 Convention Drive, Cary, NC 27511.
50 baptized in April
Fifty new believers were baptized in April, most from a Hindu background, Thomas said.
They could not be baptized in a river as is the custom because drought has dried up area rivers.
Many new believers endure threats and excommunication from their families as a result of a public stance for Jesus. Ajit Kumar Singh, who is from a high caste, was excommunicated from family for his faith in Christ.
He is staying in a coaching center and his situation is similar to others who are told, “If you go to church or any Christian prayer meetings, we will not attend your marriage or social functions.”
Thousands curious about Easter message
TIM church planters found positive response as they organized Easter meetings in villages and shared about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“Many people were convinced of their sins and received Christ,” Thomas said. As many as 2,000 heard the message in one field, many of them for the first time.
TIM church planters are witnessing to villages that have never had a Christian outreach. Church planters peddle their bicycles many miles to share the gospel, Thomas said. They are getting prayer meetings started among several previously unreached groups.
Some 50 children have gained admission to public schools because of training at TIM literacy centers in past months. Students leave the literacy centers prepared for school and having heard the message of Jesus.
Thomas is planning two-day discipleship training events for new believers – 50 at a time – and would like to conduct 60 such training camps. Cost is about $150 each.
Training and encouragement is very important for new Christian believers in a hostile environment. It can be discouraging when families and communities disown them.
Hindu priest converts
One recent convert is Kashinath, formerly a Hindu priest. He used to conduct prayers and rituals for other people but his own life and family was a mess, Thomas said.
He had no peace and evils spirits tormented his wife. He found no relief in more intensive Hindu worship.
One day a TIM church planter visited his village and shared the gospel with him. He received Christ, as did his entire family.
Today, Kashinath is a Christian priest, traveling to villages and sharing his new life in Christ.
“Praise God for the transformation the gospel can bring in a person’s life,” Thomas said.
To support the work of Transformation India Movement, send your gift designated TIM to NC Baptist Men, 205 Convention Drive, Cary, NC 27511.
TIM currently operates out of 5 rented buildings, including an orphanage and training and sewing centers. Its largest need is to build a facility in which it can consolidate its ministries on land it already owns.
The most efficient design on the precious land calls for five floors, at a cost of $100,000 per floor. Thomas is praying for donors for that project.