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Potomac Member Shares India Mission Trip Memories

Story by Gail Banner
Published 10/30/13

Author Gail Banner, second from the right, and five other members of the Seabrook church, pose in native Indian garb.

After much prayer, fasting, assistance and preparation from our church family, our team of six from Potomac Conference’s Seabrook church in Lanham, Md., left for India to share in an evangelistic series with our sister church in Chennai. 

After a 13-hour flight, Swamidass Johnson, director of Hope Channel India met us at the Chennai International Airport.  He led us through the very crowded airport and parking lot to a bus.  After a prayer of thanksgiving, we were on our way to a house, which would be our home for the next 15 days.  I had never seen streets so crowded with motorbikes, rickshaws, cars, people and cows! 

At the house Raj and his brother Joshua greeted us. They would be our cooks and escorts during our stay.  Raj has his own online preaching ministry and he also works with the blind.  Joshua is a caterer and cooks for conventions and weddings.  They were both wonderful hosts and treated us to lots of delicious vegetarian curries and rice, fruits and thirst-quenching coconut water.

The next morning, our driver arrived to take us to meet Pastor Suresh at Seabrook’s sister church in the village of Arakkonam, 60 miles into the country.  We picked up Pastor Suresh at the bus station. It took three and a half hours of driving on winding, potholed roads and pass tiny shops, men drinking chai, women selling fruits and vegetables spread out on colorful clothes on the ground, rice fields and herds of cows and goats.

Pastor Suresh took us to one of his church member’s house for lunch.  There we met Helen, her father and her adopted son.  Helen would help us with Vacation Bible School during the week and Kumar, who is a musician, assisted with the audio and the music during the church services. 

When we arrived at the church, Pastor Suresh introduced us to the seven Bible workers who tirelessly walked the community praying with and inviting the families to attend the church for the upcoming evangelistic meetings. These ladies shyly but graciously greeted us … and at the church we sat in a circle, had prayer and introduced ourselves. 

As we were leaving the church, several ladies from the neighborhood asked if we would come into their houses to pray for their families.   Laying hands on the heads of these women and their children and praying was a humbling and blessed experience.  And it would happen dozens more times during our stay in Chennai.

The next morning, our driver took us to meet with Pastor Suresh and Pastor Ludisami and the latter’s two church members. He invited us to visit his church in the hills.  We climbed a steep, rocky path, greeting curious onlookers as we climbed. At each humble home, we were greeted with requests for prayer, for health, for wayward husbands, for finances, for education for their children.  One mother cried and asked for prayer for an adult daughter, who had been missing for two days.

We continued to climb until we came to a long rectangular building that Pastor Ludisami unlocked.  It was dark inside with a few plastic chairs, a small wooden podium and a ceiling fan.  This was his church.  He explained to us that they had been meeting rent-free at the property for five years.  But now the son of the owner wanted to sell because it was close to the railroad tracks and he could get a good price.  He asked that we would pray for God’s will to be done in this circumstance.  We joined hands in a circle and prayed and cried out to God, “Thy will be done!”

As we descended the hill, we were invited into the home of one of the church members and we prayed for her son to find a job.  We were offered water and a crisp, savory treat.  At every home, we were always offered water and a biscuit.  No matter how little they had, the people always shared.  They reminded me of the early church in the Bible.

On Friday, Pastor Johnson took us to the English-speaking Seventh-day Adventist Matriculation High School in Kodambakkam, where we would conduct a week of prayer.  There were 1,300 students from pre-kindergarten to 10th grade. (After the 10th grade, students are required to take a government test to enter high school). 

That afternoon Pastor Johnson showed us the studios for the Hope Channel India. He proudly introduced us to the young adults—students of engineering and information technology—who ran the studio so professionally! 

The first Sabbath, we visited Pastor Johnson’s church in Kodambakkam where Wayne Bristol preached in the Tamil speaking church (Johnson interpreted) and I spoke to the English-speaking congregation upstairs.
Overall this mission trip was a wonderful experience. This was Seabrook’s fifth time visiting India. Our team members were thrilled to be a blessing and make a difference, no matter how small, to those who may never have heard of Jesus’ name.

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