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Potomac Pastors Minister in India, Thousands Baptized
Story by Taashi Rowe
“One lady we baptized was 92 years old—about 4’ 6”—she couldn’t wait to get into the water to be baptized. Her 75-year-old son walked her into the water. The baptisms were held at the river, water buffalo below us being scrubbed, a dead one on the bank across from us, other interesting things floating by, but it didn't bother the locals—they were eager to be baptized.”
This is what Bill Miller, president of the Potomac Conference, reported after he helped to baptize 3,943 people in India in one day. He, along with four other Potomac pastors and two lay members from Washington state, ministered in 50 villages near Vijayawada, India this fall.
The pastors included Paulasir Abraham of the Southern Asia church in Silver Spring, Md.; Vincent McIsaac of the Arlington and Fairfax (Va.) churches, Mike Hewitt of the Lynchburg and Appomattox (Va.) churches and Mark Sigue, newly appointed youth pastor at Chesapeake Conference’s Frederick (Md.) church.
Now retired but still passionate about the mission field in India, Ron Watts, former president of the Southern Asia Division, invited Potomac Conference pastors to embark on this mission trip to India. Other pastors and Bible workers went ahead of the Potomac pastors to study with the villagers. According to local customs, before entering a village, strangers must sleep outside of that village on the ground before the elders would grant them permission to preach.
The Potomac pastors visited with villagers during the days and preached at night. They were amazed to see any where from 450 to 1,500 people attend the meetings each night. Hungry for the gospel, people came on foot, on bikes and rickshaws. One local pastor, who has 60 congregations, said, “I’ve been studying the doctrines and I want to know what I can do to become a Seventh-day Adventist.”
At the end of their time in India, a total of 7,851 people had been baptized. Abraham, a native of India’s Tamil Nadu state, said he had never before seen such a tremendous response.
Upon reflecting on his own experience there, Miller said, “This has got to be a God thing. I saw Pentecost happen again with my eyes. God has forever changed those places.”
Though Potomac’s pastors have left India, their newly baptized brothers remain in their hearts and prayers. They’ve left behind some 50 workers who will nourish the new members for the next five years. Maranatha Volunteers International is already working to build them churches.
Miller notes that with the massive need for ministers to preach the gospel in India, every church and conference in the United States could make a significant difference. In fact, he is encouraging other churches and conferences to go to India. Still he says after going to India, there is a renewed “urgency for us to be missionaries in our own culture.”
Abraham agrees. “I feel that even Maryland is a mission field,” he said. “There are people here who do not know Jesus. The responses may not be great but you can do the work here too. Going there has strengthened me to open more doors here.”
Click here to read the testimonies of the new Seventh-day Adventists in India.