A letter from Gary Schwammlein, WCA Executive Vice President, International Ministries
As I continue my journey through India, let me share with you what I have experienced since I left Mumbai. Out next stop was Kolkata, or as it used to be called, Calcutta. Coming in from the airport I thought I was in China or Dubai because of the endless construction going on and buildings going up everywhere. India is one of the BRIC countries where economic growth is strong and it is certainly apparent on the road from the airport to the city.
However, it does not take long to be made aware of the huge needs this country is facing. We met with Compassion International (CI) staff and witnessed once again the tremendous work they are doing. I heard many heartbreaking stories about families and children that face incredible odds to ever escape the cycle of poverty, and how through child sponsorship their lives are dramatically changed for the better. I, for one, am so deeply grateful that God led our family many years ago to support several children who are helped by CI.
Our next stop was a church in the heart of Kolkata that is such a perfect example of a church working right. Not only do they have a hospital with several hundred beds and a school for 3,000 pupils, they also feed 10,000 children one nutritious meal a day, every day.
Think about it – 10,000 meals a day provided by one church that is not well off by any standard.
They are truly living out the gospel, and do many other things to help spread the gospel and make a difference in a city where less than 1% of the population are Christians. The pastor of this church also pledged his unequivocal support for the GLS and will do everything he can to make it happen, and in a way that will impact this city. He assured us he will make all the resources of the church available because he considers the GLS so important for the churches in this city.
We then stopped in the city of Chennai and met with a group representing most of the key pastors in this city. One of the highlights for me was to have Pranitha Timothy, a speaker at last year’s GLS, attend our GLS planning meeting. What a joy to meet this brave woman and to hear more about the ministry of IJM.
Sunday morning reminded me once again of the incredible beauty of a church when it’s working right. The church I attended, among other things, looks after 80 widows who have been abandoned by their families after their husbands died. I can’t tell you the anger that welled up in me when I heard a story of a son who kicked out his mother from the home that she and her deceased husband had built, and that he, through deception, had taken ownership of. Many of the women there asked me to pray for them, and I was glad to oblige and commit them into the loving care of Jesus.
In Chennai as well, the committee voted to host the GLS later this year. In closing, one more brief report from the neighboring country of Pakistan. 310 people attended the GLS in Lahore in late April, a city where only a few months earlier an angry mob burned down over 130 homes of Christians in a Christian enclave in that city. The GLS was an amazing experience in many ways, as this short report shows: The GLS provided an opportunity to the Leaders of Punjab Province to experience the Holy Spirit move in their unity…they say it was never experienced before, some testified that they have never ever sat with other denomination leaders, GLS-Lahore created an atmosphere for National Heads of different Missions and Organizations and Christian Secular Professionals to sit together for 2 days and experience God’s Special blessings.
Thank you Lord for allowing your Church to prevail, even in the midst of great persecution, opposition and poverty. And thank you for allowing us to be a part of it through the teachings offered through the GLS.
My next stops are Hyderabad, Goa and Bangalore, before heading to Myanmar.
Gary Schwammlein will be traveling for the next 4-5 weeks working with leaders around the world. Please be praying with our team for safe travels, intentional conversation, divine appointment, and for world leaders will capture the vision for the GLS in their country.