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Incense in Heaven

Rich and Jo Ann Davis on May 8, 2006

Starting Churches Under the Mango Trees Starting Churches Under the Mango Trees

NOTE: See the 4 new albums in the Photo Gallery!

India is a melting pot of eastern religions. It seems that many of these groups use incense for one reason or another, however the Scriptures also mention incense in the highest heaven. John says that . . .

" . . . twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls ful of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." (Rev 5:8)

Church Planters Launch into 14 Villages

The emotion of seeing 14 new church plants started in India is exhilarating. Jo Ann and I have been working on Phase 1 - the foundation of this church planting project and now we are ready for Phase 2 - to take the opening step into the villages which we are praying will result in the first of many new churches.

How can we possibly emphasize adequately the seriousness of our request for prayer? Perhaps we could begin by telling you the story we heard from one of our students last week.

Where Opposition Abounds


David came to me after we closed our weekly classes asking for special prayer. In the village where he will be planting a church there is a Christian family who has been ostracized and cast out of the village. The Hindu leader of the village was greatly agitated that this family would no longer worship the idols in the village. This meant that his personal income from Hindu festivals during the year would be lessened and he could not allow such a thing. We are witnessing the very same phenomena that the Apostle Paul met in Ephesus when Demetrius caused the city to rise in an uproar over the threat to the income from making ?silver shrines of Diana.? (Acts 19:23-41).

The family is ignored by all their neighbors and no one will buy or sell to them. They are no longer allowed to participate in village meetings nor vote in business meetings. The family is considered dead to the village.

Can you imagine trying to win other families to Christ in this setting? Who would be willing to expose their family to this kind of treatment? The wickedness of the system in the villages is almost beyond belief for the western mind. We will exercise constraint by refraining from being more explicit with further examples.

Grace Abounds Much More

We are at a stage now that requires the most valuable contribution you could possibly make in the success of this infant church planting project. We are not talking about financial contributions, but rather a spiritual contribution that means much more than anything material.

The prayers of God?s people are the only source of power that the church planters will have other than the Gospel which they carry into these villages (Rom 1:16) and the Spirit of God residing in them. We need the grace of God to go before these courageous men and also hold them up as they boldly step into the the enemy's territory.

Phase 2 (Winning the Lost) Ready to Begin

During the week of May 8 to 13 the church planters that we are training will be doing Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) in the villages that have been researched and targeted in Phase 1 for the first evangelistic thrust toward starting new churches. This outreach must be supported by sincere and fervent prayer if we hope to see the doors open to the gospel and a new church in each village.

A new photo album has just been prepared in the Photo Gallery with pictures of the DVBS going on in the local church where the School of Missions is located in Chennai. We hope you enjoy the colorful and rustic setting for DVBS in this part of the world. By the way, if you place your cursor anywhere over the picture while viewing a "slideshow" in the Photo Gallery, you can read the descriptions of each photo as it scrolls down from the top of the frame.

In the two weeks following the DVBS outreach, the School of Missions (SOM) church planting teams will seek to start at least 2 cell groups in each village. If this works out in practice as it does on paper, there will be 28 cell groups beginning in 14 villages!

Powerful Potential

Our strategy calls for cell groups to multiply in each village until there are approximately 8 -10 cell groups meeting in each location. The size of each cell group should be 10 - 15 adults. It is hard to estimate when we will reach the goal for the number of cell groups in each village as every situation will be unique. However, we are striving to see if that goal could be reached by November or December of this year (2006).

This means that in the next 7 or 8 months we are praying for a minimum of 112 cell groups with a total attendance of over 1,000 adults in all the villages. If you do the math on the maximum projection of 10 cell groups in each of the 14 villages using the high number of 15 per group, the numbers get even more interesting!

Once the number of cell groups in each village reaches the target, there will be enough believers to officially organize in each village and begin meeting as local churches with regular Sunday services. These services may be held under a mango tree or a rented hall, but the building is not the primary concern. The body of Christ will be there with or without a building.

In the School of Missions we are emphasizing evangelism and multiplication which leads to the continual planting of new churches. Yes, we are striving to develop in the students a basic knowledge of the Scriptures along with solid Bible doctrine. We are also teaching leadership skills and good methodology in church planting. But the heart of the project is outreach and continual church planting.

Putting it All Together

Once the cell groups have begun we will bring all the church planters from both locations to Chennai to attend a very exciting one week Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI) seminar. This seminar will run from May 28 to June 3 and will be taught by well prepared Indian church planters from Bangalore who have adapted this material and made it appropriate for the local situation. Although Jo Ann and I have taken the seminar in the states, we are thrilled to have men teaching this material who have developed the best way to use the church planting concepts in the culture of southern India.

At the bottom of this page you will find 2 Word documents with tables that are available to download with the teams and their pictures from each SOM location along with the villages where they will be launching the DVBS ministry and the cell groups to follow.  Also, the pictures of each team is featured in the Photo Gallery in the four new albums we just added. You can put the names with the faces and hopefully remember to pray for these Indian church planters.

We are asking that each of you or groups within your church download the documents below, choose 1 or 2 teams and pray faithfully for them. By God?s grace, the Holy Spirit will cause the distribution of prayer in such a way that each team is prayed for faithfully and continually over the next several months and you will be a vital part of a new church plant in India! Someday in heaven you will meet those who have come to Christ as a result of this concerted effort.

Our task is not even half finished in the SOM here in India. The majority of our training is yet to come, but we are at a milestone in the church planting project and wanted to ask you to put an even greater effort in prayer from this point forward. We will be telling you much more about our training and progress in the weeks to come.

Please join us in filling heaven with the incense of our prayers. The Lord is waiting to hear from each of us as we participate in the Great Commission in a powerful way. Believe me, your prayers are needed and will be felt in India! Click here and check out the "Quick Prayer and Praise" page.