The tenth ABC (Annual Bible Convention) — previously called the ATTI (Annual Theological Training Initiative) — was held at Banga in Punjab, India, from 27-29 November 2014.
One of the struggles for many believers in the Punjab concerns understanding teaching about the Trinity. Hence the theme of this year’s conference was ‘Relationships: in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27).
Between 150 and 200 people gathered each day. They came from various parts of the Punjab, some travelling considerable distances.
Dr Gareth Crossley took three sessions each day, dealing with the relationships between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and their application to human relationships in the church, home and community.
The concluding session was devoted to questions and answers, which indicated the interest expressed in the subject. Many books and Bibles were distributed to help those who want to have a clearer grasp of biblical truth.
At the close of the convention, Roop Chopra and Dr Crossley left the Punjab, travelling on to Delhi to preach at a Brethren assembly on the Lord’s Day.
The following day they flew on to Hyderabad. A four hour car journey brought them to Siddipet, Telangana (a new, 29th state in South India next to Andhra Pradesh, and sharing the city of Hyderabad as capital for the next 10 years).
From 1-5 December, 75 ministers from all over Telangana gathered for theological training. Twenty sessions were comprised of five devotional sessions taken by Roop Chopra and 15 studies from the Gospel of John presented by Dr Crossley.
The ministers gather for four days each month over a two year period as part of their theological training as ministers of the gospel. This initiative stems from the work of Pastor Prakash, who began ministry 30 years ago.
Raised in a Christian home Pastor Prakash began preaching shortly after conversion. The Lord has greatly blessed his labours. The central church at Siddipet consists of 300 people. Each time the congregation reaches 350, a group of 30-50 members are sent to a spiritually barren area to seek to plant a new church.
By this method 23 new churches have been planted in the immediate district and a total of about 80 churches throughout the state.
The total number of believers involved in this work is about 3000. They are not affiliated to any denomination and simply call themselves ‘Bible-believing Christians’. The Scriptures are their final authority for faith and practice.
The theological training is headed by a brother called Swami. He has been nicknamed ‘the walking encyclopaedia’ because of his amazing memory.
Pastor Prakash has a burden to reach out to the spiritually barren areas of Telangana. One such area is Koutala, Adilabad. The churches have purchased a large plot of land there and begun construction of a day school, a 25-bed hospital and a hostel for staff. No other adequate medical facilities are available within a 20-mile radius.
All the main workers involved in the project, from architect and civil engineer to bricklayers and labourers, are believers in one of the congregations, or closely connected with them. The goal is to reach the surrounding community with the gospel through this practical expression of Christian love.
On the final day of their visit, Roop visited this project at Adilabad, while Dr Crossley preached twice to one of the congregations at Karimnagar.
In a land where tradition tends to have a greater hold than biblical principles, it was refreshing to meet such a large group of ministers with a strong passion to understand the Scriptures and to live by them in community, church and home.