India

Home / World Updates / Asia / India 2013

Dan Brooks and I are in Southern India – we’re talking deep south – about an hour’s drive from the southernmost tip of mainland. We arrived at about 5:00 in the morning on Wednesday and started the first day of training at 10:00 (India time in the words of Pastor Sheen – which means closer to 11). Needless to say, we both really struggled to stay awake that day. So, by mutual consent, we basically took turns sitting in the back and dozing while the other one spoke! Speaking of India time, we are 9 ½ hours ahead of EST in the States. I still haven’t figured out how that works, but the whole country is ½ an hour different from the international clock.

Pastor Sheen Russell is our host. A bit of history is in order. In 2001, Kelly and I helped Matthew Thomas launch a camping program. Sheen attended that first camp as a camper and later assisted as a staff member. He later went on to attend Bible college and seminary where he met his wife. Later, when he launched out into church planting, he took a burden for camping with him and in 2006, CampsAbroad sent Steve Stodola and Todd Sasek to help him launch his own camping ministry in the area of Trivandum in Kerala. Ever since that time, Sheen has continued holding camps based on The Wilds’ philosophy of ministry and they have seen many young people trust Christ as Savior over the years.

That brings us up to 2013. We are staying in Pastor Sheen’s home and have really enjoyed getting to know him and his wonderful family. Training is being held at a college that was built without having a permit for a college – as a result it has sat dormant for several years. We were also planning on holding camp there this year – until the owner recently decided not to let us play games outside with the kids and not to allow the campers to stay overnight! (That came about this past week.) That sent Sheen scrambling for another option and on Wednesday afternoon, the Lord provided an even better campsite – one that actually has a field outside for games. Granted, it doesn’t have electricity or water, but we can work with that.

The training went well – we were able to meet with most of the staff for three days – from 9 in the morning until about 9 at night. The counselors are mostly Bible college students and pastors. I’m afraid Dan and I are having a hard time with names on this trip, but they really seem to be sincere in their faith and ready to jump into camp.

The camp is scheduled to begin Monday and go through Friday. We are expecting around 100 campers, some of them unsaved. Please pray that the Lord does a great work in their lives through his Word!

Report by Matt Collier


 

Sunday allowed us to speak in different churches. It is always a privilege and a blessing to be a part of local church services around the world. In the afternoon, one of the camp staff asked us to his house for tea. It is always humbling and usually embarrassing how they treat us, the ‘foreigners.’ Sheen said we are probably the first foreigners to have ever gone to that village. We prayed with him for his parents who go to a “Christian” church that mixes idol worship with a little bit of the Bible.

Many of you heard about my stomach struggles. It was on the way to their house that I started not feeling right. I am not sure where I got something but it got me good. I only showed up on the first day of camp to set up Airball and then I thought it best for me to go back to Sheen’s house and lay low. I was comfortable leaving the camp in Matt’s hands.  I have felt great all day today which is Tuesday, the first full day of camp. Thanks for your prayers.

Matt said the start of camp was a little slow as it often is but we were very surprised at how few girls showed up. We have about 50 boys and only 6 girls. Sheen thinks it is due to the move. We have a better campsite but it is in a rougher section of town. We asked one of the neighborhood boys who his father was and he said ‘Thief Benoi.’ Sheen confirmed it. I guess he has earned the title. Therefore, parents did not feel comfortable sending their girls to this location. Sheen knows many of the people in this area and does not feel like there is a problem for us but he can understand the parents being hesitant.

The first full day has been a good one. The games have been very well received but one team keeps winning everything. They like the freetime games we brought but the game of choice is Cricket! They love their Cricket. Matt said he has never seen a group so passionate about one sport. We have a good field for them to play on.

The report is that 95% are unsaved and after two evening messages on Salvation we have not had any movement yet. They are listening well and have a good spirit but just no outward decisions yet. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Report by Dan Brooks


 

Well, we just finished camp this morning (Friday) and met with Sheen, the director for most of the afternoon / evening. Dan and I are doing some packing as well as trying to get a quick email out. We leave tomorrow morning (Saturday) early to catch a flight to Dubai. In our last update, Dan mentioned that we were meeting a lot of resistance from the kids. And that remained true throughout the week. They had a great time with the competition all week long, but there was little doubt that we were engaged in a spiritual war. Sheen said that out of all the camps he had done for the past 10 years, he has encountered more obstacles during this one than ever before. I believe we mentioned that right before camp he found out that the owner of the property would not allow us to play games outside or for kids to stay overnight – so that sent us scrambling. The Lord provided another place for camp – an abandoned training center. But what we didn’t know before is that it is located in the middle of one of the toughest parts of this region: drugs, alcohol, prostitution – you name it. That explains the fact that we had so few girl campers this year – usually the girls outnumber the guys by far, but I can’t blame the parents for not allowing them to come to this camp!

We also saw the hardness reflected in the boys. They were very worldly wise and hardened even at a young age. We heard some terrible stories – one camper witnessed his mother being burned to death by his father when he was very young. Most of them were from broken homes. They reflected their environment. We see now why the Lord limited our camper numbers this year! Even though they were hard, they really listened well to the preaching with a few exceptions. The second night, I preached a straight salvation message on the crucifixion account and there was zero response to the invitation. But the next day, 4 or 5 young men trusted Christ as Savior that evening during cabin devotions – they were listening! The counselors really seemed to take the challenge to engage them personally about salvation during the day as well. Sheen estimated that the vast majority of them were decidedly lost.

Wednesday morning, we saw four more trust Christ – then another breakthrough happened that evening. After another salvation message, 10 young men stayed behind to talk to counselors and they all got saved. The following morning, at least 5 more trusted Christ as well during counselor group time! The counselors were very excited during our morning meeting. All told, we received 28 decision slips for salvation – quite a high percentage of the campers who attended. But there were also quite a few who remained stubbornly committed to being lost when I drew the line on Thursday night, so we know they understood.

I don’t want you to get the idea that everything was easy and smooth. We had a major difficulty with water. The entire state of Kerela is in a water shortage, but it is really tough to get enough water for a group of people. After deliveries on the first and second day of camp, we just were not able to get anyone else to fill the three 500 liter tanks. They had to haul water by hand in barrels. Let’s just say that the hygiene was rather lacking. This caused us to end camp about half a day early. We also had some struggles with some of the counselors and one of them never was willing to get right with the Lord or the campers. Still, the Lord worked in spite of all the difficulties. After all was said and done, I wonder if the Lord moved the camp to allow us to focus on those needy young people. Maybe God will use one of them to be a pastor or an evangelist in India!

Report by Matt Collier


Back to Top / Back to Updates

(864)761-4141