Mission to the Diocese of Durgapur, West Bengal, India
By Johnnie Corbett
This is the fifth mission to the Diocese of Durgapur — Festivals of Hope — that my wife, Jean, and I have led from St. Michael’s, Charleston, SC, USA. Our first visit was in February 2013, and we have seen many changes in the growth and outreach of the Diocese.
First, on behalf of our team and our church, I congratulate Bishop Dutta on his election as Deputy Moderator of the Church of North India (CNI) for three years. Then, he will serve as Moderator for three years. I pray for him daily.
I am always amazed at what Bishop Dutta, his staff and clergy have accomplished from one year to the next. The positive impact of growth and development of the Diocese is expressed by the leaders that I have met with. This summer, while Bishop Dutta visited in our home, he projected that the Festivals of Hope crowds would be larger this year, because word was spreading about what Jesus was doing. He was right. People came in the heat and the rain.
Diocesan clergy translated for the team and guided us in our travels. Thanks to gifted Pastors Pande, Naru, and Ray, and Mr. Punuria. Those Pastors understand the word “mission.” Mission plans can change in the twinkling of an eye. Our arrival from Delhi to Kolkata, on Wednesday, was delayed by several hours due to dense smog in Delhi. Pastor Pande and our talented drivers made many time-saving decisions to enable the team to catch the train to Malda. Malda Tourist Bungalow has served as a special place for the team. After a typical Indian supper, team members retired for a good night’s sleep.
Thursday in Kunoor, All Saint’s, Indian Missionary Society. Our hosts were the Rev. and Mrs. Immanuel Paul. We had morning teachings and afternoon Festival. The love and power of the Lord of lords and King of kings was preached to an overflow congregation. The team prayed for all in the healing prayer lines. My heart overflows with the joy of the Lord as I join them in worship.
Friday, we were greeted with music and dance by the talented folks from Baldahura Village. Our teachings, testimonies, preaching — all pointed to the Living Lord Jesus. People stood patiently in prayer lines to receive anointing for healing. Lunch was served in St. Michael’s Safe House.
Saturday morning we arrived at the Diocesan Compound for a two day Children’s Festival of Hope for more than 500 children. Most of the children arrived by van, bus or train. Many of the children had never traveled out of their village. More than 500 children were present every pastorate of the Diocese. Now, that was an awesome weekend filled with music, dance, skits, Bible drills, teachings, laughter, new friends, and Sunday morning worship in the Cathedral.
Monday we ministered in historic St. Paul’s Church, Asansol, a Hindi speaking congregation, pastored by a retired Bishop. Also, Christians from Burnpur, Chittranjan and Adra were in attendance. The choir led beautiful worship.
The KSN Nursing Training School in Sarenga served as home base for the team on Tuesday and Wednesday. I thank God for the ministry of Mrs. Sangrita Gorai, Mr. Pradep Baux and Dr. Bose, who is a Missionary to the KSN Hospital.
Tuesday morning teachings for nursing students and others were held in Grace Chapel located in the hospital compound.
On Wednesday we drove to St. James Church, Kuchlaghati, in the rain. Upon our arrival, we were met with the offering of umbrellas, while many dancers, musicians, paramilitary and welcoming villagers stood in the rain. This was a humbling experience to see the people standing and waiting in the rain for our arrival to their village. The team presented teachings and testimonies to a full church. Several people testified to receiving healing during Wednesday’s Evening Festival. Praise to God the healer. He is our great physician.
Evening Festivals of Hope were held under the big tent on Sarenga Mission Grounds for more than 3,000 Tuesday evening. Then, on Wednesday, even in the pouring rain, more than 4,000 people attended.
Under the leadership of Pastor Pande, the band, choirs and many workers and police protection, my heart was overwhelmed by the commitment and desire of people to share the love of Jesus Christ. Both nights, the speakers proclaimed Jesus as Savior, Lord and Healer. Individual prayer was received by hundreds who asked for blessings and healing of pain, sickness, broken relationships, forgiveness, etc.
For our last evening in India, Ruth Pugh and several of her accomplished student musicians performed an outstanding concert. Bishop and Mrs. Dutta and staff hosted a delicious dinner in the Parish Hall. This was a blessed time of fellowship with those dear people we have come to love and respect in the many hardships they face in teaching, serving, saving, encouraging thousands of people hungry for hope.
I can testify that God’s Holy Spirit is on the move in the Diocese of Durgapur — and that is where I want to be involved. My heart is full of gratitude for the Lord calling us to India. Romans 1:16 says it for me, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentiles.” I believe this with my whole heart.