Members of Tumbulgum Seventh-day Adventist Church (North New South Wales) have been reaching out to communities in India by conducting annual evangelistic seminars and supporting widows through funds raised at their Tweed Valley op shop.
The ministry is led by church elder Robert Meyers, who has been returning to India annually for 20 years to hold evangelistic seminars in Kanataka’s capital, Bangalore, and its remote villages in the Bidar and Bijapur districts.
As a result, hundreds of Adventist ministers have received training and revival, and many non-Adventist ministers and laypeople have been baptised.
“We’ve baptised about 8000 people [since we began the ministry],” said Mr Meyers. “The Lord has allowed us to be very successful since Pastor David Lamb and I started visiting Karnataka 20 years back.”
Since then, Pastor Lamb has ceased visiting India on health grounds, but that hasn’t stopped Mr Meyers thanks to the assistance of Pastor Daniel Padmaraj from the Southern Asia Division (SAD), who for the past decade has done most of the planning and scheduling for visitations and evangelistic programs.
The most recent evangelistic seminar was held at the Bangalore Seventh-day Adventist Junior College auditorium from October 8-31, 2019, on the topic of Revelation.
Pastor Johnson Jacob Thadi, ministerial director of the Southern Asia Division, was joined by South-Central India Union president Pastor Suresh Daniel Siddaiah and Bangalore Metro Conference president Joseph Mahadev to conduct the opening ceremony.
Each night, meetings began with prayers, a song service and a Q&A session, followed by the Revelation seminar by Mr Meyers—who was assisted by Tumbulgum elder Allyn Barden—and a supper after the program.
More than 80 Adventist pastors partnered with 80 non-Adventist pastors to attend the 24-day program.
“Each Adventist pastor that was invited to come along was asked to bring a pastor of a different denomination,” said Mr Meyers. “I thought, why not invite independent pastors and support them throughout the program? Many of them came along for all 24 programs.”
Over the three weeks, many attendees gave their personal testimonies and shared what they’d learned from the book of Revelation, including the importance of the Sabbath.
“They were up there on stage, crying and saying that for 10, 25, 40 years they’d been trying to understand Daniel and Revelation . . . [and that] they now understood it and are going to teach their congregations.” Mr Meyers explained.
Mr Meyers and Mr Barden also visited the homes and churches of many independent pastors to preach in their churches on Sundays and share teachings from the gospel and Revelation.
“Some came to my hotel room, asking how they could tell their congregations that Saturday was the true day of worship. So I spoke to them and ran them through it,” Mr Meyers added.
A graduation was held at the end of the seminar series, with certificates issued to all regular attendees.
On the final night, Elder Selvaraj, a non-Adventist attendee, asked that he and his wife be baptised into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Three other independent pastors also made the same commitment, along with their congregations.
Currently, follow-up visitations and Bible studies are being conducted for seminar attendees.
“Our focus has been on running evangelistic meetings in rural areas for villages,” said Mr Meyers, “but we also have a ministry for widows and poor people in the villages.”
Eileen, the retired South-Central India Union women’s ministries director and wife of Pastor Padmaraj, has been helping to facilitate Tumbulgum’s outreach to disadvantaged women in Kanataka.
“We buy goats and sewing machines and set [the women] up in little businesses so they can support themselves,” explained Mr Meyers. “We also support underprivileged children and help them go to school, and pay medical expenses.”
This outreach to women is made possible by members of Tumbulgum church who volunteer in the local Tweed Valley Op Shop. Collectively managed by Tumbulgum, Kingscliff, Murwillumbah, Bray Park and The Vine churches, Tumbulgum submits an application to the op shop each year to make a financial allowance for the project.