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Hilldale United Methodist to host pastors from India

This Friday and Saturday, October 27th and 28th, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on both evenings, Hilldale United Methodist Church in Lewisport will have a Revival and will be hosting 2 pastors from India, Vivek Bethu and his son Presanth Bethu. They will be sharing their testimony and ministry, and the persecution they’ve endured in India.

They will be leading both services, and testifying of God’s power in overcoming persecution as they spread the Gospel of Christ in a culture focused on Hindu gods and practices. Presanth attended Asberry Theological Seminary with the pastor of Hilldale Methodist, John Hall, as well as with John’s wife, Tara, who is also a minister.

Pastor Hall said these 2 pastors have become a major part of his life. “We’ve been working together for 4 or 5 years now,” he said. “I encourage everybody to come. They’re going to explain what it has been like spreading the Word of Christ under extremely difficult circumstances.”

Words from Pastor Presanth Bethu

“Pastor John Hall has visited us in India,” Presanth said. “I went to Asberry Seminary and that’s where I met him. He was inspired and had very clear guidance from God to come to India. He has seen what’s happening in India, and was praying for a long time to have a same kind of Spirit-filled experience for people in America because God is moving mightily in India in different ways, and he wants his church to experience that.”

How his Grandmother Turned to Christ

“We lived in a place called Mangalagiri, it’s a southeastern state of India called Andhra Pradesh,” he said. “My grandmother, Lakshmi, heard about Christ and she started worshipping Jesus, and there were no churches. It was a random businessmen who was passing by and shared about Christ while selling goods. She heard about Christ and felt the Spirit of the Lord with her and she quit worshipping idols and started praying to Jesus.

This made my grandfather and the rest of the family mad. They starting abusing her really badly. She took those beatings for 18 years. She took abuse from my grandfather and his mother because in Indian culture, we live in joint families – mother-in-law and father-in-law, etc., everybody lives together. She took beatings, I spoke to her many times, and she said except for her tongue, the rest of the body she got beatings from her husband but she never gave up.

She couldn’t read or write, so she didn’t have a Bible and literally no guidance from a church or anything. All she had was the Holy Spirit that was connecting her very strongly that – He is the only God, and He is going to take care of everything. She took beatings for many years. She suffered, but never gave up.

She had 5 sons and 2 daughters, a total of 7. She was praying and her prayer was only 2 points, one was: “Lord, you’ll be the God of our family.” And, “Lord, let my kids come to you.” That is how she prayed for 18 years, and after those long years of prayer my father, Vivek, who is number 3 out of 7, and all of her sons and daughters came to Christ. Finally, her husband also came to Christ. He passed away and we had a Christian funeral for him.

She went to be with the Lord in August of 2019. We learned so much from her because she prayed every morning for a few hours, not a few seconds. Today, for people, praying is a waste of time. She was a woman of prayer. She got up early morning at 4:00 or 4:30 and was in prayer until around 7 a.m. The day she passed, she was in prayer and she unlocked her door and was in her room. She put her head covering on that morning, and she was in prayer and didn’t come out. It was 8:13 a.m., so the rest of the family were confused and went in and they asked, ‘Mom, are you still praying?’ There was no sound. She was on her knees, and they went close and they touched her, and she fell and then they realized she had passed while praying.”

Their Ministry in India

“That inspired us so much,” Presanth said, “that there is no better exit from this world. We had such a wonderful memory, and in between this my parents, Vivek & Raji, were the first people who came to Christ with my grandmother’s prayer. My grandfather and rest of the family were opposing at that time. So when my parents said, ‘We want to go this way’, everybody said, ‘If you leave the house now, you will never have connections.’ But, the One who called my parents into ministry is bigger than anything. We moved out of the house and God gave us a specific vision, and a place to go where we didn’t know anybody.

India has a lot of cultures and languages. We had to learn a different kind of culture, everything. We had no financial support. My mom and dad were not fasting, but had no food for at least 15 days in a month. That’s how they started the ministry. My dad used to preach and my mom used to be the congregation only person. We were kids, myself and my sister, Parimala.

That’s how they started, but right now we are one of the fastest growing churches in the town with a congregation of about 1,000-1,200. The church is growing faster and faster. We are so burdened and our vision is to reach out to the people who have never heard about the Gospel. Out of the congregation, 90 percent are first generation Christians. Another interesting thing about our church is 75 percent of our congregation is below 35-years-old.

The church was founded in 1989. We went through multiple phases. Initially, we didn’t have church. We were meeting in schools and then someone rented a building which was abandoned and we were there for more than 15 years. We then bought a small piece of property where we had a temporary building. We had improved and we have a little church, and we were growing so much that we couldn’t accommodate everyone in a single service so we were doing multiple services.

The first service starts 6 a.m., then 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and then in the evening we have some English speaking people coming into this area, so we are focusing on non-native language speaking people and we have another service for them starting at 6 p.m. In order to accommodate more people, we are now in the process of building a new church that’s almost on 1-acre of land. The other church is 2,000-square feet. Now we are building a church that will be close to 20,000-square feet.”

Revival at Hilldale Methodist

At the Revival this weekend, Presanth said his father, Vivek, will be speaking on Friday. Pastor Vivek Bethu doesn’t speak much English, so Presanth said he will be translating. On the second day, Presanth will be doing the whole sermon. “I definitely want to thank the people of this country,” Presanth said. “I lived in this country for about 3 to 4 years. Coming back, I can see the country moving away from God. That’s not what God wants us to be doing. There is so much evil that is happening, with the change in so many things. It’s not a good time. We need to get back to our knees and come to the Lord.

I’ve been traveling a little bit and I was so surprised and heartbroken to see, because back in India we have the spiritual warfare with so much idol worship and temples everywhere, and coming back to this country and seeing churches are being sold to people and the people are turning those churches into Hindu Temples. That is the saddest part to see, especially in this country that was founded with a Biblical principle. It’s surprising to see a lot of people don’t think a bit about churches being turned into temples. It really breaks my heart – seeing temples growing much faster than churches in America. That’s what someone told me, that there are more than 2,000 Hindu Temples in this country now.”

Hilldale United Methodist Church is located at 750 Hilldale Road in Lewisport. If you have doubts, disappointments, agnostic thoughts, guilt or disappointment from life, you are invited and encouraged to attend this special revival on Friday and Saturday evening. There will be food and fellowship after each service, and all are invited to attend. Regular Sunday morning services are from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

By Jennifer Wimmer

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