Rural Coastal Andhra is mostly made up of fishing villages. These villages have been hit again and again with tragedy over the years. The 2004 Tsunami pretty much destroyed the entire coast line. It took about 10 years for most communities to recover. And then they were hit again by another disaster – Cyclone Hudhud. This took its toll on an already vulnerable community. Things still aren’t easy. Fish stocks are at an all-time low, while the price of fish has drastically reduced. Many boats have had to push further and further out to sea to get a catch big enough to survive. This has led to higher death rates in an already hazardous occupation. It is fair to say that life is tough for this community. And most people here don’t have time for God.
We know that Jesus loves fisherman. It was by the Sea of Galilee that our Lord first called Andrew and Simon to become fishers of men. And we believe that he is doing the same today all the way down the coast of Coastal Andhra.
Here, among the rough, tough fishermen of India, very few people know Christ. Yet among them there are a few who do. And they feel called to bring the gospel of salvation to others in their communities.
These are people like Sanyasi Rao (above, second from left). Sanyasi is a man with a passion for God. He was initially an oil-rigger. As a man with a tough, dangerous job, he had little time for thoughts about God and religion. But one day his daughter became ill. She quickly deteriorated, and soon the doctors came to him with the news that she was going to die. Distraught, he called out to God for healing, and God answered his prayers – saving his little one. Filled with thanksgiving, he committed the rest of his life to serving God. He has now started a house church and is bringing the gospel to the fishing communities up and down the coastline in Andhra.
But Sanyasi, and the other missionaries like him, have little understanding of the bible and no access to training. They can bring the basics of the gospel to the communities they reach, but they cannot go beyond this. They cannot build and mentor disciples, they cannot really help Christians grow in their faith – which is of such vital importance! Without mentoring and discipleship, Christians will never grow beyond the very basics of their faith.
This is why we are beginning training in this region. So we can equip these frontline missionaries and church leaders to build disciples among the fishermen. Just like Jesus did with Andrew and Simon.
Please pray for us as we start out in this venture:
1. Pray for wisdom as we begin to recruit faithful and reliable leaders to train and equip. Pray that we find the right ones, and that God will use them to build His Kingdom.
2. Pray for Suauasi and his church, that God will bring many people to Himself through his faithful service.
3. Pray for the fishing community in Coastal Andhra – pray for safety and prosperity. Pray that God will bring them to Himself.