The Conference

For a one word summary, I guess “wow” would do …  We had the most incredible day at the Pastors & Leaders Conference hosted by our partner pastor in India, Sanjay Charan.  When all the ladies in the hall left early for lunch, I counted about 60 men present, and there were more women than men, so attendance totalled more than 130 in all.  These are pastors, house church leaders, and their wives, many of them new in the ministry and some of them not very old in the Lord.  It was a great opportunity to share things that can help shape their ministries for years to come, and encourage the spread of the gospel in India.

We began and ended with worship times, and they did NOT hold back!  We participated in some of the most spirited worship you could imagine.  We came to “teach” them some things — but they have a lot to teach us, too, and fervent worship would be one of them.  It was kind of humorous how the worship times would begin, however.  I don’t know if it was purposeful or not, but the worship leader would go up on the platform with his guitar, say something and begin singing.  Soon another person or two from the praise team would come up and join him, then someone would come up and begin playing an instrument — until by the END of the first song, the whole contingent was up there.  Not quite sure what was going on there …

As for the preaching, I began with a message from I Timothy 4, “Pay close attention to yourself, and to your teaching.”  It was a simple two-point message, the first being that ministry begins with who you ARE; you must BE the man of God — make sure you are a genuine believer, make sure you are growing spiritually, and avoid the temptations that derail ministers.  Then pay close attention to your teaching: preach the word of God, not your own ideas or popular opinion.  Bro. James preached what was a VERY timely message on being filled with the Spirit from Ephesians 5.  There is some doctrinal misunderstanding about that here, with some pentecostal/charismatic influence, so it was a very good and needed word.  I closed the conference with a message on The Minister & His Family, challenging them to begin their ministries at home, making sure their own wives and children were saved, and how important it is to talk about your faith at home, and to minister with your spouse.  Addressing what I heard was a need here, I said that being a wife and mother is an important ministry in itself; women do not need to feel like serving in the home is a waste of time.  If they are serving their families and raising godly children, they are serving the Lord and performing a vital ministry.  I used the example of how some people might think that my wife Cheryl did not have a “great ministry” because she is not a public speaker, etc. — and yet the Lord has used to her bring up four children who are going into Christian service — quite a contribution to the Kingdom!  Come to think of it, this word may be as needed in America as it is in India … 

The attendees seemed very receptive and very grateful.  I was pleased that the stories I told DID seem to communicate cross-culturally, as they laughed and nodded at all the right places.  Larry Robideaux graciously said that he felt like today was the best that he had ever heard Bro. James or myself preach.  I do know that I felt like the Lord was speaking, and I pray that He uses the messages to strengthen the ministries of these young leaders. 

In the “we don’t see this much in the States” category:  after the conference had finished, and we were still milling around, our host pastor gathered everyone around.  He said that he had a call on his cell phone from a family way across town with a son possessed by a demon, who was rolling around and destroying things in the house.  Sanjay had everyone in the circle pray, and he put me on the cell phone to pray as the family held the phone to the son’s ear on the other side!  I quoted Philippians 2, how Jesus is the name above every name, and Genesis 3, where God promises to crush the serpent’s head.  After my prayer, Sanjay took the phone and talked to the son, who had indeed calmed down.  He then shared Christ with him and led him in a sinner’s prayer!  They are going to do some follow-up with him later.  I can’t say that I have ever had this particular experience before!  But they have 33 million gods in India … it may be that they have that many demons too!  I am just glad that I serve the One who has power over such things, and that from childhood I have been able to claim, “Greater is He who is in you, than He who is in the world.”

Today was the last really active day of ministry for this India trip.  Tomorrow we will meet with Sanjay and some of his leaders for lunch at his home, then head to the airport early in the evening for the long flight home.  I think I have finally picked up a cold or something, but am glad that the Lord allowed me to “finish the course” before I did.  I am VERY much looking forward to being back in the United States, though this India mission trip has been one I will never, ever forget!  We are grateful for SO many answered prayers; thank you for praying with us!  May God bless and use the seeds that we were allowed to sow here for the glory of His name in India!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog,, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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4 Responses to The Conference

  1. Cheryl T. says:

    Shawn, I’m so glad this trip has been such a great blessing. But as selfish and worldly as this may sound — I am really ready for you to be back home. We (Michael and I), will continue to pray for you. And look forward to hearing more of what God has done this week.

  2. Kyle C. says:

    Thank you for posting these updates, Pastor. It has been interesting and helpful in knowing how to pray. Praying for a safe trip home.

  3. Danny Pauley says:

    It is good to go but it is better to come home. May God grant you and our team safe journey and ministry opportunities as you make your way home over the next couple of days. Perhaps you can still “bring someone home” with you. Surely there will be many from this trip that you will one day see when you all arrive “home”.

    In reading this latest post it bears out that one never knows how or where an opportunity for ministry might present itself. I was reading this morning in Exodus and in 10:26 Moses comments to Pharaoh that “until we arrive there, we ourselves do not know with what we shall serve the LORD.” Truer words were never spoken. When you left the states you had no idea you would be praying over a demon possessed person. I believe the key is that each of you were/are a willing servant and vessels of honor prepared for every good work that was presented to you. Surely in the stillness of a moment over the next couple of days as you travel home each of you can hear the Master say, “well done thou good and faithful servant”.

    We are all looking forward to seeing you back on this side of the world!!

  4. Shawn's MOM says:

    “Well done, good and faithful servant(s). Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

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