Sacrifices and miracles result in a record-breaking Christian leadership conference right under the devil’s nose.
In May Bettina, coordinator for David Wilkerson Ministries, visited us in India. Together with Rev. David Shivpal director of our East Region, and representatives from across the Ganges River Plain, she initiated the plans for two historic conferences in November: 700 leaders in Nepal followed immediately by 4,000 leaders in north India making both the largest leadership events ever proposed in these unreached regions of the world.
Rev. David Shivpal directed the conference
Where? A venue to accommodate 4,000 people overnight for two days is almost non-existent in Varanasi. Weeks of struggle concluded that renting a massive tent would explode the budget and the sensitive location of the only available school would pose a security risk for such a large Christian conference. Finally David sent a friend to ask for the use of a large Catholic facility. The Father denied the request. This wasn’t surprising, since no outside agency had ever been allowed to use these grounds. After some days David sent the friend again and this time the Father asked, “Who is your leader?” When he learned that it was David who needed the facility, he sighed and said, “I’ll take it to the Board.” At that moment David knew we would be granted use of the facility.
Legal Hurdles The challenging task of persuading the anti-Christian authorities to grant permission to conduct such a large Christian event was complicated in that the conference was set to take place at the same time as the largest Hindu festival of the year–Diwali–during which large assemblies of people are not permitted. After much prayer David and his field assistant Onkar met with the officials and by God’s grace the permission for the conference was granted. Meanwhile David was also making many trips to Nepal to identify qualified Nepali leaders and to put everything in place for their conference as well.
Rev. Alok and Pastor Carter Conlon
Visa Crunch For such a large public gathering, the speakers needed to have special Conference Visas. David made multiple trips to Mumbai to prepare the highly sensitive official visa for key speakers including Pastor Gary Wilkerson, son of Rev. David Wilkerson, and Pastor Carter Conlon, Senior Pastor of Times Square Church. Finally after much prayer the visas were applied for. Amazingly, Pastor Carter’s visa was granted immediately but the others were denied and had to come on Tourist visas. They would have short speaking sessions provided there wasn’t too much police surveillance.
Storms! Only days before the conference, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. Along with the thousands who were affected, Pastor Carter’s home was flooded and he and his family had to take up residence in the church. Times Square Church, which commands a significant social position in the city, was processing truckload after truckload of aid to the worst-hit areas. Under these catastrophic circumstances, we received word that Pastor Carter would have to cancel his trip. This left us with no speakers having the necessary visas. David rushed back to Mumbai and South India (2-3 day train rides one-way) to prepare two highly qualified Indian speakers to fill in. We are deeply grateful that in the end Pastor Carter was able to come for the India conference, missing only the Nepal conference.
On the day of the team’s arrival to Nepal, we learned that as Pastor Gary was at the airport to board the plane, a life-and-death family matter arose and he had no choice but to cancel his trip. At that moment, we realized the seriousness of the spiritual attack that was trying to prevent these anointed men of God from imparting to our Indian and Nepali leaders. We began to pray fervently not only for the conference but also for Pastor Gary’s family.
Worshiping the Lord
Over 1,000 people attended the Nepal conference, making it the largest-ever leadership event according to the local organizers. Powerful messages from Pastor Claude and Pastor Roger made it a fantastic success. On the day of our departure to India, we were shocked when the ticket agent looked at Pastor Claude’s passport and said, “Sorry, your Indian visa is invalid.” By mistake he had crossed through Immigration in Delhi instead of transiting directly onto his Nepal flight, thus voiding his single-entry visa to India. So I stayed back with him hoping to get him a new visa the next day at the Indian embassy in Nepal, but sadly he was denied and had to return to the US.
Numbers Crunch Meanwhile, a few days before the India conference, we came to know that almost 1,500 people who were expected to attend the conference were not going to come because they are more traditional whereas we are more charismatic. So we gathered a team together and visited each leader, urging them that we need to unite to see the Gospel reach this unreached land. Then we prayed together. The Lord used this time powerfully and many leaders were able to see beyond doctrinal differences and stand together for Jesus Christ.
Triumph! At last the long-awaited day arrived. Not only was the hall full, but we had to add tents to create an overflow area. In all, 4,700 attended, of whom over 3,000 were leaders. Pastor Carter preached powerful, touching messages with anointed translation by Alok. Other speakers included Elder Jerry, Pastor Roger, and Rev. Joy, with translation by Rev. Michael. David made the wise step of calling one of the greatest worship leaders I’ve ever met: Sunny Vishwas, a former Bollywood performer who found Jesus. He doesn’t just sing; he leads the audience into the heavenlies! Alok also led the audience into incredible prayer, repentance, and intercession.
In the middle of one of the most powerful moments following one of Pastor Carter’s messages, Sunny grabbed his Shofar and started blowing various melodies, concluding with the short, sharp blasts used to summon God’s army to battle. The presence of the Lord was so tangible! As the audience roared, I could see beams of Holy Spirit power penetrating the whole land to defeat darkness!
Sunny blowing the Shofar
We want to thank David and his Varanasi team for their hard work and excellent management, and David Wilkerson Ministries and World Challenge who made the conference possible. We extend special thanks to Pastor Carter who came and ministered powerfully even though his own home was flooded and his family uprooted. Due to the sacrifices and prayers of many, this historic conference was a tremendous success. The lives touched are not limited to the 1,000 in Nepal or the 4,700 in Varanasi. See the video of the conference at http://youtu.be/E4-_rfpFzKk. These leaders will take the teaching, impartation and anointing they received out to their villages and their churches, touching tens of thousands.