By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
CLARKSVILLE — Baptists in Cumberland Baptist Association, headquartered in Clarksville, know they can travel to minister in India only on occasions.
For ministry to be effective there, it is imperative that Christians with a heart for their lost countrymen are trained to be missionaries to plant churches in the remote villages of India.
Thus, Mission Voice Network Ministries in India was formed in the United States to raise prayer and financial support for the suffering missionaries there. The Clarksville-based ministry is comprised of primarily Tennessee Baptists from area churches.
The organization sponsored a booth at The Summit held at First Baptist Church in Millington in November to introduce Tennessee Baptists to their ministry and to meet Viiayan Kochupillai (Bro. Vee), a converted Hindu who is dedicated to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in India.
Bro. Vee founded and currently serves as president of Mission Voice Network in India.
Since he developed the organization in 2008, MVN has developed 452 nationally trained missionaries whose primary focus is to plant churches in the remote villages of India.
Tony Evans is the United States director of MSN. He learned about the ministry in India on one of Bro. Vee’s visits to the United States in 2009 to raise financial and prayer support.
Bro. Vee attended a home Bible study group that Evans hosted in his home. Evans noted that Bro. Vee’s English was still in the beginning stages and that he was hard to understand. But after Vee returned to Clarksville the following two years, Evans went to India at Bro. Vee’s invitation to see for himself the ministry his India friend had begun.
“God captured my heart for that ministry, said Evans, a member of First Baptist Church, Clarksville.
After returning home from that first trip to India, he started the non-profit organization in the United States and began to enlist other Baptists in the area to join him.
“God has called me to be the voice of those precious saints who are suffering for the gospel in India,” Evans said.
Dwight Dickson, a member of FBC who serves on the MVN board of directors, has been to India twice.
“It’s hard to comprehend what is taking place over there,” he observed.
MVN raises financial support for the local missionaries. Evans noted that $50 a month provides income for a missionary family in India. While that doesn’t seem like much money, a 20-pound bag of rice will last a family in India for five to six weeks, he said.
The work in India is challenging. It normally takes one to five years to establish a self-supported church in one of the villages, he noted.
Over the years the ministry has been able to reach more than 1,500 villages.
“We are seeing a transformation in these villages,” said Bro. Vee.
MVN is effective because national missionaries are born and raised in India. They have an advantage over other nationalities in reaching their people for Christ, Evans said. Among them, the national missionaries know the languages, the culture, and the various mind-sets of the people, he observed.
“Because of their faithfulness and willingness to sacrifice, national missionaries have been able to share the love of Jesus Christ with literally millions of men, women, and children who had never heard of His name,” Evans said.
“In India today, believers joyfully worship the Lord in places where no church existed before, but none of those accomplishments occur easily,” he added.
Evans noted that national missionaries “are paying a high price” to see people reached with Christ’s love. “Persecution is a part of life for many missionaries. Beatings, death threats, and imprisonment are a few of the things they encounter on a daily basis,” Evans said.
Despite the dangers, these missionaries, who do not do anything without prayer and fasting, “press onward as they proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the unsaved souls of India,” he added.
Evans and those involved with MVN in the United States provide monthly support for the missionaries, bicycles to the national missionaries for transportation and motorbikes to ministry coordinators in India as they travel to the villages to assist the local missionaries.
The organization also provides water wells and food, medicine, and education to local children in addition to many other ministries, Evans said.
These types of outreach and programs allow the national missionaries to be more welcomed in the villages, he said.
Over the years volunteers have traveled to India and led Vacation Bible Schools for children and helped train leaders. Thousands of children have accepted Christ as a result of VBS, the Clarksvillians estimated.
Vee continues to travel to the United States to share with groups, but Clarksville is one of his favorite stops. In November, he was ordained as a minister and officially became a member of First Baptist Church.
Rick Stevens, director of missions for Cumberland Baptist Association, has participated in the ministry in India. “The connection with the ministry has impacted some of our churches,” he said.
Evans welcomes Tennessee Baptists who want more information about what God is doing among the Hindus in India to call him at 931-206-6725.