“Do you see that town over there where the light is? Not long ago, there were no churches there. One day, I went to the marketplace and I began telling people the Good News of Jesus Christ. The people beat me severely. I called my brother and he came and took me to the hospital.”
As the sun began to set over the Himalayan Mountains and long shadows engulfed the nearest valley, Caleb* and his partner continued to climb slowly, navigating carefully over the jagged terrain.
A lone light had appeared about halfway up the mountain across the valley from them, and Caleb continued to explain: Two weeks later, when his injuries were healed, he traveled back to the village and shared the Gospel with even more people. This time, a few of the villagers became believers and he helped them start a church where they still worship the Lord to this day.
This wasn’t the only story Caleb had that went almost exactly like this. Caleb had dozens of stories of dozens of villages where he had been beaten for preaching the Good News.
Yet, after he persevered through the physical pain and fear, it seemed that every place he was beaten, a new church began.
Caleb was born in India and after he was led to Christ by his brother in 1996, his life was forever changed. Out of obedience, he passionately shared his new faith with many people. As a young Christian, Caleb devoted time to learning and interpreting Scripture. As he matured in his faith, he began taking on leadership roles as a church planter.
But it wasn’t until around 2007 that Caleb began seeing a rapid multiplication of churches and his passion for sharing the Word of God, despite the risks, became a spark that ignited the faith of many new believers.
When Caleb travels to new areas, he shares his faith in a simple, easy to understand way. Many Christians are familiar with the “Romans Road” method of evangelism, a visual and scriptural depiction of man’s journey toward salvation. Caleb shares the Gospel using this method, at times drawing a picture in the dirt with a stick.
After people accept Christ, he then encourages them to obediently take baptism. Baptism in this area is also not without challenges. Most believers receive baptism in whatever body of water they can find. During one baptism in a frigid river in Nepal, one of the believers observing the baptism noticed a man running at him with a rock in his hand. Before the person could run away, the man threw the rock and hit a large snake that was coming up the bank toward the observers! Despite these obstacles, the faithful believers of this area take great joy in baptism.
After new believers are baptized, they often have the same enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel as Caleb. Caleb then hosts students eager to learn the Bible in his small home, often filling the floors with mats and blankets so that people can come in from the harsh cold. His graduates then go out into the world to bring the Good News.
Some graduates of his discipleship training were so excited to share the Good News that they went to Bihar State, the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism, where very few people are receptive to Christians. The new believers were beaten severely, but like Caleb, they never swayed from their beliefs and the persecution only strengthened their desire to spread the Word.
Becoming a follower of Christ in this area brings a very real risk of becoming a victim of anti-Christian violence. For example, after the second day of a three-day discipleship training course, the young teens who were attending went to a Christian fellowship at the home of a believer. A mob came and beat them, but they still came to the training the following day.
Often, young people will be thrown out of their homes when their families learn of their conversion. One young man, the son of a teacher at a Muslim school, was beaten and thrown out of his home for simply reading the Bible. After traveling by foot, he met some Christians who helped him gain admission to a Bible Institute to continue studying the Word.
Caleb’s ministry has grown exponentially over the years as he trains up disciples and sends them out throughout India, Nepal, and the surrounding countries. Today, his ministry includes over seven hundred churches in seven countries.
A ministry that began with one person sharing his faith, even if it meant being beaten, has created multiple generations of disciples who continue to share the Good News. And in recent years, Caleb’s ministry has even expanded to create an outreach for blind believers and a sewing and craft ministry for young women who are victims of abuse!
And Caleb’s passion for sharing the Gospel himself has not waned over the years.
Even today, while managing this large ministry, Caleb will still travel high up into the Himalayan Mountains where it is so frigid that ink will freeze inside pens. He will travel many miles and still personally endure violence, hunger, sleeplessness and time away from his family to bring the Gospel to people who have not heard of Jesus.
Caleb’s desire is to travel, to teach, and to share the Good News until there is no place left that hasn’t heard about Jesus. Caleb’s ministry seeks to share the Gospel in every corner of India and Nepal.
“But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions…” Romans 15:23 (NIV)
The success of Caleb’s ministry may sound like it has much to do with the bravery and skill of the man who began the story by being beaten for sharing the Gospel in the marketplace. But Caleb would be quick to correct people who seek to give him credit. It would be impossible for one man to do so much great work in such a short time. God began this work through Caleb, an ordinary man, to manifest His power to create something mighty out of something small. The story isn’t about a great man, but a great God who relentlessly pursues every single lost sinner in every corner of the earth until there is no place left.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
*Name changed for security reasons.