Every year for the past 85 years or so, the Methodists from Hyderabad and surrounding districts have conducted a huge camp meeting near Dharoor (a small village in Ranga Reddy District of Andhra Pradesh). This camp meeting is always in November, and is held in a big open field. It has grown from 10,000 in the inaugural year to about 10 lakhs today (1 lakh=100,000). [This is one million people in attendance.] I went this year to see what was going on. I will tell you why.
For the last 15 years, members of the Lord's church have gone to the Dharoor encampment to distribute Gospel literature. They have Bible discussions with good folks from many places in India in various languages. And where folks have camped out (and I mean camped!), our brethren conduct Gospel meetings. Many of them.
We do not disturb any meetings the host group is having. Our brethren are polite and respectful—and we received permission from the Methodist Bishop to be there! We have done some really good things through this effort. For instance, in the early years of our efforts at Dharoor, 2 preachers who now work with us (A. David Madri and N. Christopher Jagle) were converted there.
The Methodists have one big meeting going on at the main assembly area where as many as 20,000 gather. Our brethren teach thousands of visitors at this camp meeting wherever they have the opportunity. I went for one night and preached 3 times in local Gospel meetings. It is not only Methodists who attend this camp meeting, and we have made many contacts for the Truth. Who knows what eternal good is being done through this effort?
I have never seen anything like this in my life! Everywhere you go there are people—lots of them! People traffic is all that is allowed. Folks stake out little "homesteads " where they sleep and cook. You have to be careful where you step, lest you "invade " someone's "house ". The smoke from cooking fires burns the eyes and throat. The local camps provide places for families to meet for reunions, visiting with friends, etc. This is why some of our brethren attend.
Bro. P. J. Joseph and N. M. Manick Rao have been involved in leading our brethren in our camp meeting effort for years. Bro. P.J. told me that in less than 2 days, his team of 100 workers handed out more than 20,000 Gospel tracts. Their part of this effort involved 511 Gospel meetings at Dharoor—876 souls were baptized into Christ—and 26 of those baptized were denominational preachers!
Bro. N.M. Manick Rao reported 93 Gospel meetings on site, with a total of 373 baptized. His team of workers also conducted another 180 meetings in the area surrounding Dharoor, in which another 637 more obeyed the Gospel. P.J. and his team emphasized teaching denominational preachers, while Manick Rao and his team emphasized reaching the larger area around Dharoor.On Sunday, our brethren gathered for worship services of the Lord's church in several areas where folks were camped out. Bro. P. J. takes a good sized tent and uses it for a church building, as well as a place to make contacts for Bible studies, etc. This is just one of many ways our brethren are spreading the Gospel in India!