Like the Apostle Paul, Pastor Peter Fenton of Indianapolis recently took the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to one of the world’s distant.
Fenton returned last week from a special visit to India that united two cultures under the goal of worldwide evangelization. Fenton is now back home after eight days in Andhra Pradesh, a state located on the Eastern coast of India.
“It was awesome, very awesome,” said Fenton, pastor of First Samuel Church Holistic Ministries.
The purpose of the visit was to formally launch First Samuel’s new role as the parent church of a network of 16 congregations in India.
The network, known as Hallelujah Holistic Ministries, was searching for an American congregation to serve as its chief church. The leader of Hallelujah Holistic Ministries, Pastor V. Vijay “Joshua” Anand, and his team conducted a search of several American churches on the Internet last year.
First Samuel kept rising to the top of the list of 10 finalists, mostly due to the fact that the Indians were impressed by the church’s emphasis on having a “holistic” ministry that strengthens the “total” man spiritually, mentally and physically.
“Somehow they found us,” Fenton said, laughing.
Anand contacted Fenton, who invited him to spend time in Indianapolis exploring the church. During his visit Anand became even more confident in his belief that First Samuel was the right church to lead Hallelujah Holistic Ministries.
According to Fenton, the network could not find a senior pastor they were comfortable with in India. They also preferred to be led by a minority American church. Many Indians are sympathetic to the historic African-American struggle against racism, having endured brutal colonization under the British themselves.
After Anand returned to India, Fenton and the First Samuel family spent the next year praying whether to accept the responsibility of having branch churches in India.
“We wanted to make sure God had his hand in this,” said Fenton.
Then, last month, Fenton accepted an invitation to visit India.
“We invited Pastor Fenton, our new lead pastor, to join us for special meetings where our ministry is located,” Anand explained in a letter. “During that time he joined us in church services where there was preaching and teaching.”
Anand told Fenton that First Samuel, as a parent church, was expected to provide spiritual covering and support to obtain materials and Bibles. But Fenton was struck by the fact that the Indians asked for no material possessions or money during the visit.
“All they wanted us to do was just pray and explore the Word with them,” Fenton said.
Most of the churches within Hallelujah Holistic Ministries are congregations of between 30 and 50 people situated in rural areas and small towns.
“Our goal is to first reach out to those who don’t often receive the message of Christ, then go into the cities,” explained Anand.
Fenton said he and First Samuel are truly humbled that out of all churches in the United States, Hallelujah Holistic Ministries asked to associate with them.
“It’s truly amazing,” said Fenton. “This wasn’t something we were looking for or seeking. God just kind of placed it in our lap.”
First Samuel Holistic Ministries, formerly First Samuel Missionary Baptist Church, was established in 1952 and has grown to a congregation with numerous ministries designed to serve the community. The church plans to begin construction on a new building on Cold Spring Road next year.
Fenton said that from what he observed, Christianity is spreading quickly in India, a predominantly Hindu nation.
“You see more ministers over there who are really reaching and preaching to the unsaved,” said Fenton. “And many people, especially the youth, are giving their lives to Christ. The ministry is growing rapidly, and we look forward to returning in June.”