The work that God has given to the Georgetown PRC congregation is a great blessing for us as we seek to help the saints in Vellore, India grow in the Reformed faith and spread the gospel in a land that is over 95% Hindu and Muslim.
Our congregation was given this wonderful work by Rev. Kortering and funds from the Contact Committee when it was just beginning under the faithful preaching of Pastor Paul Raj. He had been trained in Singapore in the ARTS program that Rev. Kortering taught while he was a missionary there. About nine years ago Pastor Paul Raj with his wife Kasthuri (Kas) and his two children, Jason (14) and Joan (12), began their work in the city of Vellore in Southeast India. On a map it is about midway between the major industrial cities of Bangalore and Chennai. God soon began to gather his church there now called the Protestant Reformed Church of Vellore (PRCV). In addition, they felt called to begin a home for impoverished and/or orphaned children, called the Grace Foster Home (GFH). From this small beginning, God has gathered a congregation of nearly one hundred fifty saints, including the fifty children of GFH.
In the congregation of Georgetown, the work in the field is divided in an interesting way. The General India Committee is made up of about sixteen men and women aged twenty-five to eighty-five, which reports to the Consistory of Georgetown. We supervise all the work in India through various subcommittees: Finance, Travel, Doctrine, Publicity, and Grace Foster Home. The GFH committee is one of the busiest because it supervises and supports all things related to the care of the children. It includes another eight members of the congregation. The support for all the work of the India Mission is through freewill offerings in the congregation. The children of GFH are cared for through sponsor families who donate monthly to the care of the children and write letters of encouragement to them. These families come primarily from many of our Protestant Reformed Churches. We also have fundraisers for special needs like the building projects.
The India Committee makes regular visits to the field that have increased over time in frequency and length. In the past 12 months, we have had a presence in India for over a month. Over the years, five couples from our congregation have visited, some more than once, as well as Prof. Gritters, his wife, and two ministers from the Foreign Mission Committee. The involvement of our church has also borne the fruit of visits by two young men from our congregation with more visits being planned by other young adults. We all return with hearts full of the wonder of God’s work among our brothers and sisters in India. We have learned the great benefits of having women of our congregation joining the visits because of the cultural restraints on the women of India in talking to men not of their own family.
Pastor Paul Raj, Kas, Jason and Joan live with the children of GFH on the Eden campus where we have helped build both a girls’ dorm and a boys’ dorm just outside of the city limits of Vellore in a beautiful country setting. The boys’ dorm was built in 2014 with the help of saints from all over the world including Korea, the Netherlands, and Canada, along with Georgetown. This spring the girls’ dorm was completed through the gracious donations of Protestant Reformed members throughout the denomination. With these two buildings the children of GFH have a beautiful, safe, and stable place to live and grow.
Over several visits I have personally been able to make, two of them with my wife Donna, I have come to know and love the children and staff of GFH. My wife and I consider them to be part of our family. Indeed, they have been brought into the family of God and the covenant life of the church through the work of Pastor Paul Raj and Kas. Imagine what it would be like to live in a family with more than sixty members in the same house. Together they worship, pray, study, do chores, grow and show the love of Christ. God has rescued these children from the dark and cruel idolatry of Hinduism and the unimaginable horror of abandoned children on the streets of India. The love and care of the children for one another and for their “parents” is evident from the first hours we stay with them. Their testimony of their love of God and his mercy toward them fills our hearts and brings tears to our eyes. Many times we have wept tears of compassion and joy with them. In our last visit in early winter of 2015 we were blessed to witness eight baptisms and eight confessions of faith, most of which were of children, now young adults, raised in the Grace Foster Home.
Under the leadership of Pastor Paul Raj, the PRCV has embraced the Reformed faith as we know and love it. This diverse congregation, which speaks the Tamil language, is cared for by a consistory of two elders and one deacon. They love the truths of sovereign grace and speak often of their desire one day, in God’s timing to be a sister church of the PRCA. Along with the “normal” work of a church— preaching, catechism, Bible studies, worship, and church discipline—they are extremely active in their outreach. First, they care for a second congregation, VCC (Vellore Christian Church) which is made up of doctors, their families, and students of the Christian Medical College of Vellore. This group worships in English near the college campus. The core group of 10 to 15 members is very busy in learning Reformed doctrine and in witnessing to their colleagues. Second, the church is engaged in “Village Outreach” several nights a week, bringing the gospel to area villages. In connection with the outreach the members of the church maintain the “Tutor Program,” in which they help village children with their homework. Many members of the congregation participate in this wonderful work. A third and quickly growing part of the outreach of the PRCV is the training of local pastors in the Reformed faith. This work alone has borne much fruit and gathered many new contacts as it grows. This work includes preaching, training, and a magazine that is used to instruct ministers in sermon preparation, exegesis, and doctrine.
As you can see, the PRCV is very active in their witness. We continue, as Georgetown congregation, to be inspired, instructed, and encouraged by their determined and selfless sacrifice and enthusiasm in spreading the gospel of salvation by grace.
Future plans include more formal training for ministers connected with the field. Lord willing, we desire to build our own church building. Also, a matter dear to our hearts, we desire the establishment of our own Christian school for the children of the congregation and of GFH. These things are all in the Lord’s timing.
Condensing and communicating all the aspects of the blessings God has given to us through our work in India in a short article makes me feel at a loss for words. You can learn more by looking at our church website, Georgetownprc.org, and subscribing to our newsletter.
You can help by bringing this wonderful work to the Lord in prayer. Pray for wisdom to be given to Georgetown as we seek to be faithful in this work. Pray for the spread of the gospel through the work of the PRCV. Pray for Pastor Paul Raj and his family as they give themselves completely to this work, along with the consistory and the dear saints of the congregation. Also, pray for the Lord’s blessing on the dear children of GFH that they, along with the children of the congregation, may grow to stand strong as faithful members of the church in this land. Pray for the safety of the saints there as persecution increases. And finally, pray for the gathering of the church from the far corners of India in these last days.
You can also help with monetary support and by becoming a sponsor of a child of GFH.
Thank you for your support through gifts and prayer. Maybe you can also visit the field in the future. This is true of all of our denominations mission work. You will forever be changed, challenged, and inspired.
*Deane is a member of Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI.