We had seen some amazing growth over the years. There was a group of young men and two couples who wanted Bible training. Most of them were keen to start new communities in other parts of India and Nepal sometime in the future. Just after the big outreach we found the perfect place for our first ACTS (Apostolic Church planters Training School). It was a big unused cowshed, it was cheap and it was a miracle. We took it without hesitation.
It was one big shed. The single guys moved in there. They got saris and bed sheets and created “bedrooms” and a small hall for training and a kitchen. It was makeshift and rough but perfect. The toilet was as far as the eye could see into the bush surrounding the property. There were two rooms for the couples in a nearby building.
Chandra and Champa were married and had just had little Rebecca who was Jordan’s best friend. Champa had a rough birth and struggled to breastfeed. They moved in with us so I could help her with her night feeds, bathing and everything to do with babies really. Jordan was just six months older. There were nights that Champa just couldn’t find the energy to feed Rebecca so I fed her. They all joked about that and said that was the reason Rebecca was so fair.
Ratan and Ritu were real characters. They had a little girl, Barkha. Before his conversion, Ratan had been part of a heavy gang in Darjeeling. He had a hectic lifestyle and had been tortured many times. He had lots of scars to show for it. Ritu was outgoing and full of confidence. She loved to dress in Western clothes and was always changing her hairstyle.
Aman, who we had found under our house, was blossoming. He was quiet but very secure and happy. Anand was one of the first Garhwali believers and he was keen to learn as much as he could. Sanjay was an edgy, funny, slightly imbalanced guy. We loved him but he was a lot of work. He would play up every now and again and drive everyone nuts. One day after one of his manifestations, Tony picked him up and put him over his shoulder. He took him to the edge of the cud and told him that if he didn’t stop messing around, he’d throw him in the bushes. He came right for a while after that. Puran was a young guy from Nepal. He he first came into our meetings he was fascinated with the sound desk. His English was quite good and he was teachable and very eager to learn as much as he could. We didn’t know Rabden very well but he was related to Ratan and wanted to get some Bible training. It was an amazing group. They were all so eager to learn and grow. It wasn’t without its challenges. Most of them needed strong fathering to bring them into maturity. We saw such growth in their lives that year. They became leaders in the community.
The budget was tight; just enough for very simple vegetarian meals and chai. At some point the young guys got so desperate that they caught a rat and cooked it. The only reason they didn’t want to tell us was because they thought we would think they weren’t happy with vegetarian food. They found it so funny. Mmmmm.
Those who came out to help teach sat on the floor of the cowshed. They used the bush like everyone else did. It was basic. Simple. Earthy. Jesus would have loved it.