For several years we were corresponding with Rev. Kumar sharing about what God was doing in our lives and mission.
Then the Lord put it on Rev. Kumar’s heart to invite us to set up Unity in India. We prayed about it for many months, then one day while at Church during the sermon the lay preacher who was preaching on 1 Samuel 3 ‘The Lord calls Samuel’ said that he believed that God was calling someone in the congregation, this was confirmed after by our minister who looked at Dianne and myself and said is it you two, to which replied yes. That afternoon we contacted Rev. Kumar that we would accept his invitation.
My wife and had never been on mission out side of the UK before so went to India in complete faith not knowing Rev. Kumar or where would stay we spoke with Mother Bernadette Poor Clare Colettines Ellesmere, Shropshire.
Who made some enquiries and few days later The Most Rev. John Mulagada Bishop rang us and invited us to stay with him.
13th October 2003 we went to India to meet with Rev. Chaitanya Kumar Founder and president of of the Church for the Distant Ministries Subbaraopet Rajahmundry to talk about setting up Unity in India.
During our visit we stayed with The Most Rev. John Mulagada Bishop of Eluru West Godavari Andhra Predash which is around 84 miles (136 Km from Rev. Kumar home.
Bishop John took us to many different place in his diocese. We visited a Leprosy hospital a home for children with server learning disability, a hostel for men and women, the men and women were kept separate there were also elderly folk who had no one to care for them.
We visited schools for 3 years to 14 year olds and girls school where we were greeted by three girls, one with flowers petals, one with a lighted candle and one with henna which we were given the petals, the candle light and had the henna put on our foreheads. We were taken in to a building were we by all the children and staff. A group of girls did a dance for us.
A group of the girls did a motivation dance which they had made up about no matter what the landlord did to them they would still want to be educated, in the dance they performed they did actions as they sang. “Even if you broke our bones or beat us we would still go to school” it was a very serious and moving performance.
All these children were bonded labour children taken by the landlord because the parents could not pay back the money they owed. They would start at around 6am and work till about 7 or 8pm seven days a week, no childhood, no playtime and no friends all they had was work
Bishop John also took us to the tribal areas were he had built a school a hospital and a Church. The tribal people are very shy and it took a couple of years to get them to use the hospital and the children to come to school.
As part of Bishop John’s plan to educate these children and give them a chance in life he built a Dental and Medical collage were all would have an opportunity to attend.
A few days later Bishop John took us to the collage, after a tour we went into a hall were all the students and teachers were gathered.
Bishop John spoke to them about the importance of a education and then asked Dianne and I to also talk to the students, it was a great honour and privilege to do so.
The following day Bishop John had to go to a remote tribal village to bless and open a new Church and took us with him.
The Church was decorated out with beautiful strips of coloured tissue paper and garlands and balloons.
Here and every were we have been up to now we were greeted with such love and welcome with into their homes with such joy, and you knew that God was present among them.
There was no where for us to receive Communion during our stay, but after speaking with Bishop John he got in touch
With the Vicar General of the Birmingham Catholic Diocese in England for permission for us to receive the Eucharist which he did. We received the blessed body and blood on the day of the Beatification of Mother Theresa.
On the day a women who worked for Bishop John came with a beautiful red and gold Sari which she had hand made for Dianne. She had took no measurements she did all by eye and it fitted perfectly.
Before the Mass Bishop John had short service of blessings of the statue of Mother Theresa he had made.
The Bishop invited Government officials to attend and place garlands on the statue, after all had laid there garlands the Bishop invited Dianne and myself to lay a garland as well.
Then off to confession and and Mass were we received the Eucharist, There is no words to describe how we both felt at that moment we received.
On the Monday the start of our second week and the reason for our trip to India.
A late start to the day as we over slept so was late for breakfast. We were not going out with the Bishop that morning as Rev Kumar was arriving at 10.30am to meet with us at the Bishops house.
When rev Kumar arrived Fr. Emmanuel took us to a room and stayed why we talked. I shared about who we are, how Unity came about and what our mission is.
The Rev. Kumar shared about himself and the work he does with the Very poor, Lepers and the widows.
The Church that he is the founder and President is an independent Church with around 200 volunteer Pastors assisting him. He said that there are many independent Churches around and that he is in dialogue with them as well as the established Churches. Rev Kumar shared his vision for Unity with us which was the same as ours. When we finished we went for lunch before he travelled home.
Bishop John meet Rev. Kumar on his way out and arrange with him to bring us to his home the following day.
The journey took about 3 hours. We spent about 2 hours with Rev. Kumar and his Sarah and two daughters Grace and Rebecca which was a very blessed time. On leaving Bishop John asked Rev. Kumar if he could pray with him, he prayed for his ministry in the Rural areas,then he prayed for the mission God was calling him to. We both knew that he was the one God wanted to be Unity’s Regional Coordinator for India.
While we were there it was Dianne's birthday. Not long after we got up and was getting ready to go down for breakfast a knock came on the door, Dianne went and opened the door and who was standing there, was the Bishop with bunch of silk roses singing happy birthday, God bless him, then Fr. Emmanuel came and gave her a single red rose with friend's forever' on it and a card with ' Special Mom' on it, then Ananda the Bishop's driver came with a fresh rose for her.
Very one I met greeted her with happy birthday, It seemed we were to have a special meal today and a birthday cake to celebrate. Later on we were of to the Dental College for the inaugural ceremony and Dianne was to wear her Sari given her by the Bishop. There was to be one of the Government Ministers there to officiate with his armed guard in attendance.
This was a big event for the College because it is the first and only Christian Dental College in India and one that takes all denomination and non-Christians, they all know that it is Christian but still choose to send there children there. Every student as to achieve top marks in their exams to gain a place, because they will be the future Dentist's and Doctors for India or were ever they choose to go.
That evening the Bishop invited us to see his office and to give us some letters and gifts for the Sisters at the Poor Clares back home. Bishop John also gave us some gifts for the Unity members and friends back home, these were what he called straw pictures, 200 beautiful handmade scenes of the countryside and boats on a lake and 20 religious ones of Christ. Bishop John signed everyone of them and put his official stamp on each one, what beautiful gifts.
Time to return home, before we left for the airport the Bishop arranged for his driver to take us to the shops in the town to buy some sandals and shoes to take back with us.
On our returning to the UK we would meet with the other members of Unity and told them about the trip and the meeting with Rev. Kumar, and recommend that Rev. Kumar be our Regional Coordinator and set up unity in India.
It was agreed that we should invite him which he accepted.
Over the next few months Rev. Kumar visited 4 states Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam were he had the opportunity to hold 4 Unity Conferences from January 3rd to 11th 2005.
The Conferences were attended by the following Denominations Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Church of South India, Bible Mission, Maranatha, Salvation Army, Assemblies of God, Laymen Evangelical Fellowship, Hebron.
Every body accepted the following Scripture verses I Cor 12:4-6 ; I Cor 12: 12-27
Eph 4: 4-6 and agreed to be in Unity to bring the Glory to God in India.
Greetings to you all in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who shed His precious blood on the Cross for our sake.
God has done wonderful and good towards all of us in 2005. He has done wonders and miracles in India after the visit of Raymond and Dianne Russell in October 2003. I invited this wonderful couple who have God's fear and burden for his ministry, working for Unity among all the Denominations Internationally.
By the grace of God they made me Regional coordinator for India and I am proud to say that I am the first person to be nominated as Regional Coordinator on behalf of Unity. Since the day we met together we have been praying for the work of Unity in India and abroad. We reached 4 States Maharastra, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh in India on behalf of Unity in the course of only 14 months. Hallelujah!! Praise God. After we have paid many visits to the 4 Metropolitan Cities in India, God has given us an awesome opportunity to hold 4 Unity Conferences from January 3rd to 11th 2005.
God’s mission as been fulfilled. AMEN
13th - 23rd October 2003
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