This article was originally written for our newsletter by Tom Lewis, Director BEE International (UK)
It has been a pleasure for BEE International to partner with UGM (UK) in training pastors in the Indian State of Andra Pradesh. It all began twenty years ago when Pastor Tom Orr agreed to make a teaching trip with me to Romania. It was Tom’s first ‘missionary journey and he was welcomed warmly by all the pastors he met. A few years later we were o again; this time to Vietnam where BEE has a nationwide ministry training pastors in this communist country where the church has been severely persecuted over the years.
BEE International’s purpose is to provide Biblical training to pastors and potential church leaders in some of the world’s most restricted countries. BEE began when a group of missions came together with a common purpose – to provide advanced Biblical training and help equip pastors in the persecuted countries of Eastern Europe and the then Soviet Union – i.e. the countries behind the Iron Curtain!!
In 1990, after the collapse of communism in Europe, and at the request of the leaders of the church in one of Asia’s largest countries, we commenced BEE in Asia. Vietnam became one of our target countries and it was there that Tom’s heart was moved and a deep desire was born to serve, in his retirement years, the suffering millions of Asia. Tom Orr’s heart was for the lost and for the pastor/shepherds who served and ministered fearlessly for Christ.
We were soon o again, this time to India where the need was enormous and the challenge great. India is one of the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Countries seeking to develop out of poverty and join the more developed nations of Europe and N America. That is happening in today’s India alongside some of the most horrific poverty imaginable. Tom was to spend the next twelve years travelling to and serving the church in India. And, in keeping with his vision to reach the lost and care for the pastor/ shepherds, he preached to thousands seeing many come to faith in Christ. He supported the pastors financially and helped provide small churches for their congregations. He was a friend of India and was mightily used by God.
Tom believed in the power of the Word of God to change lives and would agree with the sentiments of William Cameron Townsend the founder of the Navigators (one of the founder missions of BEE International) when he said “The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner.”
Tom is in heaven but his vision for the lost lives on and that is exactly why we are training our Indian pastor friends so that they will better serve the church and be equipped to train others.
BEEs India director, Babychen Varghese agreed to work with the pastors that Tom has helped, and for the last two years Babychen and his team have met with approx. thirty men who have already taken several courses – Roman/ Galatians – How to Study the Bible and Church Dynamics.
Babychen reports that all the men are doing well and are very committed to their studies. UGM (UK) support the translation of all the courses into Telagu and these translated text books and work books are given freely to the pastors. Meeting together several times a year gives opportunity for fellowship and sharing also encouragement and support. Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17 This is what BEE has been doing for the last thirty-six years. It is not easy and there are at times risks to be overcome but we are con dent that doing the will of God will yield positive results every time. It is a rewarding joy to see results – pastors visibly growing in their ability to share in the teaching groups and more importantly in their ability to minister God’s Word.
In heaven there will be uncountable numbers of Indian believers who will thank the Lord for the life and ministry of a pastor from Rathcoole N Ireland – called Thomas Orr – who counted it all joy to spend and be spent for India’s millions and for his sacrifice of love on their behalf.