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The journey to Odisha Bible School October 16-27, 2023 began with the call to raise financial support thru VBS Summer Bible School at pastor Raymond’s home church, Faith Mennonite Fellowship. God provided thru his people giving generously, the funds matched exactly what was needed. However, there was a problem; pastor Raymond had no guest teacher for OBS this year! He announced on a Sunday morning, he feels God is revealing that the funds as well as the guest teacher will be supplied out of the home congregation, or that someone from Faith Mennonite Fellowship is being called to go and serve as a guest teacher.

In that moment, I experienced the Holy Spirits still, small voice asking “Will you go for me?” As I pondered the call, I decided to be like Gideon, placing my fleece for a confirmation from God if it was truly His voice. I told God, “I do not normally speak with pastor Raymond after the service, if he comes to talk, I will know it’s You”. I did not tell a single person about this call. Two weeks later, pastor Raymond pulled me aside, asking “come with me to Odisha”. In the weeks that followed, we experienced many confirmations God had indeed called us to come to India. Passports processed in 4 weeks, at a time when months were normal, it could have derailed the trip. Our visas came in less than 24 hours!  I told Raymond, “ I don’t feel qualified,  I’m not a pastor, I don’t have 2 weeks of teaching material”.  In all our excuses, doubts, questions and fears, God supplied in very clear dimensions we could have never imagined.

As OBS began, pastor Raymond taught on “Living Water and the Holy Spirit”, I taught lessons from the book of James. Thirty six students, ranging from ages 67 through 18, literally jumped out of their seats to read Bible texts almost before they were announced. The hunger and thirst for God’s Word was so evident, an enthusiasm like I have never witnessed before. Deep, thought provoking questions spilled out of their mouths, in search of answers to teaching of the Word. When altar calls were given, every student was on their knees, some with their faces on the floor, crying and praying, committing their lives to God regardless of the cost. One young man publicly confessed how he has grieved the Holy Spirit many times. It was a powerful 2 weeks, the Spirit of God was present in the ‘upper room’ of OBS.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO ALBUM of ODISHA BIBLE SCHOOL 2023

God used those 2 weeks to speak into my life as well as the students. I felt so unworthy to teach lessons about trusting God in difficult times when it requires so little from me. On lessons regarding wealth and trusting God for healing, I felt similar to the church of Laodicea; poor & blind to my hearts condition. In a lesson Raymond taught on the allowing the Holy Spirit to fill every room of our hearts, I felt convicted of not surrendering my attitudes of pride. I needed to humble myself with the students & ask God for forgiveness. During the night, I laid in bed and cried because of the multitude of souls outside our hotel, worshipping at the temple next door & dancing to the devil in the street; while our people sit idle, much like spectators at a sports game. It was a wakeup call to spread the gospel, to move our churches out of the “comfort zones” & get busy. The door to teach the Word is now nearly closed in India; the day is gone, the night is far spent. I heard the voice of the Lord saying “ Who will go for Us?”                              

Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages,     
Swiftly the hours are changing to years.
How are we using God’s golden moments?
Shall we reap glory? Shall we reap tears?                                                                                 

Millions are groping without the gospel,
Quickly they’ll reach eternity’s night.
Shall we sit idly, as they rush onward?
Haste, let us hold up Christ the true light.

Souls are precious, souls that are dying.
While we rejoice our sins are forgiven.
Did He not also die for these lost ones?
Then let us point the way unto heaven.

Into our hands the gospel is given,
Into our hands is given light.
Haste, let us carry God’s precious message,
Guiding the erring back to the right.

Thank you for your prayer support on both sides of the globe, we felt it very much. I cried as our flight lifted off from Newark airport, to think of all the prayer ascending to the throne of God in our behalf. Thank you to our home congregation, Faith Mennonite Fellowship, for your financial support to make OBS possible. May God reward all of you for your faithfulness!

Editor Raymond Burkholder’s Note; This MTM update article was by Daryl & Velma Stauffer who served as the MTM guest teacher at Odisha Bible School October 16-27, 2023 They are members of the Faith Mennonite Fellowship congregation. Daryl serves the Lord at FMF as Sunday School teacher. The Lord has chosen to not bless them with children however, they have many, many nieces & nephews whom they love dearly. They serve as “honorary” parents and grandparents tor them. He is currently employed at Shank Door as a service/repair tech. Thank you Teacher Daryl Stauffer for your humble Christlike Spirit in every teaching session. May the Lord Jesus reward you openly for your labor of love at OBS.