“A Day of Opportunity”
Despite being dominated and oppressed by Hinduism for centuries, the country of India is experiencing a massive revival of souls. The people of India are hungry to worship a living God that hears their prayers.
“It’s a day of opportunity,” said Bro. Daniel Evans, a longtime bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World who has now joined forces with the United Pentecostal Church International. “There is a great revival breaking out in India. People have been blinded by all kinds of religious structures but with more education and modernization they are starting to rationalize and question that religious domination. This is the time that we need to reach out.”
Presently, Bro. Evans and the Bible Believers Ministries of India have established 249 Apostolic churches, a Bible college and eight orphanages throughout the state of Andhra Pradesh. Each orphanage is home to at least 25 children. This is a remarkable ministry that has benefitted hundreds of needy orphans throughout the years.
An estimated 1.2 billion people live in India, which is one-third the size of the United States. Christianity is the minority, accounting for about two percent of the total population. “Masses of people are idol worshippers, so it takes the hand of God to reach out to these people,” said Bro. Evans, who pastors in Visakhapatnam. “There are 30 million gods worshipped in India.”
Bro. Evans is thankful for the support that he receives from his fellow pastors in India. “I’m blessed to have such a wonderful group of brothers working with me,” he said. “Many pastors in my group don’t even have bicycles. We have to buy them bikes. Some of them ride 20 to 25 miles to preach the gospel.”
Although the larger cities in India are becoming more modernized, many of the villages are still without water or electricity. “That’s the kind of people we are targeting in our ministry, and we’ve been very successful.”
Bro. Evans, 63, was born in Rajahmundry, one of the oldest cities of India. He received the Holy Ghost and was baptized in Jesus name at the age of 14, but he didn’t answer the call to the ministry until much later. Instead, he decided to pursue a career in the business/corporate world, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Environmental Ethics from the prestigious Andhra University. “I was born and raised up in Apostolic truth, but I never wanted to be a preacher,” he said. “I wanted to know where my next meal was coming from.” After college, he secured a good job at a pharmaceutical company; however, God had other plans for his life. “I had so many opportunities to settle down in the United States but I realized my call was for India, and I wanted to stay over here and do what the Lord wanted me to do.”
At the age of 25, Bro. Evans began ministering full-time under his father at the church in Rajahmundry, a city of about 300,000 people. “I was preaching and evangelizing and co-pastoring with my father,” he said. At that time, many of the people in their congregation lived in the surrounding countryside often not accessible by vehicle. “They could only travel by foot, bicycles and such,” he said. “But the people were hungry to accept Jesus and have the truth.” The church in Rajahmundry is currently pastored by his elder brother, Jaikumar Evans.
Bro. Evans attributes the spread of the Apostolic message in southern India to his father, the late Jonah Evans, who stumbled onto the truth through study and prayer. At the time, he was attending a Trinity Pentecostal church. When he began to question the pastor about baptism in Jesus name, he was ex-communicated.
“My father did not know about Apostolic truth, but when he was praying and asking God about baptism in Jesus name, God revealed to him about the oneness of the Godhead,” explained Bro. Daniel Evans. “He was looking for someone to baptize him in Jesus name. He heard about a man in the northern part of India about a thousand miles away.”
Jonah Evans traveled that great distance to the city of Bhagalpur to be baptized by Bro. James Morar, an Apostolic pastor. “From that time until now, they had a wonderful, beautiful friendship,” said Daniel Evans. “Bro. Morar was a great man, highly educated. He was a great preacher and kept up to the standards of Apostolic teaching.”
Strangely enough, another relationship was born out of that friendship – a marriage between their children. It was decided that Daniel Evans should marry Joy Morar. “I didn’t even see her before we got engaged,” he laughed. “But it all worked out.” The couple, who have been married for 38 years, now have three children and three grandchildren.
An interesting side note — Bro. Daniel Evans was filled with the Holy Ghost when his future father-in-law held a revival at his church. His wife was filled with the Holy Ghost as a child when her future father-in-law preached a revival at her church.
A Continuing Legacy
After receiving a revelation of Apostolic truth, the elder Jonah Evans sold his thriving business and began sharing the Oneness message mainly in the southern part of India, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This area is presently inhabited by about 80 million people who speak the language of Telugu. The impact of his ministry was significant. At the time of his death in 1984, at least 36 churches had been started. “All the ministries in the south are a direct result of my dad’s teachings,” said Bro. Daniel Evans.
His goal is to continue his father’s Apostolic legacy in India. The growth of the work, even after the death of his father, has been phenomenal. “The people, the pastors, the churches all come under the leadership and direction of the Lord,” he said. “We are not just as an organization but like a family.”
Many of the current Indian pastors were raised in one of the church’s orphanages and then attended the Solid Foundation Apostolic Bible School in Visakhapatnam, which educates about 10 to 12 students each year. The students go through nine months of classroom teaching as well as on-the-job training at local churches. This intensive training propels them into a life of ministry. Once they express an interest in pastoring, they are sent to areas of need. “That’s how we have grown,” said Bro. Daniel Evans. “We are all like one family.”
Once a year, he and his pastoral team host the India General Conference, a dynamic time of preaching, singing and worship. It is attended by an estimated 10,000 people from 12 districts throughout India. Also, it is not uncommon for large preaching crusades to be held in the city of Kakinada in southern India. “We do several crusades a year, depending on the availability of funds,” said Bro. Daniel Evans. “Usually, the eight thousand seats are full, with standing room only. It is a massive crowd, filled with many visitors from the community.”
Trials and Triumphs
In his 38 years of ministry in India, Bro. Daniel Evans and his family have faced many obstacles. He has watched Hindu extremists attempt to burn Apostolic churches and homes. At times, some of the pastors and church members had to run to the jungles to hide. One of his worst memories was the day his special “brother-in-the-Lord” was intentionally hit by a truck and killed. When Bro. Evans tried to complain to police to investigate the incident, he was threatened by arrest if he didn’t leave it alone. These are just a few of the harsh moments endured in India.
Personally, the Daniel Evans family suffered a tragedy, then subsequent miracle, when they moved to Visakhapatnam to start a church. “The first day we got there, my wife became paralyzed on her left side, almost like a vegetable,” he explained. “The doctors said she wasn’t going to live. There was a tumor on her brain. It was a very tough time for about 15 days. They were going to open her brain up and take the tumor out. Just before surgery, I insisted that they take another scan of her brain. They did so, and couldn’t find the tumor. It was gone. What a miracle that happened in her life!” From that day 30 years ago until now, Joy Evans has never even suffered a headache.
Bro. Daniel Evans has seen a shift in the mindset of many Indian people who were bound by religious oppression for many centuries. As a whole, the people are becoming more educated and looking for answers. “The harvest is even greater now,” he said. “I can guarantee and proudly say we are investing into the Kingdom of God.”
He is excited for the opportunity to join hands and work directly with the United Pentecostal Church International. Although his core of churches is still considered an autonomous work, not under the authority of the daily operation of the UPCI leadership, he feels that the partnership will be beneficial to everyone. He is asking for prayers and financial support especially for the orphanages in India. Also, he welcomes visitors to the Apostolic crusades and annual convention.
“There is such a big need in India,” he said. “The most important thing is conversion. If we can reach souls, we can make a difference one at a time. Christ is the answer!”
By Julia Reinking