Demon Goat

Originally published in the May E-Newsletter.

 “I have been back on American soil for two weeks now.  I still am waking up too early and falling asleep in the middle of the day.  I have sat down to write out my thoughts on many occasions, and each time I have not yet been ready to put it into words.
First, to everyone who prays and gives to the work of Claycups, thank you.  I visited four new works that are resourced because many of you faithfully give $5 or $10 a month.  This is not much to us.  But in a land where village pastors live on tithes of rice and onions, $10 goes a long way.

Second, know that the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be stopped.  One pastor told me how every convert in his church has been approached by officials and offered strong financial benefits to come back to Hinduism.  They have been offered lump sums.  They have been offered ration cards and scholarships for college for their children.  All they have to do is bow the knee to an idol and renounce Jesus.  I asked him, “Has anyone taken the deal?”  He looked at me, smiled big, and simply said, “No, brother.  Not a single family.”

Thirdly, there is much work left to do.  I spent half of this trip up in the mountains visiting a village that is not even recognized by the Indian government.  We were truly off the grid.  No bathroom.  No running water.  We carried in a car battery for lightbulbs and fans.  Our entire team slept on the floor in a straight up hut.  The first night, we were warned not to take food or drink, for the local witch doctors might try to poison us so that we would leave.  During our time there, a mutilated goat kept being sent to our site and it kept trying to come into our hut.  Every night, and then on the last day, it came.  The wounds it bore were not from an animal, and we assumed it was some kind of curse being sent into our camp.  Even with all this, we planted gospel seeds.  We met people on the side of this mountain that have never ever heard the name of Christ.  Not even a mention.  We were only there for a few days, but there is a pastor at the foot of the mountain who will continue to go up weekly to begin meeting with those who wonder about Jesus.  It is our prayer that some in this village may put their hope in Jesus.  That they will become disciples, and that a church will be born in a place that was once owned by the enemy.

We are for Jesus.  We are for India.  Thank you for walking with the untouchables of India.  Thank you for caring.”

-Ernesto Alaniz

Eat Indian Food

To those who love the work and pray for the people of India.  Here is a simple way to engage your own heart and life towards the work. Go out and eat some Indian food.  And as you eat, before you pray, pray for the nation of India.  Pray that Jesus would be known there.  Pray for a people under great duress.  Pray for our pastor’s as they labor faithfully in a hot and humid land.  

So, eat well.  And pray for nation of India. 

New Frontiers

Originally posted in the February 2018 E-Newsletter

Our pastors in Andhra are committed to telling people about Jesus.  Whenever a new settlement is built along the highway, our team will go and meet the new residents moving in.  They will provide help and wisdom about the region, and they will begin holding Bible Studies for anyone interested in knowing Jesus.  We have seen many churches grow from these studies.  

When approaching an established village, the strategy has always been to have a series of concerts over a three day period.  These revivals, with their dances and talented musicians, draw great crowds.  And then one of our preachers will open the Bible and proclaim the word of God under an open sky.  Many times, people will be stirred, and they will confess Christ as Lord.  After the revival, a pastor begins coming to their village to hold weekly meetings.  Usually one of the new converts will offer their home as a place to meet.  This is the birth of a house church.  

Lately, the team has been itching to bring the gospel where no one dares go.  There is a desire to push deep into the jungle, into regions that practice a more ancient form of Hinduism.  These jungle regions are painfully poor, lacking electricity, running water, and buses.  There is a desire to begin committing resources to reaching these far off places.  This is going to be a hard ministry.  There may be years of work before seeing any fruit, but the Indian church is accustomed to hard soil.   

Please pray for our pastors as they seek to bring the hope of Jesus into the furthest reaches of their home nation. 

-Ernesto Alaniz
President, Claycups Ministries

Online Giving Change

This last month, we just changed our provider for online giving.  We have done this in order to be responsible with donor gifts.  Our old company had added new fees that added up very quickly month to month.  Our new online company charges less per transaction, and has no monthly fee for using their service.  

If you have given in the past, you may see a different screen when giving again.  This is the reason why.  Thank you for your generosity, and for your faithfulness. 

Welcome to the Jungle

The closer a village is to the highway, the closer it is to wealth.  You have access to markets.  You have access to the bus heading to the cities.  Often, you will find access to water.  The farther away from the highway you are, the further you are from civilization.

Right now our church planters are praying about heading into a jungle reason to do some gospel work.  These areas are far from the highways.  No power.  No internet.  No running water.  Often, the religion of the people is an ancient form of Hinduism, removed from the popular form Americans are accustomed to.

 We are prepping a team of 20 to go into this jungle region and begin pregospel work.  Please pray for health, for safety, and for God to open eyes.  More details to follow.

Buildings

Buildings are not the church.  But they can help the church do it’s work. 

I am currently pastoring a church that has no building.  We meet in borrowed space every Sunday.  This makes it hard to host weddings, to minister to the hurting during funerals, to provide the community with safe spaces to meet during the week.  

This is true here, and it is true overseas.  As some of our churches have grown, have become church planting hubs, they have prayed for walls and cielings to provide shelter from the rain and the heat.  We just finished another building in India.  And it is not everything.  But it is a tool that helps us bring the gospel even further.   

Thank you for caring.  For believing in this work.   

There is only one more building to construct.  $1500 will get us there.  If you or your church wants to help, let us know.  Thank you. 

2017 Report

Dear brothers and sister in Christ,

We wish you all a very happy new year. We are praying for each and every one of you. I hope you had a blessed Christmas and New Year. 2017 was the year of ups and downs, even though God hold our hands and led us in His path. I am thanking all of your for being great prayer warriors and up lift India in your prayers. Your prayers and donations made a difference in India Churches. Specially your love offerings made kids happy. Every single Dollar your sent blessed pastors, kids and churches.

God helped us to achieve great things in 2017.

1.We were able to preach the Gospel to more than 5000 people through evangelism, cottage prayers, street preaching, and Gospel Meetings.

2. Started Kids Ministry and successfully leading 40 kids to church every Sunday.

3. Three church constructions were finished.


And many more.

Thank you for taking your part to blessing India in every way.

I am happy to say God gave us another year to work together to make an Impact in India. Looking forward to see Ernesto and his team in India this year.

Once again thank you.

Happy New Year.

-David (Sons of Thunder Team)

Thank you!

We asked if you would consider giving so that our kids and pastors could have something special this Christmas season.  And many of you responded.  Thank you so much.  Your generosity was heartfelt and is being used to bring blessing to many children and a handful of pastors across the world.  

Thank you for your generosity.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  Thank you for caring for the poor and investing in God's church.  Thank you for loving these kids.  

Have a Merry Christmas, and know that across the world there are many who are blessed because you were kind.  

-Ernesto Alaniz

Wise as serpents

 “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.”

This is one of Jesus’ most unusual teachings.  It sounds like He is saying “be sneaky.”  But living in a place where the gospel is actively plotted against, this teaching becomes very clear.  You have to walk carefully.  You have to ask hard questions about HOW you do the work of the ministry, about WHERE, about WHEN.  This is not due to fear or shame, but to give give the gospel as much room as possible to work.  The shepherds in India need to have this kind of wisdom.  They have to weigh out the cost often.  They are willing to die.... but if they are to die, they must make sure they are dying for the gospel, and not some cultural taboo.  

So pray that our brothers and sisters would be as harmless as doves, but as wise as serpents.  

Arranged Marriages

Among the villages of India, arranged marriages are still the norm.  When the parents think a young man/woman is of age, they reach out to friends/family looking for a spouse in the appropriate age range.  This is a very formal and revered custom.  The believers look for someone who loves Jesus.  And when the parents agree that a union would be good, then a dowry is given.  Unlike the Middle East, in India the dowry is paid from the bride’s family to the groom’s.  The dowry is based on the livelihood of the groom.  If the groom is wealthy, and will give the bride a rich lifestyle, and family pays a lot.  If poor, then not a lot.  

It is a strange thing, being near arranged marriages.  It goes against the American notion of love so strongly.  We believe in the power of feelings.  We hate being told to do anything by anyone.  I once asked a young Christian man about the upcoming search for a bride.  I asked “Aren’t you afraid of who your parents will pick?  What if you don’t like her?” 

His response has never left me.  He thought about this for a moment, and then answered, “I trust my father in all things.  So I trust him with this.”  If that is not trusting faith, I don’t know what is. 

Currying Favor

Asking for prayer this week as we file some paperwork with the Indian government.  More information to follow.  But this is a big step for the ministry.  Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Merry Christmas to India

Hello everyone.  Recently, in the central village of our region, we have begun having weekly kids’ clubs.  It is the heart of the church to give Christmas gifts to the many kids who attend weekly.  We want to give these kids a gift box.  It will include a new pair of clothes, some sandals, a Telugu Bible, and a toy.  Each box would cost $50.  We are looking to give 40 kids presents this year.  Thanks for all you do to bring joy into India.