Issues and Answers

Pumpkins And Gods Help

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Jeffery Wilson & Rita Westphal


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000234

00:31 Hello, I'm Shelley Quinn and welcome again to
00:34 Issues and Answers. Today's issue, we're going to
00:36 be talking about a great need in India and about a woman who
00:40 turned pumpkins into churches
00:42 in India. Now that's a story.
00:45 She reminds me actually of the
00:48 Proverbs 31 wife. Let me read
00:50 you just a little bit about her. In Proverbs 31:10 it says:
00:55 a capable, intelligent and virtuous woman; who is he who
00:59 can find her? Men if you've found her hold onto her. She is
01:02 far more precious than jewels and her value is far above
01:06 rubies or pearls. Then it says in verse 20: She opens her hand
01:11 to the poor. Yes she reaches out her filled hands to the needy.
01:17 And verse 31 says: Give her of the fruit of her hands and let
01:23 her own works praise her in the gates.
01:25 We're going to be telling you her story and unfortunately she
01:29 is not here with us today but we've got someone very special
01:32 returning to visit with us and that is Jeff Wilson.
01:36 Jeff, thank you so much for returning again. Now you've been
01:41 here several times and we're very thrilled. You are the
01:45 director for the planned giving and trust services of the
01:48 General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
01:51 That's right. I got that all out didn't I? Praise God.
01:55 And we also have with us Rita Westfall. Rita you and your
01:59 husband Leonard... It's wonderful to be here.
02:02 Oh we're glad you're here and you and your husband Leonard
02:06 work with the trust department for 3ABN and do a great work.
02:10 We are going to be talking about something very important but for
02:15 those people who haven't caught some of the earlier shows that
02:19 we've taped to together, Jeff why don't you kind of just tell
02:23 us how did you become interested in trust services? Going from
02:27 being a pastor and a youth director, how did you make that
02:31 segue, the transition, into trust services?
02:34 Well it's something that's always been of interest to me
02:37 is some of these major decisions
02:39 that people make in their lives
02:41 that can carry far beyond their
02:43 lifetime. And I've been impacted
02:45 by some people who were involved
02:47 in trust services through the years who blessed my wife and I
02:51 as a young pastor in helping us through this kind of scary area
02:55 in our lives. When our children were young and we needed help
03:00 on how to choose guardians and all those kinds of issues and
03:04 they've just helped us all along the line and I thought you know
03:08 when I get older I'd like to do that too. The Lord sort of got
03:12 me into it before I was older. I'm older now; when I started I
03:16 wasn't so old. Well then Rita, how did you make
03:20 the transition to come to work with Leonard?
03:24 Well, that was a kind of an unusual situation. I used to be
03:29 teaching, I loved teaching, I loved my job and I never thought
03:34 of being part of the 3ABN trust services. I could see myself
03:39 working for 3ABN in translating, in speaking and doing this or
03:44 doing that, but not trust
03:45 services because I had this idea
03:49 that it was all an area that I
03:52 wasn't really into. Well once I started accompanying Leonard
03:57 here and there I realized that it was a fascinating thing and
04:02 a very important ministry and I got very, very interested in it.
04:07 It's very much a teaching ministry, isn't it?
04:09 It is. I am still teaching the principles of good stewardship.
04:15 I have become more like the telephone person and the person
04:21 who kind of oversees in general what is going on and I keep in
04:27 touch with the people. So I have been very blessed. Very, very
04:32 blessed. We've been very blessed to have
04:34 both of you and I know Leonard is excited that you're working
04:36 alongside him. Yes, it's very wonderful because
04:39 like Leonard used to tell me I talk with the best people in
04:44 the world. They are the best. Now I tell him, yes, you are
04:49 right. We really talk with the wonderful Christian people who
04:54 really want to make a difference in the Lord's work.
04:58 Well we're going to be talking today about someone who's not
05:02 necessarily using trust services but a precious soul that I met
05:06 and interviewed and we're going to be talking about how the Lord
05:10 has actually led her to make a difference in India. But first
05:14 Jeff, why don't you tell us a little bit about the
05:17 demographics of India and what kind of issues that we are
05:21 facing there. India is a very, very
05:23 interesting place. It's as opposite of the west in many
05:28 ways as anyone could ever imagine. It's a country that's
05:33 geographically about one-fourth the size of the United States.
05:37 And yet more than four times as many people live there;
05:41 more than one billion people, one billion with a B live in
05:45 India. So wherever you go we work in evangelism in the small
05:49 villages out in the country, but there are people everywhere.
05:54 For decades and decades our dedicated missionaries worked
05:59 very, very hard in India and found almost no results.
06:03 Then the last decade or so the work there has just virtually
06:08 exploded; it's just amazing what is happening in evangelism.
06:12 We got caught up in it about seven years ago. We were trying
06:16 to get trust services going in that country and we were
06:21 training our local workers and our relationship with Cheryl
06:26 Erickson, the pumpkin lady, who you've interviewed on this
06:30 program. She, by God's grace, sent us some money to build
06:34 a few churches and we built those churches and we dedicated
06:38 those churches and then we got involved in what they call ten
06:43 village evangelism where we have native workers, pastors and
06:48 Bible workers who go from village to village much like
06:51 evangelism was in Jesus' day. They knock on doors and ask
06:54 people if they would like to study the Bible and if they
06:57 wouldn't, they move to another village. But more often than not
07:01 the people say yes we'd like to learn about the Bible. So they
07:04 say do you have a place we can stay and the people are very
07:07 hospitable. They will provide them a bed and food and they
07:12 will study the Bible with the people. Then after about a month
07:16 or a month-and-a-half of that we come, generally in the fall
07:21 of the year in November, pitch a tent out in an open field and
07:25 have a little power plant to power little lights and a
07:32 generator for a projector and we do 15 nights of meetings.
07:38 We use Mark Finley's New Beginnings series. We put a
07:43 sheet between two poles and show a picture up there.
07:47 It's in their native tongue and as many people as we can bring
07:51 come. We hire trucks and tractors pulling trailers and
07:56 they bring the people because the people have no other means
07:59 of transportation. We'll have anywhere from 600 to a couple
08:03 thousand people there every night, many children are there
08:07 and we have baptisms every day of the week through all that
08:12 time. In our little meetings we will have anywhere from 800 to
08:17 a couple of thousand new 7th Day Adventists. What we end up doing
08:22 is establishing a 7th Day Adventist church in that village
08:26 Now that village many times had no religion before at all or
08:30 just a heathen religion. In some villages we were in last year
08:34 there was the hammer and sickle. Actually communism had been the
08:39 religion in those villages. So what we make a commitment to
08:43 do is to build a church for those folk because they could
08:47 never in their lifetime afford to build a church. Most of them
08:50 earn; they work out in the fields in the fields, in the
08:53 cotton fields and the pepper fields and the rice paddies.
08:58 They make about 40 cents a day for working from sun up to sun
09:03 down. So for about $3500, some of them are $5000, we build
09:08 churches for them and the next year we come back and dedicate
09:12 those churches. Well the pumpkin lady, and that was her own name
09:15 for herself, her name is Cheryl Erickson, she's a farmer's wife
09:19 up in North Dakota and we've worked together for seven years
09:23 now and I just met her this past summer at camp meeting,
09:26 interestingly enough. John Turk, the trust services
09:30 director in her conference came to preach one Sabbath and told
09:35 about our India church projects. She has been wanting to do
09:39 something in missions and she said that's my project. So she
09:42 wrote to me and she said I have some money to build two churches
09:46 in India. Well that was a miracle to me because I knew
09:49 they needed churches, they need thousands of churches, and the
09:52 Lord had laid the burden on my heart and I said where can we
09:57 find this. So for the last seven years she's raised enough money
10:01 with her pumpkins to build two or three churches and God has
10:04 sent us money from other places because every year we've built
10:08 at least 10 and sometimes 11 or 12 churches a year. Now I know
10:12 some who do 50 and 100; ours is just a little project.
10:16 When I interviewed Cheryl Erickson. Rita, she was such a
10:19 precious woman. The scripture that comes to my mind is
10:23 Isaiah 48:17 where the Lord said I am the Lord your God who
10:26 teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.
10:30 Because after she heard this story she was praying and asking
10:34 God what can I do. You know I'm just a farmer's wife and she
10:39 went out and asked her husband.. God impressed her to take that
10:43 acre and dedicate it to him. Do you remember the story of the
10:49 miracle of that acre?
10:50 Well there are at least seven miracles that she counts up.
10:54 One was that first year there was a drought and there was no
10:58 rain and she was out pacing in the field, Lord, my pumpkins
11:03 could sure use a drink of water. And she said the Lord said to
11:08 her, Cheryl, if I can make pumpkins out of nothing, I can
11:12 make them with no water. That year she had a beautiful bumper
11:16 crop of pumpkins. She was able to sell every one of them when
11:21 everyone else couldn't. She went to the grocery store chain in
11:26 town to sell pumpkins. Well she found out of course they already
11:30 had a contract with another farmer. But the produce manager
11:34 said, Well I haven't heard from him for a while. Let me get him
11:38 on the phone. Well he called the man and the farmer said I've
11:42 been meaning to call you because none of my pumpkins came up this
11:45 year. I have none. So that was several thousand pumpkins she
11:49 was able to sell there. The bank bought 235 pumpkins because they
11:54 were such perfectly formed pumpkins that they were lovely
11:58 for decoration in the bank branches. But then she said she
12:02 got to her lowest point because she still had thousands of
12:06 pumpkins to sell; the Lord had given her such an abundant
12:09 harvest and she didn't know where to sell them and the phone
12:13 rang and here was a farmer's market in Fargo, North Dakota,
12:17 a person she didn't now, she didn't even know how they got
12:20 her phone number. He said, you know, do you have pumpkins to
12:23 sell and she said, do I have pumpkins. He said, I'll take
12:26 every one you have. She hung up the phone and she said she was
12:31 like the paralytic who was healed. She was dancing around
12:34 and praising God. What a wonderful story.
12:39 You know, this just shows when you dedicate... The Bible says
12:43 commit your way to the Lord and commit your plans to the Lord
12:46 and he'll cause them to succeed and that's what she did.
12:49 And this great work, this great need in India... When you said,
12:54 it just really struck me, that up to 10 years about there
12:58 really much that we were able to do and the explosive growth
13:03 of the last 10 years. Every major religion is represented in
13:09 India. Christianity is still something that many have never
13:13 heard the story of Christ and when they hear they are so
13:18 hungry because many of the poor people have been locked out of
13:21 their temples and their God is not an approachable God, he's
13:26 not a God of love. And I know that between the Nolans and
13:30 Merlyn Farley and the work that they're doing, Maranatha and the
13:35 work that they're doing, it just reminds me of Matthew 24:14.
13:40 God is saying... He promised take this gospel into all the
13:44 ends of the earth and then the end shall come. It just shows
13:47 us that we're getting closer to the end.
13:49 It's really a wonderful time to be involved in evangelism in
13:55 India and I would encourage anyone who wants to have a
13:59 life-changing experience to contact one of these groups.
14:03 There's work for everyone to do. My daughter often goes with me
14:08 and she tells the Bible story but she'll sit with the children
14:12 in the front and visits with the women and the children in the
14:16 villages and just has a wonderful time. But if we go,
14:21 they will come and they will listen and village after village
14:25 will become 7th Day Adventist Christians. It's thrilling. More
14:30 than 100,000 people are being baptized a year right now.
14:34 It has just passed a million 7th Day Adventists, I think, in
14:38 India. And again, it took decades to just get 10,000
14:43 members. You know, 3ABN is on there.
14:45 I remember when we were at the General Conference. You know you
14:48 work for an international ministry. You know it here
14:54 I knew it in my heart at the General Conference when a little
14:58 lady came running down the aisle and she was from India and she
15:02 was going Oh Shelley Quinn, Shelley Quinn, you know.
15:05 And Merlyn Farley, we'd been talking with the Farleys and
15:09 you know they're very connected with Gospel Outreach and they
15:12 have invited us to go with them and I think possibly we're
15:16 trying to arrange this hopefully for the first part of the year
15:19 that J.D. and I and maybe some others from 3ABN... Rita Do you
15:22 and Leonard want to go over and do some campaigns?
15:25 I might. India is very dear to my heart. If there is a country
15:30 that tugs at my heart, it's India. I love the little
15:34 children. The people are so beautiful. They seem to be so
15:38 genuine, they seem to be so needy and willing too. They are
15:44 grasping to be accepted, to be connected to God. It's just
15:49 amazing. It's very, very touching for me the way they
15:54 respond. They're a very loving people. Yes.
15:56 They have deep concerns for their children. The elders will
16:00 come up and ask if we can provide a school, a Christian
16:04 school, for their children. They need pastoral care and that's a
16:09 major challenge. We try to raise money; by God's grace
16:14 we've gotten enough this year to buy a couple of motorcycles
16:19 for some of the area pastors. They have 25-35 churches that
16:23 they have responsibility for and never in their lifetime
16:27 could they afford an automobile. There's a government bus once in
16:31 a while but it may not be going to the village when they need to
16:34 go to conduct a funeral or have a prayer meeting or something.
16:38 So for about $1200 we can get the best Indian-made motorcycle
16:43 and a helmet and some side containers so they can carry
16:48 their Bible and their Bible lessons and provide some wheels
16:53 for some of our pastors and they are so grateful to have a means
16:57 of transportation. What is a pastor's salary in
17:02 India or a Bible Worker's salary in India?
17:05 It's about $300 or $400.
17:08 So for every $300 or $400 a month that we can contribute
17:15 you can have someone who's working full time?
17:18 Yes. One thing that we also do of course, I think most of
17:22 the groups do is provide Bibles for the new converts. They're
17:25 from the Indian Bible Society; they're in Telugu, their native
17:30 language. When they come up out of the watery grave of baptism
17:35 we give them a Bible and they just hug those Bibles they are
17:40 so precious to them. Well many of the adults are illiterate so
17:44 someone says why give them a Bible if they're illiterate? The
17:48 answer is the children are not and the children will teach the
17:52 parents to read and the only book in the home will be a Bible
17:57 Every night at the meetings we'll see people come with
18:01 Bibles and especially the children will turn to the texts
18:05 that we're referring to and it's such a joy to see that.
18:09 These Bibles cost a little less that $2 U.S. each and they're
18:15 just in a little plastic sleeve like we would toss away but the
18:20 people will very carefully slip that sleeve so they can slip
18:25 their Bible back into it to keep it fresh and new.
18:28 That's something that they treasure it quite... It reminds
18:32 me of Jeremiah 15:16: Your words were found and I ate them and
18:36 they were to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.
18:39 Oh that we would treat out Bibles more like that. Now this
18:44 10-village campaign, how long is this? Tell us a little more
18:50 about that. It goes on for 15 nights and
18:55 during the daytime we are visiting in the villages.
18:58 We spend probably anywhere from six to eight hours a day on the
19:04 road. The roads are pretty rough over
19:08 there I understand. Traveling on the roads in India
19:11 is different than other parts of the world. It's an adventure.
19:16 It's a roller coaster ride. There are times when we've spent
19:21 12 hours a day on the road and probably about every minute you
19:25 say this is my last moment on earth.
19:29 Is that because of the condition of the roads or the way they
19:33 drive? It's everything. Everything, all of the above.
19:36 It's everything. The roads generally are not in very good
19:40 condition. They are building some new roads, World Bank has
19:43 provided the funds; nice double- lane roads with an island in the
19:48 middle. But if the people want to go the other way and it's
19:52 more convenient to go the wrong way, they will do so. If there's
19:56 a chug hole on their side of the road, they will whip over to the
20:00 other side of the road and the oncoming traffic will move.
20:05 The road is the habitat of every living thing and some things
20:11 that aren't alive. People will dry their grain on the road.
20:15 People will sleep on the road even at night. Animals will be
20:20 asleep on the road. If your vehicle breaks down, you don't
20:23 pull it to the side of the road, you leave it in the middle of
20:27 the road. At night most of the trucks have no tail lights that
20:31 work and sometimes their head lights don't work and when they
20:35 do work it's worse because for whatever reason when they're
20:39 overtaking and passing they throw their beams up on high
20:43 beam and with all the dust on the wind shield at least I'm
20:47 blinded. I'm hoping that the driver can see something.
20:50 Then there are ox carts on the road. There are people driving
20:54 sheep and goats on the road. There are bicycles on the road.
20:58 There are people walking on the road. There are a few cars.
21:02 In a day's driving we might see five or six automobiles, a
21:06 typical automobile like we are familiar with here. There are
21:10 lots of buses and that's how most people travel and lots of
21:15 trucks. Sort of the rule is, the big guy has the right of way.
21:19 So the trucks and the buses, they go very fast and when they
21:23 want to pass it doesn't matter that cars or motorcycles are
21:26 coming the other way. They will whip over in that lane and the
21:30 people get out of the way if they can. So as I say I've many
21:33 times come right up to a car and then he'll just pull back
21:36 in at the last moment and you think, Lord I don't know, this
21:40 may be it for me. Well it's something that we see
21:46 we see the great need there. How can people become involved
21:49 other than maybe contacting Maranatha or Gospel Outreach and
21:53 going over to do a campaign? How can people become involved
21:57 as Cheryl did? What would they do if they want to help fund
22:01 something like this? Well, there are many
22:03 organizations like you said, the ones that you mentioned,
22:06 ASI and if they're interested in helping us with our little
22:09 projects they can send money to our attention at the General
22:12 Conference. I've had little children in Sabbath School give
22:16 me $2 and say I want one Bible for one little child in India
22:19 and that's been very precious to me. I've just shown a picture
22:23 in Sabbath School of some of the motorcycles. I had these people
22:26 come up to me and they said, we're motorcyclists. And I said,
22:29 I would have never guessed that. We want to help you with a
22:32 motorcycle. I was in a church one day showing about the
22:35 motorcycles and they said do you get helmets for those pastors?
22:38 I said, I never thought of that. They need helmet, absolutely.
22:42 So they said we'll give you money for helmets. So we found
22:45 the best helmets in India, we went and found the very best
22:48 ones. They cost about $20 U.S., with the hood, because you know
22:52 there's lots of rocks that can be thrown up and a person could
22:55 be blinded or killed very easily. As I say, at churches
22:59 a lot of people when they find out you can build a church for
23:05 $3500 or a larger church for $5000, I've had a lot of people
23:10 say I'll write you a check to build a church. These are
23:16 concrete and steel buildings. They are the nicest building
23:20 in the village. Most of the villagers live in mud huts.
23:25 In fact, to walk in a village there I'm often taken aback.
23:29 I've said, I'm walking in the footprints of Jesus. The only
23:34 thing that's different from the time of Jesus is that there is
23:39 in the village a well with a pump handle on it. That's where
23:42 they get their water and it's made out of stainless steel;
23:45 the government's done that so you wouldn't have seen that in
23:49 Jesus' day. Occasionally there will be one electric line to one
23:53 little electric bulb in a home and I have seen a few television
23:58 sets so that's where they're getting 3ABN but not every
24:01 village. But if one person has a television, the whole village
24:05 would come together for it. Usually the villagers will
24:09 often give us the land for the church and they will give us the
24:14 nicest, most prominent spot in the village. That's where they
24:19 want the church. They want the best piece for God. When we
24:25 have the dedication, there will be a call for gifts and one will
24:31 say I will give a clock, I will give a chair, I will give a
24:36 table. Most of the people sit on the floor but they take grain
24:39 sacks and sew them together and they will bring some of those to
24:43 lay on the floor and the children are first and then the
24:46 adults are second. Someone will say I will give an offering
24:50 plate. It's interesting; I have some pictures of offerings in
24:53 India. It's very interesting because people will bring in
24:56 kind gifts. They'll bring their tithe and offerings and it will
25:00 be a little pot of rice or some eggs or some other kinds of food
25:05 and that is because they don't have much money, this is their
25:09 money. I said, how do you deal with that. They said well after
25:13 sundown on Saturday night sometimes the pastor who has
25:16 some income from the conference will buy that or they do an
25:20 auction and they sometimes we get more than face value for the
25:25 rice and the eggs to turn it into cash to send to region
25:30 to the mission office.
25:32 You know one thing, I was
25:33 talking with Merlyn Farley one
25:35 day and, Rita, I asked him
25:37 specifically... They had so many baptisms. I mean the numbers
25:41 from these campaigns were so astronomical and I said, but
25:45 when you go back are these people staying in the church?
25:49 He said, not only are they staying but by the time they
25:52 go back there's no attrition. The churches are actually
25:57 growing because these people are hungry and they really do
26:00 accept the Lord and they go out and share their faith.
26:04 I was impressed when I read that that they really remain faithful
26:10 We go back one year later to dedicate the church. When I do
26:13 a 10-village campaign this year, I will go back to the 10
26:16 villages from last year and dedicate those churches.
26:19 In every case there's 40 or 50 or 60 or 100 more people in the
26:25 church from last year. There's a loud speaker on the outside of
26:29 the church so if you don't come to church, church comes to you.
26:34 Everyone will hear the service and many times the village
26:39 leader, the village elder, will be the first one to be baptized.
26:43 He says, I want to set an example for my people and in
26:47 those cases we know that in time the whole village will be 7th
26:50 Day Adventist Christians. And to think that someone like
26:55 a North Dakota farmer's wife, Cheryl Erickson, could be
27:00 sponsoring these churches. You know, we can do these types of
27:04 things too if we'll just ask the Lord to lead us and show us
27:08 what to do. Well, again, our time has gone by too quickly.
27:11 Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
27:14 I'm so glad we had the chance to discuss this matter. I wish
27:17 more young people would get involved.
27:19 Oh Amen. It doesn't have to be young people. There's no age
27:25 limit. They've going over that are 87 years old that are
27:31 actually doing campaigns too. So if you're looking for something
27:35 to do for the Lord, pray about this and ask God if he might
27:38 send you or at least in Cheryl's case she couldn't go so she sent
27:42 the money and she's doing a great work. May the grace of our
27:46 Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of
27:49 the Holy Spirit be with you today and every day.
27:52 Thank you for joining us.


Revised 2014-12-17