Our Year in Kolkata
Kolkata is home to over 8 million Bengali people, which is one of the largest unreached people groups in the world. Megacities was invited by a unified group of spiritual leaders in the city to partner with them to be a catalyst towards major, long-term transformation. Since April of 2014, 92 YWAM and church teams from 18 different nations joined together with local believers to catalyse the city in all spheres, reaching out to all people, touching every area of society. Teams went to all areas of the city, and partnering with the local church, engaged in a wide variety of ministry opportunities that involved evangelism, training, and mercy ministry.
Throughout Megacities time in Kolkata, all teams demonstrated the love of the Father to the poor, homeless, and those in need. Several teams helped to refurbish a juvenile detention centre through cleaning, redecorating, and designing a wall mural of a tree with the fruits of the Spirit, which brought both joy and life into the home. This single project was recognised by the local government as a model for similar locations in West Bengal.
Another major way mercy was extended was through healthcare teams. Many medical teams carried out various forms of medical ministry, including primary health care, midwifery, wound care, eye testing and dental check ups. Other teams and teachers taught on water filtration, small scale Biogas utilisation and inner city farming techniques. All teams found ways to physically demonstrate God’s love to the poor and destitute. In so doing, many local Christians were inspired to reach out despite what can seem to be overwhelming numbers and need.
Megacities teams and seminar speakers provided many training opportunities for people in the city, covering a wide range of topics. Teams ran many discipleship seminars throughout the city, which were attended by youth, youth leaders, new believers, church members, and pastors. The seminars covered foundational topics about developing a relationship with God, following Jesus as a disciple, and taking part in the great commission. Over 50 young people from different churches received this teaching in the north of the city. The response was so positive, a local leader requested that the next team run the training again.
A series of seminar style gatherings were facilitated for members of the University of the Nations to do training for teachers, principals, headmasters and directors of educational institutions. These seminars covered topics such as learning styles, teaching styles, classroom environment, creativity, life skills, character transformation and the value of children. They reached a diverse background of educators from government, Christian and other religious affiliated schools. Over 500 teachers and headmasters attended these gatherings. The strong response has opened up doors for further, long term training projects by the University of the Nations, with potential to impact the education of tens of thousands of students directly.
Mobilisation of the local believer is important for the transformational work to continue. Local believers were challenged to walk with teams, and were encouraged by the hunger and openness of the people they encountered. Teams and locals have shared the gospel one to one with many people, by doing home visits and open air gospel presentations. The vast majority of locals had rarely or never shared their faith before. Many now have testified to being stirred to reach out to their local communities, and not let fear stop them. One local pastor started a prayer walking ministry and has now invited other pastors, youth groups and churches in the area to join him. We have also seen an increase in local believers starting to reach out to people living in the slums in their area, engaging with mercy ministry and other community projects. The following testimony was sent to the Megacities office from one of the teams:
“While in Kolkata our DTS team ran two eye clinics and served over 280 people, giving out over 240 pairs of prescription glasses. We followed up our eye clinic with an open air and the local youth group did some fantastic gospel skits. Several young people were saved, one woman was instantly healed and many people were hungry to hear more. One lady asked the church youth to come and start a church service in their slums. The youth group now have a vision to start a school for the poor children in that slum and want to continue to do ministry.”
Local youth began to understand the power of the gospel and Jesus great commission was for them.
Almost daily for a year, many young people went out with Megacities teams and prayed for people in the streets, regularly seeing salvations and healings. One team member shared with us,
“The biggest thing we have seen is the youth of the church here in Howrah being lit on fire. They had never done open airs or door to door evangelism before and they are coming every day. One girl told us, now that she has done this, she will never stop.”
This has led to church growth and the planting of churches: ten confirmed church plants and growing have taken place through local Christians partnering with teams in areas where previously few churches existed. Local church leaders reported that throughout the year they witnessed their numbers increase as people were being led to the Lord, and church members began to bring their friends and family to church with them, often for the first time, as they started to see the real fruitfulness of evangelism.
Many local believers have caught the vision for transformation.
Professor Dipak Nath, leader of Vision India said, “Megacities touched our lives, showed us how to love people outside the walls of the churches. This is reality. This is the love of Jesus. This we must act on. The light that you (Megacities) have burned with, the light that you have lit, it will go on. We will all carry it in the days to come. The city will be transformed with the love of Jesus.”
At a final Megacities meeting in Kolkata, Pastor Israel Jenith said, “I’m very grateful for every team member who has come, walked, prayed, and done everything for outreach. I strongly believe, I can assure you, things won’t be the same in Kolkata. In coming days you will see the fruits of your hard work in the city of Kolkata.” Over a hundred other leaders echoed these statements.