Leslie Verghese is the Executive Director of Agape Partners International and the Vice President of a premier Social Service agency in New York. Rev. Verghese is a licensed psychotherapist and is also a minister at the Shalem Tabernacle in Elmont, NY. Married to Jessy and has four children, Japhia, Joshua, Johana and Jaynah. He can be contacted at email@example.com.View all articles by Leslie Verghese, LCSW
Agape planned its first ever overseas missions trip trusting fully in the master. As the team prayed and planned this trip, the main goals were to strengthen youths and families, empower and families and churches for missions and establish unity among believers.Thomas Leslie, Kris and Debra joined hands with scores of ministers and lay leaders as the team crisscrossed UK, UAE and India in a three week whirlwind tour.
The tour kicked off in the United Kingdom, the nation which sent thousands of missionaries all over the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. On February 2, a Family and Mission Seminar was held at Sarah Bonnel School, Stratford, London, organized by GM News and the London Pentecostal Church. Over 300 people and 18 pastors participated in this event. Evening and Sunday Morning revival meetings wee held at the same venue. Other Ministry Areas Discussed: Pastors Networking, New Partnership in Sunday School Ministry, Christian Counseling, Media Ministry, and Youth Ministry.
The team continued its journey to the desert land of Arabia. On February 5, 6, and 7, Gospel Meetings were held at Sharjah Worship Center, organized by the GM News, and the Sharjah Worship Center. These meetings were chaired by Pastor. K O Mathew & Pastor. Wilson C. Joseph, and coordinated by Pastor K K Shaji and Bro. Iype.
On to the gateway of India –Mumbai. A Youth Seminar on February 8 at New Bombay Alliance Church was organized by Seal India and Christian Life Center. The same day, the team visited the Seal India Ashram, spent time with the residents and their caretakers, and shared the love of Jesus with them. The Seal Ashram is not just a shelter, but a home of hope where people young and old, who are HIV/Aids affected, mentally disabled and poor find peace and hope for their lives. At present SEAL is a home for over 100 + residents which over the years has grown into a major referral place for the destitute in New Mumbai. The “Xtreme Life” event was organized by Youth Unlimited, the youth ministry of Christian Life Center on 8th February 2008 at the New Bombay Alliance Church in Vashi, Mumbai. Over 250 youth from all over New Bombay attended the evangelistic rally and musical evening put together in association with SEAL. Live Praise & Worship by the Uth Unltd band set many a feet dancing to popular contemporary worship tunes. Thomas and Kris challenged the gathering for missions and the meeting ended with an altar call and ministry time to the youth. Hundreds of youths committed their lives for the extension of the kingdom of God.
The crowning glory of the missions trip was the time spent at the heart of Agape’s mission work. From February 9 – 13 Gospel Meetings, Leadership Conference, and Bible School Graduation, were organized by Christian Ashram, the Pentecostal Fellowship, Agape Bible Seminary, and Bless Gujarat Network. Two evening Public Meetings, attended by over 1000 people. Over 15 people from Hindu background came to the Lord. Kris spoke on the topic of spiritual warfare and Thomas spoke from 2 Ch 7:14. The Gujarat Youth Meeting witnessed the inauguration of Computer and English Education Classes as well. Thomas spoke to hundreds of youths and children in a community that has been affected by drugs, violence, and other antisocial behavior. About 50 leaders & pastors representing various churches and ministries attended the meeting with Bless Gujarat Network.
Agape Bible school graduation - The clearest evidence of the mission work in Gujarat bearing much fruit was this graduation ceremony. The API training center in Gujarat produced 43 committed young men and women this year.
Will a trip to India be complete without visiting ‘God’s own country – Kerala’? The missions team visited the capital of Kerala Trivandrum on February 14 where a Family and Mission Seminar was organized by City Revival Church. Over 100 Pastors and Youth Leaders registered for this leadership and marriage seminar at Kailash, Pattom, Trivandrum. The evening convention was attended by over 200 people and Thomas and Kris shared from the word
As the culmination point of the trip, the team moved to Cochin, the financial capital of the state on February 17-18 for a Youth Seminar and evening power conferences, organized by Faith City Church. Over 300 youths registered for the one day seminar where majority of the attendees committed their lives for missions. The evening convention was attended by over 700 people. Pastor Kris Jackson spoke on the power of the Holy Spirit at this meeting.
Thomas stated the following “It was a wonderful trip. We had 13 gospel/mission meetings, 4 family/marriage/youth seminars, and 3 leaders/pastors seminars at 7 locations during this whirlwind tour. Several youths committed their life for missions. I wish some of our churches would have a chance to have a dialogue with such communities. What an enlightenment that would be! I came back with a deeper appreciation for the people of Gujarat, a renewed sense of hope, and a commitment to find ways to care for all of God's children. The world now is just a little bit smaller and we learned how God is at work in the whole human family. My perspective on faith and life was broadened and deepened. God is indeed launching us out by His grace to walk with our partners to bless Gujarat.” This mission trip taught the team an important lesson: there’s only one life, and soon that will pass; what is done for Christ only will last. It gives us a passion for Jesus by doing what He commanded us – the Great Commission and enables us to see more clearly – both ourselves and the world in which we live. It’s a great opportunity to meet some great men of God. Getting involved in missions will cure our spiritual nearsightedness and will help us see one of the great wonders of the world – the bridge of unity in Jesus that crosses language, culture, and race. It’s a great adventure. It revitalizes our spiritual life and enables us to become a better steward. To fulfill the great commission, we need obedience, preparation, expectation, total dependence in God, continuous prayer and the Holy Spirit.
Kris states: “the trip was rewarding enough just to meet God’s many choice servants laboring for the kingdom as pastors, evangelists, bishops over groups of churches, and workers in orphanages. Let alone the Rickshaws speeding like yellow and black bumble bees, cattle roaming the streets, a haze of smog both natural and spiritual, the poor dwelling in tents and boxes, traffic jams, et al. But amid darkness was great light. Hundreds of people committed their lives to Christ during the India trip but that is but a speck in a wide sea of need. 1.2 billion Souls! That equals 1200 cities of a million people”
Leslie said, “God has accomplished His tremendous work during this trip and it was evident from all the meetings. The participation was unprecedented especially with many pastors and youth leaders attending the leadership conferences in all places. There is a great desire for unity among Christian leaders to fight against the common enemy. In all meetings there was a tremendous move of God and the word of God went forth with power, clarity and conviction. The felt needs of the people of God were discerned by the men of God by the help of the Holy Spirit and the messages were led completely led by HIS direction. At times, pre-set programs were completely overturned at the spur of a moment. I am sure this is just a start and I encourage all of you to be a part in this noble venture”
Agape is a Not for Profit US based tax exempt Organization established in 1997 for Charity, Missions, Counseling, Training, Education, Research, Publication, and Education. Agape represents individuals, churches, organizations or groups that agree on the same core Christians values and have a world -wide vision and share resources to accomplish the Christian mission. We work with all born again Christians across denominational lines expecting a movement of God in training Christians to share the gospel, minister to the youths and families and go beyond talks and meetings to actually transforming people lives. We aim to unite Christians to pray and equip the Christians with information, develop a series of gatherings which will be offered in chosen cities of North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia that includes Leadership/Pastors conference, Family or Mission seminars, Consultations, Outreach events, and Community health camps. These gatherings will be organized in conjunction with local Christian leaders of the local cities, who provide resources of their own, while Agape provides the vision, strategy, and other resources.
Agape’s tasks and needs for 2008 are the following: Establish a network of Christian Counselors in US for South Asian families; provide the necessary training, work with churches and pastors. Purchase land and build the infrastructure for Bible Training center, mercy homes, and health camps. Translate Sunday school text books to Gujarati and Hindi for over 1000 churches in North India states