Editor's Note: For years I have read some of the fantastic reports about the amazing "results" of these short preaching trips to India. They sounded too good to be true, but I had no way to know for sure. Brother Cook has been there and still goes there. He has spent years in that field. His observations and conclusions deserve to be heard. Can you really believe that a group of preachers could go to India for 3-5 weeks and have 7,713 truly converted to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, start 230 new congregations and really convert "around 40 denominational preachers?" It is incredible! That is far better than Peter and the other apostles did and they had a giant head start in both ability and especially in an audience (Jews) who already believed in the one true God and accepted the Old Covenant Scriptures.
I believe Brother Cook should be heard. Other brotherhood papers have refused to carry his observations. Why? The preachers involved, supporting brethren and churches ignore the observations and questions raised.
I had just as soon believe Jimmy Swaggart's claims of 60-75,000 "converts" in his short stints in Catholic South America. He claims to be saving millions all over the world. Perhaps the more sensational the claims the greater the dollars come .for support.
To truly convert thousands in a land of benighted heathenism in a matter of a few weeks is incredible!
Brethren, we need to re-examine scripturally and practically a lot of things we are doing at home and around the world. It is quality (scriptural reality) that counts, not simply inflated quantity and fabulous reports. Read carefully what our brother has to say. He is no carping critic. He has been there. - CAH.
In the September-October 1986 edition of World Radio News there appeared a rash of reports about recent missionary successes in India. They were no different from ones I have seen over the years except here they were all lumped into the same issue. I used to believe these reports were true, until I went to India and learned firsthand that my fellow missionaries lie about their successes. They aren't "big tall tales" without any truth to support them. They are more like the "white lies" we too often get away with when we report our successes even here at home. They just aren't true!
On the front page Charles Scott reported about a group of 29 local American preachers he led into India in the early part of 1986. I met about 15 of these men in Calcutta as they were exiting the country following their month-long trek through the rural villages of India baptizing those thousands of poor illiterate folk. Sixty-four percent of all the people in India are illiterate. These men, of course, knew about the work that Gary Walker, Parker Henderson, Nat Cooper, myself and others have done over the years in the large urban communities of India. We have spent years teaching, baptizing and further grounding people in India so that stable churches based on the Indian economy can survive in that country. We have worked in major cities like Bombay, Calcutta, Bangalore and about four others. Anyhow, it is widely known that we have never "dipped and dropped" large numbers of people but rather have worked patiently with sincere truth-seekers in order to produce strong dedicated disciples who will carry on after the missionary leaves the country. It is also widely known that we have not carelessly thrown money around and put Indian men on American salaries. We have seen the corrupting influence of the U.S. dollar.
When we met up with those departing missionaries in Calcutta (quite by accident) there was an almost hushed atmosphere as we as brethren shared a meal together. They hardly asked about our work and were reluctant to answer our questions about theirs. Finally, one of those brethren innocently said what he was feeling, "Well, me and my part-her only baptized 267 but I don't feel good about it. I wonder what will happen to those we baptized."
Scott reported that in 51/2 weeks these 29 workers preached in 465 places with an average of 11 baptisms in each place. I believe him so far. There are ways to do this. He said 116 new congregations were started and 51 denominational preachers were converted. Well, if he says that happened, as a brother I'll trust his word as much as I can. However, I spent at least five years as a full-time missionary in India (not 4 or 5 weeks at a time, but months and even a year in a stretch) and I never discovered any short-cuts to making disciples. I have been all over that country preaching and teaching as hard as I could, not for a few weeks, but for months and years, and I never saw anything like what Scott reported happen! I have talked with translators who have traveled with Scott and Bailey and others in India, and while they saw lots of people dunked, they tell me they never saw hundreds of new churches started in a matter of weeks and denominational preachers converted so easily. I worked as hard as I could and tried to teach denominational leaders, but in all those years I never found but a small number of these men who were willing to give up their salaries and come over and preach the truth for nothing. I did, however, meet a good number of them who would forsake their denominational ties for a greater salary than they were getting. Of course, since we didn't put Indian men on American support, they all declined.
The essence of Scott's report was in the front page headlines: FIVE THOUSAND BAPTIZED IN INDIA. All this in 51/2 weeks with under 30 workers! In reflecting on my work in India these past few years, I am beginning to feel like a failure. I thought I knew what the Great Commission was all about. Jesus said, "Go...teach...make disciples...baptize...further teach..." (Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15). I went; I taught and taught and it was so hard to make them understand. I taught them to be true and loyal disciples of Jesus Christ, and to have no other lords. (Hindus have about 3 million deities, you know.) And after a lot of teaching and a lot of time, some came to be baptized. We campaigned in large city-wide meetings and brethren like Nat Cooper and Parker Henderson would speak to hundreds at a time. Then we would get those showing the most interest into smaller groups and teach them, and this might result in a 6 month study with just one contact before he surrendered in baptism to Christ. Well, the commission says to "further teach," and so we would do that for maybe years before they became grounded enough to catch the evangelistic spirit of Christianity without our presence. But I never found any short-cuts and I never won souls in mass groups. I could have bribed some people to be baptized with my mighty U.S. dollars, but I didn't. Maybe Scott and his men were in the right place at the right time. Maybe I'm just an inept missionary.
Well, I turned that same issue of World Radio News over to page 6 and under the heading, THE WHITE FIELDS OF INDIA, Ron Clayton gave a report that put Scott's in the shade. Clayton reported 7,713 baptized, 230 new congregations started and around 40 denominational preachers converted. Well, evidently Ron has been challenged about these reported successes before, and made this statement in his report: "I don't know a single man who works in India who is the least bit interested in just having a big number of 'baptisms' to report to make himself look good. I don't know any man who would stoop to lying or exaggerating for brotherhood fame. And I don't know any man who is not sickened by the very idea of giving people material goods to have someone agree to be baptized...we are going to be men of honor, integrity and honesty." He went on to promise that he never even hints that those agreeing to be baptized by him will receive any material assistance or aid.
Of course, we are delighted to know that Ron Clayton has repented of his old ways and now is a man of "honor, integrity and honesty." A few years back, when he worked with Gary Rombrondt (sic) up in Hyderabad, he was caught by his own Houston elders bribing Indian officials with gifts of liquor and other goods for them allowing their team to stay in India. Men can change and I'm glad that Clayton has. But this report is just like the reports he made in the old days. In his last 2 short-term trips to India, Clayton has reported more than 12,000 baptisms. In fact, I made a study of one of his reports about a 3 week journey he made to India and calculated that if he baptized the number of people he reported on that trip, he would have baptized someone every 21 minutes if he got any sleep at all.
Am I saying that large numbers of Indians are not being baptized by Clayton? No. But I am expressing doubts about the quality of work being done there. And I have again been told by those who have worked with Ron that he comes into an area, establishes a headquarters in a local hotel, calls former contacts from far and wide (men on his payroll), sends them out with instructions to report back to him how many they have baptized. Well, what do you suppose these hirelings tell their boss when they return? Right!!! They tell him what he wants to hear. And Clayton passes that good news on to us, his readers and supporters. (Lest you think I'm one of his supporters, let me assure you that I am not!)
Well, as I read on through the paper I noticed two other India-related articles also containing more hype than truth. I wonder how long we are going to let our so-called brethren deceive us? Are there no ethics that govern our reporting system to one another? I realize that response like this might very well damage the work that Gary Walker and I have been doing in India. Those who have supported us over the years might suspect us of these same irregularities. But I can no longer be quiet. If you are supportive of any mission outreach, with your support goes a responsibility to make sure that your resources are doing good instead of harm and that those you support are indeed men of integrity.