A Move of the Spirit
Robert Cunville Festival of Peace
June 1, 2003 - In the cool, humid hills of Meghalaya, far from the smog-choked streets of India's mega-cities, the people of the Garo tribe live simply. Most are subsistence farmers, planting crops and raising cows and goats on small plots of land.
by Bob Paulson
As many as half of all Garos are Baptists, as a result of missionaries who came to Northeast India some 135 years ago.
But not all Garo Baptists have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, according to Christian leaders. In fact, for years the Garo Baptist Convention was marked by nominalism, formalism and liberalism. That has been changing in recent years as younger, more evangelical pastors have begun to fill church pulpits.
Still, the need remains for many who consider themselves Christian to make a personal commitment to Christ. And so, as part of the annual meeting of the Garo Baptist Convention, organizers invited BGEA Associate Evangelist Dr. Robert Cunville to hold a Festival of Peace.
The village of Athiabari hosted many Baptists from throughout Northeast India, Feb. 7-9, for the convention and Festival. In the middle of a dormant rice paddy, workers erected a tabernacle with bamboo walls and a thatched roof. Nearby, a tent city sprang up to house the attendees.
Each day included an evangelistic meeting with a message from Cunville.
Cunville addressed the issues of nominalism and outward formalism: "It is true that you have to pray; it is true that you have to read the Bible," he said. "But you can read the Bible as much as you can, and you will never get to heaven. The only way to peace and forgiveness is to come to the cross of Jesus Christ. Will you do that? Many of you go to church regularly, but still there is an emptiness in your heart. That's because you are not sure of your relationship with God. Make sure tonight, my friends. Don't put off this opportunity; don't put off coming to Christ. This is your moment with God."
The final morning of the convention began with a hard, steady rain that prompted some people to head for home. But many stayed, and by early afternoon many more either returned or arrived for the first time, as many filled the huge tabernacle and sat on the damp ground to hear the Gospel.
Pholitesone R. Marak, outgoing president of the Garo Baptist Convention remarked, "In the old days, we couldn't even create a hunger for spiritual things—people didn't want to listen to the Word of God. Today the Holy Spirit is moving in such a way that even rain will not keep people away from the teaching."