Raipur countdown begins
The excitement and anticipation in India is building. The Chief Apostle will be visiting Raipur this coming weekend. Everyone is excited: the Chief Apostle, the host, and especially the brothers and sisters.
In the north- and east-central parts of India the majority of people speak Hindi. There are only a few Christian congregations in this part of the country, and even fewer New Apostolic Christians. In 2008 anti-Christian violence broke out and thousands of Christians were killed. Recovery of the Christian community has been slow.
In view of this—and to make attendance of Hindi-speaking members easy—it was decided after much deliberation that this special divine service by the Chief Apostle should be celebrated in Raipur. “The visit of the Chief Apostle is to strengthen the trust of our members in the ever-valid gospel of Jesus Christ,” District Apostle Helper David Devaraj says.
Raipur, located in east-central India, is the capital of the state of Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh was carved from the state of Madhya Pradesh in 2000 and is among the four recently formed states of the 29 states in India. Each state runs independently, almost like another country. The languages spoken here are mainly Chhattisgarhi and Hindi. The culture in this state is predominantly Hindu and the Christian community very small. In short, it is a challenge to have Christian gatherings here.
CG 04 CA 2017
To promote the Chief Apostle’s visit to Raipur some copyrighters had an ingenious idea. They developed a logo to adorn all promotional activities: CG 04 CA 2017. This is something any Indian can identify with. Number plates in India look almost identical. The first two digits represent the state (CG for Chhattisgarh) and the next two numbers stand for the area (in Chhattisgarh, 04 stands for Raipur). The remaining six figures are allotted sequentially by the Transport Department. The Indian Church introduced “CA 2017” as their unique code for the visit of the Chief Apostle. T-shirts were created with the logo. In addition to this, photographs were taken of Raipur and printed in the district’s 2017 calendar and posted on Facebook and on the Church website to make members familiar with the location and the venues.
Preparation is everything
For the New Apostolic Christians in Raipur the Chief Apostle’s visit means everything. This time the Chief Apostle is not going to Mumbai or Hyderabad, but coming to Raipur! Brothers and sisters from the surrounding areas are invited too. Already now the organisers have a very good idea of how many will be coming and from where, because everyone had to register online for this particular service. The limited seating capacity of the hall—just under a thousand—made it necessary. The divine service is mainly targeted at the Hindi-speaking members, and the data confirmed almost 450 registrations from Hindi-speaking areas (Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra). Three hundred registrations came from the state of Odisha, where Hindi is also a widely known language. A hundred members from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana also registered. The remaining registrations are from the southern part of the country (Andaman Islands, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala), and from the neighbouring states of Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Nepal.
Throughout the year there have been special events in Raipur itself to promote the Chief Apostle’s visit. January started with a divine service by District Apostle Mark Woll from Canada—who is responsible for the New Apostolic Christians in India. On Easter, District Apostle Helper David Devaraj celebrated a divine service in Raipur that was broadcast to twelve congregations across the country. The practice of the national choir was held in Raipur in August. And regular posts and updates on Facebook complemented all of these promotional activities.
The countdown is on
On Sunday, 12 November the Chief Apostle will celebrate the long-awaited divine service in the auditorium of a secondary school in Raipur. Retirements and ordinations are planned. There is even an online video describing the procedure to be followed at Holy Communion. Nothing is left to chance.
This will be the first time that a service with Chief Apostle Schneider will be streamed live across the country. It is a challenge, but one that the Church will rise to. Two recent webcasts of divine services were a success, so that the mood is very positive—something that the Indian people are known for anyway.