For the past 15 summers, Ben Chrisostom has traveled to dangerous areas to spread the gospel and train pastors. During the rest of the year, he works on the ORU campus, providing students with food.
Chrisostom is a retail manager for Sodexo. Every summer he heads to Northern India with Indian Evangelical Team to minister to unreached tribal villages. The percentage of Christians in the area is in the single digits. Believers in the villages face the risk of being arrested, because of their faith.
Despite the persecution, Chrisostom has witnessed progress in the Northern Indian church. Since 1999, there have been 6,700 churches planted in northern India.
“It is not very safe. I can’t take my family,” said Chrisostom. “God’s protection is there. That is very important.”
Chrisostom has seen many miracles on his trips. Chrisostom said he saw major impacts on the village when God raised a young boy from the dead.
“The village exploded with conversions through this miracle,” said Chrisostom.
He said God not only uses miracles but also visions that commonly result in conversions of the Indian people.
“A Hindu priest came to know God through a vision,” said Chrisostom. “It began when believers soaked him in prayer.”
While in India, Chrisostom does three-and-a-half day seminars to train local pastors. He said pastors in the area need church buildings, and individuals are in need of simple things like clothes and food.
“When we are there, we take people to let them buy chicken and beef. We bless them with that,” said Chrisostom.
One of the biggest challenges Chrisostom faces while in the villages is the resistance to the gospel. However, last summer they saw more people come to Christ than ever before.
“I almost started crying. I felt so unworthy,” said Chrisostom.
The great number of salvations creates a large amount of work for the pastors. Although it can sometimes be overwhelming for them, Chrisostom is confident the local pastors are equipped for the challenge.
“Nothing is impossible with the Lord. He will pave the way,” said Chrisostom.
Chrisostom stresses the importance of prayer.
“I prayed for 10 years. I always wanted to train people, and in 1999 I finally went to India for the first time,” said Chrisostom. “Also, always cry for a spirit of compassion, so you can be one with the people.”
Chrisostom plans to leave this May to travel to India once again. He will stay for two months. Sodexo has been flexible to work with his evangelism schedule.
“Sodexo is very supportive,” Chrisostom said. “They let me take off. They are very cooperative in that way.”
As he prepares to leave for the summer, Chrisostom turns the AC off in his car so he can better transition to the intense heat of India. He is also thrifty throughout the year so he can save and bless people in India with food and clothes.
“We should never be comfortable where we are,” said Chrisostom. “And we should always attempt to scale greater mountains than we have in the past.”