***PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR THE SAD STORY OF EZRA VESAPOGU***
Of late the Lord has encouraged my faith through the testimony of my new friend Ezra Vesapogu. I just want to take a brief moment to share that encouragement with any of you may still read the blog. Often in the West Christians think that the Lord is no longer moving and that revival seems such a distant hope. But to hear of the work of the Lord amongst Ezra’s people proves that God is still in the business of revival.
Ezra came to Toronto last week to attend the International Baptist Conference. He took a twenty eight hour flight from Hyderabad, India just to be able to hear the speakers. Ezra well recognises the importance of good teaching and will go to great lengths to attend good conferences.
Ezra is part of a ministry in India called Gospel Fellowship India. He is the founder and works in coordination with a number of Calvinistic Baptist churches in New York City and Atlanta, Ga. GFI oversees one hundred and eighty seven Calvinistic Baptist churches in India, all of which have been a result of Ezra’s church planting efforts and gospel preaching. You read that correctly, it is not a type-o. In India there are one hundred and eighty seven Reformed Baptist churches. In those churches are thirty thousand Reformed Baptist believers; twenty thousand of whom have been baptised. I was stymied when I heard those numbers because I know that there aren’t that many Calvinistic Baptist churches in Canada!
Ezra and GFI have been working assiduously over the years to bring the Gospel to unreached people groups in India. Essentially, the Gospel has been a whirl-wind that is taking whole villages by storm. To hear Ezra’s stories is akin to reading through the Book of Acts or work on early church persecution. As the Christians are killed and maimed, the Gospel goes forth and changes more lives. It is absolutely amazing.
My brother Ezra was once a Hindu militant who organised his friends to take a stand against any foreign religions. When Ezra (at the time his name was Subarou, meaning “son of a snake”) heard that a Christian evangelist was coming to a nearby village to spread Christianity, he and his friends filled their pockets with stones to do away with the trouble maker. Yet as Ezra went to kill this evangelist, the Holy Spirit took over his life and saved Ezra from his sin. Hearing the evangelist, David, preach the Gospel, mesmerised Ezra and at the end of the evening he threw down his arms and became a Christian. This all occurred much to the dismay of his family and he was kicked out of the house that night by his father.
Without getting into too many details, one could essentially write a whole book about Ezra’s life, I will say that Ezra’s once hostile family are all converted and both is father and brother are pastors. The village where Ezra comes from now houses a church of three thousand people. All of whom came to Christ through the work of Ezra and his grandmother. And this is a common theme amongst most of the villages that Ezra and GFI encounter. Mass conversions and church planting.
Currently they have two Bible colleges, both of which Ezra teaches systematic theology, world religions and homiletics in. They have an orphanage, an elementary school, a literacy program and other humanitarian relief ministries. And with all that has been accomplished so far, their vision is nowhere near diminished. Their prayer is to plant three hundred more churches in the next ten years. They would also like to set up another Bible college in the Hindi speaking north.
All of this work does not come without opposition. In a number of the provinces in India there are anti-conversion laws. Ezra himself has been jailed for preaching the Gospel as well as brought to court on charges. He recently, by providence, had thirty charges dropped against him and awaits six more to be dropped (DV). This isn’t the worst of what Ezra and the believers there face. Just a look at Ezra’s face reveals the scars on his forehead from stones. At one point a man attemped to take Ezra’s life by weilding a knife at Ezra’s chest. If Ezra hadn’t lifted his leg in time, he would have surely been killed. The stab wound on his leg is proof enough of that.
Every day when I see Ezra I want to give him a hug. He is such a kind and caring man; one who is easy going and a joy to be around. It is incredible to think that he has experienced so much for the cause of Christ. For him, it’s all in a day’s work.
I have had the privelege of hearing him share his testimony and GFI presentation in a number of churches. My prayer is that Ezra’s life and ministry would encourage us here in Canada to strive to see revival like that which is pouring on India.
I thank Almighty God for having given me a new friend in Ezra. May he and his family (his son’s names are Calvin and Spurgeon by the way) be protected and may they have an impact for the Gospel such as yet has not been seen!
To read an article on Ezra and GFI, see this one from In Touch magazine.
***UPDATE*** Unfortunately, as things often happen in this world of sin, the above testimony and overall ministry of Ezra Vesapogu is a farce. Through a sad series of events it has come to light that Ezra lied completely about his testimony and about the scope and nature of his ministry. Myself and a lot of others were deceived into believing in and trusting Ezra – many people had invested ten years into him.
If you are at all considering working with Ezra and his new work, “Share Ministries,” I would advise you strongly to reconsider. Your money, your time and your energy will be wasted. After Ezra was caught in his deceit, he did nothing to repent and make amends – though he claims to people that he did. If you have any questions about Ezra, contact the leadership team at North Shore Baptist Church here at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can provide you with first hand details.
I have posted a picture of Ezra just in case he starts going by a fake name so that you know who you are dealing with. He is the bald one with the mustache: