One of the honors we had last month at the Antioch Gathering was meeting in person some of God's chosen servants from around the world. One of the most delightful was Bindu Choudhrie, wife of Victor Choudhrie of India.
In one of the sharing times, Bindu reported that in May of this year, they witnessed the baptizing of 300,000 new disciples. In passing, she mentioned this was "considerably more" than the previous 120,000 they baptized in March, and 100,000 in January of this year. It is mind boggling that they are aiming for 1-million baptisms this year!
One day as we were chatting, Bindu asked if we might be interested in her husband's book, "The Apostolic Gardens"? The book is their attempt to "help position the ekklesia to finish the unfinished task of discipling all nations in our generation." Anyone who has been used by the Lord to see 500,000 baptisms in a six-month period, is someone who has my attention. Of course I was interested in getting my hands on a copy!
There are 131 pages, and just as many subject headings. In a sense, the book is a church planting manual coming from an apostolic point of view rather than a pastor-teacher perspective. The apostolic knowingly and unapologetically thrust the sheep out amongst the wolves. The pastoral, by nature, do their best to nurture, teach, and protect the sheep.
In the chapter, "Are You A Failed Pastor?" Choudhrie questions the seriousness of anyone calling themselves a pastor and not starting "houses of peace."
"It is not necessary to go to church to connect with Yahweh, especially when your city is going to Hell...We must pray to Yahweh to take to heaven all the Reverends who compel us to come to church instead of letting us go fishing." (pg.118)
What makes the book fascinating is that it is written more from an Eastern mindset, rather than a polished logical Western argument. It is very direct "straight talk" to men and women who are not sitting in church pews, but out in the harvest fields making disciples. There is no beating around the bush. For example, Victor writes on page 7, "Most of the 40,000 denominations are suffering from senility and out of date. Tens of thousands of their retail outlets (churches) have succeeded in keeping two billion Christians of the world unengaged and condemned to sit in the pews as cash cows until they are ready to shift six feet underground in the church cemetery." OUCH!
"The ekklesia exists, not to protect man's traditions which are costly perversions, but to fulfill Yahweh's plan." He goes on to state, "Traditions are like the Indian curry with hot spices. They add nothing to the nutritional value but leave your palate on fire at dinner and lost of sound and fury at the other end in the morning." (Pg.6)
Choudhrie makes statements that would get most of us fired, "Churching the unchurched is the bane of Christianity. Yeshua taught us to allow the yeast to leaven the whole community. We need millions of Crypto Christians who stay below the radar and quietly catalyze their communities. Churching them leaves the rest of the community not only unleavened but hostile."
"Yeshua never said, 'Go to church.' He said, 'Go and tell others what great things Yahweh has done for you.'" (Mark 5:18-20)
"Revival is not for churching the unchurched and increasing membership and money, but for unchurching the churched and sending them out to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." (pg.82)
"Churches that cater only to Christians need an urgent audit. The ekklesia exists to finish the task of discipling all nations."
"How can justice roll like a river and righteousness like a mighty stream unless Christians take their butts off the pews to go and deliver people from darkness and translate them into the kingdom of His dear Son?" Good point, if you ask me!
Still not offended? This next one actually comes with a warning from Choudhrie, "CAUTION: All drugs have a limited shelf life. Similarly, a generic Christian has a limited pew-life after which, like the out-of-date drug, he must be buried six feet underground." (pg.78)
"We are training the wrong people, with the wrong motives, in the wrong place, by the wrong teachers in the wrong traditions." He goes on to explain, "Thousands of unemployed youngsters, driven by economics, are being trained in Bible schools to be cultural misfits...Millions are being spent to train and support them, but despite triumphalistic reports, the return on investment is just peanuts...They know the scriptures but not the mechanics of discipling or ekklesia planting. Entry points, bridges from other religions, spiritual warfare, mentoring multi-generational disciples and other relevant topics, which are powerful predictors of CPM, are not taught."
"Tithing is a Stronghold: The purpose of all our wealth is to fulfill the Great Commission. Hence, all money and gifts must be expended for apostolic purposes. (Acts 4:25, 27; 5:2) Money must follow the apostles and not the other way around."
"The NT model of clergy-free, building-free and sermon-free churches will free up billions of dollars, empower millions for the priesthood...and make world evangelism a practical reality." (pg.80)
I could go on quoting page after page of similar statements. I can pretty much guarantee no major Christian publisher will be picking up "The Apostolic Gardens" any time soon! Quite frankly, though, Victor says a lot of the things I would like to say, but cannot due to my not living some of these personally. I wish the book were made more widely available. It is the kind of strong exhortation that a passive Western church needs to hear. You may not agree with everything Victor writes, but I am quite sure those coming into the Kingdom by the thousands through the ministry will be most thankful come Judgment Day for their being more concerned about bringing in the harvest, and less what others might think of them.
Dr. Victor Choudhrie studied medicine at Christian Medical College in Vellore. He married Bindu Sukhnandan and went to England for higher studies in surgery. He returned to serve in a tribal village in central India. Later he served as Director (CEO) of the prestigious Christian Medical College in Punjab. In 1993, he and Bindu, committed themselves to Saturation Church Planting Movement. Since then God has blessed this ministry and thousands of house churches have been planted in India and in many other countries.