INDIA (INS)—Gospel ministry and helping needy people such as widows and people suffering from leprosy or AIDS are at the heart of Peace Ministries India—an indigenous ministry based in Andhra Pradesh that Intercede International began working with in late 2016.
“The Gospel Ministry is the heartbeat of PMI,” reports Dileep Raaja Donepudi, founder and leader of PMI, in communications with Intercede. “India is basically a Hindu country with a lot of traditions, superstitions, and thousands of gods. Christianity is slowly making gains, but not without persecution—even though the Indian constitution grants freedom of religion for all. PMI missionaries believe that only God is able to change the hearts of people if they truly believe and trust in the finished work of Christ our Saviour. Both yearly PMI crusades and everyday evangelism have brought many people from darkness to light, from lost to found, from the kingdom of Satan into the Kingdom of God.”
Donepudi began his career in a government job. “Not wanting to stand as one among the crowd, I resigned and became a director for television films in 1990 and directed more than 60 television films,” he explains. “I led a very luxurious life and indulged in all the pleasures of the film industry. I had everything life had to offer except peace and real love without selfishness.
“Then one day, I was dying in a hospital without hope from a damaged liver and failed kidneys,” reports Donepudi. “Pastor Paul came and prayed for me. God touched me and healed me. It was then that I asked Jesus to forgive my sins, come into my life and was baptized. I decided from that day to work for Jesus, to live for Jesus and to die for Jesus if necessary.
“I left the film industry with my earnings to start an orphanage in 2002. It started with 85 children—providing their daily food, clothes, shelter and free education between 2002 and 2006. Now I film government documentaries and Christian telefilms, whenever the opportunity presents itself, to help support the ministry. That was the beginning of Peace Ministries India. Jesus tells us what we do for the least of these, we do it unto Him. That is our mission.”
Children’s Home Ministry
The first four years of the children home ministry were filled with joy but not without challenges. Donepudi took in destitute children ages six to 14 from different life circumstances. Some were orphans, and some were from very poor families who were struggling to feed their children. Today many of those children are productive citizens and some are studying trades.
A crisis came near the end of the fourth year, when the director’s own resources were depleted. In his despair, he cried out to the Lord: “Lord, you have put this desire and compassion in my heart to help the poor and now it looks impossible.”
The Lord impressed upon Donepudi to trust Him completely, and not to lean on his own understanding or resources.
For the next few years, an Italian agency helped out PMI’s children’s home, but then discontinued that support.
For now, the children’s work has been refocused, providing assistance to designated families with donations from Canada and elsewhere so the children can receive better care in their own homes. All of these children are either orphans or “semi-orphans” being cared for by widowed mothers or grandmothers.
PMI started its Leprosy Ministry in 2002. Most of the lepers that come to PMI have lost fingers and toes and are disfigured. PMI ministers to a group of 50 lepers, men, women and children, who wander from place to place without a permanent home. Their need for love and fellowship is just as great as their need for food and shelter.
When the lepers come to PMI they are shown love and concern for their lives. Staff members are not afraid to hug them, for there is emotional healing in the touch, explains Donepudi. Over the years, PMI has conducted more than 100 programs for lepers. At each program, they are given bags of rice, new clothes, a fellowship meal and a small amount of cash for their travel. Despite their disease, they worship the Lord with song and thanksgiving in their hearts.
When PMI first started its widows’ ministry in 2007, it invited poor community widows to come for a program providing food, fellowship and saris. This was done on a regular basis. Then PMI made plans to construct a shelter for homeless and abandoned widows.
PMI purchased a plot of land and soon the first widows’ home, a temporary structure, in Pedaravuru village was completed in January 2011. PMI provides the widows at the shelter with a loving home, food, clothing and basic medical care.
PMI has conducted many free medical camps in slum and tribal rural areas. PMI also presents free medical camps in areas where there are no hospitals or ambulance services. Without these camps, many would suffer without any medical intervention. For more than 10 years, doctor teams have voluntarily given of their time and resources, to help the poorest of the poor through PMI.
The first cases of HIV were reported in India in 1986. Today more than two million are affected by this disease. “For people living with HIV/AIDS, it is like a living death not only physically but emotionally,” explains Doneputi. “Many face painful rejection from society, even from their own families. As a result, many keep their status secret. PMI is generating a ray of hope in the community to HIV/AIDS patients, by giving their lives a little more encouragement, hope and joy through fellowship, prayer, food and clothing.”
PMI also assists survivor of natural disasters such as floods and typhoons, with relief supplies such as rice, vegetables, cooking oil, utensils, clothes and blankets. PMI also arranges free medical camps in affected areas to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
Last December 24, PMI organized a special program on the mission premises to distribute new clothes and rice to AIDS victims, orphaned children of parents who had AIDS, and widows.
“We distributed to 54 people on December 24,” reported Donepudi. “This is our first project with the partnership of Intercede International. I hope we can provide more help to the most needy. Praise the Lord for the partnership with Intercede International to work more for the Kingdom of the Lord and to help more for leprosy victims, AIDS patients, orphan children, widows and bring the Gospel to the unreached.”
Photo: A Peace Ministries India worker (left) gives a free checkup to a prison inmate.