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The Open Grave

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By foot, on cycle, in oxcarts or driving a Model A Ford, Fred Schelander crisscrossed North Berar (an area stretching 50 miles from east to west and 30 miles from north to south, at the foot of the Satpura Mountains in Central India), preaching, teaching, counseling, organizing, administering—in a ministry of such depth that in those years hundreds turned from idols to the living Savior. At the end of those 10 years there were Christians witnessing in more than a hundred villages. I remember what a thrill it was for me in 1945 to travel over the main highway of that large area . . . and meet new Christians in village after village.

And what an experience to be in their camp meetings as they streamed in by foot or by oxcart from every direction to worship their newfound Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to fellowship in the Word and to share their experiences in the faith. Many . . . were young people, and many of those young people were discipled and sent to Bible school to later become pastors and evangelists. One story will illustrate how this then-young missionary was used to bring many to the feet of the Lord Jesus.

Fred was out as usual on the jungle trail when he neared one of the hundreds of villages in North Berar. At the edge of town a crowd had gathered. . . . Fred with his natural curiosity walked over and mingled with the crowd. The people were watching a group of men preforming a ritual with beating of drums and chanting of gazars (religious choruses).

Some of the young men involved in the ceremony explained what was taking place. A year ago their greatly respected and much-loved guru had died, and as was their custom his body had not been cremated but buried in salt. On this special day a year later their guru’s body was exhumed. Then at the mouth of the open grave they worshiped his dead body.

Fred’s heart was stirred, and making a quick decision he turned to these young men and said, “Look, I’m going to camp here tonight under those mango trees over there. I invite you to come and see me. I want to tell you about another open grave.”

That night three of those young men came to where Fred had camped, and their hearts were stirred as they heard of that open grave of our Lord Jesus. Not long afterward they came into the experience of the new birth and into “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Later these young men came to Bible school and became faithful ministers of the Word.

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