Maranatha's eighth 50 village evangelism effort in India came to a close on November 12, drawing an estimated 25,000 people to the final meetings, which were simultaneously held in four different locations.
Over 14,000 people were baptized into the Adventist Church. This effort came on the heels of Maranatha's seventh 50 village effort, which resulted in 8,000 baptisms.
All eight efforts have been led by members of the Fjarli family, from Medford, Oregon. They have recruited volunteers and fundraised for church construction and evangelism in India since 2001. Their collaboration with Maranatha has resulted in the building of 400 churches in India.
These are organized by India's most successful missionary today, Mr. D. Ron Watts, a Canadian, who heads the Southern Asia Division of the Seventh-day Adventist church, whose headquarters is located at Hosur. Mr. Ron Watts is married to Dorothy Watts, an American, who manages the US finances/funds for the mass conversion programme in India. They both have a well-organized network in India, which has the support of the local politicians as well as his cohorts. Surprisingly, Mr. Ron Watts and his wife have come to India on Business visa, and are 'engaging in activities which are incompatible with their visa status.' As the photos establish, they have brought in more than 200 foreigners on tourist visa for conversions in India. The two frontline organizations that are facilitating conversions by building thousands of churches in India are Maranatha International and Global Mission.
These organizations too have come to India on the invitation of Mr. D. R. Watts.
According to the May 13, 2003 issue of the official news bulletin of the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters based in Maryland, Washington, Mr. Ron Watts has converted 500,000 people within a period of just five years in India. Please read this important quote:
"India, with its population of 1 billion, is among the countries that present an acute challenge to church growth for Seventh-day Adventists. The church is growing rapidly in India, says Ron Watts, president of the church's Southern Asia region. "The church has grown from 225,000 people to over 700,000 in five years. In a culture that places a high importance on a house of worship, we urgently need churches to accommodate these new members," he said."