Saji Varghese and Mathew James didn’t lack a passion for ministry, but they still needed the right visa to stay in the U.S. to pursue their calling as church planting pastors.
Assemblies of God churches became part of the solution in answering the prayers of the men from India last spring by donating funds to help them obtain religious worker visas. Leaders from the PennDel Ministry Network, which covers Pennsylvania and Delaware, agreed to sponsor the pastors for the R-1 Visa, which allows them to support their families while doing full-time ministry.
Varghese, 45, and James, 42, came to California on student visas from India nearly a decade ago to continue their biblical studies. The two didn’t know each other in their home country, but became friends as students at the International Theological Seminary in El Monte.
Initially, neither pastor planned to remain in the States after completing his studies.
“When I came here, I was planning on going back, but God gave a clear vision to start a church,” says Varghese.
James says he felt a similar calling, specifically to the Northeast U.S. James planted Harvest International Church in Philadelphia with help from Church Multiplication Network and the Matching Fund from AGTrust...