Days of small Beginnings: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The UESI flame that sparked off in 1954, enlightened Odisha in the year 1963. The pioneer torch bearers of that spiritual flame were none other than P.C. Varghese. B. Deenabandhu, M.S. Scaria lecturers of Gopabandhu Science College, Athagarh along with Subhankar Ghosh a student then, came together to form a prayer fellowship under the leadership of P.C. Varghese. Later when the lecturer duo moved to Cuttack in
1965, B. Deenabandhu began to gather college students for Bible Study & prayer. Students for the fIrst time were confronted with a pointed question about their personal salvation. In regular fellowship time and in day-long retreats there used to be the message of salvation presented to the students. From among many, Asit Chowdhury was the first to respond to the call of the gospel.
Cuttack ICEU: The Cuttack ICEU was born in the heart and home of Nirmal Kumar Sahu who opened his house to students where not only EU meetings were held, but Inter Collegiate Evangelical Union was formed subsequently in 1973.
Burla ICEU: P.C. Varghese visited Burla Medical College in 1963. His focus was reaching out students in campuses through ‘Open Homes’. It was Ashok Ch. Pradhan, a professor in VSS Medical College, who opened his heart and home for the ministry. The Burla ICEU was formed in 1964.
Angul EU: When P.C. Varghese visited Angul, a student group was formed with students like Priyambada, Anusuya Naik, Biraj Mohini, Nihar Nalini, Sunil Nayak and Pankaj Sahu and the EU was offi cially recognized in 1966. During these days two annual conferences of EGF Orissa were held with Zac Poonen as one of the speakers.
Bhubaneswar ICEU: A student named Khutavi Shama in the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar was fi rst to catch the vision of UESI . Khutavi became the president of newly formed EU and Jyotiraj Mishra became the Secretary. Subsequently, Bhubaneswar EU got affi liated in 1970.
Growth – Spreading far and wide:
Balangir ICEU: EU started in Balangir in 1968 with the fi rst student group from Rajendra College. In 1981 this group became offi cially recognized as ICEU Balangir. Balasore EU: Narayan Mitra, the
staff worker of UESI, initiated the ministry among students in Balasore during 1969-71. Lal Mohan Roul, Rev P.N. James and family whole-heartedly supported the ministry. Subhankar Ghosh and Tushar Das as lecturers in the F.M. College, later provided more support to this EU and in 1973, it got affi liated eventually.
Berhampur EU: In 1970, with the initiative of Dilip Mahapatra and Santa Sahu, Berhampur EU fellowship began to take shape as students from Khalikote College, Bhanja Vihar University and Medical College came together to have fellowship. Later, D.K. Santra and V. Franklin would continually give direction and support to the group. Jeypore EU: It was in the year 1982, V. Franklin met a group of students who used to meet for prayer in JEL church hostel, Jeypore. Subsequently, he along with Pankaj Khora arranged camps and retreats for these students. ICEU Jeypore came into existence and fi nally got affi liated in 1993.
Nabrangpur EU: Pankaj Khora and Santosh Ku. Nag, while being students in Medical College Berhampur, cherished the vision to evangelize the students. When they both joined in Christian Hospital, Nabrangpur opened their house for EU fellowship and students were nurtured in the faith and fellowship. Later staff worker P. Jebaraj and coordinator Prabin Barik, gave further direction to the fellowship and as a result, it got affi liated in 1991. Phulbani EU: In 1977-78, when V. Frankin had to move to Phulbani, the Lord was opening an avenue for him to initiate the student ministry in that place. He along with a lecturer – Isaac Samuel Patra, focused on the Phulbani College. With key students like Nathan Patra Naik, Pranab Maiti EU fellowship was strengthened.
Rourkela EU, EGF: As graduates moved to diff erent places, the message of the gospel was presented to students wherever they went. In 1971 graduates like Preetam Minz, Junas Soy, B.Abraham, Ajit Kumar Jena and Kabita Jena formed the graduate fellowship in the house of Ajit Kumar Jena in Rourkela.EU ministry was strengthened during this time.
In Diptipur, the EU fellowship started with the initiative of Dalganjan Suna. Soon, the ministry spread to other places like Rajgangpur, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Puri, Pipili, Chowdhwar, Baripada, Keonjhar, Malkangiri, Baliguda, Raikia, G. Udayagiri , Kotpad , Laxmipur and Bhawanipatna.
Staff Our Resources from God:
PC Varghese served during early 60s; Narayana Mitra served during late 60s; P. Jebaraj family served during 80s; Prabin Barik family served during 90s; Ishak Nayak family served as the State Secretary during fi rst decade of 21st century. Presently Sushil Kumar Nayak is serving as the State Secretary from July 2013 onwards.
Other state staff : Ms. Ranjita Bag(Cuttack); Madhusudan Nayak and Pinklin (Sambalpur) ;Nagendar Dirisam (Berhampur); Jayanta Kumar Suna(Koraput); Sahid Kumar Nayak (Balasore); Prabhat Kumar Nayak(Coordinator, Bhubaneswar);Binu Joseph and Deena(Bhubaneswar); Binod Nanda(Offi ce Staff ) are currently serving in the state staff team are currently serving in the state staff team..
Milestones on the way:
There have been times of stagnancy. But God in His mercy has stirred us up in the past through some incidents. One of them was the ‘Prayer Conference’ in 1977. This was the time the Spirit of God refreshed everyone and it was a time of repentance and rededication to serve God from the heart. One more “Prayer Conference “was organized in 2015. The ministry has became very much alive once again.
All Orissa Missionary Conference took place in 1978 and 1982 consecutively. The Lord enabled us to clearly focus on the mission in the state of Orissa. Then there was a National Missionary Conf. in 1984. This was remarkable as Orissa for the fi rst time organized the National Mission Conference in Cuttack. This brought great encouragement to all the graduates. As a result, state EGF was called for a Consultative Conference for Decentralization
during . . . 2005. The state was granted provisional “decentralization” in 2006. The state ministry was granted full “Decentralization” in 2007 and took the new name of “UESI ODISHA”. The latest milestone is “The Odisha Mission Conference” in 2016.About 25 students and young graduates gave missionary commitments.
Now, looking back, we know for sure that the Lord has led us thus far. We have come a long way as a fellowship. In the mean time, the world around us has changed so have we. But the challenge is ever before us to march to the mission. May God direct our next step.
Sushil Nayak Fly