(Sunday, Jan 27, 2013) If I ever had to choose a place in the world to make my second home, the choice would be easy – Koduru, AP, India. I’ve had pastors’ conferences there for 4 years now. The first year I spent a week there and got to know the people and countryside very well. It’s a very poor area. The huts only have electricity part of a day. Water, sanitation, etc., are worse than in most rural areas of India, partly because of the poverty of the people but also from lingering results from the tsunami that killed thousands of people there several years ago. What makes it special to me is the love and closeness I’ve developed with the Christians there.
It’s the only place I go to every year, partly because of the closeness that has developed and also because it is Pastor Barnabas’ home church. He and his wife, Anasuya, let me stay in their hut the first week I visited there. It was truly like living in a National Geographic magazine. He oversees the churches where most of the conferences are and of course wants those in his home area trained as well. After speaking there over 35 times I feel I have laid a good foundation of truth and have been able to build upon it. The pastors come back year after year, encouraged that I would return each to see them and teach them more.
A side benefit for me is that the church has one of the nicest bathrooms I have seen in any church. Understand in India this is very relative, but it still beats finding a bush by the road as is required in the other places we’ve met. Our India fund paid for its construction years ago so the women would be more comfortable when we had our week of meetings.
I have many, many wonderful memories of sessions and services there. They always honor me with a shawl and garland. My memories are of a hot, sometimes stifling, room packed with way too many people, and with the fans not working because there is no electricity. But it’s the people that draw me back.
Jesudos is a big bear of a man with a continual laugh and wide smile on his face. He reminds me exactly of what Peter must have looked like. His wife, Kumadi, is about as big as he is. He is one of the most loving, friendly men I have met anywhere. Watching he and his wife interact during breaks and lunch touches my heart for they clearly have something very special between them – very rare in Indian marriages.
For years we have prayed for Esther. She is a servant, a sacrificial worker. One year she helped me hold an impromptu service for 100 local school kids who found out an American was in the church and stormed the place. We had an excellent evangelical service, her and I, working together like we’ve been doing it for years despite the fact we couldn’t say anything in each other’s language and didn’t know we’d have it until they showed up . The difficulty, though, is that her husband, Asuraj, has a demonic anger problem and beats her and sometimes the children. His father is even worse. He wants to be a pastor but has never had victory over this. They came to me for prayer again after the conference today. and I prayed for deliverance the best I could. You can remember them as well.
It’s rewarding seeing the young ones grow and marry. A wonderful young pastor who attends the leadership conferences each year is Samuel. He looks like a teenager, but introduced me to his young wife (who looks like a preteen) and their newly born baby. It’s been a fruitful year for him.. The down side is seeing some of the older ones, like Paul, fade. He was a pastor who was a wonderful singer and took every opportunity to sing praises from his hear. Our fund helped him repair his church roof for it was unusable during the rain. There are many others I could speak of as well, men and women, young and old. Each one special in God’s sight – and mine.
We have had wonderful times of praise, happy times of laughter, exciting children’s programs, some tense moments of spiritual warfare when some demonized pastors started acting out, many serious times of teaching, and great times of prayer and fellowship amongst it all. And of course there is always food every time we meet.
It is always very wonderful to come to the church in the morning, but very sad and very hard to leave at the end of the day. I wish I had time to spend a week there, and so do they, but that doesn’t seem possible again. They keep wanting me to bring Nancy, for she has never been there. This year they kept saying that over and over, finally insisting I promise to bring her next year. So I promised. I’m not sure she’d want to have a second home in Koduru, although you can easily get a nice straw hut for a few hundred dollars, one of the best in the neighborhood. As far as real estate goes, it’s all about location, and Koduru is a very special location for me!
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
Who are some of the people God has put in your life to provide love, encouragement and comfort? Who are those you feel most comfortable and ‘at home’ with? Thank God for them. Ask Him to bless them. And ask Him to make you able to fill that role in the lives of others as well.