INDIA JOURNAL AND BLOGS
Rev. Dr. Jerry Schmoyer
Main Street Baptist Church
57 S Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
MY INDIA JOURNAL June 29 – July 28, 2007
ASIAN TRIP UPDATE My Asia trip has been postponed from February to July. While this is quite disappointing to me, it is ultimately for the best. I will be able to spend a month or more there. I will be visiting 4 different areas and in each will lead pastor’s conferences, speak at children’s rallies, and minister in any way possible. I will visit many of the churches which have used the children’s materials I developed and mailed last year. My oldest daughter may be able to join me. She has a beautiful singing voice, is gifted in drama and works very effectively with children. She would be a very fine asset if it works for her to come. Funding is needed now so we can plan conferences for pastors, for our travel and housing, and for many related expenses. Without funding much of what we want to do will not take place. Pray for this opportunity for us. If God would have you contribute toward this need you can do that directly (Jerry Schmoyer) or tax-deductible through the church (Main Street Baptist Church). The mailing address for each is Main Street Baptist Church, 57 S. Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. Thanks you very much for anything you can contribute to help these fine but needy people! I will post updates at http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/asia-mission/.
April 14, 2007
Please pray for my trip to India as plans are quickly developing. I will be there from June 29 to July 28. While there I will be in various widely-spread areas: Hyderabad, Ahmednagar, Varanasi and Luknow. In some of these areas Christians and especially pastors are experiencing a tremendous amount of persecution. I will be holding multiple pastors conferences, children’s rallies (dressed as a Bible person and using Christian ‘magic’), preaching on Sundays, and various other activities and events. I will be traveling many miles by myself by train, taxi and plane. Pray all this would go smoothly.
Pray for wisdom as I work on the messages for the pastors, children and churches. I want to bring truth and encouragement to them. It is an honor and a privilege and I want to make sure every word is exactly what God would have me say. Pray especially for the pastors conferences. We (mostly ‘I’) are providing for all the expenses including meals, travel and housing when needed. I thank those of you who have contributed to these expenses. Pray God would continue to provide the rest of the required money. Our dollars go very, very far in the Indian economy so a few dollars are able to provide quite a bit for the poor pastors there. If you can contribute make your checks to Main Street Baptist Church and write ‘India’ on the memo line. Send them to 57 S. Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. They are tax-exempt. Thanks you very much for anything you can contribute to help these fine but needy people!
I will post updates at http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/asia-mission/. Thank you very much for your faithful prayers for this ministry. They are greatly needed and deeply appreciated!
SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2007
A Taste of India IN THE United States
I had a wonderful privilege this past week. I met a Hindu woman from India. She and her husband, who is also an Indian Hindu, came to this country for college. The woman then earned masters and doctors degrees. She was very sharp! We talked about India and I was able to develop a good rapport with her in that way.
I asked about her Hindu upbringing and we were soon talking about Christianity. She had found Christianity very appealing and believable. God had been revealing Himself to her in a lot of ways. She was praying and reading her Bible regularly.
We talked about the unique claims of Jesus as being God, the only God, and the only way of salvation. We went through the plan of salvation and she understood and believed it all in her head. Her Christian home school friends had done a very good job of explaining salvation and Christianity to her. The problem was getting it from her head, where she believed the facts, to her heart. That step was confusing and had no parallel in Hindu or in anything else in her life. I told her it was like accepting a free gift. I offered to help her when she was ready by praying with her. I could say the words, although it wasn’t the words themselves but believing them in your heart, that made the difference. I told her to tell me when/if she was ready, for she knew what a change this would make and was committed to following Jesus 100% when she made the commitment.
The next morning the very first thing that happened was that she told me , “I’m ready.” We prayed together and she opened her heart to Jesus as the only God and her only Savior. When done she prayed privately for some time, for she knows what a major change this will make in her life and she is committed to following Jesus completely. What a great blessing and privilege that was! With all the time and expense involved in going to India, and there the language is a problem so I only minister to believers through an interpreter, here God gives me the honor of speaking to a Hindu Indian woman and praying with her to accept Christ1 I know her life and her family will be changed forever. I know what she said she really meant and it was very real. I look forward to staying in touch with her and watching her grow. What a great and awesome God we serve to allow such a privilege in such a way!
I had a wonderful privilege during our home school retreat at Camp Sankanac the last week of April, 2007. A Hindu woman from India who home schools her children in Lancaster came to the retreat for 2 days because her children were staying with a family who comes to the retreat. She and her husband, who is also an Indian Hindu, came here for college. The woman, Jetta, then earned masters and doctors degrees. She was very sharp! We talked about India and I was able to develolp a good rapport with her in that way.
I asked about her Hindu upbringing and we were soon talking about Christianity. Jetta had found Christianity very appealing and believeable. God had been revealing Himself to her in a lot of ways. She was praying and reading her Bible regularly. We talked about the unique claims of Jesus as being God, the only God, and the only way of salvation. We went through the plan of salvation and she understood and believed it all in her head. Her Christian home school friends had done a very good job of explaining salvation and Christianity to her. The problem was getting it from her head, where she believed the facts, to her heart. That step was confusing and had no parallel in Hindu or in anything else in her life. I told her it was like accepting a free gift. I offered to help her when she was ready by praying with her. I could say the words, although it wasn’t the words themselves but believing them in your heart, that made the difference. I told her to tell me when/if she was ready, for she knew what a change this would make and was committed to following Jesus 100% when she made the commitment.
That was the first day, the day we arrived. She had to leave the next morning. I prayed for her that night and morning whenever I thought of her, which was quite often. When I went into the dining hall the next morning the very first thing that happened was that she came up to me and said , “I’m ready.” We went in a side room and prayed, then I left and she stayed and prayed longer. What a great blessing and privilege that was! With all the time and expense involved in going to India, and there the language is a problem so I only minister to believers through an interpreter, here God gives me the honor of speaking to a Hindu Indian woman and praying with her to accept Christ1 I know her life and her family will be changed forever. I know what she said she really meant and it was very real. I look forward to staying in touch with her and watching her grow. What a great and awesome God we serve to allow such a privilege in such a way – and at a special place like Camp Sankanac as well!
June 1, 2007
The time to leave for my India trip is getting closer. Plans are falling into place. I will be there June 29 to July 27. The pastors conferences are filling up. Several already have maximum attendance. I thank all of you so very much for the finances that have been contributed to help these needy pastors. They have absolutely nothing. They need financial help to pay for transportation to even come to the meetings. The children’s rallies, church services and other teaching and mentoring events I will be involved in are also being planned.
Please continue to pray:
-for those making and finalizing plans in India
-for the pastors that will be coming and others I will be ministering to
-for me to be prepared intellectually, spiritually, mentally and physically to be used by God to meet the needs of the Christians I will be meeting
-for financial resources to help the pastors and churches there
-for safe and smooth living and travel while in India
Thanks so very much and God bless!
It’s been a busy week of planning and preparing for India. I greatly need and appreciate your prayers!
-transportation between cities I will be visiting. I’ve been having a very difficult time making arrangements
-wisdom and guidance as I plan and then lead pastor’s conferences, children’s rallies, teaching sessions and other activities
-those in India who will be coming to these meetings can come without anything hindering or interfering and that God would speak to them and bless them when there
-thank God for financial needs being met so far. Ask Him to keep my expenses down so I am able to have more to share with the pastors there. Ask Him to provide financially if He wants us to give a Bible commentary to those who come to the pastor’s conferences.
One exciting thing happened this week. I have been trying to connect with Southern Baptist missionary in India to see about getting involved with them as well. My email was forwarded to India and the missionary who wrote to me was someone I have known locally before they went into missions. What a small world! I will be spending a week near them and look forward to seeing them again.
Thanks for your prayers and please keep praying!
PS You can find updates and more information on my web site
Sunday, July 1,2007, 1 AM, Mumbai, India
I’m writing this in the Mumbai (Bombay) airport for our plane has been delayed. It’s 1:30 SM Sunday. For you its 4 PM Saturday. The flight here went well but bad weather has stopped our progress.
We left Newark an hour late, 10 PM Friday and arrived in Paris (where it was also raining) 6 hours later. We stayed on the plane for 1 ½ hours, then left for a 8 hour flight to Mumbai. It took over an hour to get through security getting off the plane, and we still have customs to come.
It’s amazing flying that far that fast. There’s a little TV screen in the back of each seat so you can get movies, music or a map of our progress. We were flying 650 MPH ground speed at almost 40,000 feet. The temperature outside that high was -70 degrees.
We had a dinner (lamb and curry), lunch and several snacks on each flight. Between the flow of food, getting off the plane at what was for us 4 AM Saturday morning, and a crying baby a few rows back, we certainly didn’t’ get a good night’s sleep. I slept for about 2 hours from Newark to Paris and a couple 1+ hour naps from Paris to Mumbai. It was very interesting being on an airline with the stewardesses in saris. Actually the time passed quickly with all the various events and activities going on with security, food, etc.
It’s been very different this time than last. The excitement and thrill isn’t there. It hasn’t been there all week. I feel my own insufficiency for this keenly. I also miss home and family. I know God is using this to stretch me and teach me. I don’t know what the lesson is but I know He does!
The plane should leave in about an hour or so, then we get to Hyderbad, through customs and to our place about 6:30 or 7. Church doesn’t start until 10 so we have time to get changed. It looks like we’ll miss this night’s sleep entirely. I’ll be having both sermons at the church we are attending. They have a ‘short’ worship sermon at the start (45 min) and a longer main teaching sermon later in the service (1 hr 15 min). Of course I don’t preach that whole time for there is translating. I’ll preach on Job and Abraham as they worshipped in pain (what I went over at World View) and the main sermon will be about ‘Disappointment in Jesus’ when He didn’t show up to save Lazarus but let Him die and didn’t explain it. In between the messages I’ll dress as David and use magic tricks to speak to the children.
We’ll eat at the pastor’s home, then crash for the afternoon. Monday I start the first of 2 3-day pastor’s conferences back to back. I’ll speak 4 times a day (my speaking will be about 40 to 45 minutes each) in addition to translation.
Please pray God will give me His words and speak to me as well as through me. All I can do is open His Word and let His Spirit apply it to their hearts. I feel totally incompetent to do anything else – but that is the best thing to do anyway. Pray God would give me a clear mind to grasp the thoughts I want to present, to help me find the right words to convey them, that the translator would be able to have the right words to pass them on, and that the Spirit would use them in the hearts and lives of those I speak to. Pray for rest and energy for me as well.
Thank you very much! I’ll write again when I can.
Sunday, July 1, 2007, 6 PM, Hyderabad, India
We finally made it to our place in Hyderabad about 8 AM this morning! Our flight from Mumbai to Hyderabad was delayed almost 4 hours because of ‘weather conditions.’ Monsoons had left several feet of water in many places in the city so the crew that cleans the planes couldn’t get in to work. We only left as soon as we did because a large number of the passengers made such a loud fuss that they finally got to our flight to quiet them down. Thus the trip from my door in Doylestown to my door to where we are staying here was 33 hours. That’s still much better than early missionaries and travelers who took a one+ month boat ride. And it’ll get better next year when the new airport in Hyderabad opens and flights can come directly here. It was harder and more draining getting around in India than to India, so when we get right to our final destination at the start we’ll be much better off.
It is very enthralling to see life in India as we drive around on the roads (such as they are). I’m not as impacted as I was the first time when it didn’t seem real that I was actually half way around the world in India! But it is so totally, well, India – so uniquely itself. What a place to be born and live!
The heat isn’t any different than a humid day in the 90’s at home. It hasn’t rained today so that made for a nice Sunday.
We had a couple hours and then left for church. I spoke to the children as David for almost an hour. They loved the magic tricks and story of David. It was great interacting with them. They are very polite and mannerly. I had an interpreter but then afterwards much of the talk was in English for the older ones are quite proficient in it.
There was a little 4-year old Indian girl in the front row who clutched her Bible the whole time. It was an orange Gideon New Testament like we see so often at home. It was in English, too.
I also had the sermon in that church – Philadelphia Prayer House (apt name considering where we came from). The pastor was gone so I took the role of pastor, kneeling on the platform and doing what he would have done. It felt very natural and very, very good. In India men sit on the floor on one side of the room and women on the other. Everyone is barefoot.
I spoke about John 11 and Jesus not showing up when expected and how that often happens to us. It was extremely gratifying to be able to share God’s Word with them. I felt great preaching – my thoughts were organized, words flowed as they should, and the message impacted us all. It will be one of my very favorite preaching memories ever because it felt like one of my best sermons ever. I actually recorded it on my mp3 player, along with the translation.
We stayed awhile after church and everyone was so very loving and welcoming. They spoke to us in English and all greeted us. Women are more reserved and don’t stand close to a man or touch him, but men shake hands. They wanted to have me come back and speak to the young people in the afternoon but we are just exhausted and also due at another church right after this one.
We went to New Jerusalem House of Prayer next, where David’s wife and daughters were attending. We had lunch with them, then came home to relax. I fell asleep half a dozen time each time we drove in the car, despite the fact I was in the front where it gets quite ‘exciting’ and bouncy. I was just exhausted. I took a short nap and finished unpacking.
The place where we are staying is nice enough – a bit nicer than last year. For India it is wonderful. At home it would be OK, average, but in many ways lacking our conveniences. I am sharing a room with Keith from Glenside Baptist who came along to do some repair work at the children’s home. He’ll be here 2 weeks, but I’ll be leaving for Pune next Sunday. Oh, we also have a mouse in the room – so that makes three of us.
Tomorrow starts 6 days of pastor’s conferences with lots of speaking by me. I am really looking forward to that. The time will be full and go by quickly, I am sure.
When you pray thank God for blessing the speaking times I had this morning. Pray the same would happen as I speak to the pastors this week. Pray He would minister to me as well as through me. Pray for me as I continue to miss my family, pray God would bless, care for and protect them as well. Pray for physical, emotional and spiritual strength and energy for me as I have 6 very full days coming up and enter them quite tired. I really need God’s grace for that.
Thank you very much! I’ll write again when I can.
Monday, July 2, 2007, 6 PM, Hyderabad, India
The first day of the first pastor’s conference went very well. My goal is to connect with them heart to heart, to encourage them and to let God minister to them through His Word and all that happened. I was able to share lots of things from my heart and they were very open to it. Knowing I don’t have anything in myself to give them, it has to be by the Spirit through His Word and that has been happening. There were about 40 pastors there, from all over the city. David Babu couldn’t be there so I was on my own but it’s the same building as last year (a Catholic retreat center) and I knew some of the men from last year.
I went through the four words for pastor (overseer, elder, pastor and minister) and what they meant, then applied that to what our responsibilities are and aren’t as pastors. In the afternoon I was Caleb and talked about patient perseverance, then we talked about how and why God stretches us in the last session. They all went very, very well!
Pray for tomorrow’s pastors conference. Pray for me as well. I haven’t adjusted to the time nor food and have had very little sleep since leaving Pennsylvania and that’s starting to catch up with me. Because I was up early I did get in a short run around the neighborhood this morning, Its very confusing with winding roads everywhere so I had to make sure I could find my way back! Pray I will adapt mentally and physically to being here.
We’re going to a pizza place for supper and I’m looking forward to my first good meal since a Wendy’s salad in Newark. Curry and spices with white rice every meal gets old fast!
Thank you very much! I’ll write again when I can.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007, 7 PM, Hyderabad, India
I got a good nights sleep last night and it felt great! Thanks so much for your prayers!
The first Pastor’s Conference is going extremely well. The content seems to be just what they need, their response is very touching, and we seem to able to connect quite well. They really love the magic tricks so I do several each session. They always applaud afterwards.
The heat makes it hard to have long sessions for there is no air conditioning and the fans stop when the electricity goes off (several times a day). The heat makes them tired and drains me as well.
I’ve been there alone all day. David Babu wasn’t there again. I feel perfectly fine and in charge of it all, though. I couldn’t be more pleased and know it is because of praying people that this is happening.
Please pray for our final day tomorrow, and for God’s peace and blessing on all of us. Pray, too, for my health and energy. Between the heat and humidity, a strange diet and not a lot of it (I miss salads more than chocolate!), missing 4 nights sleep and all the energy it takes standing and teaching all I’m whipped! Things won’t slow down until Monday when I arrive in Pune after an all night train ride!
Thank you very much! I’ll write again when I can.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007,6 PM, Hyderabad, India
We finished our first pastors conference today and it went extremely well. They are making big plans for another one soon! It accomplished all I hoped it would and a lot more. The pastors need something like this very, very badly. They have nothing in the way of fellowship, training, etc. And to think we can provide it for $25 a pastor. They get a 3 day conference, handouts, breakfast and lunch, snacks, a building to use, transportation reimbursement and housing if they come from a distance. Imagine what that would cost in the USA? It’s all paid for by your contributions so I greatly, greatly appreciate it. So do they (they don’t know who paid, but they really appreciate it being provided).
We had our first monsoon rain today – not too bad, just like showers. It’s been a clear week.
Tonight I get everything ready to do it again tomorrow. Pray for my energy level and my mental concentration. Pray God would use it as much or more than He used this past week!
Thank you very much! I’ll write again when I can.
Thursday, July 5, 2007, 7 PM, Hyderabad, India
We started our second pastor’s conference and it went even better than the first day for the first group. The men are more open and responsive and I certainly have a complete grasp of the material by now. The days are every tiring but very good. The time gone with travel, which is long and difficult, is about 12 hours. I certainly see a lot of India as I travel.
I’ve been asked what is the best thing that has happened and it got me thinking. Here’s my answer to the best, worst, etc.
Some of the unexpected pluses are that it has hardly rained in Hyderabad. That will change next week when I travel but its been good for the conferences. Also mosquitoes haven’t been a problem.
On the minus side wearing a long sleeve shirt and tie, usually with a jacket, all the time is bothersome. But that’s the expected dress for what I am doing. Carrying water along with my backpack stuffed full with all my valuable possessions ever step of my day is getting old.
What is hard is no place to really relax and settle down in, to organize my stuff and feel at home. Keeping things either with me or locked in suitcases with individual locks and bike chain holding them together is bothersome. It’s not that people are thieves here, its just that we are prime pickings and easily available for anyone so inclined.
What’s also hard is missing food and sleep like we are used to. It seems everyone in the group (that is, the other 3 from Glenside who are helping at the school this week) wakes up about 2 and lays there awake, sometimes dozing a bit on and off toward morning. My roommate shares my longing for home (lets face it, we’re very home sick) so we have that in common. Plus we share a phlegmatic sense of humor which we both enjoy. I think their sleep problems are from the malaria medicine for it did that to the group last year, but I’m taking something different that doesn’t cause that. We’re getting a stash of Benedryl and see if that helps.
What’s been an unexpected responsibility is that I am the computer geek here! It’s not a role I want but that’s the way it turns out.
What’s even more unexpected, though, is the realization that God chose me for this honor and privilege. The men who left yesterday were greatly helped and affected by the pastor’s meeting – they have nothing like it here. It’s like Promise Keepers and a basic Bible college course all rolled into one. They want and need more. They really have taken to me it seems. All say they have a great love for me and that I am a wonderful teacher. How one can be a wonderful teacher through a translator (different ones, each needing to have my vocabulary adjusted to them) and no Power Point is beyond me! The magic does help. I can see God using this in their lives, families and ministries for years to come, even impacting those they disciple. They feel that way, too. In fact, they like it so much they want to have a month-long Bible institute here taught by me. It would be for pastors and for those studying for the ministry. It’s strange how my ministry in America doesn’t rate as a ‘success’ according the general definition of success there, but here it is fine! If may be that my so-called ‘failure’ there (and I know it isn’t that in God’s sight) prepares me for this. So here I am, on the one hand counting the minutes until I can get home and wondering if I over committed myself on this trip, while at the same time feeling a God-given excitement to be involved in a Bible institute and train pastors. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, but I never thought it would be in India ! On the one hand God is totally silent about why I miss home so much and why I battle to hard to sleep, why I don’t have an excitement about being here, while on the other hand He gives me an excitement and all kinds of ideas about future trips! I still don’t want to be here, but I know I’m coming back. Go figure out God – and let me know when you do.
Please pray for us all to sleep tonight!!!!! Pray also for the conference tomorrow. I’ll be going over our spiritual authority and power in the morning (one session for each) – who we are and what we have in Christ and applying it to spiritual warfare along with other things. Both afternoon sessions will be Abraham telling about the tests in his life and alerting the pastors to the tests they face. PLEASE don’t stop praying now that the days are passing and the first conference is over!!! Remember – I’m still here!
Thank you very much! I’ll write again when I can. Jerry
Friday, July 6, 2007, 7 PM, Hyderabad, India
I get closest to real Indian culture is during my morning runs. I go as soon as it gets light (and its still way too hot). I don’t interact with the people nor take pictures of those who see me. That can seem very impolite, especially to women. I’m sure I am quite often the topic of conversation – an old white man running (I’ve never seen anyone run or exercise in any way). Sometimes children will be curious about me and the camera and seem open and friendly so I will approach them and ask if I can take their ‘photo.’ They are all polite and agreeable so I do, then show it to them. They are always astounded to see their picture for they’ve never seen a picture of image of themselves before.
Earlier this week I was exploring a side street and saw a children by the road so I followed it and took a few pictures. A very old gray woman who had a stand selling something for breakfast in front of her house. She gave me a big toothless smile and motioned for me to come over to her yard. She had the typical thrown-together shack that the untouchable’s live in – well below poverty, more like bare existence. But those are the people who I see when running for they are everywhere and getting their day started at sunrise.
What she wanted me to see was another chicken, and she was thrilled to show it off – great riches for them! There was a young woman in a green dress there, too, flashing the biggest smile you can imagine. I’ve never seen anyone but Christians smile here. /they were both very proud to have me stop by their place and take a picture of their chicken so I signed if I could take a picture of them. Some understand the word ‘photo.’ So I took a picture of each of them. Something in my spirit really was attracted to the young woman and I couldn’t stop thinking of her all day.
This morning I went by there again and when they saw me (who could miss me!) they smiled a welcome, obviously glad to see me again. I had brought some rupees along to give them if it seemed appropriate for obviously they had nothing and any little thing was great for them. I gave them several dollars worth of rupees, a vast sum to them. They were greatly pleased just to see me and astounded that I would slip money into their hands. So many poor Indians are expert beggars but they hadn’t thought of that.
As I left I couldn’t forget the young woman’s face and smile. Something in my spirit just bonded very closely with her. Then God put His thoughts in my mind as strongly and as clearly as I have ever heard Him speak – “She’s a believer. You’ll see in heaven. The two of you will sit down at Jesus’ feet one day and have a great talk!” I knew immediately that’s what was bonding with my spirit. I’m sure that’s happened when you’ve met someone who was a Christian.
Now I don’t think this woman ever heard the name of Jesus, but I’m sure she’s accepted and responded to what knows of the true living God as He’s revealed Himself to her in nature and her conscience. Despite her Hindu culture she’s accepted all about God that she knows – and that’s what it takes for any of us!
I don’t know how God will use my presence or gift in her life, but I know it was no accident. I’m sure no other white person has ever gone down that alley.
I’ll jog by tomorrow, my last day to run here for I leave on Sunday. I’ll slip them some more money, speak God’s blessing over both of them and see her radiant smile once more. Then I wait until God gives me recognition of her in heaven. What will she think when she recognizes me? I don’t know how many people there she’ll know, but there will be one for sure!
Pray for her when you think of her. Any smile she has despite the way she is living clearly comes from within!
Thanks for praying! Jerry
Saturday, July 7, 2007, 7 PM, Hyderabad, India
Our second pastor’s conference ended today and it was ever bit as successful as the first. Today talked about studying the Bible, prayer and God’s expectations (qualifications) for pastors. The men were more open and responsive than the first group. They, too, love the tricks I use. They laugh and applaud them, then talk among themselves about them when I’m done and trying to move on. It’s very nice being in the company of so many godly, committed men. I can call on any one of them to pray or lead in any way and they are totally competent in what they do.
Tomorrow I go to Brother Andrew’s church. I was most impressed with him last year for he is obviously a greatly used man of God. We hit it off really well last near, one of those rare connections that 2 people sometimes have when meeting, as if they’ve known each other all their lives. It’ll be nice seeing him again. I have both sermons (worship and main teaching sermon) and in between will dress in costume and speak to the children (with magic tricks, of course).
Then tomorrow afternoon I go to the train station for an overnight ride to Pune where I meet the man who will take me to the next destination 3 hours away and oversee my time there. I know I’ll be speaking at special church services Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I plan to talk about Jesus’ arrest and trials (Peter), Crucifixion (Barabbas) and resurrection (Thomas). I’m looking forward to that. Transportation plans haven’t been smooth and communication with him has been nonexistent since I’ve been here. I think I need to rent a room and car (someone else drive) but I’m not sure of that. I’ll be doing teaching of children’s home workers and pastors during the day. It’s a real stretch for me to venture out like this so please pray for me!
Pray for a safe trip and that everything go well and smoothly with it. Pray God will use me for His glory there. Please pray God will give me the strength and energy I need. Pray especially for my sleep. Days are very full and hot, but go OK. I fall asleep early, totally exhausted. But in 2 hours I’m awake. I lay and pray for 1 or 2 hours then go back and forth between dozing and thinking/praying until 4 AM when I give it all up and get up. Others have had problems sleeping, too, but seem to be adjusting better. I’ve prayed everything I can about it. It’s not just the lack of sleep but when I am awake it seems all thoughts and prayers take me back home and I haven’t gotten over my homesickness (or whatever you’d call it). I know God must be doing something through all this but I have no idea what it is. Tomorrow night I spend on the train then into a new place and bed. Pray for God’s mercy for me in this please!!!!! Thanks! And keep praying for my family at home as well, I greatly appreciate that, too.
Internet connection here is very sporadic and frustrating so I’ll write again when I can.
Thanks for praying! Jerry
Monday, July 9, 2007, 6 AM on a train from Hyderabad to Pune, India
The first stage of my trip is over – the Hyderabad church services and pastors conferences. I spoke 28 times in 8 days but felt God’s leading and presence in a very special way each time. I really felt Him directing my thoughts and giving me His words. They He used those words to apply them to the hearts of the people. That happened yesterday in church, too.
I spoke at the New Jerusalem Prayer House, a place I spoke at 2 times last year. I love the pastor and have been in touch with him since last year. We are definitely kindred spirits, make from the same mold. Preaching with him is great – I say just what he wants said and then he applies it to his people in ways I’m not aware it needs to be applied. Brother Andrew oversees 80 other churches, most pastored by men he has trained.
People start arriving about 10 AM. People sit on the floor, men on one side women on the other. About 250 come, All are barefoot in respect, women cover their heads with their saree. About 10:30 the service starts with prayer and singing. I had the opening message preparing for worship and talked about lessons we learn from worship from Job and Abraham. They worship for an hour. The children went upstairs and I went with them. I dressed as David and talked about courage and fear. When it was over I went down stairs and had the main message (1+ hour) about John 11 when Jesus didn’t show up to heal Lazarus. I talked about what to do when Jesus doesn’t answer prayer. The Spirit was clearly and deeply working in all of us through the whole morning. The Lord’s supper is observed. We were don a little after 2:30. No one falls asleep but are all very involved all the time. Perhaps sirring on the floor helps with that. I wonder if it would help it I took the pews out?
So now here I am on a shaky old train heading to the next stop. These are the best accomodations on the train by at home would compare to an old, rundown bus station. Four people share a compartment, 2 bunks on each side. One snores. The other is a young Hindu student retruning to her engineering college. She knows English and has a job with IBM when she graduates. The man above me is Joseph, Abagail Babu’s brother and my tranveling companion. I had a great time of prayer and worship when I woke and am listening to praise music on my mp3 player. I can tell you one thing, it is very, very easy to keep one’s eyes on God in these circumstances!
I am still in awe at the wondrous privilege and honor I’ve had last week in touching so many special lives in such great ways. It was truly life-changing and ministry-changing for those pastors, most of whom have had no training and direction. It’s given them the basics to pastor and live and will affect them and those they minister to for generations. That God reached to the USA and chose me to do this is most humbling. And yet I am growing more than they. The stretching and depending on His promisesd has been very good for me. I’m learning to put my hope in Him for there is no one or nothing else here to put it in.
In a couple hours I arrive at Pune and meet a man I’ve corresponded with but never met. Stavan will take me from there. He oversees TellAsia’s work in that area. I know I’ll be speaking in church each day and I’m staying in a ‘hotel’ in a small town – more than that I don’t know.
Monday, July 9, 2007, 1 PM, Ahmednagar, India
After a 3 hour ride into what seems like nowhere we got to a good size city – loud, crowded, colorful, smelly and full of life (like all India cities). My hotel room isn’t too bad – nothing like the USA though. It’s old and Spartan but clean and neat. This place will be home for the next 5 days. I never in my wildest dreams I’d be living by myself in Ahmednagar for most of a week! The local pastor I am working with, Stevan, picked me up at the train station and will get me tomorrow for our first meeting at church. He is quite young but speaks English well enough. My hotel looks neat from the outside and inside. It’s on the main street and from my balcony I can see the main street below. They didn’t have any air conditioned rooms available but this isn’t too bad – nice breeze comes through. Now I have until tomorrow to unwind, unpack, relax, organize for this week and get caught up on my rest again. I want to go for a long walk through town and take lots of pictures, too.
When we pulled up here 9 local pastors were waiting to greet me, take a picture and put a lei (circle of flowers) around my neck. They were very thrilled to see me. Everyone here is serving me so well, I really hope I can serve them, too. I guess that’s up to God.
I’m already missing seeing and talking to someone with similar skin color and language skills as mine. I’m listening to the Gaithers sing Southern Gospel music on my laptop now and that’s nice.
I’m on my own for food it looks like. I really don’t mind a break from Indian spices and white rice, though! I have packs of tuna, peanut butter and packs of oatmeal. They have a restaurant here that sells things like omelets for breakfast and tomatoe soup, which I’ll have tonight. I had many things but most of them I don’t understand or don’t trust. I’d rather be a little hungry than a lot sick!
The next 3 days I will have a more sane pace here and can recharge my batteries, but still will doing some worthwhile ministry. I’ll be speaking from 12 to 3 each day to the church gathered. They are taking off from work to come – about 100 to 15- adults. Pray it doesn’t rain – that makes it hard for many to come and since they meet in a tin-roofed shed it makes a lot of noise! First I’ll be Peter telling Thomas telling about the resurrection. I’ll use plenty of tricks as well. They love them here! What could be a better truth to convey! Many of these people are new believers from all kinds of backgrounds. Pray God would give me His words and that He would take His truth and apply it to their hearts!
Thanks for praying! Jerry
Tuesday, July 10, 2007, 4+ AM, Ahmednagar, India
I find myself more dependent on God and His grace than I have ever felt in my life. Paul’s words about God’s grace being sufficient because “His strength is made perfect in my weakness” have taken on new meaning for I find myself weak in all areas. Physically my sleep is improving greatly but living and sleeping conditions make it quite difficult. Finding safe food to supplement my tuna and peanut butter is difficult. The restaurant has omelets and tomato soup, things I ate in Hyderabad. My water supply is almost gone and we need to find safe drinking water. With the heat and no AC water is important (as per my blog). Emotionally I am totally dependent, too, for in this rural area populated by untold thousands of Indians is definitely not a place where tourists or western business people come. I must be the only non-Indian in hundreds of miles. Contact with you at home is very limited. The only internet access I could come up with is very, very slow and laborious. It takes forever to load one page – but the page eventually does load and I am grateful for that. Spiritually I feel my weakness as well. I see myself as more needy as ever. I feel the need of prayers others more than I ever have in my life. Your giving has made this work possible, now your prayers feel like my very lifeline through this. How I will ever speak to these fine Christians for 3 hours each day is beyond me. They are such gracious, appreciative people I’m sure they would be glad for just anything, but I didn’t come all this way to give them ‘just anything.’ Again, as with the pastors, it has to be what God gives them, not what I give them.
The church is in a very poverty-stricken area. Goats and buffalo roam the area although it is crowded with tine house right alongside tine house and a dirt ‘road’ barely squeezed around the front. You wouldn’t believe people can actually live in that level of poverty. Yet everything is neat and clean (as much as possible) and many praise the Lord. The church is strong in that area and growing rapidly.
Psalm 25 has become something I hang onto, especially the part about “my hope is in You,” for He ha removed all substitutes from it. It’s both a wonderful thing and a terrible thing at the same time. I’m sure when its over it will have been wonderful. Now I get to experience His grace in a deeper way than ever before. I feel like a turtle who has had its shell removed – and at the last place and time he would have wanted it gone!
I don’t want to be grateful for all the good things – mosquitoes aren’t bad at all, this room has a toilet and even toilet paper (very rare here), there hasn’t been much monsoon rain, the heat isn’t worse than real hot and humid July or August days at home (I was expecting worse), since it is the rainy season everything is green for this one month of the year and that makes the scenery very lovely, my health is fine and the privilege of meeting these wonderful, gentle, committed Christians. You’ll have to wait until you get to heaven (unless you want to come next time) but I get to meet them now!
Thanks for praying. \
Tuesday, July 10, 2007, 7 PM, Ahmednagar, India
I had my first 2-hour session at the church where I’m speaking. You won’t believe the living conditions it is amongst until you see the pictures! Three times while speaking an ox cart pulled by 2 large white oxen went by the back of the church no more than 25 feet from where I was standing facing it. And there is no back wall there, either. Twice large herds of water buffalo were driven pat and of course numerous goats are always walking around. The poverty level is unbelievable, but the people are neat and clean and many around the church are Christians. It’s one of the highest concentrations of Christians I’ve seen. I talked about Jesus arrest and trials, focusing on His English. No one in the hotel does. I finally found someone who knew the word ‘omelet’ and got one for breakfast. He tried to charge me almost double but I knew the price and caught him on it.
The church is Pentecostal (as were many of the pastors at the pastor’s conference). It is clear and obvious from their worship they are Pentecostal! I can tell what is tongues and what is the local dialect, Marathi. Telegu is what I’ve been used to hearing.
After church we had a meal, rice and meat. Usually the meat is mutton, but they said this was beef. It was good to eat cooked meat! I’ve managed to pick up what passes for white bread here to supplement my diet but a cooked meal was great. Afterwards we went for a walk around the neighborhood, meeting some of the church people in their one-room open-air shacks. Stevan, the pastor with me who speaks English, was bragging on their beef store since eating beef is rare in such a Hindu world. It was a shack that wasn’t big enough or secure enough to hold chickens and the meat was just hanging on the wooden board wall, covered with flies. The owner was cutting off chunks for those buying pieces. I hardly saw any red – the pieces were all white fat. Oh, well – it was cooked well. That’s why we pray before eating.
Speaking of which: they don’t have the brands of bottled water here that I know are clean, just some local brands. I was warned against local brands, but that is all there is and Stevan assures me it is OK. So I’ve had to start using the local bottled water. I can’t go without any water! It certainly puts praying for God to bless what I put into my mouth in a whole new light!
It’s been a very interesting day….. Now if I can just find a place with working internet connection to pass this on to you I’ll be fine!
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now! Jerry
Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 6 AM, Ahmednagar, India
I remember an old missionary story from several years ago about new missionaries who went to a previously unreached people. The people were very glad to have them come and had a great celebration for them. They went out of their way to be hospitable. They even prepared their very favorite drink for the missionaries, a real honor to share with an outsider. Women would take a special leaf and chew it to a pulp, then spit it and their spit into a glass. When the glass was full the drink was complete. The missionaries were confronted with drinking this and accepting the honor of the people or rejecting it and putting a major stumbling block in their way to reaching them. They drank the drink.
Now I’ve had nothing as dramatic as that, but I do think of it often, especially in this place where Western people and ways are so unfamiliar to them. Many times a day I have to ask where I draw the line between danger to me and honor to them. There is no one way to decide, I just take it on a case by case need. I do try to be sensitive to what God wants. It usually has to do with what I eat and drink, although other customs enter in as well. One of these is riding on the back of a motorcycle (more like a motor bike). That’s the main means of transportation other than biking or walking. Traffic is horrendously chaotic with virtually no limits or rules. Everyone just goes wherever they want, constantly cutting each other off and cutting in and out. Of course there are no helmets. But I’ve never seen an accident. Everyone is used to this chaos which drives us Americans crazy. That’s why someone else is driving the van I rented to get me around with my luggage and things. But other times it is necessary to ride on the back of the pastor’s bike with him. And I find I really like it! The dust and exhaust fumes are terrible, but other than that it’s great fun. I do look forward to a return to what to me is more of a ‘civilized’ life style, but that is still a ways off. I wonder what great adventures await me in the meantime?
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now! Jerry
Thursday, July 12, 2007, 4 PM, Ahmednagar, India
One of the families in the church I am speaking at is shown in the attached picture before her home with her children. Her husband died a few weeks ago from AIDS and she thinks she has AIDS. The government is testing her children and it seems some of them have AIDS also. The husband contracted it before becoming a Christian. Because they are believers their caste will no longer help them and their Hindu family rejects them. We visited and prayed inside and the woman was in tears wondering what would happen to her and her children. Stevan said he has been looking for funding to help her. I told him sponsorships might work better. He said he’d need $50 a month to house, feel, clothe and send the children to school (something rarely done for those in her level of society, but the only way they can get a better job and rent a home. God laid it on my heart to support them from my India fund so I told him I would do it. Today after church the church gave financial gifts to many of the needy and she was told she’d be receiving the money she needed. What joy overcame her! How great to see the love of God working as Christians help each other. I was able to give the first month’s money so this could get started, but I’d like to see her (family name is Bujabal) supported by all of us so we can all pray for her and her family. I have enough in my India fund for this, but by the time this trip is over it will be depleted. Pray God will continue to provide, and if He leads you to give you can send it to me directly or to Main Street Baptist Church and mark it for the India fund.
I leave tomorrow for a 1,000 mile, 24+ hour train ride to Lucknow. I probably won’t be able to write again until Saturday or maybe even Monday. Please pry for the trip and for me as I travel. Pray for everything to go smoothly, Pray for the time to go quickly and for me to be able to make good use of it. Pray for those I will be sitting with, that there will be an opportunity to speak of Jesus.
I will speak for the last time here tonight, a hour sermon during their closing evening service. This will be a message (sermon) and not a dramatization. Pray for that as well, please.
For those of you who like to know more details about what is going on I’ll summarize how my days went here in Ahmednagar. I usually fall asleep about 10 and get up about 4:30 or 5. I have lots of time to pray, read the Bible and worship. At 6 I go for an hour and a half fast walk. I really miss running and think that would help my sleep but it is way too hot here, even at sunrise, to run for long. I enjoy the longs run and explore a different part of town each day, always making sure I can find my way back! I only know one person here who knows English!
One day I had an omelet for breakfast, but lately it’s been peanut butter on bread with powered milk. Evidently the local bottled water is OK for I’m been drinking it and haven’t gotten sick.
Then the morning is mine – a great time to relax and recharge after last week. I listen to music on my laptop, download and organize my pictures and audio files from messages I am recording. I get ready for the day’s messages, review the materials and organize the tricks I will use. I’m working or redoing my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, which is more of a project than I expected, and spend time on that each morning, too.
At about 11:30 AM I get picked up and driven to the church for the afternoon sessions. People really are loving the dramatizations about Jesus’ arrest and trials, crucifixion and resurrection. They cheer the tricks and wave their arms in praise at the truths they convey. I never thought I’d have time making my messages go long enough, but that is the strange situation I find myself in here. I just don’t fill the 3 hours! They don’t mind, for it is very, very hot and humid and long messages make it hard to concentrate. Because of having to limit my vocabulary and therefore teaching to the ability of the translator I can’t develop many things as well as I’d like. Word pictures are out, so is anything that is American slang. And I can’t go too deep for that is too hard to be translated as well. But imagine me having more time to speak than I can use!
There is worship is a long time of worship before and after the sessions. They also take a break n the middle to sing a song or two. Of course I don’t understand a word they are saying or singing, but it is obviously clear where their hearts are. Being Pentecostal, they aren’t shy about expressing themselves in worship. When I look out at the people singing and raising their hands, and see tears streaming down many of their cheeks, I know their love of Jesus is real. It’s a very moving sight, one of the favorite memories I’ll bring back from this trip.
Afterwards they eat a group meal of rice and some kind of meat. They have a kettle that is 4 feet diameter, fill it with rice and cook it! Men and women sit separately to eat as well as worship, always barefoot. They sit neatly in rows and food is dished into their plates. Everyone always sits on the floor, at church and at home. The plates are their version of our paper plates. They are large leaves molded into plates with ridges and compartments. Several leaves are stitched together to make the plate. After the meal cleanup is easy for the plates are thrown away – all biodegradable. I carry a plastic spoon in my pocket, but everyone else eats with their fingers so there is no cleanup there. I just haven’t ventured to eating rice, sauce and runny yogurt with my fingers! I do enjoy the meal, though. It isn’t nearly as spicy as in Hyderabad and is quite tasty. I eat a good portion for it is my main meal of the day.
Afterwards instead of going to see the local sights I’ve asked to go meet the people so each day after the people leave we walk or drive to the homes of various church members. One house was a nice middle-class home, but in the USA it would be considered below the poverty level and only fit for migrant workers or someone of that category. If that is a middle class home here, you can’t imagine the homes of the majority. Yet each home is very, very neat and clean. It is very Spartan and bare. Warm weather all year means you don’t need complete walls and many windows are just openings. Many extended family members will all live in one or two rooms. The Christians are so grateful to have the pastor come there are thrilled, and to have the pastor from America visit their home and pray to bless it is, to them, a great honor they will always treasure. Well, I consider it a great honor I will always treasure as well!
Some of the people who are able have TV’s with a small antenna. They can be very creative in what they get to work! When we visited the middle class family they had a small TV on and I wanted to see what they are watching. I was greatly tickled to see them watching professional wrestling!
In addition to praying to bless homes, families, the elderly and especially children, I am often asked to pray for people to be healed. One woman today just found she had cancer and I prayed on the phone for a man who had just broken his back. He didn’t know a word of English, but we both spoke the same heavenly language! As you can imagine in a culture with open sewers flowing in front of each house, there are many kinds of physical problems and ailments among the people. Today was a special time of prayer when many people lined up for the pastor (me) to lay hands on them and pray for them.
I get back to my room in the evening, unpack and relax. If I’m especially lonely for an American face or voice, I’ll turn on the TV and watch Animal Planet, for it is in English. If I’m hungry I’ll eat a pack of dry tuna, although I must admit I have to get a whole lot hungrier than I used to before eating another one of those! Trying to get what I write to you and for the web site sent has been a major evening project lately.
Among the strange things happening are:
-this is the first time I have attended a Pentecostal service – and I’m the pastor!
-the TV in the room gets 100 stations, only a few in English, but one is HBO, (I’ve never watched it)
-I’ve learned a good system of hand signals so the hotel staff and I can communicate without words, I anticipate what they want to say and answer it with signals
-I actually found a walking park today, where people go to exercise, jog, stretch, etc.
-this is a great place to lose weight so if you don’t want to come here on a mission trip, how about calling it a ‘dieter’s travel package’ and joining me next trip?
Actually, Hyderabad is getting a new airport and we can fly directly there which will make the trip a whole lot easier and many hours quicker. I’ll be staying Hyderabad next time or two because the work there is growing so fast. I’ll be at one place with the amenities we are used to in America. Cost will be about $2500 (depending on airline tickets, the biggest cost and always changing). It will be for 2 or 2 ½ weeks. The time could be in February 2008 (with Glenside Baptist Church) or November 2008 (with Bux-Mont Baptist Church). You can help at the school and children’s home, or with the pastor’s conferences if you’d like. Let me know if you’re at all interested. Each group will have about 10 or 12 (more gets too hard to transport, house, etc.) so its first come first served! (It is important to plan ahead in order to get Passports, inoculations, etc.)
Friday July 13, 2007, 4:30 AM, Ahmednagar, India
With coming to such a dark place I wondered if I would get involved in spiritual warfare in any way. Personally there are many battles for my own protection and much spiritual warfare praying in that way, but would I minister to anyone else in that way? Last night I got my answer – in a very dramatic way.
After 3 intense days of meeting together in a very confined area I have felt extremely bonded to these people. Only one knows English but their love and devotion is very real. They respond enthusiastically to my teaching and magic (7 messages, 9 hours of teaching in 3 days). Tears flow when they praise the Lord. They have loved me and I love them greatly. We have become one large and strange family in Jesus.
One of the ways this is best expressed, and one of my favorite parts of ministering in India, is their practice of coming to the pastor after the service and asking to have hands laid on them and to be prayed for. Sometimes there are specific ailments they want to be healed from and other times it is for a blessing in general. They especially seek the white-skinned American pastor who has come so far to speak to them, so I do a lot of that after church and love every minute. I feel God leading me in what to pray for each one. I know He blesses those I bless in His name. And I pray for healing in a more powerful way than at home for there is no medical help available for them. If God doesn’t heal them they suffer and die. I’ve prayed for many eye and ear ailments, pregnancies, kidney stones, cancer, AIDS, a broken back (I prayed for him on the phone) and many suffer from great head pains.
I noticed one young lady that would ask for a blessing. When I touched her she started shaking and could hardly stand. I figured it was a Pentecostal thing, for there was a young lady who sometimes fell down during the services, writhed on the floor and screamed at the top of her lungs. Everyone moved out of her way and ignored her. The pastor, who uses my camera and takes more pictures with it than I do, took several pictures of her. I thought is was someone being ‘slain in the spirit’ or something. I have been rebuking anything that wasn’t from Jesus that was working there, but more than that left all the other stuff for God to sort through.
Last night everyone there wanted a blessing (250 of them) so I went very quickly through them one by one. When I got to the girl the same thing happened. So this time, despite all the other people crowded around me waiting, I asked the girl to look me in the eye by pointing her head toward me an opening her eyelid. Immediately I saw evil and hate deeply entrenched in her. Immediately she screamed, a very shrill, very high and extremely loud scream. She tried to pull away from me but I wouldn’t let her. The battle was on!
If there is one things God has given me in spiritual warfare it’s a great dislike for demons and their intimidation. A strong righteous indignation rises up inside me to see something like this. So for about an hour we battled. (Actually the pastor took some pictures so I can show you some when I get home!). Everyone backed away but I didn’t let go of her. She kept trying to choke herself so I grabbed here hands. By the time I was done my arms and shoulders ached more than after a workout at the gym. She was really strong. She kept pulling away and soon was writhing on the flood. I grabbed her head as she was banging it on the concrete.
Her mother and another pastor grabbed one had each. Evidently they are gifted in spiritual warfare and it was great to work as a team, something I haven’t done in that way before. I have no idea what they were praying but they were both there supporting me in the battle and that was greatly appreciated.
Every time she would get free I would touch her again to regain contact with the demon. She would let out a terrible scream as if my touch brought great pain. And when I forced a look in her eyes it was even worse. No matter what I said or did the demon would not stop tormenting her. She was obviously in terrible pain and kept writhing all over. I sat by her head and held it to protect her. I just could make no progress, though. I did everything I could think of. I could gather no information since my interpreter pastor was gone.
The experience reminded me of the woman last year that barks in church who I prayed for. I asked about her last Sunday for I was at the same church and they said she still barks, but doesn’t come to church as regularly any more. That can be annoying, but this is totally destructive. I guess if local pastors aren’t able to minister deliverance I shouldn’t be surprised if I face the same opposition.
She kept trying to hold her ears as I spoke so she wouldn’t hear me. She closed her eyes and turned her head. I knew the demon was aware what we were doing because of the way he fought back and resisted. I wondered if he tried to claim to not understand English so I prayed about that. He certainly heard the others there praying, too. The people just stood around watching, so I finally got them to understand they should sing and they did.
Evidently the hold this demon or demons have is great. As I prayed I really sensed the battle going on. I kept thinking, though, that it must be difficult for angels to come carry out the commands. India is covered with darkness. You can feel it everywhere. Idolatry is rampant. There are 4 Muslims and 32 Hindus for each Christian. The rulers over India have a strong, solid hold. I could understand god’s angels having a real battle trying to get here and battle what was in her. Daniel talks about this when he prayed and I thought of that.
The battle would fade and I’d make her look me in the eye and we’d start again. Finally the others wanted to leave and they wanted me to finish blessing the others so I quickly did that and then got back to the girl again.
Finally my interpreter returned and I was able to piece some information together. As it turned out she was the same girl who fell and screamed during the service. When it was over, or mostly over, I was able to find my interpreter who was gone for all of this and piece things together. Her name is Rani (pronounced ‘Rrr-Annie’). She was to be married this year but 8 months ago someone put a curse on her through witchcraft and she has been this way since. It used to be when she came to church the demon would not enter but would leave her and wait outside to reenter her when she left, but now he never leaves. Her marriage has been put off. Her mother is one of the leading women in the church, as fine and godly a woman as I have met. Her husband is so sick he can’t do anything so the family is in her care. Her older son no longer wants anything to do with the church. Yet this woman is one of the leaders in the church and worships the Lord with all her heart. Many pastors have prayed for her, have prayed and fasted, but she gets worse.
We prayed some more but the whole thing just came to a stop. I was able to break the curse and quote scripture, but I have no idea how much got through. She was totally exhausted, as were we. God just said, ‘that’s enough’ and we were all done. Her eyes became normal and she was very grateful (she remembers it all) and humble before me. I don’t know if we achieved some measure of victory (hopefully total victory) or if it was ended out of mercy to Rani. It could have gone on all night but we can’t quit. It was very late when I finally left, though, and I leave early this morning for Pune and the train.
What a farewell experience that was to a group of very special believers that I have nothing in common with but really have everything in common with.
Pray for Rani and pray for her mother. Demons cannot make a mockery of God’s authority and power right in a church. This poor girl must be set free.
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now! Jerry
4 PM Sunday, July 15, 2007, Lucknow, India
I’ve had a very Sunday so far. It’s extremely hot and humid here, very uncomfortable outside. I’ve had to find water and really keep drinking. I spoke at a village church this morning. Cows were present and women carrying loads of straw on their head walked in back of me going back and forth to the fields. It was outside in a village that looked like something you’d see in National Geographic Magazine. From there we went to the orphanage that TellAsia runs. There are 30 children there. I spoke to them twice during the afternoon, telling them a story about a boy named Joseph who came to the Lord through his friend David then helped a girl named Annie find Jesus. I used magic tricks to explain it all.
AN INDIAN TRAIN RIDE
So, you say, what’s an Indian train ride like? Let me try to explain it. Have you ever seen a travelogue about an train ride in India, or anywhere else? If you have, just forget it. It’s a nice ride but nothing romantic or adventuresome.
The whole railway system looks pretty much like it must have when the British left India. It gets you safely from one place to another, and compared to prices in America is quite cheap. It’s just that as Americans we look for luxury and convenience but it seems most of the rest of the world looks for practical and efficient.
The hot, crowded cars where the masses ride are nothing I want to experience. My rides have been in the best cars (the term is very relative over here). There is air conditioning, although over hear air conditioned places don’t really seem much cooler, but they do seem far less humid. It’s comfortable.
The car is broken up into compartments of 2 bunk beds facing each other. Four people share this cubicle and sit on the bottom bunks during the day, then each has his own bunk to sleep on at night. No food is provided but venders hawk their wares each time the train stops at a station so food is plentiful for those who want to buy it. Most seem to bring their own food.
I have peanut butter bread, packs of tuna, my ever-present bottled water, bananas and a granola bar for desert.
At 8 PM people start going to bed. Mine is all men, but several contain families and little children. I’ve had some of my best nights sleep on the train – no plans, nothing to think about, no time to have to get up, just rest and sleep.
Waking up is a joy for when the sun comes up I can look out the window by my seat and watch the Indian country side. It’s so different than the cities I’ve been in and looks like something on National Geographics. It just never ends!
I wake up and listen to praise songs on my mp3 player for a long time. It’s a great time to think and pray. I write notes of things I’m thinking and what God is teaching me. Later I type them and blogs I’ve thought of on my pda. I read, look out the window and think. I write down sermon ideas and outlines for when I get back, jot notes of plans for the next trip and relax. It’s a great break from the very busy, intense activity load I carry when not traveling. It’s not a ‘waste’ of time at all but is very refreshing mentally, spiritually and physically.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like going on a bus ride and just having time to sit, think, read and relax. This seems to be a lot like it. Of course here everyone chains their suitcases to their bunks, and I can’t understand what anyone is saying. But that’s fine with me for I’m not expected to make small talk and that’s a great blessing when I want to relax. And the bathrooms are just barely adequate – if you can hold your breath long enough.
So all in all it’s been a much more enjoyable experience than I expected, at least so far. The trip has been stretching and challenging, but the train rides nice and boring – and sometimes boring is just what the doctor ordered!
9 AM Monday, July 16, 2007 Locknow, India
This morning I’m going on an hour plus motorcycle ride to a remove village where they have a ministry to the children. They teach them the basics of reading and writing. That is the only way the lower casts ever have any kind of a chance to get a better job and alleviate some of their terrible poverty. I’ll be getting to know the children and teaching them a Bible story using my tricks. They do a lot to teach the children about Jesus when teaching them to read and write. It should be interesting. The heat and humidity are really high and very oppressive, though, so that takes a lot of the ‘fun’ out of being outside.
Last night I visited with 2 missionaries I knew from North Penn Baptist Church in Lansdale. They are Southern Baptist Missionaries in Lucknow and live a 15 second walk from where I am staying! It was great to talk English to English-speaking people! That hasn’t happened in 1 1/2 weeks and won’t again until I get home. It was good to see them.
Tomorrow I go to other villages and back to the orphanage, then Wednesday late morning I leave. My train arrives in Hyderabad Thursday late afternoon. Pray they would find someone to travel with me for the one who was going to do it has a sick wife and doesn’t want to leave. For the most part the trip is smooth and easy once I get my seat. But if there are any delays or changes I won’t know what they are saying. And finding the right station to get off at won’t be easy. So pray the right person makes themselves available to help me with this.
Thanks and God bless! If you are interested in learning more about India life below is a description of their food and daily life, from my perspective.
INDIAN FOOD & DAILY LIFE
Every meal seems about the same to me: white rice with some kind of sauce and, if they can afford it (and they get it even if they can’t afford it when the American comes), tough little chunks of meat: chicken, beef, goat or sometimes mutton. I guess someone would say our menu is always the same: a piece of meat, a couple vegetables and a salad.
Everyone loves white rice. Each house seems to have several 50 pound bags of rice sitting in the corner. The sauce is always a bit different, sometimes mildly spicy and other times very spicy. It seems much spicier in Hyderabad than other places but they also sever homemade yogurt with it. I really love that, its just like the kind we used to make. It immediately cuts and removes the spicy taste in your mouth.
Indians don’t use utensils. They use their fingers to ball up the rice and gravy with the meat and eat it that way. I always use a utensil. Some areas serve flat, round bread, which is quite tasty. They tear off chunks of it and use it to pinch up rice and gravy. That’s less messy.
Indians eat their evening meal late – 9 or 10 PM. During the hot summers (which is now, the peak of summer having been in June) they then go out on the streets shopping and visiting until 2 in the morning. It’s just too hot, even for them, to do it during the day.
The women, except the very poor who have absolutely nothing, have small 2-burner stoves that are hooked up to a propane tank. They cook on them. Except for their tea cups (and Indian tea, a left-over of British occupation, is a very special part of their day) which are quite tiny and are china, all their cooking, eating and storage dishes are stainless steal. It’s cheap to buy, durable and easy to clean. They only rinse off dishes, usually at a local stream or public water spigot. They don’t’ wash with soap and hot water. I guess stainless steel is helpful for no food can be absorbed into the surface of the plate or dish.
Virtually everyone lives in a one-room home about the size of an old, small one-car garage. 95% of the people are poor. The middle class is almost non-existent but growing as western industry starts to provide jobs. The very rich are the other extreme.
In the typical home one wall contains the cooking stove and work area, a second wall metal shelves with their stainless steel dishes on them. The other walls will have beds. There are no chairs. They sit on a bed or on the floor. Women sit for hours ‘Indian-style’ on the floor listening at church or doing their food preparation, gardening or whatever work they have to do.
Everything is made of concrete or masonry, even the bed stands and shelves. Evidently termites can be a real problem. Homes are very Spartan, nothing for decoration or pretty. But they are extremely neat and spotless, even when the floor is packed dirt.
Women always and only wear sarees. They are a beautiful, colorful site. Despite the dreary surroundings they live in their are bright and clean in their dress. Even working the fields or construction they wear their colorful sarees and seem to keep them clean and neat.
Men wear long pants and usually long sleeve shirts. They are usually white or a light pastel color. Men and women wear sandals if they can afford them. If not they go barefoot.
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now! Jerry
9 AM Tuesday, July 17, Lucknow, India
Well, I’ve often wondered what all the motorcycle riders do when a monsoon hits. Now I know. They just go a little faster! At least that’s what my driver did. I thought this would be a boring, simple day – long bike ride to a village, speak to the children, come home. That’s not quite how it turned out.
We got there OK, it took about an hour but the scenery is breathtaking. Flat green rice paddies are everywhere, pools with water buffalo, and quaint huts made from mud with thatched roofs. It couldn’t have been any more authentic looking if Hollywood had used their best designers. Cattle, goats and even some donkeys roamed everywhere. There are a group of believers and a small church there so they try to have a school some days and teach the children about Jesus.
About 30 children and half that many adults gathered in a clearing and everyone sang. After the second song it started drizzling and they all know what was coming – monsoon. So we went into a small home that was hot, totally dark except for the doorway (no windows) and very, very crowded. I stood in the doorway to talk. That meant only my back got rained on, but it didn’t feel bad because things were cooling off from the very high heat and humidity when we rode out. Getting my shirt soaked by rain felt much better than soaking it with sweat.
Of course my whole ‘program’ totally changed. With the darkness and heat inside it wasn’t conducive at all to teaching. How can one do tricks when the children can’t see them? They saw the light around me in the lighted doorway but that is all. Thunder continually rumbled all around us. I don’t remember ever covering this in seminary! I think I was more ‘nervous’ before that talk than any I’ve done in a long, long time. It’s a great privilege and opportunity to tell these precious children about Jesus and, like Paul says, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity given me. I certainly didn’t feel capable of the task but I knew I wasn’t doing it alone!
I adapted a story I made up for the children in the orphanage yesterday and used it for them. It was about a boy their age, Joseph, who was afraid of a lot of things. His friend David had peace because he trusted Jesus so Joseph wanted that (and I go through the plan of salvation using magic tricks). Then Joseph wants to help a girl, Annie, who doesn’t think anyone likes her because she doesn’t have a home. She feels different and left out. If Jesus loved her He would have given her a home like everyone else. (The children can really identify with fear, homelessness, and feeling they won’t fit in). Finally she listens to Joseph, reads the Bible, and discovers Jesus didn’t have a home either. He understands, He knows what she is going through…
The children listened well. The pastor talked and prayed with them afterwards. Then he asked what they learned from the story. The man who took me there translated the comments the children made into English for me and they were exactly what I wanted to communicate. So pray God uses this to remind them to turn to Him.
Anyway, the rain kept pouring down and didn’t show any signs of stopping so we headed home anyway, on the motorcycle. What an experience that was! Fortunately the roads aren’t smooth enough to be slippery, they are very rough and bumpy. We were going so fast the rain really stung. It’s one of the longest hours I can remember but we made it back. Everything was totally soaked! I had to wring out my socks they were so wet. Nothing was dry. But we made it back. And don’t worry about me. I was OK. I was wearing a helmet!
PS Ironically I had to point out to the driver when he made a wrong turn at one of the many village crossways!
I hope today isn’t as boring as yesterday was!
THE FAMILY WITH AIDS UPDATE:
Things are moving nicely and quickly for the mother with AIDS. She is Sushma Mohan Bujbal, 35 years old. Her youngest son, Danamjay Bujbal, who is 8, also has AIDS. Both are showing signs of the spread of the disease but continue to come to church. Mrugaya Bujbal, 14, and Nivanja Bujbal, 11, both are OK. Some of the $50 has been used to sign them up for school, something they have never had and never expected to have. Best of all, they will be living at their new school which will give them decent food, shelter and friends. The whole family is extremely grateful beyond words. It’s amazing how just $50 USA money can provide a real miracle for a family in India. Who’d ever thought we could provide a miracle for $50! A couple of you have expressed interest in contributing towards a month of their support and I thank you. If anyone else would like to please send the money to the church (marked for India) or to me. Thanks and God bless!
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now! Jerry
If you are interested in learning more about India I’ve written some comments about the climate and music culture
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
It seems the monsoons haven’t come to badly this year, at least where I’ve been when I’ve been there. That’s not good news for the farmers, though – and most people are farmers.
It’s in the 80’s and 90’s I think, although no one has a thermometer. It can get quite humid. Most places have fans and there is often a breeze so unless one is physically exerting themselves its not too bad. I’ve tried running at first sunrise, 6 AM, but its way too hot and oppressive to get a good workout. I certainly don’t want to have a heart attack here! Long brisk walks have been an enjoyable way to start the day.
The hot season is April and May and then they say people sweat just sitting in the shade. Now understand in this present weather many wear jackets for they feel it is a bit cool, so they are really acclimated to the heat. So if they get hot….
The ‘cold’ season is October or November. The way they describe it sounds like it’s in the lower 70’s in the morning, perhaps taking a rare dip into the 60’s at night. It’s uncomfortably cold for them.
THE MUSIC CULTURE
Music is a big part of Indian culture, as it is in Latin America. Most music is done by female voices in a very high, almost whiney tone. It sounds wonderful, though, and I love to hear it. It has a special quality about it that just says ‘India’ to me.
Bollywood, near Mumbai (Bombay) is their movie and music capital. They make more movies there than Hollywood does. It’s a big part of Indian culture. The leading singers and entertainers are all Indian of course but with skin as light as an American. Just as we see darker skin beautiful and work on our tans, they see lighter skin beautiful and look for it.
Everyone sings here. During the pastors’ conferences before each session one or two pastors would stand in the front and sing. They love to do it and all seem to be good singers. They sing on key without accompaniment. If they can, a keyboard player and drummer (large bongos like are seen in Africa) try to catch the beat and play along.
In church all will sing enthusiastically for an hour or more. Songs seem to last about 10 minutes each with many repeats. All are lively and spirited. I really, really enjoy hearing them sing. It’s one of my favorite memories I’m bringing with me. I recorded and even videotaped some of it.
There is nothing immodest or in any way suggestive in Indian entertainment or advertising. They totally avoid anything like that. With the majority of the people being Hindu standards are very strict.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007, Lucknow, India
In an hour I leave for the 30 hour train ride to Hyderabad. A local pastor is going with me. Our accommodations aren’t as good as other times but will be OK. I bought water and bread and think they will give me a few of their bananas to take. That and my tuna should be enough. I haven’t been eating much lately – my stomach has rebelled against all the strange spices I’ve dumped into it. So the trip will be a good time to let it settle. At least that’s the plan.
Yesterday we couldn’t go to the children in the villages because the mud paths aren’t passable by motorcycles after a heavy monsoon like we had. We did go to the children’s orphanage which is ½ hour away in town here. I told them more about Joseph and Annie. They really identify with children facing fear, homelessness (they are orphans), jealousy and anger. It drizzled on the way back but I brought my raincoat to make sure it didn’t rain heavy. I didn’t need the raincoat. That was my last bike ride – I really enjoy them but they do go very fast and everyone cuts everything very, very close. Especially the cars and trucks. Motorcycles go faster and cut in and out of every tiny space. They are all used to driving that way and I haven’t seen a motorcycle accident yet.
With all the extra time in my room because of the Monsoons and because I haven’t been over-worked here I’ve had time to work on updating my Spiritual Warfare Handbook. I’ve wanted to do that for some time but there just isn’t the time to do it at home. In the hotel at the Ahmednagar and in my room here I’ve had evenings and even several mornings to work on it and it’s almost complete. I want to have it proof read and get feedback before I finalize and print it, but it’s been coming along. I never thought I’d get that project done but its been a great use of time, Authors get away by themselves when they need to create and produce – so here I am come to India to do that! After all, what better place to update a Spiritual Warfare Handbook than in India!
I don’t know where I’ll be staying in Hyderabad so I don’t know about internet access. God has been good and mostly it has worked out pretty well. We’ll see what He has in store there. It’s a very strange feeling going these weeks with having to totally trust God and those around me. I can’t feed, transport or do anything on my own. I’ve even totally dependent on God to teach. I can’t take care of myself here at all. By the same token no one is dependent on me. I have virtually no responsibility. I’m not ‘needed’ by anyone in that way. I do all the needing. It’s a strange feeling indeed. I guess that’s what being in a nursing home is like!
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now! Jerry
I have some more articles about life in India for those interested:
ALCOHOL, ABUSE AND AIDS
One would wonder where they get the resources to indulge in things like alcohol and smoking, but somehow evil finds its way into every culture. It can be a real problem in many nonChristian families. Adultery and wife beating are not uncommon, either. Indian people are very quiet and gentle, very unassuming. Yet somehow abuse shows the underlying frustrations among some of the men.
AIDS is a growing problem in all areas, especially among the very poor. It is spread sexually, often by homosexual activity.
Every culture has its sin, and even without resources those who so choose to go that direction can find the means to do so anywhere.
HINDUISM AND KARMA
The underlying philosophy of India is karma – the basis of Hindu and Confucian thought. Karma means things are as they are, they can’t be changed, that’s the way it is, so just accept it. That’s how a very rich person can ignore a poor family starving in a hut by their front door, and the poor family doesn’t expect help from the rich family. Karma means accepting your lot in life as it is. But instead of their being a contentedness, instead there is a passive giving up, not caring, not trying, not wanting to improve or change things, assuming life is painful and that’s all there is. Perhaps the next carnation will be better, and if not the one after it. The best one can do is accept their lot in this life and perhaps in so doing pay off some of their bad karma and hope for a better lot next time around.
At least they didn’t come as a cow or another animal. Although it seems to me most cattle and water buffalo roaming around have a better life than the poor.
There are thousands of cattle everywhere, and their 2 or 3 foot horns are intact. At first I walked carefully past them but soon discovered they are so used to people they are no danger. I stopped taking pictures after the first day because they are just constantly everywhere.
What else is everywhere are Hindu temples. Some are large, exquisite works of beauty with hundreds of full-time priests. Others are small 3 foot square concrete boxes by the road or in a field. Each family has its own god to appease in any way it can. The large ones have been around awhile and have built up a larger following. There are more gods than people in India – and each one has one or more demons behind it being strengthened by the praise and worship it receives.
Pilgrimages regularly block roads. Every day is some kind of Hindu holiday to some god or other. Life is self-imposed suffering so perhaps ones gods will not bring about more of their suffering on the person.
What darkness and emptiness reigns here! What great demonic strongholds have been established! May God bless and protect those few who call on His name in their place!
Friday, June 20, 2007, Hyderabad, India
I said my good-byes to the people where I was staying in Lucknow and left on the train for Hyderabad. Before going I gave the 2 sisters of the young man who has been seeing me around and interpreting for me gifts I brought. Maggie’s mother made them. They are bracelets that tell the story of Jesus using colored and shaped beads. It starts at His birth ad ends with Him now in heaven having prepared the way for us. I assumed since he was a believer his sisters, who took care of the food and home while we stayed there, were Christians as well. It wasn’t until later I found they were both Hindu and he is the only Christian in his family. But they told him about the bracelets and really liked them. They seems to connect fairly well with me, too. One is studying to be a nurse and we talked about that (most education in this country takes place in English so they can read the resources and communicate with those in the west). It’s nice to think that those 2 Hindu girls will now think of Jesus every time they see the bracelets and that and that they’ll have such a fine symbol of Jesus in their rooms at all times! Thanks a lot Judy Spink!
The train was 4 hours late in arriving so we waited outside on the hot platform all that time. And its billed as an ‘Express’ train! There were some monkeys playing nearby on the platform as well – that was interesting to watch.
The pastor accompanying me on this journey is named Naresh. He, too, is the only Christian in his Hindu family and has had a lot of pressure to return but he definitely knows the difference Jesus makes and won’t go back! I’ve spoken to numerous Hindu’s and even some Moslems in the services where I’ve spoken. That’s quite a feeling, knowing unsaved Hindus and Moslems are listening to what you say!
The train ride went slowly but the time passed. I find I get my best nights sleep in the train. I slept from 8 PM to almost 6 AM. I guess the motion and jerking remind men of being in the womb, although its been a long time!
I am now back in Hyderabad, which feels like home after all the places I’ve been. We arrived here about 8 PM. I am staying with a pastor named Moses. He is coming to stay with us in the US January 5-20, 2008. He is a fine godly man and knows English!
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now! Jerry
EAST & WEST – CONTRASTING WORLD VIEWS
Have you ever wondered why there is such a great difference in the quality and duration of life in the West and the East? Even now, when the advancements of the West are available to those living in the East, they seem to reject them in favor of an inferior lifestyle. Why is this? In order to understand it we musts understand the basic world view that underlies the mind set of the East. In understanding that we find our answer.
Where the gospel has been accepted and the Biblical world view incorporated into society the quality of life has improved. Where it has been rejected life has remained in darkness. In India Christians are in a very small minority. ‘Christian’ refers to Roman Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, liberal Christians and evangelicals. Even so, for every one Christian there are 4 Moslems and 32 Hindus. The Biblical world view has not impacted the culture and the results are obvious.
In order to under stand the Hindu world view, lets see how it would answer the 3 basic questions all world views answer. First, Who am I? Hindus would say they are a life form going through many carnations and they are at the mercy of distant and uncaring gods. Second, What is my problem? To the Hindu, the problem in life is that they are now suffering for mistakes and failures in previous lives (carnations). They are paying for the past. Then third, What’s the solution? The solution that has been developed over the centuries to deal with this is called ‘karma,’ what you have is what you have. Life is as it is. Accept it, its your lot. Don’t question, try to change or improve, just live it. Perhaps your suffering may appease the Hindu gods and things won’t get even worse. Self-imposed suffering in the form of Hindu rituals, pilgrimages and other things may help appease the gods as well, but who knows? One only has the next carnation to look for, perhaps it will be better, perhaps worse. After a million or more reincarnations one is finally reabsorbed into Nirvana and then ceases to exist. That’s all there is to hope for.
Remember that beliefs affect values and values determine actions. These beliefs form values that are seen in how the people live. Life has little value. Therefore health, sanitation, safety and soforth aren’t important. One’s own life and happiness isn’t important. There is no responsibility to help others in need or society in general. All this is seen in their actions. People simply exist for today and that is all. Life is hard but little or no changes are made. The rich see no responsibility to help the poor or even contribute to the improvement of their culture. The poor don’t feel responsible to provide a better life for themselves or their children. There is no joy and no hope.
So what makes our civilization and outlook so different? In having accepted the Bible as truth through the centuries our world view is entirely different. We believe God has a plan for man (Romans 8:28) and that He will bring that plan about in our lives (Philippians 1:6). We know we have an obligation and responsibility to help others and improve the world around us (parable of the good Samaritan). In addition, we aren’t functioning in a system of fear for God is not a God of fear (1 Timothy 1:7). Everything we have is by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). God is motivated by love and we are to be as well (John 3:16). Light drives our darkness (John 1:5,9).
So what’s the big difference between East and West? It comes down to world view, for ideas do have consequences!
You can find updates and more information on my web site http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/, either at Ministries, Asia Mission Journal http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/asia-mission-journal/ or on my blog page http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/blog/.
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now! Jerry
Saturday, June 21, 2007, Hyderabad, India
I spent most of the day Friday at the Good Shepherds children’s home. It was great to be there. That place really stuck in my heart since last time and I’ve thought of it thousands of times since. It felt so comfortable going back! Dena and her sister Roni, the 2 girls I got closest to last year because of personal ties through a women in our church who supports Dena, were very glad to see me. They had been waiting for me to come for 3 weeks. I sent my chain of flowers to Dena that first week. She’s grown but still had a special place in my heart, and I think I do in hers as well. There’s that melancholy connection we share!
I talked to all 250 children and used magic tricks to communicate salvation and trusting Jesus instead of being afraid. I used my story of Joseph and David and expanded it a bit. It went very well. Then I spent an hour with the 20 children who live at the school, in the home they have there. They are very familiar from last year, are must more spiritually attuned and are a ‘family’ with the staff. One of the things I asked them is when they got afraid. I got answers that were surprising: “When my father died.” “When my mother died.” “When my father beats me.” Yet their faith in and love for Jesus is very strong. It was just wonderful being with them!
I enjoyed watching the teachers with their classes, too. Some are Christian, some Hindu. There just aren’t enough Christian teachers available. I don’t understand a word they are saying when they teach, but I can easily identify with them for I love to teach children as well. We share the same burden, the same teaching gifts, the same love for children. With all that in common what does language and culture matter?
I’m finally starting to get used to everyone waiting on me and not letting me do any work, carry a suitcase, even stand. The women especially love serving and if I don’t let them its like an insult to them. They watch and anticipate my every whim and then carry it out as quickly as they can. Watching them carry my heavy suitcase while I carry nothing is still hard, but I’m getting more used to it. I figure that just about the time I’m back with Nancy I’ll be fully adjusted to letting women wait on me hand and foot and do all the heavy work for me……….
Today I officiate at a baby dedication and home dedication (same couple). That should be interesting. Pray I’d say what God would have me to say to encourage and motivate this couple and all the family that will be there. It is a relative of Abigail Babu. David and Abigail Babu are the couple that run the Good Shepherd school and home as well as Sunshine Ministries which sponsored the Pastor’s conferences. They are the couple I am here with.
Pray God would bless me and use me in all the opportunities he gives me to minister here. Tomorrow I will speak three or four times: to the children, sermon to the congregation, to the youth after church, and perhaps again in the evening. Pray God would give me His words and I would be used for His honor and glory. Many things are being planned for future ministry here, for the next trip and ones after that. Pray for God’s guidance and will to be done. Keep praying for me and my family. Pray for my health and protection. Pray God would use me to accomplish what He wants me to accomplish in India. And pray God would use India to accomplish what He wants India to accomplish in me.
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now!
THE ANIMALS OF INDIA
The first thing a visitor to India notices is the poverty and filth. The second would be the colorful dress of the women everywhere. But the third thing would have to be the animals. Animals are everywhere.
Oxen pull carts and plow fields. Cattle and water buffalo roam everywhere. Their large horns intact, they are gentle and docile. They can cause major traffic problems when they just lay down in the middle of a busy highway, though. The milk used here is from oxen and water buffalo. While Hindus are strict vegetarians, Moslems and Christians do eat beef.
Chickens are eaten as are their eggs, although eggs are never refrigerated. Very, very few people even have refrigeration, and the ones that do don’t use it for much.
Horses and donkeys are also used to pulls carts and carry loads. Goats run wild everywhere. They are used for milk but mainly mean. There are even a few sheep for meat.
An occasional camel can be seen, dressed up and ridden or carrying a burden. If you watch carefully you can even see a monkey or two here or there.
I have heard some places use elephants but I haven’t seen any except at the zoo. He wasn’t in a cage, just roaming around for people to touch and climb up on his back for pictures.
In India you don’t have to go to a farm or zoo to see animals, the animals come to you wherever you may be.
Sunday, June 22, 2007, Hyderabad, India
To Nancy: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY NANCY!!!!! Sorry I’m not with you on our anniversary. Don’t have a good time without me! Just wait for one more week!
To Everyone else:
The baby and house dedication yesterday was very interesting. Indians always start things late, so the ceremony was almost 3 hours late getting started. I really enjoyed it, though. The baby was Pearl Susan. That’s appropriate since the last baby I dedicated before Pearl was Ruby! Pearl is a 6th generation Christian – something not very common in India!
The mother’s name was Mercy Grace. She goes by both names. It sounded great hearing people say her name! When she was born she was very premature and they didn’t know if she would live. When she did they called her Mercy Grace.
Today church went very well. I rode there on the back of Moses’ motorcycle. It took about ½ hour. He is a careful driver, and his motorcycle doesn’t have much power. I spoke three times in the morning: Sunday School, worship service sermon, then meeting with the teens. This was the shortest service I’ve been in yet here – just 3 hours. They can’t believe our services are only 1 ½ hours. They don’t know how we can get it all in! They sing for almost an hour, pray out loud for ½ to ¾ hours, have an hour sermon, plus testimonies, special music, offering, sometimes the Lord’s Supper, etc. The children of all ages sat through the one today as well.
Next Sunday I will be home, speaking at Main Street! I’ve been working on my pictures and also on what to say. I figure I’ll take about 3,000 pictures again, maybe just 2,500. The problem is how to condense it all into one short message. I figure that gives me about 1 minutes and 3 or 4 pictures per day! I would like to show my best slides (about 500 – 1 ½ hours or so) to anyone interested in seeing them. If you’d be interested email me back and let me know, also give me some suggestions as to what evenings might work.
Tonight we are going to stop in at 4 separate house church his church is starting in various locations. Their church and these churches are all in the poor sections of town (which seem to be most of the town). I will speak for about 10 minutes in each, then go to the next. That way I can get to see and greet everyone in each church and share some words of encouragement. It should be very interesting. And I get to ride on the motorcycle for the whole thing! Maybe I should get one at home…..;(never).
Thanks for praying! And don’t stop now!
WHAT I MISS – AND WHAT I DON’T MISS
So what do I miss the most? I miss Nancy. And Grace and Mark and all of you. I miss feeling clean. I miss a hot shower, or even a cold shower, or even hot water in a sink. Only cold water and a sink in a very hot climate gets tough! My deodorant has been holding up well, though!
I miss vegetables and fruit. To be honest I’m very tired of spicy starches and very spicy meats. They have some fruits and vegetables but since they are washed in local water I’m told not to eat them. I miss them more than chocolate, though! Actually I don’t miss chocolate – I don’t even think about it. I do wonder what the first signs of scurvy are, though. So far no teeth have fallen out – I guess that’s a good sign.
I miss being able to exercise. I go for a long, swift walk as soon as it is light enough but it is already too hot for that. I miss the cleanliness of the US: its streets, bathrooms and smells. I miss not having to disinfect myself continually. I miss using spigot water to brink, brush teeth, etc.
By the same token, there are things in the USA I don’t miss. I don’t miss talking on the phone. For someone dependent on reading lips most of the time, talking on the phone can be difficult. Also I don’t miss the overt sensuality of the US. Except for an occasional billboard that wouldn’t even be noticed in the US, the dress, pictures, advertising, etc., is totally modest. It’s refreshing to not have to keep moving my eyes from what I see and wiping the images out of my mind. That I like a lot!
I don’t miss the seemingly endless and very time consuming chore of keeping electronic gadgets working: computer, PA system, projector, PDA, car, DVD player, etc. I seem to end up being the computer guru problem solving what goes wrong here, but its far less than at home. That I certainly don’t miss.
Now, what will I miss here? I’ll miss ministry on the cutting edge, where so much is at stake and every opportunity is a rare privilege. I’ll miss the challenges of being totally out of my element with nothing but God’s Word to give people and finding that is enough. I’ll miss the great hunger and thirst for the Bible and for Jesus, not just in Christians but in the Hindus and Moslems to visit church as well. I’ll miss the opportunities to make such a great difference in so many lifes in so little time. I’ll miss being able to impact pastors so their whole life and ministry improves and they pass that on to future generations.
I’ll miss the way women dress. It is very colorful, very feminine and very modest. Enough said!
I’ll miss the new, good friends I have made here. It seems especially easy to bond heart to heart and soul to soul when ministering together under these circumstances. Sharing the same foxhole seems to break down all walls and pretense. I do look forward to getting to know them better in heaven, when we can actually carry on conversations together as well!
I’ll certainly miss the children – the ones in the churches and orphanages. Their eyes are so full of trust and openness. Their hearts are so hungry for the truth. Their smiles come so readily and light up their whole face. Their trust and respect is freely given. They just give you their heart the first time you meet them. Seeing them a second time is like reuniting with a child you’ve known your whole life. They are quiet and obedient. They are deeply grateful and appreciative of anything and everything. They don’t assume anything is due them. They are a joy and I’d love to bring a few back with me!
Monday, July 23, 2007, Hyderabad, India
Wouldn’t you know it! Just when I think things are winding down and I can coast through this final week God does something that touched me more deeply than anything so far. Remember when I said we were going to visit 4 house churches tonight. Well, that wasn’t quite right. These churches meet among the poorest of the poor, the very bottom level of society. They have small tent-like dwellings made of pieces of plastic or cardboard they find in the road. They wear rags. Getting to their place requires climbing rocks and walking through mud, which is tricky in the dark. That and a slow drizzle of rain really set quite a scene for it all. They have no electricity, no running water or sanitation – nothing. I can’t imagine the disease they must be exposed to! The gatherings consisted of mainly, but not entirely, women. Many of their husbands are alcoholics and beat them. Yet to hear them sing, to see the gleam of joy in their eye, to watch them gladly give their money in an offering – touching is the only word I can think of and that certainly doesn’t say it all! I was blessed beyond words to be with them. It was too dark to see details, but there was a joy about them that can’t be explained. It certainly came across in their worship1 And here I was, the white guy from the rich country half way across the world, and I’m supposed to be encouraging them and ministering to them!
I told them they weren’t forgotten and alone. God remembered and cared and so did we. People in the US remember them and pray for them. I told them we pray for them to be faithful and we also thank God for them for they are an encouragement to us all. I talked about Jesus loving all of us the same and dying for all of us, and how we’d all be in heaven together some day. Coming out of Hinduism as they have means they have been rejected by family and others in their caste. They have only each other and Jesus.
When I was done I prayed for them, then asked if I could take a picture so we could remember them and pray for them. They were thrilled someone would want to take their picture! I went to each one and put out my hand to shake hands with them when I was done. It reminded me of when Jesus touched the leper, someone who hadn’t been touched in so long. I could tell it was a special privilege to these ‘untouchables’ to have someone touch them in the name of Jesus. It was a real blessing!
But that wasn’t the end! The people flocked around me for me to lay hands on them and pray for them. I love doing that! God shows me as I pray for each one what to pray for, and its always different. Sometimes there is spiritual warfare praying needed, other times healing. The cripples have absolutely no hope of healing outside Jesus. Always I bless them in Jesus’ name. One women slipped me 10 rupees ($.25) as an offering of love and appreciation. How special is that! What a tremendous honor and privilege to minister to these people! I know these people touch the heart of Jesus in a special way, for they certainly touch mine!
Tomorrow we’ll go see some more. I’m looking forward to seeing the church in the AIDS colony – believers in those conditions with AIDS who praise and serve the Lord! What must God think when I complain about what I think are ‘big problems’ in my life while these people live in joy and peace!
SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT???? Am I coming back and if so when? That all depends. It is very clean God is leading in several areas. Next time we’ll have one combined 3-day pastors conference and have everyone come at one time. We’ll also have a one-day pastor’s and wives conference. Following this will be the start of our Bible Institute. It will be 3 weeks but I’ll only teach the first 2, then have others teach subjects the last week. I want to go back to Ahmednagar again, this time to speak to a special gathering of all the churches in the district. That’s what should be done. And it should happen some time around February or March. Summer is tough and waiting until fall of 2008 is just too long to put off the interest and needs here. The Bible institute should cover its own expenses, but the pastor’s conference costs about $25 a person for those coming (about $2500 total). My own expenses for Hyderabad are about $1000 and then Ahmednagar is an additional $500. Plane fair can be anywhere form $1200 to $1800, depending how far in advance I get tickets. I’d really like to have some of my family join me next time! I know God wants these things to happen so I know He’ll provide the money. Pray He would provide quickly so we can go ahead with plans for none of this can be planned unless there is money to pay for it, and these things need to be planned in advance or they won’t be effective. Thanks!
I’m looking for some willing people (or children or teens) to go alone to help minister here. I absolutely guarantee you that when you come as a group your housing, food, transportation and overall living conditions will be similar to what you experience in America. Mine were so different this trip because I ventured off on my own to better experience the ‘real’ India. I won’t be doing that next time. If you are at all interested please let me know. It’s an experience you’ll never forget and will change you completely! Cost will probably be around $2500, depending on the cost of the flight. Thanks again!
Thanks for praying and PLEASE don’t stop now! Jerry
Tuesday, July 24, 2007, Hyderabad, India
Yesterday was spent at Bethel Fellowship Church, pastored by Moses, the man at whose house I am staying. He distributes a month’s worth of rice to elderly (over 60) widows, all Hindu but one was Moslem. I spoke to them first about the free gift we are getting being like the free gift of salvation. That was a challenge – preaching to women my age (only one had more gray hair than I do). Speaking to Hindu women about Jesus takes on a whole new slant!
There is also a sewing center at the church where women learn how to sew so they can earn an income at home by sewing for others. It’s a very practical skill for them to have. Eight Hindu young women were there and I spoke to them awhile. I talked about Dorcas who sewed clothing, died and was brought back to life after Peter prayed. I talked about the resurrection power of Jesus and His power over death. I invited them to pray with me at the end. I have no idea what was going on in their minds and hearts – but God does!
The church also sponsors a orphans home with 18 children. It isn’t a large church but has a real heart for reaching the community, especially those hurting in the community.
Lasts night we went to visit the church of a pastor who came to the pastor’s conference. Sunshine Ministries (David Babu’s ministry that sponsors Good Shepherd school, pastors conferences, sewing center and computer center) is giving 5 pastors a free motorbike to help them get around in their ministry. When we got there he called a special church meeting and I spoke to the people. Since I was the only speaker I spoke longer than at other places but the same message of encouragement, they are not alone, and keep their eyes on Jesus. Afterwards I again got to pray for the people one by one as they lined up around me. I really enjoy laying hands on their heads and asking God to bless them. I pray for whatever He shows me to pray for concerning them. In these smaller groups I have more time to pray longer for each person.
They are located in a very, very poor, crowded section of town. I remember seeing the community my first year here during a morning run but not entering it. Now I was preaching in it! They have a church building. We would call it a large shed, but its great for them. Except when it rains it leaks and gets quite wet so people don’t come. It sounds like MSBC needing a roof a couple years ago as well!
It was very rewarding seeing one of the pastors I taught and seeing how that conference has helped him and his family, how his ministry has been strengthened and focused, and how he has been encouraged and eternally benefited by the pastor’s conference. It seems like years ago, but it was only 3 weeks ago!
This morning the son where I am staying wanted to walk with me so at 6 AM we went for a walk together. He just wanted to spend time with me. He is 11 and makes me miss Mark more! His schooling is in English, as is virtually all education in India, so we could talk about some things. The daughter, 16, who is studying to enter medical college and me a missionary doctor, daily wears the bracelet I gave her mother and really cherishes it. That’s special to see. Thank you, Mrs. Spink, for making and donating those. They have been GREATLY appreciated by me and the women who wear them!
Today I will be at the children’s home during the day and speaking to the children. Tonight I will be speaking at another church pastored by a man from the pastor’s conference. Tomorrow we go to a tribal church. From what I gather we’d call them gypsies. It should be quite interesting. Then Thursday its back to the school and to the airport late Thursday night!
PLEASE keep praying for God to speak to me and through me! Thanks!!!
As to showing the slides of this trip, I’ll have a real brief overview on Sunday morning as part of my sermon. It seems Wednesday evening (7 PM at church) would be best to show more. We’ll start and see how far we go. We may finish or we may need to continue the next Wednesday. That seems to work best for the majority of those who responded. If it doesn’t work for you let me know and I’ll see what else I can do. I have many excellent pictures and great stories to go with them. I’ll be able to do little more than give an overview on Sunday. I think they are very interesting and informative and look forward to sharing them with you.
GOOD SHEPHERD SCHOOL HOME CHILDREN
I asked the children who live at the school for prayer requests and this is what each child asked prayer for:
Akeela – for her studies
Anita – family to know the Lord Jesus
Anju – for brother’s health
Deena – for studies
Jeevaw – for all the home children and their studies
Johnson – all the children in the home to study well
Keerthi – for studies
Manogna – for studies
Meena – for her studies
Mounika – parents to know the Lord
PLrathep – for studies
Pradeep – for uncle and cousin
Rani – for family members
Ravi – to be able to study well
Samthosha – for her mother
Sharon – for health
Sudhekar – for brother
Suvarna – grandparents to know the Lord
Swapna – wisdom to study well
Vishal – for studies
Wednesday, July 25, 2007, Hyderabad, India
One more night in India! Tomorrow morning when I get up I won’t go to bed for 50 hours, until I sleep in my own bed in the USA (after a very good shower, of course).
Yesterday I went to the Good Shepherd Children’s School and home and talked to the whole school, then had a nice long time alone with the 20 students who live there. I gave them bracelets with different color beads explaining salvation. We had gone over the colors several times in the main group. I gave the home mother a bracelet by Mrs. Spink like I had given others who have helped me, for she has always made me fine meals and done everything she could to serve me when visiting there. She was thrilled with it! It is so easy to bring joy to these people. It take so little and means so much to them for so long. Next trip I will do a lot of it.
Last night we took an hour ride in a ‘taxi’ (3-wheeler) way across town to a church started by one of the men who came to the pastors conferences. In 2007 he wasn’t pastoring, just helping here and there in other churches. The conference so encouraged and motivated him that he went full time and started a church in his home. It outgrew him home and now they rent 2 small rooms joined by one door. That’s where we met last night. One room is 10’ x 20’ the other 10’ x 25’. Both were packed. There were about 80 there on a Tuesday night! We got there early to beat the traffic (which can’t be done here) and visit with him awhile. He spent the first hour we were there frantically trying to get the electricity to work. They had one light bulb and one fan, and without them couldn’t meet. He so reminded me of myself sometimes at church trying to get the heat to work or get something functioning correctly before a meeting. I’m sure it was especially bad for him because he had special visitors waiting. Finally it worked and was much needed. The light from the bulb reached me where I was speaking, but unfortunately the air from the fan did not! Their worship singing was inspiring and uplifting – so much enthusiasm and excitement, so much praise and worship. I’m starting to learn some of their more common praise songs because I hear them often. I have no idea what the words are but the feeling behind them is obvious. I talked about needing to keep our eyes on Jesus. Peter had to learn that walking on the water but didn’t and denied the Lord, then he stood for Him on Pentecost and before the religious rulers. In these very dark places I can’t use notes so get a quick outline in my head and go by that. I still feel 100% totally inadequate standing before people like this, but I know God uses what I say and just the fact that I came to their church to uplift and encourage them. Afterwards they all lined up for me to lay hands on them and pray for them. That’s one of the ministry privileges here which I will miss most when I leave!
It was most encouraging and uplifting to me to see another result of something very and good that has come from the pastors conferences and my trips here. I could see it in the joyous faces of every believer present last night! What an honor and privilege it is to impact so many lives in such a positive way, and just by doing what I love – speaking to pastors.
Today I am going with Moses to visit a ‘tribal’ church. He said they are like gypsies. It should be interesting! Tonight I’ll speak at his church again. That will end my ministry to adults here. I’ll speak to the children at the school twice tomorrow and then I’ll be done. I won’t be visiting the believers in the AIDS colony or the leper colony for they are quite a distance away. They say they will take me there next time – something to look forward to!
Thanks for your prayers and don’t stop now! Pray these final days would be very effective for Him and that whatever work He is doing in me would continue. Pray for the trip home to go quickly, smoothly and safely. Air India is not a way we will be flying again!
I asked the pastors at the pastor’s conferences for prayer requests. Here is what they gave me. I haven’t been able to get them to you sooner because I needed someone to translate them for me. The pastor I visited last night is on this list.
FIRST PASTORS CONFERENCE, July 2-4, 2007, Hyderabad, India
Evangelist M. Sanjeevadah – pray for his brothers and his family
Pastor B. Peter, Shammah Church – pray for children and wife
Pastor Ch Abraham – son has night blindness, church construction stopped for lack of money, 3 sons become good servants
Pastor Ch Ravi Kumar, Love Pentecostal Church – church building needed, spiritual growth of family, brother Emanuel whose kidneys both failed, Abraham (12) not talking, those needing salvation, no home for own family, wants to have a son
Pastor D. Kumar – for spiritual growth, for his ministry and for his relatives
Pastor D. Samuel Raju – God bless his family and ministry
Pastor D. Yahon – spiritual growth for him, family and church
Pastor G. David Paryadesi – wife and children’s health
Pastor G. Isaac, Shammah Church – pray for wife and children
Pastor G. Jeovon, Shalem Church – church construction, church growth, wife , children, people
Pastor G. Timothy Antipas – serve God with family (holy, honest and faithful until death), to gospel ministry, children to hear God’s call to service, church construction debts, follow what learned at seminar, health and prayer life
Pastor H. Samuel – good health, family, church growth
Pastor K. Augustine Manohar, Zion Prayer Hall – effective, fruitful ministry and church edification,
Pastor K. Jacob Abishekam – family needs, church PA system
Pastor K. Nathaniel – pray for his family and for God’s will in his life
Pastor K. Surcoh Babu, Shalem Church – conference next year
Pastor M. Prajad – for own growth and for family
Pastor M. Yesuperdn – land to build church, spiritual growth, do God’s will
Pastor P. Daniel Sostry, Lords Full Gospel Ministry – pray for his 7 children, 3 married; pray for his ministry – constructing a church building
Pastor R. Jebez – own and church spiritual growth
Pastor Raj Kumar – able to carry out vision of taking gospel to untouchables in unreached villages, needs a LCD projector for his ministry
Pastor Ramesh – pray for children
Pastor S. Jashwa Daniel – ministry and family
Pastor S.Devabaram – for family and for town of Guntur to have pastors conference next year if it is God’s will
Pastor Sanjeev Raju, Sharon Church – church development, keep Holy Spirit on him and family
Pastor Y. Prema Sugar, Full Gospel Church – own and church spiritual growth
Pastor Yesupadam, Emmanuel Calvary Church – family, ministry to multiply
Thursday, July 26, 2007, Hyderabad, India
Today David Babu and I leave. On the plane I’ll think and type my feelings, lessons, etc. Suffice it to say its been quite a trip! It’s been more intense, more great memories, more true ministry opportunities than I ever imagine. In all ways I imagined this trip has been more successful than I could have imagined.
Yesterday I spent in the neighborhood of Bethel Fellowship Church, meeting and talking to children and adults. I also visited the neighborhood of the Benjara tribe, the original people to live here before it became the city of Hyderabad. They have their own culture, language and customs. The church has reached out to them and many are now believers.
I also spent almost two hours walking around the various neighborhoods with a young man from the church who knows some English and wants to go into the ministry. We even went into the Indo-American Cancer Hospital, a large complex of buildings. If you give the inside a good cleaning and fresh paint, it would look like an American hospital of 50 years ago. But the care seems to be almost as good as in the USA. They are partnered with Sloan Kittering doctors and partly sponsored by them and others in the US. I don’t know how modern their equipment is, though. Probably pretty recent.
We gave 2 more Hindu widows rice in the afternoon. Both were young with several young children. Young widows don’t remarry. The family looks down on it and men would rather not have a ready-made family. So these women will be alone the rest of their lives. Raising children and earning money is very difficult. One has the poorest job possible, sweeping streets with a broom. It’s hard and very dangerous work, and she gets almost no pay. But it is a job.
Lasts night I spoke at their Bible study. Twice as many people came as normally do because they knew the white American would be there! They seem to really have benefited from what I said Sunday. The best part, though, was that about half a dozen widows who received rice came. The two young widows came as well. I tried to0 clearly explain salvation as a free gift from Jesus and how to receive it, then led them in a prayer to receive the gift. I don’t know who did or didn’t, but they were very open and responsive. Every one wanted me to lay hands on them and pray for them after the service.
Today I’ll spend at the Good Shepherd school with the children. We go to the airport about midnight for a 3 AM flight to Mumbai (Bombay), arriving at 4:15 AM. Then at 7:20 AM we are to leave for Newark with a stop for fuel in Paris – my second visit to Paris! (We stopped for fuel on the way here as well.). It is a 19 hour flight and arrives in Newark at 4:30 Eastern time.
Please pray for today, for the flights to go smoothly (Air India isn’t know for that) and on time, for the time to pass quickly and for God to continue to use this time as well.
Thanks for praying and please, please don’t stop now! I’m not home yet!
SECOND PASTORS CONFERENCE, July 7-7, 2007, Hyderabad, India
Pastor A. Jacob – his and families growth, pray for money so he can send his daughter to school
Pastor B. G. Sundaram, Church of Living God – pray for family, congregation to grow spiritually and church needs.
Pastor B. John Marak, Calvary Hope Church – pray for church and school expenses for children, wife having health problems, God’s anointing to teach believers
Pastor D. Johnson, Children’s Home – pray for spiritual life, faith, greater love for all,
Pastor G. Apollos Rajghana, Kurios Baptist Church – church growth, family needs, new church building, financial supprt
Pastor G. Prabhakar, House of Prayer – church growth in faith and number, family spiritual growth, studies of daughter Priscilla 6th grade and son Sam 4th grade, land for a church
Pastor J. Rajaratnam, DBM Church – pray for family, church, church growth, poor people, salvation of unbelievers
Pastor K. Prakash – pray for family, ministry, money to pay rent, spiritual growth,
Pastor M. Christdas – family and church
Pastor M. D. Devavtham, Baptist Church – church and family, 2 married daughters
Pastor M. Devadanam – pray for my ministry, health, son-in-law, whole family
Pastor Mallela Babu Rao – church growth and his family
Pastor Nissi Bhushan Koya, Peace Life Fellowship – need a location for church, for family,
Pastor Pashin B. Praghundas – church ministry, financial help
Pastor Peter Paul Mella, The Holy Grace Penial Church – one problem family in church, need a building, family health, personal problems he has in the ministry
Pastor S, Raul Rey, Church of Christ Prayer Hall – family, church growth, financial problems
Pastor T. John Wilson, Baptist church – spiritual growth, church growth, children grow spiritually, unsaved family, church unity
Pastor T. Rajaratnam, Grace Church – church growth, effective ministry for self and family, new church plant
Pastor V. Matthew – family, church, wants to have children, needs transportation, for believers to come to church and to follow Jesus instead
Pastor Veragi P. Israel, The Real Tabernacle of the Holy Church – souls winning, church progress and world evangelism
Pastor Y. Ratma Paul – salvation of local people, church construction
Pastor Moses – continual ministry growth, finances to expand ministry, new church location, sewing center, widows food distribution, orphans home, Leprosy ministry, HIV ministry, Bible Institute, family, vehicle, computer, money for children’s education, washing machine for family, expand ministry in other locations
Various times and places on 3 different continents from Thursday evening (India time) to Saturday morning (EST)
If you are reading this email it means I made it home. But it wasn’t an uneventful trip!
The day was spent with the children. I tell them they are my India family and after visiting my American family I will come back to them. They are a close family, the ones who live at the school.
The evening before leaving Abigail’s whole India family had a reunion. It’s the first time they’ve been together in 6 years. I’ve known some of them quite well for a long time (ride the train with me, help at pastors conferences, baby dedication, etc.). It was special being part of such a meaningful reunion. The father is very old, a fine man of God and long-time pastor who sacrificed untold things for the gospel. They asked me to say a few words and share a Scripture. I picked Joshua 24:15. It was a very meaningful evening and they seem to think I have had a very positive impact on their Indian family.
The bad news is that we got a call saying our flight to Newark has been put off 5 hours. The good news is that they promised us free transportation and hotel rooms while we waited. The bad news is that we had to wait an hour for the Hyderabad to Mumbai flight to take off (4 AM – we were up all night). The good news is that they upgraded up to First Class so we waited in the lunge and got free bottled water, something you can’t take through check-in and I would have been without for 12 hours. The good news is that I talked with 3 young American software programmers who were on their way home from India after 2 weeks working with a company here. The good news is that First Class was great!
But the bad news is that when we got to Mumbai they didn’t make good on their promise to give us rooms, nor did they upgrade our seats here as they also promised. The good news is they did give us a free breakfast but the bad news is that my stomach has totally rebelled against anything but the mildest food (and I can’t blame it). The bad news is we had to sit on hard seats and wait from 5:30 AM until noon when we could board the plane. The good news is that we got to know several other passengers due to our common ‘misery’ and promises not being kept to them, either. Shared pain breaks down walls between us and Hindus that would never come down otherwise.
The good news is the plane finally took off. The bad news is that the ride was longer (18 hours) and more crowded than I rembered The good news is that they gave us several meals. The bad news is that Air India serves white rice and puts lots of curry in their food. The good news is that my mouth is getting to not mind curry. The bad news is that my stomach won’t stand it.
The good news is that we finally made it, 50+ hours aftter getting up in Hyderabab Thursday morning.
Words cannot express how much I have needed and appreciated your support through all this. Your financial contributions made it all possible. Your prayers were the key to all that happened in me, to me and through me. And your supportive words and emails really encouraged me. They still do. I thank God for you and for allowing me to share this part of my life with you. God will eternally reward and bless you for your faithfulness. The fruits of this India trip are yours as much as they are mine!
SO WHAT HAD GOOD BEEN TRYING TO TEACH ME THROUGH THIS ALL?
The answer to that is a definite “I’m not sure!” I know it has to be something but I’m not sure what. Last year I was aware I was being stretched beyond what I’d been before. Still, I was with a group of Americans eating a lot of American food, living in an American-style house and riding in an AC van. It’s like this year God took me out of the bubble and set me down in India with no one to count on but Him and a few people I had never met before. I have special promises I’ve read and trusted every day and I know He’s teaching me to trust His promises. I’ve learned how totally weak and incapable of ministering or even living on my own I am, but that when I admit that He takes over and good things happen. And He’s clearly pointed out how much pride still remains in me – and its not very pretty! Obviously He was teaching me to find my security only in Him. Also I’ve been able to forget about the past and future and live more in the moment, enjoy it for what it is.
Still, I think there is more. I haven’t just been stretched, I’ve been totally taken outside myself. God hasn’t just stretched what’s there, He been building something new and different into me. It’s been such an extremely intense time. So very many events happened, almost daily (sometimes several times a day) that would have been the highlight of my whole year not maany years ago. But here they are topped by something later that day or the next day. God had me totally outside myself, then He rained down these wonderful experiences and blessings on me continually. So I know He’s doing something. I just don’t know what. And I’m wondering if I ever will. Maybe it’s not something to put my finger on, to put into words on paper. Obviously He had something in mind. It’s like He planted a seed inside me to gradually grow and produce the fruit its creater desires. Its still all Him, its nothing I get any credit for.
IN A NUT SHELL
here is a quick summary of my trip
Days in India 29
Travel here and back: 10,000 miles each way
Travel by plane, train, car, van, 3-wheeler, motorcycle, scooter, foot
Miles traveled by train 3,000 in 70 hours
Places slept 11
Hour+ long neighborhood walks 27
Pictures taken 2500
Messages given 63
To pastors 22
To church congregations 23
Different churches 14
To children 14
Misc. 4 (baby ded, widow’s food distribution, sewing center girls)
Times spoke in Biblical costume 17
Magic tricks done 125
In the first 8 days I spoke 28 times, then 1 day train ride to Ahmednagar and spoke 7 times in 3 days
Last week I spoke 22 times
I averaged 3 messages a day on the days I wasn’t traveling.
Also: updated and edited my Spiritual Warfare Handbook
BLOGS – India Trip 2007
By Jerry Schmoyer
(Monday, June 25, 2007) With my trip to Asia just a few days away I’ve been leaning on a couple of Bible promises to help me through everything coming up. As you probably have found out yourself, God always seems to leave a few loose ends in our plans, ends we just can’t pull together, so we have something for which to trust Him. That certainly is the case with this trip as well. Two promises have stood out to me today. “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16). I’ll be doing a lot of traveling to various spread-out locations, and I’m not sure how the transportation will work out. Not knowing the language or the culture doesn’t help. It’s like I will be blind, traveling unfamiliar paths. Thus this verse is a real help. Another promise I have been thinking about is Genesis 28:15, given to Jacob but certainly applicable to my trip: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you do, and I will bring you back to this land.” A month away from family and friends and by myself in a foreign country is starting to sound like forever. It’s good to be reminded I won’t be alone, He will be with me, and I will come back here. What comfort there is in God’s Word. I must keep my eyes on Him and not circumstances. We all must.
(Friday, June 29) today is the day I leave on my mission trip. I’m been realizing all week how much I totally depend on God’s grace for everything involved with this. Saying good-bye is the hardest part. Being able to fulfill all the speaking and ministry opportunities also takes God’ grace. He promises “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) I provide the weakness and He provides the grace. I can do my part of that easy enough. And I know He can do His part. Other verses speak to my heart this morning: “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). The only thing I have to cling to is His Word, but that is sufficient. His promises are true. It’s been said that His will will never send us where His grace will not sustain us. And we all know that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. I know because of God’s grace that which He wants to accomplish in me and through me will come about. He promised.
BUT DON’T DRINK THE WATER!
At home we take water for granted. We give it very little thought. It is a part of life. Here water is a subtle but very potent enemy to be avoided. Drinking even a small portion can cause days of terrible stomach agony. No drinks can contain unprocessed wter. Even bottled drinks cannot have ice for it will melt and pollute the drink. Utensils and dishes must be washed in pure water. Fresh fruits and vegetables (except ones thqt are peeled) cannot be eaten. One can’t rinse their toothbrush, or their mouth, with tap water. Even when showering the wter can’t be ingested. This takes constant and unending vigilance. I can’t let down my guard for a moment. A mental lapse can be very costly. One becomes preoccupied with not allowing any of their water to enter one’s body. It almost becomes an obsession. The stakes are high – tht’s what feeds and motivtes this. Now why can’t I be that serious and consistent about not letting any sinful thought enter my mind? If I can do it for water, why can’t I do it for sin?
One of the first things one notices here are the children. Long after leaving it is the children that stay in ones mind. There are millions of them. They are everywhere. They are quiet, peaceful, gentle, hardworking, polite and appreciative of anything and everything. Some are born in unbelievable poverty and never leave it their whole lives. A few grow up in extreme luxury and are waited on hand and foot. But its their eyes that capture your heart. The longing and emptiness is heart-wrenching. A flicker of hope still burns in them, something not seen in the eyes of adults any more. They accept their lot in life with stoic indifference. They aren’t spoiled, rebellious, full of themselves and their own culture. They take their place alongside adults and live their lives of quiet desperation. What else can they do? They have so much less than the children of America – and yet in some ways they have more. There is a maturity that settles on them early and, while life is hard, they don’t make the life-changing mistakes many chidlren and teens in America make for they just don’t have those options. What really strikes me is that they had no choice in where they were born or in what level of this society they would find themselves. No one has that choice. That belongs to God alone. I don’t understand and I don’t question, but I do thank Him for the tremendous blessings He has provided or me and my children by placing us in the time and place He has. How can we ever complain about life? Never. Just look at the children.
4th of JULY IN INDIA
(Wednesday, July 4, 2007) It is very strange to celebrate the 4th of July in India . In the USA it is celebrated everywhere. Here it is just another day. Indepence day for the USA ? So what! No big deal. But for US citizens it is big deal. And we assume it is a big deal for the whole world. We think the world revolves around us and can’t imagine anything else. I first realized this on my trip last year. We left the first week in January, the same night number 1 and 2 were playing for the college football championship. I searched every European and other newspapers I could find. You’d think an English language newspaper would cover the game of the century – even just having the score in small print somewhere but nothing. It wasn’t until I returned home that I learned Texas had won. So what am I learning from this? We as Americans aren’t the center of everything to other countries – just to ourselves. That applies to individuals as well as countries. We tend to think everything and everyone should revolve around us and when that doesn’t happen we don’t understand. It’s more than an American thing, it’s a human thing. There’s nothing like getting out of the center of our world to show us we aren’t the center of the world!
GOD’S LIVING TRANSLATION – US
(Thursday, July 5, 2007) I’ve had 5 different men so far, and usually don’t know who it will be or how he does until I start talking. Having a translator for everything has its advantages as well as disadvantages. There is time to think ahead and choose the exact wording I want to use. However if the translator is limited then that becomes a disadvantage. A good translator takes what I say and communicates it in a way his listeners can understand. Her takes it from my culture and applies it to theirs so it becomes real and understandable to them. A poor translator, though, makes it much more difficult to communicate. My vocabulary is cut in half or even more. I can only get across the basics, nothing deeper. We are God’s translators, taking His message and making it understandable to those in our culture by what we say and do. We make God understandable to the world around us. How good a job are you doing translating God’s message so it is understandable to those around you? Are you getting the message across?
Periodically, without warning, the electricity stops working for an indefinite period of time. It’s easy to tell when it happens for the lights go off and fans stop working – it gets dark and uncomfortable quickly. That’s what happens when God’s power, the Holy Spirit, is grieved or quenched in our lives. We can tell it has happened because we start finding ourselves in darkness. Life gets uncomfortable. That’s a sure sign the power has been interrupted. But we don’t have to sit in darkness and misery – we can turn back to the source of power, reconnect with God, and again enjoy light and comfort, After all, why sit in the darkness when you can be in the light!
IT’S NOT THE SAME!
I’ve worked with 8 different translators so far this week. I often don’t know who will be translating, or how well they will do, until I start speaking. I must adjust my vocabulary to their ability to translate. Still, I am glad to have them. The Bible colleges here teach in English because there are no commentaries or Bible reference books in Telegu. So they learn English quite well. The problem is they learn it literally, without any of the nuances, slang or expressions that are such a part of our language. They use the literal words, but run them through grid, their world perspective. Since I am usually the only non-Indian in a group I gravitate to those who know English. Then I start thinking they think like an American, but they don’t. We can convey information, but not connect heart to heart. I can remember that when with Indians who don’t speak English, but can be fooled by those who seem to know the language. There are people who seem like Christians – they know the ‘talk’ and we can be taken in by that. But inside they are different from us so we can’t rally connect. So watch out – don’t let the talk fool you!
“Drink water!” “Drink water!” “Drink water!” I’m constantly telling myself to drink water. In a hot and humid climate we lose a lot of water through our skin each day. It’s not always noticeable, but it needs to regularly be replaced. So, along with several other things, I carry a large bottle of water everywhere I go. I need to do more than carry it – I must remember to drink it. If I wait until I am thirsty to drink I have waited too long. “Read the Word!” “Read the Word!” “Read the Word!” I also need a constant, fresh influx of the Word of God. I can carry it around buy unless I apply it to my life it does no good. And waiting until I notice the need means I’ve waited too long. The living water of the Word of God is as essential to our soul as water is to our bodies. So make sure you keep up. You need a constant, fresh supply. Remember, “read the Word.”
CLEAN ALL OF IT UP
It’s always ironic to see someone meticulously cleaning their driveway when just to the side of it lay heaps of trash and garbage. Yet that is a common sight. Walkways are spotless but trash lies in large mounds right beside them. I’m sure they somehow rationalize that in their minds, though. “There’s nothing I can do about that.” “It isn’t my fault.” “I’ll do it later.” “I’ll just focus on what is easy to clean and pretend the other doesn’t exist.” “Everyone’s home is the same way.” Excuses abound. Could our lives be in some way similar to those homes? We keep some parts squeaky clean and spotless. Those are the parts we so proudly show to others. But just beside them are heaps of trash and garbage in our life which find excuses to ignore. How can they be so blind to the trash beside their house? How can we? Lord, make us alert and sensitive to that which appears repulsive and disgusting to you, and help us make every effort to remove it with your help.”
They’re tiny, they are hard to see, they are no treat against anything – except for their bite. Even that is more annoying than serious or deadly. Yet their sting can causes serious illness, even death. That’s why we take strong anti-malaria drugs to avert any harm they can cause. And its why I cover myself with sun tan lotion that has mosquito repellent in it several times a day. There is to be avoided if at all possible. They are just as bad in the house as out – they are everywhere. We hunt down every one we find and destroy it. They remind me of little sins (if there is such a thing as ‘little’ sin). Some sins seem harmless enough, not too bad, certainly not deadly. But it is often those very sins we need to be most careful of. They seem harmless and weak, but can cause terrible harm. Only by ample applications of prayer and the Word of God can we protect ourselves. And if you do get bit by the sin bug, apply the blood of Jesus as per I John 1:9. Always keep a healthy dose handy! Don’t let them fool you, they are more deadly than they look!
I LEFT MY HEART IN AHMEDNAGAR
I arrived on a Monday and left on a Friday. I came not really wanting to be there and I left not wanting to go. In 3 days of meetings a very close bonding developed between me and the people of the Church of God there. It is an older, established church that has birthed and oversees many other congregations in a fellowship called ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ We experienced intense worship, teaching (crucifixion and resurrection really came alive by Peter, Barabbas and Thomas) and joy. They laughed and clapped for all the magic tricks. We battled the enemy together and praised God together. They immediately took to me and I to them. Our hearts flow in the same channel. They live in one-room, unpainted masonry huts with dirt floors. Their sewage flows through the gutters. Animals are everywhere. It seems the less they have the more they praise the Lord. Their physical difficulties are something we can’t possibly understand without living it. We cannot hold a conversation, or even exchange the simplest words (other than ‘Jesus’ and ‘Praise the Lord’). I have nothing in common with them, but I have everything in common with them. Stevan, the 21 year old pastor who translated and took care of me, is 1/3 my age. But we connected like long lost brothers. I will greatly miss him as well. We will be in touch. We are supporting an extremely needy family there and will continue to pray for the demonized girl we battled for. I spent each afternoon visiting with many of them in their homes, a real thrill for them but even more for me. They won’t forget me and I won’t forget them. I took part of their heart with them when I departed but left part of mine there. It was only 3 full days, and it went far too quickly. How much like life it is! In a few short days we love and laugh, we cry and praise, we learn and fight together. Then it is over too soon. Time is too short. I guess God knows that for He gave us eternity to continue what was started on this earth. And I really look forward to being able to talk to the believers from the Church of God in Ahmednagar, India.
WE DON’T HAVE TO TRAVEL ALONE
These train rides have me completely out of my element – but that’s not surprising in India! Since I don’t know the language, and I don’t know of anyone on the train who knows English, it could be a difficult and dangerous situation. Fortunately I am not traveling alone. Joseph, Abigail Babu’s brother, accompanied me on the first trip and now Prakash, the founding pastor who oversees numerous churches in the Ahmednagar region, is sitting beside me. Both are experienced travelers who know the way and have traveled it often. They are here to see me safely to my destination and do anything they can to help me on the way. How much is that like the Holy Spirit? God sends Him to guide us on our way, to accompany us through our travels in life. He knows the way and what is coming, and He is committed to seeing me safely to my eternal destination. I would be foolish indeed to not heed the advice and follow the guidance of these men who have sacrificed their time to accompany me. I would be even more foolish to ignore guidance and help of Him Who accompanies me through my daily trials. May I be as thankful to God for His Spirit as I am for these dedicated guides.
RIDING BACKWARDS THROUGH LIFE
So here I am again on a train. It’s my second train ride. The first was a 600 mile, 12 hour ride from Hyderabad to Pune. This is a 24+ hour 1000 train ride from Pune to Lucknow. I’m in the best car (best by India standards only). There are 4 of us in a compartment, 2 on each side facing the other 2. There are bunk beds on each side. The good news is that I’ve had a window both trips. The bad news is that I’m again facing backwards. I don’t see where I’m going, only where I’m at. Then I see that fade into the background. At night when it is dark I don’t see anything. Yet this is exactly how we go through life, isn’t it? We don’t see where we are going, only where we are. Then the present quickly rushes past us and into the background. If we watch it too closely we miss the present. But the present seems to move too quickly to take it all in, so sometimes we must watch a bit longer as it fades in the past. Then there are the trials and difficulties we all pass through, the dark nights of our souls. In those times we can’t see the present clearly. Everything is dark. It’s easy to loose all perspective. So here I am riding backwards through the Indian countryside thinking about my life. It seems this 24 hour trip will last forever, but I know it will pass and end. Then it will seem to have gone too quickly. So it is with life. Enjoy the ride, it’ll go quickly enough.
WE’LL SEE THE PICTURE LATER
The morning I left for Lucknow I got up early to pack. I had gotten to bed very late after the encounter with the demonized girl the night before. I was distracted and off my schedule. I didn’t realize until later that I forgot to pray for a hedge of protection. I forgot to pray for the room I slept in once and won’t make that mistake again! Anyway, the morning was full of strange and frustrating events: things lost, things broken. The worst was a freak ‘accident’ that broke the display panel of my digital camera. I think it still takes pictures, but they can’t be seen, nor can any of the settings. I take a picture sight-unseen then must wait until I download it onto my laptop to see what it is lilke. That aptly describes how I often feel going through life. I give it my best shot but don’t really know how effective my efforts have been. I won’t see the results until later. (Not to fear, I do have my old camera and am using it – there will be pictures!) Paul says we see dimly now but will see clearly later (I Corinthains 13). I won’t see the complete picture of what God is accomplishing on this trip, or in my whole life, until I see it downloaded and displayed in heaven. I don’t know what it will all look like – but I have confidence that it will be wonderful to see for God does wonderful work.
A LONGING FOR HOME
As I enter my second of three weeks here without any contact with nonIndians I already find myself longing for anything American. I look at the people around me, hoping for a white face. I listen to the conversations going on, hoping to hear a familiar word. I search the advertisements, the cable channels, the stores, the signs – everywhere. But I find nothing. I’m getting hungry for what is common and familiar to me. I long for ‘home’ in any shape or form. Yet it isn’t anywhere to be seen, nor will it be for 2 more weeks. Oh how great it will be to get on the plane and hopefully see American travelers! But just thinking of this bothers me, for I must admit I don’t long for my Heavenly home with the same intensity. I should. Nowhere in this world, even the United States, is really ‘home’ for the Christian. We all look for a better place. The problem is that sometimes we don’t look very hard for it. We become familiar and comfortable where we are. I suppose I could eventually feel somewhat ‘at home’ in India, even now a familiarity and deeper connection with the country is developing. I guess that’s what happens to us and the world we live in. We adjust. We acclimate. And it doesn’t seem too bad. But may we never forget we are indeed citizens of another Country. May we never feel too much at home anywhere but there. May our hearts never feel totally at home until we reach our Heavenly home!
GOD PROVIDES AN OASIS
Lucknow was the furtherest and most remote place I’ve been. I didn’t know anyone when going there. The man I was to be with wasn’t able to be there, although I still stayed in his home. It seemed things weren’t very planned or organized, like I was an afterthought and they quickly tried to find something for me to do with the children. That was the purpose for going there but it didn’t develop as it could have because of the monsoons. It was the darkest city and place I’ve visited. The northern India Ganges River Valley is reportedly the hardest place in the world for the gospel to take root, and the Ganges goes through Lucknow. Yet in the midst of all that, when I needed it most, God provided a real oasis. Just a few houses from where I was staying were a Southern Baptist missionary couple whom I knew when back in the states! And they are home schoolers. Even finding out they were here came about in the most radom way that ony God can produce. But being able to talk to someone with English as a first language, someone with so much in common, was a real light in the darkness. Sharing and praying together were special. Thank you, God, for providing what we need when we need it most – even before we are aware of our need for it!
STRONG AND WEAK
Paul’s words to the Corinthians have taken on new meaning to me this trip. Explaining some of his own struggles, he concludes with “for when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). That has to rank among one of the main lessons God has been trying to teach me during this time in India. It started before I left and has just grown over the weeks. I have never been ‘weaker’ – in all ways. I am totally unable to pull this off. I need help with everything for I don’t know the customs or the language. I on my own am totally incompetent to meet the needs of the hungry people who come expecting this white man from America to tell them out to make sense of their lives. I myself have nothing to say. I can’t even take care of me, how can I take care of them? Physically I am the mercy of any kind of bug that may decide to enter my system. Exercise is impossible in the heat. Diet is way off. Sleep is sporadic. Spiritually I am entering enemy-occupied territory and seeking to set the captives free, not something Satan will let happen unchallenged. Socially I am without the kind of companionship I’ve always had and am used to. So I guess saying I’m weak isn’t a stretch by any imagination. Yet somehow through it all I feel much more deeply connected to and cared for by God than I ever do when I’m more in control of my life and circumstances. There is a depth, a sweetness, an intensity and a realness in my walk with God that I haven’t had since I’ve been in India last time! And yet this certainly isn’t heaven on earth here. This is as far as you can get from the kingdom of God. So what’s the key? Weakness. Or I should saw being aware of my weakness. It’s true, the weaker we are the stronger we are! Try it for yourself!
THE IDOL OF SECURITY
Perhaps the first lesson God showed me during my India trip was that I was making an idol of my life at home. I was finding my security in it and not in God. That is idolatry. I’ve been trying to learn to take my fears and insecurity, my loneliness and discomfort to the Lord. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to turn to Him for security. He’s shown me how my comfortable and safe life there with family and friends has been meeting my need for security. Now with that crutch gone I’ve had to turn to Him instead and have Him minister peace and comfort to my spirit. The good news is that it’s been working! I have more peace and security here where I have to totally depend on God than in my wonderful life at home where I don’t! So I challenge you: ask God to show you if you are using your life, your family or your friends to provide the security that He should be providing. Remember, He is a jealous God and He hates idols!
ENJOY THE MOMENT
I don’t know if I can really explain this to you, but I’ll give it a try. One of the by-products of being totally out of control of anything going on here is that I don’t have to be concerned about what to do next. Nor does it work to try to plan for the next contingency. It’s out of my hands. The future is completely out of my hands. So why not just relax and enjoy the present moment. That advice was given to me and it really struck home. Sometimes I want time to move much more quickly, other times I want it to slow down, even stop for awhile. I can’t cause either to happen. Time just keeps going at its own pace, no matter what I try to do. So I’ve stopped trying. If I’m in an uncomfortable situation and want time to more quickly, I may as well forget it for I can’t change things. I can adjust to what is happening knowing time will keep moving and it will soon be over. /as to slowing it down for the more enjoyable moments, I can’t do that, either. So I might as well savor the moment for its all I’ll have and then it will be gone. It’s been a nice experience, this just focusing on and enjoying the moment. I hope I’ll learn this lesson well enough so I can keep some of it when I get back home and my life and schedule is once again handed back to me. In the meantime, it’s kind of cool just sitting back and let life happen.
WHEN JESUS DOESN’T ANSWER
Before coming to India when I was seeking God as to what messages to use for different occasions, He put it in my heart to use the account of Lazarus’ death in John 11 for my message. It gets more powerful each time and I never tired of delivering it. Every church I speak in Sundays or during the week, when asked to bring a message, I talk about this. I’ve given this same message five times so far. Everyone can identify with Mary and Martha when Jesus didn’t come to help Lazarus but waited until it was ‘too late’ to even show up. He helped others, why not them? He knew Lazarus died, He loved them deeply, He was able to do it had He so chosen – but He didn’t. Why? He had a greater plan in view. He was using it to stretch their faith and help them grow, and He was using it for His glory. He never gave the disciples, Mary or Martha an explanation. He just simply called on them to trust Him. He has more than proven Himself trustworthy by taking our eternal punishment so we can spend eternity with Him. And that’s what He expects of us, too, when we wonder why He doesn’t seem to come and help us in our need. It’s a message we all need to remember.
THE ‘REAL’ CHURCH
As I get to know and interact with the pastors and churches here I am surprised by 2 things: how similar we are and how different we are. Let me explain. We are the same for we have the same enemy (our sin nature, the world around us and Satan), the same resources (the Bible, prayer, fellowship, love and God Himself) and the same goals (to grow spiritually and glorify Jesus, to spread His Word, to live for Him in all we do). Churches struggle with people problems, weak believers being enticed to believe lies and even competition among churches. Yet we are so very different. If these churches have a building it is a simple shed to keep the sun or rain off them. The focus is on house churches where a local man who has been called to pastor becomes their teacher and shepherd. There is little or no training for pastors or other leaders. Services are simple but several hours long. No one is in a hurry for this is the highlight of their week (of their life!). Prayer, worship and learning the Word are the focus. There are no programs, ad campaigns, expectations on worship leaders to produce a certain result, no youth groups or financial campaigns. The focus is on the people having their spiritual needs met, not on a church structure or environment. The church is the people. It does not exist apart from the people. They are the church, not a building, structure, program or leadership team. 90% of what we do as ‘church’ just doesn’t exist here. It’s all about everyone praying, praising and learning the Word. Their lives and struggles motivate them. Believe me, it’s refreshing!!!!
WHITE MAN IN A DARK WORLD
Since the first week, when 3 people from Glenside stayed in the same home I was staying in, I’ve only seen one white-skinned family – the missionaries in Lucknow. Being the only white person in a dark world isn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Everyone is polite and gentle. There is almost no antagonism. They are curious about me as I am about them. We both study each other while pretending to not notice. In the churches the presence of a white man has been tremendously encouraging and very well received. The oneness we share in Christ is much more evident than lack of common knowledge or skin color. My presence at any church activity or event makes it very special to them. However there are some events I haven’t attended because of being white. I’ve been careful not to be too obvious in their communities, especially in outside daytime events. Some of the more ‘religious’ Hindus or Moslems will forever see the local church as tainted by the presence of a foreigner, as if they are disloyal to India and somehow connected to American interests. Others in the local community will assume the presence of a white person means that they are receiving much money from the rich American. There will be greed and jealousy that results. So I am careful to not be seen too much in some of the communities, but my presence is always welcome in the church. As Paul says, in Christ there is no male nor female, no slave nor free, no Indian or American – we are all one in Christ!
The one word that clearly summarizes my contribution to the people of India I have met is ‘encouragement.’ I heard it continually the first week from the male pastors, the second week from the female church members (men of the men couldn’t get off during the day to attend the meetings), the third week from the children and the fourth week from all those groups. They say I encouraged them. They didn’t say I educated them, or trained them, or entertained them, or even equipped them. They say I encouraged them. They felt tremendous encouragement by my coming. Just being there said more than anything else I could do. The lessons and messages were icing on the cake. I encouraged them. Obviously that is their greatest need. Not training or entertainment. They need those things, but they need encouragement more. Just the fact that I cared enough to come meant everything to them. My presence encouraged them. They need encouragement. We all need encouragement. We all can be encouragers. It’s so easy to do. Just care. Show you care. That’s not hard. We can all do it for someone, for everyone needs encouragement, especially us!
IT’S ALL RELATIVE
I see these people living in their poverty and squalor and, despite the fact they work hard to stay neat and clean, wonder how they can stand living like this. At this point in my life I could never adjust to it! Then I remember that this is all they know. I know the higher standards in the USA and use that to compare what is here. They have no such standard so they are content with things as they are. They don’t know it can be different, better. It’s all relative. You know, as citizens of heaven, we should never allow ourselves to be content with the living conditions we find on this earth. We have a higher standard and should long for it. We must not be content with the things of this life but must long for the ultimate perfection of heaven, for that is where our real citizenship lies.
STAYING CLEAN IN A DIRTY WORLD
One of my very favorite parts of India is watching the women. Even those living in squalor with virtually nothing, whose huts have dirt (or mud) floors, are always neat and clean. I’ve not seen a dirty saree yet! Even women sweeping the streets and working construction have on bright colored silk sarees and they always seem spotless. How they can maneuver through such a dirty world yet stay so clean and fresh amazes me. I would like to know their secret. Evidently it is possible to achieve. Yet if they can do it with their physical dress, I should be able to keep myself spiritually clean as I daily encounter the evil and sin of this world. I need to keep my spiritual garments clean and spotless so that the One who is watching me is pleased with my purity as well. Staying spotless in a sin-stained world, is it possible? If these women can do it, so can we!
I just came from visiting the one-room home of a pastor and his family in the outskirts of Pune. He had come up to attend the 3 day meetings I had in Ahmednagar. In fact, he is the pastor who joined in the spiritual warfare praying for demonized Rani there. He built a shed on the side of his home to provide protecting from weather for those in his church. There are 2 other one-room homes attacked to these. His 2 brothers, their families and their mother live in them. The government in his area has outlawed Christianity. He and his people are no longer allowed to evangelize or baptize. They must travel to another district, to the church I spoke at 3 hours away, to have baptisms for there is still freedom there. Yet these brothers, their wives and their children have a warm glow and great peace about them. They are committed to spreading the gospel to their lost neighbors. They will use tact and be careful, but they will stay faithful. Prakash, the founding and overseeing pastor of the churches I ministered to and who accompanied me on the train from Pune to Lucknow has ugly and deep scars all over his right arm from being attacked and beaten because he is a Christian. So now, what are the big, terrible problems our churches are facing? Want to trade?
As you travel anywhere in India you quickly notice that the nicest buildings are the Hindu temples. In very poor, poverty-stricken neighborhoods there still are intricate, well-maintained, large and beautifully colored Hindu temples. They are everywhere. At almost any place you can look around you and see several. The temples are ornate and elaborate, but the people live in poverty. It reminds me of the large Catholic cathedrals in the poverty-stricken Central American countries. These temples are supported by the money of the people, given in fear of their millions of gods. Perhaps if the gods are appeased they will not make life so hard. But it is obvious these gods haven’t done anything for the people. Yet isn’t that just like Satan? He promised the world but delivers only bondage. He demands everything but gives nothing in return. If anyone doubts the truth of that they need only to visit India.
Unless one enjoys very spicy food at every meal in every dish, one can quickly get tired of Indian food. I eat because my belly is hungry, my body needs nourishment and my hosts are trying to please me. They love spices because they have become accustomed to them. Yet the whole purpose of spice in food in a hot culture, like in Mexico, is to cover the taste of decay in food that is going bad. While that may not be the case any more in the cities, among the poor and in the villages it certainly is still true. Spice covers decay so it goes down better. The application is obvious, isn’t it? Satan ‘spices’ up our sin so it goes down better and we don’t realize how much decay we are swallowing. We spice up our lives, thinking we are adding flavor, when we are just covering over what is rotting and unhealthy. What ‘spice’ are you allowing to cover the sin in your life?
INDIA‘S ‘FREE’ CATTLE
Cattle roam free everywhere. They wander up and down all the roads, in train stations and buildings – anywhere they want to go. Oxen, cattle, water buffalo – they are everywhere. After the first day I stopped taking pictures for they are everywhere. I pass within a few feet of a dozen or more every morning when I go for a walk. Each one belongs to someone but they are given free reign. Believing they may be reincarnated ancestors means no restrictions are placed on them. Yet when you watch them carefully you see this ‘freedom’ isn’t good for them. They are very thin, emaciated usually, because they have to eat from garbage dumped on the street. The water they drink is absolutely filthy – when they can find some. Many limp from accidents or from being on concrete all day. They have no place to rest. Cars and motorcycles are constantly rushing by them. If they were in a fenced in field with adequate water and food they would be much better off. Total freedom isn’t always a good thing. The same is true for us. Were we totally free to do anything we wanted as Christians we would not be as healthy and whole as we are now. Thank God for the restrictions He puts on our freedoms – they are for our own good.
WHAT DO OTHERS SEE?
Although I don’t understand a word of it, to hear these pastors sing and pray is quite an experience. They do both long and loud. Every one takes turns singing in front of the group, and they all pray out loud. They are full of enthusiasm and emotion. Obviously what they are doing means a lot to them. They always wear sandals or loafers because whenever they lead in prayer of song, whenever they pray or worship, they do it barefoot. Moses was told to take off his sandals because entering God’s presence was holy ground, so they do the same when entering God’s presence. Men and women do this. I remember one time I forgot to take my shoes off and stepped inside a church. Immediately a little girl ran over to me to signal me to take off my shoes. It could be just a tradition, a meaningless ritual for them. I’m sure it has become that for some of them. But for these fine pastors that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. It touches me to see their bare feet on the floor, praying or worshipping God. I hope others can tell our love of Jesus from our singing or praying. I hope we can encourage and uplift others as these pastors have uplifted me. They aren’t doing it thinking anyone is watching, but they are being watched. So are we. What do people see when they watch us?
I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for being a US citizen by traveling overseas. There’s not just the privilege of living in such a land of freedom and plenty, there’s the assurance and confidence one feels of being a citizen of such a country. With ‘US Citizen’ on my passport I know I have the authority and power of the country behind me, protecting me and available to me. It’s a privileged to be a citizen of this country. It opens doors into other countries, and makes reentry back to the United States simple, for we are simply returning home. As I went through immigration and customs going into and out of India I kept thinking about my citizenship in heaven, which is even more special than my citizenship in the US. What doors the passport of salvation opens! Even greater power and authority is mine! Ministering in India as a citizen of God’s heavenly Kingdom assures me of God’s protection and provision for me. And the best part, entry into that Kingdom at death or when Jesus returns, is assured for we will finally be entering our home territory. What a grand homecoming that will be!
I’ve always believed in and used God’s promises, but starting the week before I came here they have been a real life-line. I read and reread them every morning. I think of them during the day. My life is completely dependent on the truth of them. If they aren’t true, I’m in major trouble with no way out! Let me share with you some of the promises God has made come alive in my life on this trip.
Deuteronomy 20:3-4 He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” God gave me this promise on my first trip to India and I’ve continued to lean on it and read it almost daily since that time.
Exodus 33:14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Ps 25: No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, … 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. … 21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you .
Isaiah 42:16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
Genesis 28:15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Pick any one you want. They all work. I’ve put them to the hardest tests and they stand firm!
LESSONS I AM LEARNING
My hope is in God, I can’t use my family, life at home or things for security. That just brings pain and misery.
Conscious effort to stay close to God
meaningful daily devotions
mental choice to enjoy family and things but find security in God
pray about this regularly
The weaker I am the stronger I am!
stay aware of my weaknesses
not function in my strength but His
pray this would come about
God’s promises are totally dependable
continue to use, claim, depend on
Enjoy the moment. Live in the moment, it will be gone. Can’t slow down or speed up time, only have the present. Don’t spent present always preparing, working for future
put NJS first
enjoy, live for the moment
don’t be too busy
less to do!!!
simpler sermon, lesson notes
less time on computer, email
Me lead WV a privilege, but I’m going through this in part for them, for they will go through it and more so I must know it to start preparing them. Just how I don’t know
pray, seek how to pass this to them
I am much more full of pride than I thought. I take credit for what God does and crave affirmation way too much. I explain it away saying it is natural, I give the credit to God, He allows it for my faithfulness, He wants me to feel good, too – but now I realize it is just pride and I need to get rid of it. It is self-centered, me taking credit for what He does, me wanting/needing approval way too much.
I need to trust He will some how keep reminding me when this comes up and I will realize its all about Him and not about me.
Keep praying about it
I find myself in a strange place where I am totally dependent on God and others for everything. I can’t get food, travel or talk to anyone without the help of believers here and God openng the way. It’s a good feeling, down to solid rock where a good foundation can be built. I know it will go when I return home and Ill miss it. I pray some of it will stick with me forever.
At the same time I have no responsibility other than to take care of my own clothes and stuff. No one is delpendent on me, I have no responsibilities except what others plan – and I don’t mind that at all!
PRAY God keep me dependent on Him, somehow have this remain in my life and heart
I’ve started thinking about what I’d like to preach about at MSBC when I get back. I always enjoy that stage a lot, so many things to choose from! But now I’m having a hard time for I find I don’t really want to preach to MSBC. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to preach and minister, it does mean that at this time I have no dsire or burden to preach there. What else can I tell them that I haven’t already told them in 26 years?
I pray God will give me a desire to minister to them, and show me what to preach to them about.