BLOGS – INDIA 2015 TRIP
Blog 230: STEP TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE
My father died and was buried the week before my trip to India. We had his affairs to quickly settle, possessions to dispose of and lots of arrangements to make. At the same time a new pastor needed orienting to our church. And of course there was India to get ready for. As a result I haven’t had time to think and process all that has been going on. So here I sit in the airport with a few hour wait and I can finally get my thoughts organized and put into words.
I have always been proud of being a Schmoyer. I remember learning my family’s story when I was very little – the youngest Schmoyer. Everyone was older than me and there was great security in that. Now I am the oldest Schmoyer, all the others are younger than me. I remember the death of my great-grandfather, grandfather and now my father. So I step to the front of the line. I had been number 2 in line for the last 40 years and knew this day was coming, and I thought I was prepared (as much as one can be before the real thing comes). But of course the reality is always different than what was imagined. I will miss my father – he has been the one consistent in my life for my 68 ½ years. His passing will leave a hole in my life. I will grieve him more when I return and the finality of it sets in, when we have his memorial service (2:15 PM February 14 at Phoebe Home in Allentown PA), and at many times in the future. That is how I continue to grieve the loss of my sister and mother. That will unfold as it will in the future.
Now my thoughts are on what it means for me to step to the front of the line as the oldest Schmoyer. For many it would just mean they seem to be the next in line to die, but in God’s eyes there is much more to it than that. There is a responsibility, a headship, a protection, an example, a prayer responsibility and much more that go alone with it. I’m just trying to figure it all our, so I’d appreciate any thoughts or Bible verses that apply to this. Thanks!
For one thing, I have a responsibility to oversee my family, lifting them up in prayer in a regular and specific way. I also oversee by giving encouragement and assistance to them as they all continue on their journey in life. I have wisdom to pass on in the right way and at the right time. If I want them to or not, they look to me for an example. It’s not a time for me to coast and become a self-centered, uninvolved old man. If anything, I must be even more giving and other-centered now. I have tried to teach my children how to start life and how to live as adults. Now I must teach them, mainly by example, how to finish life. I now of no magic key, no deep wisdom to pass on. All I can do is keep on growing in faith and obedience as I have tried to do in the past. It’s a different feeling knowing I am being watched by others, even if they aren’t really aware they are doing it. The example of my great–grandparents, grandparents and parents formed and molded me more than I probably know. Now it is my opportunity to step to the front of the line and take my turn doing the same. I don’t know how lone I will be first in line, but I do want to use every day of it for God’s glory in my life and the lives of those who know me. Pray God would help me do this, for its not anything I can do on my own! (Philadelphia Airport, January 5, 2015)
Proverbs 23:22-25 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. 24 The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. 25 May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice! (Proverbs 23:22-25)
If you have a father: do you pray for him to be a godly man who will guide and lead you in the ways of the Lord? Do you show him respect and honor and learn from his example and wisdom?
If you are a father: do you try to set a godly life for those who are in your family? Do you recognize your role as God’s representative to pray, lead and guide your family in His wisdom?
Blog 231: I HATE SAYING GOODBYE!
I have never liked saying good-bye. I’ve done far more of it than I’d like to. However these last few days have been full of good-byes. December 28 I said good-bye to my 94 year old father, the last member of my immediate family. He has been part of my life for all my 68+ years. I have had to say good-bye to him, and also to my hometown where he lived for these is no more reason to go there.
Yesterday I said good-bye to the church I have pastored for 33 ½ years as we installed the man who will eventually replace me. Sure, I will be coming back to it, but not as the sole pastor but as one who is moving away from shepherding those sheep while helping Rev. Alan Travis work into that position. It is hard saying good-bye to that major part of my life.
Now today I say good-bye to my wife, family and this country as I fly to India. I will be back Feb 5, but now a month away from my wife seems like forever. Gratefully God has provided Alan Carlton to travel with me and I am most grateful for that. However todays good-bye will be hard, especially on top of the others. I really hate saying good-bye!
It will be nice to see many old, good friends in India. I look forward to that. Ironically as I get closer to them it makes saying good-bye when I return home harder there as well. Did I mention that I really, really hate saying good-bye?
As I stood in the cemetery on New Years Eve when we buried my father I looked at all the graves of those I new which were nearby: my sister, my mother, all my grandparents, aunts and uncles, great grandparents and more. I stood there to say good-bye to most every one of them. What was very comforting to know, though, is that the good-bye is only temporary. I will again see those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. There will be no more good-byes! Never in all eternity will I have to say good-bye again! Never ever.
God didn’t create us to say good-bye, only to be with Him forever. Sin changed all that, but then Jesus broke the curse of sin and made it so we won’t ever have to say good-bye again. And another thing I fine comfort in, I won’t have to say good-bye to God, never ever. Even when I travel to India He is right here with me every step of the way.
Yes, I really hate saying good-bye, but one day I will say good-bye to good-bye and what a glorious event that will be! (Monday, January 5, 2015, Doylestown, PA, USA)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
How do you handle saying good-bye? What if Jesus had never come and the good-byes we say would be permanent and forever? Spend some time thanking Him that you will never have to say good-bye to Him and that one day all good-byes will be gone forever!
Blog 232: IF YOU CAME TO INDIA
We’re here – through London, to Hyderabad, into our hotel and connected to the internet – or you wouldn’t be getting this. It’s been a long trip but relatively uneventful – those are the best kind for me! Moses was let meeting us and we were stuck for awhile but he showed up. We arrived art 4:30 AM local time and got to the hotel a little after 6. We will get ready for today’s conference, eat something, and leave at 8 for a 2 hour drive there. Now just because we made it here doesn’t mean you can stop praying – it means now is the time to really start!
I’m trying to imagine what it would be like if you came to India with me – how would it look to your eyes? What would you notice most? This is what I can come up with:
WHAT WOULD BOTHER YOU MOST?
- The stench and trash everywhere continually assaulting your sight and smell
- The crazy, haphazard way people drive
- The crazy, haphazard way people live
- Hindu shrines everywhere, even in the middle of the road
- Beggars tapping on your car window when stopped for traffic
- Not being able to talk to people because of the language barrier
- Lack of clean bathrooms – lack of any bathrooms at all!
- Food that is very spicy and often unhealthy
- Having to use battled water always and only
- Seeing life as having little value, especially for women and children
WHAT WOULD BLESS YOU MOST?
- The kind, loving Christian people
- The mild weather
- The kind, loving Christian people
- The beautiful women in Saris
- The kind, loving Christian people
- The sincere desire among people of wanting to please and serve you
- The kind, loving Christian people
- The wonderful fruits and fruit juices prevalent everywhere.
- The kind, loving Christian people
- The kind, loving Christian people
Clearly the best part of India, to me, is getting to know the loving, caring believers there. They stand out in contrast to the world in which they live, but in any culture they would be a light and a joy to all around them. And that is despite the awful conditions around them. They have every reason, every excuse not to be kind, gentle and giving but they are not. They have let the love of Jesus change them. Have you? Is your love seen by others? Does Jesus get the credit for it? (Wednesday morning, January 7, 2015, Hyderabad, India)
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I John 3:11 11This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
I John 1:23 3And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
What can you do starting today to be a more loving person, starting with those closest to you? How can you better show your family and friends the love of Jesus? If you are using your circumstances as an excuse, ask God to forgive you and commit to showing His love to all around you.
Blog 333: WORTH IT ALL
It’s worth it all. We’ve been here 13 hours and I can definitely say that all I and some others have been through to make this happen has been worth it. In fact its worth it multiple times over. We had a one-day conference today. About a hundred pastors and 15 wives came. While teaching the first session God allowed me to see it all from a more distant, objective perspective and I was deeply touched by the way these truths of God impact these men. They equip, motivate, encourage and educate these fine men and women. I became aware of how a conference like this can change a man and his family, and as a result spread out to his church and even impact his children’s children. All this was affirmed by the testimonies shared at the close of today’s meeting as well. God made it clear that it takes someone from outside India to gain the attention of the people. A prophet is truly without honor in his own country!
When I looked at what we are doing from a more distant perspective I was impressed with how God brought all these sessions together over the years, even the exact wordings I have been using the last few years. Only He could do such a thing! It still l impacts me each time I teach it,
While thanking Him for all of this He brought my favorite Bible passage to mind: Philippians 3:7-14, especially verse 10. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” It has always been my main goal to know God more intimately. The “power” part has come about often when I am involved in spiritual warfare and see God’s might set people free. The “fellowship of His suffering” is something I never thought I’d personally understand or be involved in, but it all of a sudden hit me that that is what has been happening to me and those involved in this ministry as well. Please understand that I only see my part as a tiny scratch on the very surface of the suffering Jesus went through. But when we go through even the slighted suffering for Him He more than rewards us for it. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Words cannot express the joy I felt at what God was doing in the lives of these men and women, and the fact that He used me to be one small channel for that brought tears to my eyes. Then at the end, when I have the awesome privilege of giving each person 4 free books which I was allowed to write, I was touched and humbled beyond measure. I didn’t expect God to show me any of this, much less at the very start, but He has. I pass it on to you because it is your prayers that are behind and underneath all of this. And to think it is day one and we haven’t even been to bed yet (I know this because I keep falling asleep while typing this in the car driving to our hotel). But it is worth it all! (Wednesday evening, January 7, 2015, Hyderabad, India)
Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”
Is your faithfulness to Jesus the cause of any suffering you are currently facing? Commit it to Him. Remember that one day you will say that it was worth it all!
Blog 334: “ARE YOU READY?”
This morning when it was time to leave the room for the day Alan said to me, “Are you ready?” I chuckled and said that it depended on what definition he meant for ‘ready,’ but assuming he was referring to if I had the things I needed to take with me for the day then, yes, I was ready. I went on to add though, that if Paul’s words “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10) are still in the Bible then I can readily affirm I am ready to go in any definition of the word ‘ready.’ In fact, if the weaker we are than the stronger we are, I’m in very good shape!
I’ve been thinking about those spontaneous words since then, and they really are quite true. As we drive to this, our second pastors’ conference, I in no way feel ready, capable or competent to minister to these pastors and their wives. Despite yesterday’s wonderful assurances from God, it is still I, a frail human being, who must minister in places and ways that are, humanly speaking, beyond my ability. Yet, as long as “when I am weak, then I am strong” is still in the Bible, I can go ahead to a new place, a new group and new needs, but with the same God and same promises as have carried me in the past. (Thursday, January 8, 2015, Hyderabad, India)
2 Corinthians 10:12 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
2 Corinthians 13:4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.
I’m sure God is teaching you this truth as well, or at least He is trying to. In what area of life do you feel most incompetent? What seems beyond your control? Where do you feel overwhelmed? When it seems God isn’t answering your prayers to take away that which is beyond your human strength or talent, how do you respond? Seriously think about this truth today and apply it to every area or time where you feel weak. Let God transform your view of life as this foundational truth sinks into your heart.
Blog 335; I WON’T GET ANY SYMPATHY FROM YOU
I’ve been hearing about your cold weather there so I thought I’d tell you about the weather here – always in the 70’s or low 80’s. It’s perfect Caribbean weather: no jacket needed but you never sweat. I know I won’t get any sympathy for you over that. Here is a list of other good things that I won’t get sympathy over:
-Fresh homemade Indian food daily
-Beautiful women in beautiful sari’s everywhere
-Great Continental breakfasts in the hotel with an enormous selection of healthy, tasty foods
-Listening to believers sing and pray from their hearts to the Savior they love completely
-Giving 4 free books, which I had the privilege of writing, to pastors who are so grateful some almost some almost have tears in their eyes
-Hearing pastors say this is the best pastor’s conference they have ever been to and will be come again soon (we don’t, we always go to new places and pastors)
-Receiving encouraging emails from so many of you
-Quality time with Pastor Moses and Alan
-The inexpressible privilege of opening the truths of God’s Word to those with open minds and hungry hearts
-Picturesque opportunities everywhere you look for someone who likes to take pictures
-The smiles and gratitude of the people who come and listen
-Hearing the laughs and applause every time I do a magic trick to reinforce a point I am making
-Being lifted up by the faithful prayers of all of you
-An abundance of tasty fresh fruits and juices
-Teaching about the Rapture, 2nd Coming and eternity day after day after day
-Leading the whole group (150 today) in a spiritual warfare prayer at the end in which God frees them from demonic activities which have defeated them and crippled their churches
-Knowing I’ll see each of these new friends one day in heaven and we can talk together and share the things the Lord has done in our lives
See, I told you that you wouldn’t feel sorry for me! Hopefully you’ll want to join me next year. Then your friends won’t have any sympathy for you, either! (Friday, January 9, 2015, Hyderabad, India)
Psalm 24:3-6 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
This was a good exercise for me after several blogs referring to the difficulties of doing something like this. It would be a good exercise for you, too, especially if you tend to look at the negative side of things or feel sorry for yourself. In fact, send me the list you come up with and I promise to not give you any sympathy, either!
Blog 336:I HAVE NO PROBLEMS
Coming to India got rid of all my problems! We started the morning by going to the orphanage Pastor Moses’ church sponsors. I see the 20 children there every year and they remember me as the man who does tricks. I talked to them about Jesus being our friend so we are never alone. The room we met in is where they put their floor mats to sleep. All their personal belongs are in a pigeon hole in the wall. They will live here until old enough to get a job and live on their own. I have no problems.
Then I spoke to the leprosy colony people again, as I do every year. We are also getting to know each other. I spoke about Jobs faith despite his suffering. Then I handed 60 of them bags of flour. I had to carefully balance them on their palms for most have no fingers (or toes) and are crippled. No, I have no problems at all.
Our next stop was one of the sewing schools his church uses for outreach. I talked about Tabatha the sewer and how God brought her back to life to show that Jesus is the only God and He loves us. I was able to present the gospel very clearly to them. Fourteen Hindu girls were there, between the ages of 16 to 20. Most had one, two or even three children. Their husbands were chosen for them. Some have good men, many do not. They grew up in fear and darkness, not having been taught about Jesus, and as women they have little value. Nope, no problems here!
In the afternoon we had an unscheduled pastors’ conference for men in Hyderabad, who had heard me before and wanted to get together with me. I spent the afternoon leading a workshop about how to study the Bible and develop a sermon. I was greatly encouraged by these familiar men who minister in the city that had the most pastors killed of any place in India last year. Absolutely no problems here!
In the early evening we went to visit some of the slum churches they lead. Words can’t describe the total, abject poverty these people live in with no hope of ever having better. It’s amazing people can survive like that, but they do, and the Christians have a smile and joy unseen among many others. No, I definitely do not have any problems, none at all! Do you?
When you get focused on your problems think about telling them to the orphan children, or the lepers, or the Hyderabad pastors or even the slum Christians here. That should help keep things in perspective. For a few minutes, at least, you won’t have any problems! (Saturday, January 10, 2015, Hyderabad)
Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Write yourself a note and put it somewhere you’ll see it often today that says “I have no problems today.” When you start to dwell on your difficulties remember these Christians in India.
Blog 337: LIFE’S TRANSITIONS
We had a safe drive to our new location – 5 hours. We are safely here and ready to start the first of 6 two-day pastor’s conferences tomorrow. Thanks for praying!
Although my body is in India, my thoughts often default to home and Main Street Baptist Church. This time in India marks a major transition in my ministry at home. Rev. Travis Hart, a fine, godly young man who is the perfect man to take the church to the next stage in God’s plan for it, has come and is working in the church. We will transition over the coming months and I will still be part of the church in some capacity for at least another year and a half. However the time of me as the sole pastor of the church is over. God is taking the burden of shepherding these sheep from me and giving it to Travis. And I am ready for this to happen.
I am ready to let someone with more ideas and energy to take over the church. I am ready to focus on ministries where I can make the greatest contribution, such as India, World View Plus for teens, marriage counseling and retreats and spiritual warfare counseling and teaching. I am ready to focus on these. I am ready to spend more time with my family. I am ready to slow the pace at which I have been living. I am ready. Travis is ready. The church is ready.
Still, it is the closing of a large chapter in my life, the largest except for my family. The 33 ½ tears spent at MSBC have been rich, rewarding, stretching and immensely gratifying. I look back with joy and satisfaction. That doesn’t mean there aren’t regrets or things I wish I would have done better, but that will have to be the subject of another blog. This close will come gradually, but it has already begun. Starting the process of letting go of this church and letting Travis start taking over is both very easy and immensely hard. Yes, I am ready, but it is hard to let go of such a wonderful part of my life.
There is a reality of aging, of changing, of not being able to again do what I did. There is the solemnness that I have had my opportunity and that part of ministry is now over. It is what it is. There is the adjustment to finding my role in the new order of things. Mainly, letting go is sad because the past was so good. It’s hard to see this chapter close, for I don’t think there has ever been a nicer, better, easier church to pastor than Main Street Baptist Church, Doylestown, PA. If we wouldn’t age I could keep pastoring there forever, but that’s not God’s way with things. Because the memories are so good I’m not running away in bitterness or hurt. This is my family, my life, and while this is a good, necessary, important transition, it is still a major transition, but one we all must make. (January 11, 2015 Vijayawada)
Ruth 4:15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age.
Psalm 92:14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
Isaiah 46:4 4Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
How are you adjusting to the transitions God is bringing about in your life as you age? Are you able to thank Him for what He has done in the past? Can you trust Him for His future plan for you? Are you willing to keep serving Him in whatever capacity possible as long as you live?
Blog 338: THE ‘TYPICAL’ INDIAN VILLAGE PASTOR
While, of course, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ Indian village pastor, nevertheless I will describe him to you. It’s my way of getting you to better understand the men I speak to each day. I’ve spoken to about 3,500 pastors and about 1,000 wives in my first 7 years here and will speak to more than 1,000 men and 350 women this trip. Better yet, this year I will speak to them for two days, not just one.
We go to different villages each day and pastors come from miles around. They are fine, godly men and a real encouragement to me. Their commitment and sacrifice is top notch. Persecution, even martyrdom, is very real and all these men can tell stories about themselves or those they know/knew. Some have scars that are still visible. Their lives are filled with personal sacrifice, done with a smile and a deep love for Jesus.
The typical pastor who comes is a married man with children, no more than 2 or 3, who are still living in the home. He probably grew up in a Dalit or tribal family. These are the lowest groups in India, the ‘outcasts.’ His family of origin may or may not have been Christian. There is also a chance he is from a Hindu background.
He can probably read, but there is very little chance he had any Bible training. He speaks only Telugu. He owns a Bible but very few, if any, other books. He is probably Baptist, though may be Pentecostal. Except for worship, there is little difference here. Whichever group brought him to the Lord is the one he stays with. There is no denominational structure, each church is totally independent.
God put a desire to pastor in his heart and he started evangelizing, then training those who responded. His people meet in his home for church. If he works hard he may have built a shed of straw or concrete block for a church building. He spends his time praying and going to villages in his area and evangelizing, as well as helping the people in his church and village. They have church meets Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Every day the church is open for prayer or fellowship and people often come. To get around he either walks, rides a bike, or makes payments on a used scooter/small motorcycle. He lives on the equivalent of $30 ton $100 a month, which makes it very hard on his wife to make ends meet.
His wife is a dedicated, committed believer, from the same social class as him. She busy with her family and serving the people in her church in any way she can. She works side by side with her husband, often doing the jobs no one lese wants to do. She is quiet, faithful, giving and a real support for her husband. He often ignores her needs and she accepts that, never having known anything different in her culture.
He comes to the conference not knowing what to expect but having hard good things from those who have heard of this ministry. He knows his travel will be paid, he will be fed and given a blanket and pillow at night. His wife receives these as well if she comes, and also attends the conference. He longs for fellowship with other pastors and some training to help him minister better. He finds both, more than he ever imagined. He is encouraged, better trained and equipped, motivated and finds himself part of a support group that will continue meeting for fellowship and follow-up training several times a year. He is given books on What God Expects of a Pastor, Spiritual Warfare, Marriage and Ministry and Prophecy, all topics he has heard. The books give more details and allow him to study these subjects in more detail as well as preach them to his people. He will pass the books on to others he knows who weren’t at the conference. He may even receive $25 a month if he is particularly needy. Some may even receive a bicycle, scooter or financial help for his church building, depending on his need and our resources. He leaves telling us how much he needed this and how very, very much it helped. He asks if we will come back again soon (we won’t there are too many who have never even had one conference).
The cost for the conference is about $15 a person/couple. The books are about $1 each. So for about $20 we can provide this. While $20 each isn’t much, when more than 1,000 come the price adds up. I thank you for your contributions, for without them this wouldn’t be possible. We would like to do more as far as follow-up meetings, helping pastors and their families, making more books available, providing scholarships for their children to attend Bible college, helping them get bikes instead of walking everywhere, helping them erect building to meet, etc. Pray God would direct and provide as He would have us minister. (Vijayawada, January 12, 2015)
Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Pray for these men and their wives. Pray often and in detail, especially now while we are here with them. They have an enemy whole will stop at nothing to destroy them and the light they bring to the darkness here. Pray for them as they attend these conferences. Demonic resistance is stirred up quite a bit when God works in these ways.
Blog 339: THE VIEW FROM AN INDIA NEWBIE
This blog is written by Alan Carton who is accompanying Jerry in India this trip.
I was excited when the opportunity came available earlier this year to accompany Jerry Schmoyer on his annual India trip. The first thing he warned me about was that this was a work trip . . . . not a churchy vacation. I was fine with that, because it is also my philosophy when I have done missions trips in the past to Venezuela and Peru. Having been on more than 20 such trips, up to 6 weeks in length, I was comfortable with the month Jerry had planned. Truly, it is a working trip, especially for him . . . . but I am finding it truly wonderful as well.
It is fun to watch a master teacher at work. Jerry has perfected the art of teaching the heart of complex biblical ideas on a level that poorly educated pastors can grasp and enjoy. Part of this involves the many magic tricks he integrates into his messages. He has adapted tricks we have all seen, but that the pastors probably have not, in ways that make the message he is conveying truly memorable to them.
India is a big country, so even though only 2 – 3 percent of the people are Christians, there are still 35,000,000 of them. In the Dhalit and tribal groups where Jerry works, the percentage is probably quite a bit higher. The churches are generally small, often house churches with 10 to 50 members. Because they are the lowest classes, it also means many of the pastors are poorly educated. They have been systematically denied education opportunities forever. Taken together, this means that Jerry is uniquely meeting the training needs of a huge number of pastors . . . critically needed training needs. As he trains pastors of all denominations, he will never run out of those needing his training.
My ministry is one of enablement, so that is the prospective that I have tended to view this work with. What do these pastors and church leaders most need in order to function more effectively? How can they be helped to reach the other 97.5% of Indians they come into contact with every day? Their needs are overwhelming. They are all poor. They have not been well educated or trained. Their congregations and those around them have incredible needs. Bibles are very hard to come by because they are expensive for poor families needing to eat. Many pastors lack even rudimentary transportation. Where should we focus?
Lepers are fairly common here. They can’t work to support themselves in most cases. That is one huge way to reach lost people. Orphans are also common. That is an outreach that touched my heart deeply when we went to see a small orphanage supported by Pastor Moses, our translator, driver and overall project coordinator. How can your heart not go out to the 20 orphans being cared for at a cost of only about $12,000 a year . . . $600 a child . . . especially when you realize there are 20 more in the street on their waiting list. Another way to help is to promote the sewing training ministries that enable women to support their families. For about $80 it is possible to teach a woman 2 hours a day, 6 days a week for 6 months. At the end, they are good tailors, able to feed their families.
We also visited a large tent city of slum dwellers. These are tribal people, the lowest of the low. We gave milk to more than 40 children . . . also a little candy. The slum, located on the banks of an open sewage canal, is prone to foul smells. This is public property, so they squat there for free . . . each family in a tent of 10’ x 15’ or so. They have nothing. The children’s greatest wish, one they prayed for while we were there, was for shoes and books so they could go to school. How can you not want to help these people? They make up about 20% of India’s population.
A bicycle enables a pastor to be far more efficient . . . for $100. Even better, a small motorbike allows him to bring his whole family, microphone and other things when he goes . . . for $700. $25 a month in support will hugely improve the lives of a pastor’s family.
After thinking about it, my mind tells me that pastoral training and Bibles are, rationally, the greatest need. My heart however, keeps striking out in the direction of helping those who are so severely in need. For $5 a Bible can be put in the hands of a new believer. For $1400 a 2 day pastor’s conference can be held, with each pastor given 4 valuable books to take home and study.
Long after I go home however, my heart and mind will be wrestling with what I have seen here and how best to help reach this huge treasure trove of lost people. I hope as you read Jerry’s blogs, you will engage both your heart and your mind. This is one of God’s greatest opportunities for us, His church, to touch lives. How is He telling you to help? Please pray about this.
God bless you as you pray for Dr. Jerry and his amazing work here in India. I hope you too have an opportunity some day to experience it as I am right now. Alan Carlton (Vijayawada, January 13, 2015)
Blog 340: THE DARKNESS FIGHTS BACK
Every day the news here carries stories about the upcoming visit of President Obama to India. It is seen as a good step in US-India relations and a positive action by everyone but the Christians. President Obama wants to strengthen ties with the new Indian government. Yet the man who now rules was denied entrance into the US several years ago because of his involvement in the persecution and death of many, many people here in India.
The new government has very strong national support as people react against a series of ineffective, corrupt governments which have not only held India back but have brought regression in many areas. However the new government is strongly, strongly Hindu and wants all India to be only Hindu. Thy are encouraging each Hindu family to dedicate one child to the advancement of Hinduism and another to the military to defend India. Each Hindu family that has more than four children will receive a financial reward.
Close watch is kept over the churches. Government officials recently visited Moses’ church and asked if they received money from the USA (they don’t, we give to a separate account Moses has access to), if they convert people, what all activities they have, how much money, etc. They watch all money coming into the country from the US and monitor all pastors and churches. They want Obama to come so they can get money for the government (and therefore for Hinduism), but want to stop US money coming to churches. They keep records of all churches, pastors, etc.
The new government wants to build Hindu temples in each Dalit village and give rewards to those who convert while persecuting those who do not. The vast majority of Christians are Dalit. About half of the states in India have strong anti-conversion laws which jail anyone who converts to Christianity. Other will follow soon. The central government is even working toward changing the Indian Constitution to eliminate the part about freedom of religion and make India a Hindu nation. Already they have stopped issuing permission certificates to pastors to perform marriages.
Remember this new government is just starting and will get stronger as it consolidates power in the months and years to come. Unfortunately the visit by President Obama will increase their power and wealth. The really sad part is that Christians in India no longer expect the USA to stand with them against persecution. It is clear to the world that the USA does nothing when Christians and other minorities are eliminated in Muslim countries. Many have cried to the current administration to do something about persecution of Christians, Jews and others worldwide but America has not responded and the world, including the current administration in India, knows they can persecute Christians and others without reprisal by the USA. Nothing has been done about the persecution to this point so it will surely increase. Obama is seen as a supporter of Islam so perhaps the persecution of Muslims in India will not really begin until they feel Christianity has been eliminated.
In many states strong persecution against Christians has been happening for awhile. Beatings and murders of Christians are not followed up by police and destruction or taking of property is allowed. In the states where Vijayawada and Hyderabad are there is more freedom for Christians. Still, last year many pastors were beaten in Hyderabad, and more killed than anywhere else in the country. No arrests are made and the government turns its face even here. You didn’t think Satan would give up without a fight, did you?
So when you read about President Obama visiting India, don’t assume it is good for the church in India. Pray. Pray. Pray. And vote when elections come!!!!!!! (Vijayawada, January 14, 2015)
NOTE: Be discrete in sharing details of this ministry, pictures of the people here, etc., especially on the internet (including Facebook). I never identify people or places, but with your prayer list you can figure it out. That is not for public information in order to protect these people. It is only my name and CTO that is published. I never print Moses’ Indian name for that reason (he proof-read and approved this blog). This will not be on my web sites, either. I have heard of American pastors losing their Visa for doing what we do. Don’t be fearful, but do be discrete (“shrewd as serpents, innocent as doves” Matthew 10:16).
Revelation 16:4-7 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; 6 for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” 7 And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”
I think you know how to pray. Please do so!
Blog 341:THE BATTLE CONTINUES
After sending yesterday’s blog last night (morning your time) we went to the hotel restaurant to eat. Before we ordered Moses got a call from the pastor of the church where we had our first conference, the day we arrived. A couple days after we left some American pastors came with Bibles to give out and went to the school in town and started giving them out. They were attacked by a large group of Hindus who tore up the Bibles, beat them up and had them put in jail. Some of the local pastors who had been at our conference went to the police later and ask to have them released so in the middle of the night, when no one would know, they released the American pastors.
In case you wonder about us, we never ever do anything in pubic. I quietly move from one church to another to minister. We like to walk through the streets like tourists (I am on a tourist visa) and talk with the children and people there. Since the outdoor baptisms I did several years ago we haven’t done anything like that. At the same time another American pastor doing baptisms (but announcing them publicly) was removed from the country. We did ours quietly in a canal and small lake, but won’t do that again, either. Everything is very discrete and out of the public eye. After all our purpose is to train and support pastors, not evangelize in public.
On the better side of the news, Moses also received a phone call from the pastor of the Dalit slum church we were at Saturday night. The children are still very glad we came – Americans coming to the slum to see them is more than they ever imagined!!!!! Better yet, two of the women we laid hands on and prayed for have been healed. He thinks their ailments were demonic (very common here) and with the demons gone they were physically OK! Another victory for the Lord – Praise the Lord for that!
By the way, the pastor mentioned above, whose church we used for the first conference, said a lot about how blessed everyone was from the conference. All the pastors report that. Words like “best ever” an “life changing” are used to describe it. We start the first day with me talking about what God expects of pastors, closing with the importance of making their wife there #1 sheep. Alan then does the second session on Biblical marriage. I then do a session on the Rapture and then the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and our rewards. It is wonderful to teach those truths to hungry hearts hearing this for the first time. Day two I continue the prophecy theme by going over the Tribulation and Second Coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in Revelation 19. The fourth prophecy session is about the millennium and eternity. What a joy and privilege it is to share these truths day after day – Jesus’ glory and victory ring out loudly in these messages.
Then comes the best part, the close of every conference. I use Mark 5 about the man in Gadarenes to teach about spiritual warfare, closing with a group prayer for deliverance and then my prayer for deliverance for all of them. All I can say is that it is powerful, yet that word falls far short. I feel God’s power so strongly I think I will explode if He pours any more of it into me, but He does. That shows me His power in setting these people free. It is thrilling, exhilarating, amazing, wonderful – just a taste of heaven inside me. Afterwards I am drained. My hands shake and I can’t even hold a pencil for awhile. What a privilege to be a channel for the victorious power of God Almighty! I am beyond tears at how wonderful and powerful the experience. And I get to do this at the close of every conference year after year after year! You should hear the testimonies of the people after the session is over! Moses translates them for me. What a time of praise and worship we all have! God is certainly the victor here! (Vijayawada, January 15, 2015)
Hebrews 11:35-38 Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
Continue to pray for the pastors and Christians in India as you started yesterday. Pray God would continue to use and bless our conferences. Certainly the enemy is well aware of them and it’s only God’s grace that sustains us in this area where Satan rules so strongly.
Blog 342: TYPICAL INDIAN CHURCH SERVICE
If there is no such thing as a typical Indian village pastor, there certainly is no such thing as a typical Indian church service. Nevertheless I will tell you what a typical worship service, as best as I know. I have spent almost 30 Sundays in India, attending multiple services each Sunday. Many times during the week we participate in services as well. Regular services are held on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Some are for prayer and others for Bible Study, but the main worship service is on Sunday.
The people always take their sandals off before entering the place or worship. Women cover their heads with part of their sari. All but the old and infirm sit on the floor cross-legged, women on one side and men on the other. Children go back and forth between parents. It amazes me how they can sit cross-legged for 3 hours! I used to sit on the floor with them but now I gladly take the chair they offer me.
In most Indian churches women outnumber men about 5 to one. Being a Christian brings great rejection and that seems to be harder on male pride than on the women, who have each other for fellowship.
Services start when a few people start arriving. Time in India isn’t like the USA. We tell pastors our conference starts at 9 so that 2 or 3 will be there by 10. We start singing at 10:30 with a dozen, then when I start my first session 20 are there. By the time the 2nd session is finished and it is time to eat we are close to 100. Such is ‘time’ in India!
Services start with singing, with musical accompaniment on bongo-like drums. The players are quite skillful and it is a joy to watch and hear them. Singing can go on for 45 minutes, until a decent sized group is present. Then prayer time begins, some times with testimonies. Individuals pray out loud, one at a time, with great fervor and at some length. They are in no hurry to end this part of the service and it can go 20 to 30 minutes.
The pastor then begins the more formal part of worship. Everyone is welcomed and a few comments are made. Good news is shared and testimonies may be given. If the electricity is working they use a mike to amplify everything to an ear-splitting level. If the electricity isn’t working they hook up their PA system to a large battery, like would be used in a car, and keep going. There is always a speaker or two to blast every word and note to the whole neighborhood, if they like it or not. Muslims and Hindus do the same thing and nobody complains.
Some of the large churches will have a short sermon (30 min) to start the service, then later the main sermon (45 min to an hour). Most churches just have one long message, though. People listen carefully to all that is said. Children of all ages sit with parents, there is no nursery and only the largest churches have a program for children during this time. All churches with children will have a Sunday School teaching time before the worship service.
The Lord’s Supper is celebrated monthly or weekly. Some do it very much as we do in the USA, others pass one cup of juice which everyone sips, and still others will file past the elements and take one as they pass. An offering is always taken and everyone seems to give something, no matter how poor. Many people have no money so bring a cup of rice instead. To me, watching the people give is one of the most moving parts of the service. The service then closes with announcements and prayers, about 3 hours after it started. (Vijayawada, January 16, 2015)
Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Pray for the churches in India, that God would keep them strong and help them increase. Pray there would more men would come and they would bring other men so the church and families could be strengthened.
Blog 343: SH5 or I-5 . , , WHICH IS GOD’S TRUE HIGHWAY?
(this blog is written by Alan Carlton) For the past 3 days, we have travelled north and south from Vijayawada on India’s SH 5. This is the major coast freeway for east India, much like I-5 in the western U.S. Both run the full length of the nation, carrying heavy traffic. The similarity stops there however, when it comes to actually travelling on each.
You know how I-5 is . . . straight, clean, well-maintained and well organized. You can make your trip in a minimum of time. Well maintained cars and trucks, most bearing only one occupant, isolated . . . alone and intent on only himself . . . or perhaps her music . . . perhaps something on the radio . . . perhaps his problems or his 401K performance . . . or perhaps just on reaching her destination as quickly as possible with little interruption. Alone. Isolated.
Travelling on India’s SH5 is an entirely different experience. The highway is obviously fairly old and not well maintained. Potholes are everywhere, and so is everything and everyone else. Small cars, motorcycles, bicycle rickshaws, tuk tuks (auto richshaws), trucks of all possible sizes and shapes, ox carts, busses from luxury to scrapyard candidates, people walking, water buffalo, cows, monkeys, camels, chickens crossing the road (who knows why?), goats, bicycles, tricycles . . . they are all here in a stop and race dance . . . a constantly evolving and interacting stream.
The highway is dirty with people all along it selling and making everything you can think of . . . peanuts, papayas, bananas, flower leis, LPG tanks, cement, golden statues by the hundreds, sugar cane, bread, toys . . . one like a little man whose belly button lights up as his body spins wildly when you pinch his legs together. He makes as much sense though as does the wild, surrounding rush of sensations, constantly assaulting your eyes, ears, nose and body.
No one is alone. People are walking in groups. Motorcycles carry 2 – 5 people, tuk-tuks many more. Trucks carry loads that look impossible . . . stacked higher than the highest overpass, but there are none of those, so it works. It is a dirty, confusing, somewhat scary onslaught with never ending blaring horns . . . each proclaiming “I’m here . . . watch out!” Horn size seems to go with vehicle size, from tweety motorcycle chirps and bicycle bells to booming big truck blasts. Each large truck says “Please Sound Horn Please” on its tailgate, so the noise . . . the interaction . . . is actively encouraged.
Everyone is constantly darting and pushing his way to the front of everybody else. Two lanes become 3, 4 or 5 . . . with at least ½ inch to spare on each side. They constantly interact with each other.
I-5 is like today’s American church – well organized, efficient, clean – and sterile. It is also similar to how we approach outreach from those churches . . . isolated from others, each on our own journey . . . mostly oblivious to the dying world around us.
For all its confusion and mess though, SH5 shows how we should approach reaching others God’s way . . . careening bravely among all those who are facing death without Christ . . . constantly touching them with our presence . . . proclaiming loudly with our horn their need for Christ . . . “Death is Near . . . Watch Out!” God’s plan is for us to “go into all the world”, making disciples. All people need Christ. We can’t reach them if we never leave our solitary, sterile comfort. Only when we enter the confusing maelstrom of all those lives around us . . . all of them . . . can we fulfill God’s command.
We must travel SH5, and not I-5. We must change the sterility of our American church and outreach practice. Come with me. It’s really scary at times, but it’s God’s way. SH5 is calling. (Vijayawada, January 17, 2015)
Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Think about what you can do to get more involved in the lives of people around you TODAY. Pray and ask God to give you opportunities to do so, and to make sure you are aware of them. Get out there where the action is and where the needs are!
Blog 344: HALF WAY TO BENGALURU (BANGALORE)
Today is the half way point of our ministry here with Pastor Moses. Then we still have a week teaching in Bangalore. In the 6 two-day conferences we’ve held so far we’ve ministered to 577 men and 105 wives. I’ve preached 35 messages in 11 days, done almost 100 magic tricks, and given out almost 3,000 books (4 per person). I ridden in the back seat of Moses’ car for 45 hours and prayed for innumerable people.
Today I preached in four different churches. Three of the four churches today I have been involved with for years. I know the pastors and their families, watch their children grow, and know more and more of the people in their churches. We help support these pastors monthly, have had conferences at their churches and stayed in their home, and have partnered with them in building their churches. I have bonded with many of these people and have ‘history’ with them over the years. I’ve watched them grow up, marry, have children, and bury their husband or wife. It amazes me how very close I can get to these people in a few hours when I can’t even talk to them? And that was just today. Each day next week will bring the same since there are about a dozen pastors and places that are extra close to my heart.
It’s always bitter sweet for me at about this time. I’m very anxious to get home to Nancy (for the rest of you, nothing personal, but she’s the one I really really really miss), but it is hard leaving the people here. Have I ever told you I hate saying good-bye? Well, I do!
This time around, so far anyway, the battle has been stronger but the blessings deeper and more numerous. There is a price to be paid in order to be in position to receive God’s richest blessings. But when the blessings come you realize how small the price is in comparison. I know God has something special for me this trip, I’m not sure what it is or how it will come about, but I know it is in areas where I really need to grow and improve. God isn’t done with me yet – not even close!
With all the other transitions going on in my life, this trip marks a transition as well. I will be moving this ministry from Main Street Baptist Church and having it entirely under my non-profit, Christian Training Organization. This affects my base of funding for the people of MSBC have been very generous, sacrificial givers and prayer warriors. I know some of that will continue, but the church needs to be free to move in the new direction God has for it. In order to build a broader base of financial and prayer support, Pastor Moses will come to the USA in June. He will divide his time between us in Doylestown and Alan in Tulsa. Alan has contacts to help us expose this ministry in that area. So if you would like to meet him personally you’ll have the opportunity. If you an connect us with a group who would like to know more about our ministry and may be willing to pray and/or give let us know. (Vijayawada, January 8, 2015)
John 4: 34-37 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.
Please pray for the future of this ministry as well as our day to day activities here and now. There are so many needs here in India, so much we’d like to do, but we have so little time and resources. Pray for God to provide opportunities and finances for Pastor Moses’ USA trip.
Blog 345: PASTOR BARNABAS’ BEAUTIFUL FEET
One of my favorite people in the world is Pastor Barnabas, Moses’ father-in-law. He is an excellent church planter and pastor of pastors. I’ve known him from the early years of my ministry here and once lived in his house for a week. I would draw water from his well to stand and shave under his coconut tree while he’d knock down a coconut for us to eat (drink the milk, that is).
He is one of the pastors we started supporting in the very beginning and is Moses’ right hand man, overseeing all our ministry east of Vijayawada. He is large as India men go. HE spent most of his life as a farmer before being called to the ministry late in life. His wife (mother of Moses’ wife) died about 9 months before Moses’ mother died. Both grandmothers died in the same year.
Pastor Barnabas is a great motivator and natural leader of men. He has great control of things around him, but exudes grace and gentleness. He is gifted in spiritual warfare and teaching the Word. He is about my age. I greatly look forward to spending a lot of time talking with him in heaven, for we can’t communicate a word now! Yet we work together smoothly, reading each other’s mind and anticipating each other’s needs. We’ve done dozens of conferences together.
If I had to move to India I would live in his village among his people for they are wonderful long-time friends whom I know quite well. His is the only church we have a conference in every year, all the others are new places. The people there seem to think highly of me as well, at least they keep coming every time I speak there!
Yesterday after my sermon I moved among the people while they sat, laying my hands on their heads and praying for God’s blessing for them. As I was finished Pastor Barnabas came before me and bowed his head for me to pray for him and bless him. What a humbling honor it was to pray for this great yet gentle man of God! When I was done praying for him I again what I have done every year for the past 4 years, I took his hands and put them on my head for him to pray for me and he did.
When he does I look down at his feet, very distinct because of a toe that was broken in the past and healed at an angle to the rest of his feet. I think of what Paul said about the feet of those bringing good news being beautiful, and his certainly are!
I have no idea what he says when he prays for me, yet I do – the same thing I pray for him. He is the only one here I have ever had lay hands on me and pray for me. When he prays for me I know I have been prayed for! I covet his prayers greatly. His praying for me is one of the very top highlight events of my time here. What a joy and privilege to stand with this man as we ask God’s blessings on each other because of Jesus. All because of Jesus. Only because of Jesus. Always because of Jesus. (Vijayawada, Monday, January 19, 2015)
Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Acts 4: 36=37 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Acts 9: 26-27 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.
Pray for Pastor Barnabas today. Pray for God’s blessing, protection, wisdom, guidance and comfort as he miss his wife who was a great, great woman of prayer. He is on the very front lines of the battle against Satan and the darkness that claims India.
BLOG 346: A TYPICAL DAY OF MINISTRY
While no two days are alike, they do quickly fall into a pattern that continues Monday- Saturday the whole time we are with Pastor Moses. We usually arise by 6 or earlier. I get things ready for the day and instant message with Nancy if she is home. I take my medications, including malaria pill, spray myself for mosquitoes, get my water bottles, hand sanitizer and plastic spoon, and gather any specific medicines I may need to see me through the day and I am ready to go. At 7 AM we eat a nice, healthy free buffet breakfast at our hotel and start our drive to the site of the day’s conference. Most drive are 1 ½ to 2 hours each way. I review lessons for the day and maybe type a blog while traveling.
We arrive at the conference site to find a few pastors start showing up. When their number grows to 6 or 8 they will start singing and/or praying. Conferences scheduled to start at 9 seldom start before 10:45, and even then there are only about 20 pastors present. In two hours time, when we provide a free meal for them, there are a hundred or more present!
While waiting for enough to come to start, Alan and I will walk through the local streets ‘talking’ to people and taking lots of pictures. Everyone finds it an honor to be photographed. People are very friendly and invite us into their homes to sit, have chai or a chapatti, or even a meal. We always keep moving, for when we stop it is extremely difficult to get going again.
Our first session, “What God Expects of Pastors,” goes from about 11 to 12. It is a good session which I have been using for many years and which is always very well received. I wrote my first book for India based on it. I end with a strong emphasis on putting their wife and children before the church. It is very motivational and is always commented on in their closing remarks about how God used the conference in their lives. This sets the stage for a second hour-long session, after a chai break, given by Alan about the husband-wife relationship.
By the time Alan is finished, announcements are made and lunch is ready it is almost 1:30. Everyone eats outside, but we stay on the stage from which we taught and our fresh, hot Indian meal is delivered to us. After eating we walk around the area and community, taking more pictures.
The afternoon consists of 2 shorter sessions, about 40-45 minutes each. During the first I dress as a disciple of Jesus who explains Jesus’ return to them. He (I) shows the parallels between it and the way marriages were carried out in Bible times so prophecy becomes more clear to them. It’s a wonderful joy and privilege to explain these great truths for the first time to hearts hungry to learn them! The second session tells about when we get to heaven, the 7 year Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I explain about the crowns we will be given and then laid at Jesus’ feet. We look at verses in Revelation about the throne in heaven and the descriptions of Jesus, the lion-lamb, there. This leads to a great time of praise and worship focusing on Jesus. After we clean up we drive home. I use this time in the car to download and organize my pictures, audio and video files from the day.
The second day we are usually able to start earlier for we tell the men when we will be starting and they don’t want to miss the third prophecy session which is a summary of the tribulation. It mainly focuses on the Second Coming of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19). There is great rejoicing and celebration as they hear of the in the sudden and total victory of Jesus over sin and Satan. Another session of about 40-45 minutes follows after a short stand-up break. This concludes the prophecy series with a focus on the Millennium and then eternity and what it will be like. I’ve really enjoyed these sessions for it adds preaching to my teaching. What could be more enjoyable than talking about Jesus glory and soon return!
After a chai break on the second day we have our last session, also about an hour. It is about Jesus’ victory over Satan and demon, taken from the Mark 5 story of the demonized man in Gadarenes. The magic in all the talks does a lot of emphasize and drive home truth, but that is especially true in this last session. It culminates with me leading all of them in a prayer to remove anything demonic working against them, their family or their church for any reason. It is very, very powerful hearing 100+ pastors praying as loud as they can for God’s victory over Satan’s forces! I then pray for them, for deliverance from anything working against them for any reason. ‘Powerful’ is the best word to describe it, but you’d really have to come see it to understand it.
Following this various pastors or wives will come forward to share what God has taught them through the conference and what they think of it. “We’ve never had anything like this,” “Best conference ever,” “It changed my life,” and “Please come again, and soon – we need this so very much!” are typical comments. Then we take a group picture and I hand out travel money and 4 books to each person. I enjoy shaking hands with each person present and giving them these things. We then eat the meal provided, clean up and head home. Many will come to have hands laid on them and have prayer for them. That is a very special time for me! I feel sad saying good-bye to these new friends. It always amazes me how close we can become in just one day when we can’t even speak the same language. But that’s what it is like meeting brothers and sisters in Christ I didn’t know before! Oh the conversations I will have in heaven!!!!
When all is over we drive home. Alan and Pastor Moses go to a restaurant to eat. Sometimes I join them, other times I eat one of the tuna fish packages I brought for this purpose and work on getting ready for the next day’s conferences. I also finish and post my blog from my hotel room. I enjoy reading the emails sent me in response to previous blogs. Then I talk to Nancy by instant messenger if we can connect at the same time. I get to sleep as early as I can. Then I get up and do it all over again, six days on and one (Sunday) off – but Sunday is as full as these days for we go to 3 or 4 churches each Sunday! And that’s a typical day (month) in India! (Vijayawada, January 20, 2015)
Matthew 25:14-18 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 1To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Pray we would faithfully carry out the assignment the Lord has given us, both here and when we get home. Pray you, too, will faithfully carry out His assignment for you. Do you know what it is? How are you doing in carrying it out? If I can pray for you concerning this send me an email and I will.
Blog 347: TYPICAL INDIAN VILLAGE PASTOR’S WIFE
One can no more define the typical pastor’s wife than they can describe the typical American movie or song – there is just too much variety. However, to give you a clearer picture of these fine, godly women I will give it a try. Remember I am describing all of them, yet not any one of them.
The typical village pastor’s wife in India comes from a Dalit background, one of the outcasts. She may have grown up in a Christian home, or she may have been raised in their animist religion and come to Jesus later. Her husband was chosen for her, probably before he became a pastor. She has been raised to willingly follow whatever direction her husband goes. She trusts him, serves him and submits to his wishes. She has developed her own strong faith in Jesus and spends meaningful time with Him each day. She reads her Bible regularly, prays often and intensely, and takes her complaints to God instead of others.
She is responsible for the running of her home, usually with insufficient resources and income. What she does have she shares with others less fortunate. She cares for her children, usually two, sometimes three. She walks everywhere she goes, starting with the closest water pump to bring home water for household use. Every drop is carried home by her. She shops daily for she has no refrigeration and food spoils quickly in this hot climate. Most of her time is spent in washing clothes and making meals, which is a slow process as various grains and spices have to be ground by hand then blended and simmered together in diverse combinations to get the desired taste. Clothes are washed by hand, spread out on a bush to dry, then ironed with an iron heated in her fire. She cares for any animals or garden plots the family may have as well.
In addition to this full set of duties she actively and tirelessly serves the church. She works with the other women, individually and as a group. The typical Indian church is made of up 90 to 95% women. In addition, she uses her spiritual gifts when possible but usually finds herself doing the work no one else wants to do. She teaches the children before the main worship service and leads the singing. She graciously feeds or provides chai for every visitor to the church or her home. She probably lives far from her family and has few close friends because of her position in the church.
She comes to the pastor’s conference because her husband tells her to. She quietly sits with the other women and listens patiently. When she hears that she is her husband’s number one sheep her head snaps up. She smile and steals a glance toward her husband to make sure he was listening and heard. She doesn’t understand what it means for her husband to meet her needs for she comes from a long line of women who never thought in terms of personal needs. But she thinks that perhaps now he will be kinder to her, spend more time helping at home, and maybe even listen when she wants to talk to him. What more could she possibly hope for?
She is a faithful, loyal, good, solid, godly woman who is the backbone of her family and church and she will be greatly rewarded when she gets to heaven. (Vijayawada, January 21, 2015)
Proverbs 31: 28-31 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
These unrecognized women, who often aren’t sure their only means of support will return when they leave the house to tell others about Jesus, need you. Remember them daily with regular and faithful prayers.
Blog 348: ALL THE DIRT ON INDIA . . . . AND US
(This blog was written by Alan Carlton)In the U.S., we have a near-phobia about dirt. Soap and cleaning supplies are huge sellers everywhere. Grocery stores, drug stores, specialty shops, Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart all have shelves full of an amazing array of such products. At Sam’s and Costco they are available in industrial size and strength.
In India as well, the quest for clean in never ending . . . yet dirt remains . . . everywhere. Women here may often be seen along the highways and byways sweeping the dirt clean with a sheaf of tiny bound sticks. They diligently sweep the streets and their property in this way . . . yet when they are finished, the dirt is still there . . . only pushed around and rearranged, with much on their neighbor’s property and less on their own.
The broom of choice, especially with the most stooped old women has no handle to allow them to stand erect. It’s just a tied bunch of brush.
The quest for clean carries over to clothes washing too. Every day, at all hours, women can be seen along rivers and canals beating the dirt out of their family’s garments. The people’s clothes usually look clean, especially the beautiful rainbow of saris worn by the women. They even wear these when working in the fields or when spreading dirt as part of a highway repair crew. Even though they appear clean, looking at all the filth and garbage on the banks of those same rivers and canals, you know much dirt must remain.
Jesus talked about dirt and uncleanness in Matthew when he said it wasn’t the dirt on the outside that was our problem. Instead, it’s the filth that remains in our hearts and comes out from us because we are sinful people. Soap can’t touch this dirt . . . even though some of us had our mouths washed out with soap as children in an effort to reach it. This was for things that we said using foul language.
Although our passion for soap, cleansers, dirt sweeping, clean clothes, clean houses, shampoo and Swifters has merit, it ignores our true problem. Falling moral standards, rampant immorality, foul entertainment, wars, greed, hypocrisy run amok, lying seen as simply normal behavior, alcohol and drug abuse . . . all these attest to the dirt within, yet few of us are really too worried about it. Instead, we largely just shake our heads, say “tsk tsk” and get along with our lives.
Only the blood of God’s innocent Son can clean this dirt . . . in India or in us. How many of us spend as much time telling others of this free miracle cleaner as we do telling someone about the newest laundry pods? We need to have a dirt phobia as Christians . . . just directed toward the right dirt.
India has more obvious physical dirt than most of us deal with on a daily basis. It is also a land filled with idols and spiritual foulness. In its midst, however, the church and many dedicated Christians are living and growing. Persecution surrounds and threatens them regularly. They need our help . . . both our physical and spiritual help… both our prayers and our fiscal help . . . both teaching such as Jerry’s and something from our checkbooks. They are filled with the love of Christ, but nearly all the Christians here are literally “dirt poor”. What do they lack? Everything except Christ’s love.
Ask God how you can help. Then listen . . . and act. Please. Alan Carlton
1 John 1:8-10 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Take a moment to let God’s Spirit bring to mind any sin you have in your life. Confess it and turn from it. Take time to do a good soul-cleansing!
Blog 349: TESTIMONIES FROM PASTORS
Several of you have asked for samples of the things the pastors say in their testimony about the conference after it is over so we wrote down some of the recent comments we have heard. The pastors come from the following denominations: Baptist, Pentecostal, Independent, Methodist, Lutheran, Salvation Army, Mennonite, Wesleyan, etc.
“The spiritual warfare session touched my heart and now I understand how we can fight demons.”
“I now know how to deliver people from spiritual bondage and demons. I will go back and share this with my people. It will greatly help my ministry and my church.”
“The Bible teaching touched me very deeply.”
“I was touched by the fact that God used the Gadarenes demonized man even though he had no education. I thought God couldn’t use be because I had no education but I learned that God wants to use me and I want to go home and be a great testimony for Him to my people.” -Pastor’s Wife
“I now deeply understand the value of the Bible. Now I want to get Bibles to distribute to others.”
“Marriage and family relations touched my life.” -Pastor’s Wife (Many women say they are blessed by this as well.)
“We have never had a conference like this where the Bible is taught systematically.”
“Pastors should please God rather than men by learning what God expects of pastors.”
“The books are very, very good for pastors to plant churches and grow the churches. The books are the tools for us to grow spiritually. Thank you very, very much.”
“I really was glad to learn about the authority and importance of the Bible. I enjoyed learning the technical information about how we know the Bible is God’s inspired Word for us today. Thank you very much.”
“I have been very much touched by teachings about the Rapture and Millennium and how we will be Jesus’ bride in heaven forever. I never heard teaching like this. Thank you very, very much.” – Pastor’s Wife
“This is the best conference that we have ever had.” (This is a very common statement made often at every conference.)
“The food was very good, the spiritual teaching was very good and we are thankful to you. We are satisfied with physical food and also with spiritual food. The magic tricks really helped me learn.”
Several days after a conference a pastor called to say, “The conference has changed my life.”
“Spiritual warfare has changed the young people who came with me. Now they want to grow more. They are eager to read the books we received.”
“I learned that my church property was under a curse. Now I know how to pray for my land and church. There was no growth and no unity in my church and now I know why. I will go home and pray for this as I have learned to do.”
“The teaching touched me and other pastors. We are encouraged to life faithfully and wait for the Second Coming of Jesus.”
“The marriage teaching is really needed by pastors so they will keep their wife and children before ministry. Many pastors neglect their wife and family. Now we have learned we must respect our wives as our #1 sheep.”
“The magic tricks are wonderful and help us understand the teaching so much. It is great teaching.”
“Everything is wonderful, no one complained about anything, but best of all is that after it is over we get to take these wonderful books home to study and use. They are more of a blessing than you can ever know.”
As I am typing this blog Moses is on the phone with a pastor who sponsored a conference at his church last week. He is going on and on about how the pastors are calling and so happy with it, and how they want it again, as soon and as often as possible. Can Moses provide 2 days training for them every month? Unfortunately we don’t have time or resources to even go back one time…. (Vijayawada, January 23, 2015)
You can read or download the books from http://india.christiantrainingonline.org/books/ Or email me and I’ll send you a ecopy. They are “What God Expects of Pastors,” “Spiritual Warfare,” “Marriage and Ministry,” and “Biblical Prophecy.” Let me know which ones you want. More money is needed to reprint books as well as write, translate and print new ones. Pray for that please!
Blog 350: TYPICAL INDIAN VILLAGE PASTOR’S HOME
When I tell you about the typical Indian village pastor’s home remember that there is great variety here. While I have been in hundreds of them, I certainly haven’t been in them all. So anyway lets begin. The typical home is very small, about the size of a small one-car garage. Houses surround it everywhere and there is no privacy. If they are so fortunate as to have electricity it will be just to burn one small bulb to light the whole house.
The home was probably built by the pastor who made it of mud, straw, grass or concrete, depending on his finances. He bought the property for more than it is worth because land in India is very inflated and commands a high price due to foreign investors buying up so much of it.
His door opens right on the street in front of his house. Dust and dirt from the street cover everything despite the wife’s continual cleaning. Inside is one main multi-purpose room with a small space partitioned off as a ‘kitchen.’ Everyone sleeps in the same room, with the children’s beds propped against the wall or slid under the parent’s bed during the day to make more room to walk. The parent’s bed double as a sofa during the day. There is probably a chair in the room for the pastor to sit and read or nap. As often as not, his church meets in this room, or at least it did when starting.
The room is dark even during the day, and especially so at night. The one bulb seems to do nothing but draw bugs. There is a clock on the wall but it only tells the correct time twice a day, for the hands don’t move. There will be a calendar from a bank or church hanging somewhere. A picture of Jesus will be found hanging in the room, often clearly Roman Catholic in origin. A toothbrush for each family member is stuck somewhere within easy reach.
Against one wall will be a small shelf and also a cabinet in which all the extra clothes and possessions of the family are kept. Needless to say, there isn’t much inside. The only contact with the outside world is the pastor’s cell phone, which seems to ring every few minutes.
The kitchen nook is small and dark, more a place to store things than to work. The actual food preparation is done sitting in front of the house where it is cooler and women can talk with each other. It is slow, tedious, time-consuming work. There are no appliances in the kitchen except maybe a small stove top with a couple burners which is fueled by propane and used when cooking can’t be done outside over an open fire. Without refrigeration, and because of the hot climate, food is bought fresh each day. All dishes, pots, cups, etc. are stainless steel which works well for sanitary purposes.
The bathroom, if there is one, is a small enclosed area barely large enough to turn around in. It is outside the main house and made of plastic, dried leaves or, if possible, concrete. It may or may not have a roof. In the floor is drain, or at least a hole going out to the ground alongside it. There is a bucked of water and cup with a handle to wash with. Baths are taken here from this bucket as well. There are no stacks of magazines to read for no one spends more time there than necessary. If a pastor comes from a caste or has more resource his home will show it, but the vast majority of pastors here are Dalit, outcasts, and live far below the poverty line.
Children live the same as the parents. They do not have their own room, not even there own space, and there is no such a thing as privacy for them. If they are fortunate to have more clothing than they wear or a few personal objects they keep them on a self in the living room. They help with the chores, especially watching younger children. They play with other children in the streets, rarely will any of them have a toy, if so perhaps they may have a ball for a group of them to play with.
Yet for all this they are grateful for what they have and proud to show off their home. They offer hospitality with love and openness. They share whatever they have when necessary. One of the reasons Christianity is growing so rapidly among the Dalits is because it is only Christians who reach out to help others in times of national or personal disaster. Neither other groups nor the government itself will help. Just Christians. After all, when they’ve been so richly blessed by God, how can they not share with those in need! (Hyderabad, January 24, 2015)
I Peter 4:9-10 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
What is your attitude to your things? Are you discontent, comparing yourself to others and thinking you should have more? Maybe you are comparing yourself to the wrong people, try comparing yourself to the typical Indian pastor’s home and see if that doesn’t improve your appreciation for what you have. God could have had you born into an Indian Dalit family, you know, and if it was a Christian family you would have been content there.
Blog 351: DR. JERRY’S AMAZING TRAVELING SEMINARY SHOW
TOP DRAWER QUALITY AT BARGAIN BASEMENT PRICES!!!!!!
(Written by Alan Carlton) As I have accompanied Dr. Jerry Schmoyer and Pastor P.K. Moses across India, it has become clear what a unique and valuable work is being done here by them . . . all on the cheap. As an engineer, I am all about efficiency; the best product for the best price. I like cheap . . . so long as the quality is there.
What Jerry and Moses bring to the poor pastors of south-central India is a travelling seminary . . . the only one like it I know about. They give studies the pastors need, presented locally so it’s possible for them and their wives to attend. Courses taught include both practical things they need to know (What God Expects from Pastors, Leadership Lessons from the Bible, Christian Family Relationships and Spiritual Warfare) as well as Bible studies (Bible Survey, Heaven, The Rapture, Prophecy and Specific Bible book studies). These are all presented in a clear, well-structured manner, with the ideas all understandably and culturally translated into Telugu by Pastor Moses. They are also accompanied by neat magic tricks that provide visual images that help them to remember what was said.
Pastors and their wives comments afterward are unanimously very positive. “We have never had teaching like this.” “I just returned from a conference taught by our denomination where I didn’t understand the teaching . . . here I did. It was wonderful.” “Pastors’ families need this teaching.” “I feel encouraged.” “I learned how to become a mature Christian.” “The books are great for studying.” The only critical comment ever received was several years ago when a demon-possessed woman ran to the front and fell to the floor, raging and screaming “you can’t teach them about casting out demons.” She was talking about the Spiritual Warfare teaching just completed. The pastors all surrounded her, praying in Jesus’ name and the demon left her.
All Christian denominations are welcomed and taught. This year, conferences were held at Baptist, Pentecostal, Mennonite, Church of South India, and Independent churches. Teaching more than 1400 pastors and wives this year, attendees were from Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran E&R, Independent, Church of God, Mennonite, Church of Christ and other churches. All teaching is basic Bible truth, with all pastors in harmony.
Fellowship between all the Christian pastors is a side benefit. Time shared eating, sharing chai and sleeping together facilitates joint work for God’s glory in the future.
All of this benefit, given free to them, only costs about $15 per person (a little more for 5 day seminars), including the books they are given covering the material taught . . . about what you pay for a movie, popcorn and a coke. Jerry’s and Pastor Moses’ time is a gift from them and their wives, as is airfare to get there. They are totally uncompensated. For free, each attendee receives:
- 2 days of top quality teaching in their native language (Telugu), delivered near their home
- All meals during the conference
- A small financial stipend to defray travel costs
- Books covering all subjects taught . . . in Telugu
- A blanket and pillow and space to lie down in the church on the night between the conferences
- Fellowship time with their wives and other pastors
- The ability to serve God and their churches better
Donors should know that both Pastor Moses and Jerry know how to pinch a penny hard enough to make it squeal. They are both frugal, Godly men with a passion for honoring God by training other pastors. If you are a financial partner in this ministry, rest assured this is being done with very, very good stewardship. When you get to heaven, you will meet many Indian Christians who will thank you for helping their pastor . . . and through him, them.
Gifts to support this work can be sent to: Christian Training Organization, In Care of Jerry Schmoyer, 252 W. State St, Doylestown, PA 18901. For a tax receipt at the end of the year make the donation out to Christian Training Organization. By Alan Carlton (Hyderabad, Sunday, January 25, 2015)
Matthew 25:16-18 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Pray God would provide for our needs to reach out and expand this ministry. Pray for us to have wisdom in how best to use what He provides.
Blog 352: LOCAL PERSECUTION UPDATE
“Only Christian Church in Indian Village Burned Down by Hindu Radicals; Bibles Torched” By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter, January 23, 2015; 12:19 PM (This happened near us in Hyderabad, not too far from where we had our first conferences. This happened just a couple days ago.)
The only Christian church in the Indian village of Tadur in Telangana state has reportedly been burned down by Hindu radicals. Pastor D. Srinivas of Parimala Beautiful Church recalled the attack, and noted that hostility against Christians in the country has been on the rise. “I have been serving as the pastor for the last six years in this village. We used to meet at church members’ houses, tilllast year we built a temporary structure,” Srinivas told The International Christian Concern. “Prior to this incident, on number of occasions, right-wing activists have threatened me and warned me not to continue the church in this village. The Hindu radicals have snatched the Gospel literature from me and destroyed them a number of times in the past.” The church hosted as many as 70 believers who met for worship services and prayer in Tadur. The attack on the church occurred last week, when the building, along with Bibles, songbooks and instruments were torched and destroyed. Although the assailants haven’t yet been identified, persecution watchdog groups have recorded numerous attacks on Christians by Hindu extremists in recent months.
The attacks have also reached the capital in New Delhi, with Archbishop Anil JT Couto revealing that at least four churches have been vandalized in the region. “A clear pattern of orchestrated attacks is emerging as more and more churches are targetted, vandalised and set on fire,” Couto said, according to NDTV. “This is very disturbing and we request the authorities to take adequate measures to bring to book the miscreants who are threatening to weaken the social fabric of this great nation.” Churches in the capital have had their windows and statues broken, and seen displays charred in fires.
Several other Indian cities and states have also reported anti-Christian violence, including the Mahabubnagar district where Tadur village is located. ICC said that the minority Christian community is “gripped with fear” as the attacks are only increasing, while the government of Prime Minister Narenda Modi fails to protect them. The Rev. Ronald John, state chairman of the Telangana Christian Joint-Action-Committee, said: “The attacks have increased since the BJP formed the government at the center last year. Christians here are living as second class citizens.” Groups like the Catholic Secular Forum have claimed that as many as 7,000 Christians suffered some form of persecution in 2014 alone. Other organizations, such as Open Doors, have ranked India as the 21st country in the world where Christians face the most severe persecution for their faith.
“This year, and during the reporting year, India has become a more dangerous place for Christians, largely because Hindu extremists seem to think that the new government there will give them impunity when they attack Christian churches. The episodes of violence there from extremists are on the rise,” Open Doors CEO David Curry told The Christian Post in an interview earlier in January. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/only-christian-church-in-indian-village-burned-down-by-hindu-radicals-bibles-torched-133015/) (Monday, January 26, 2015, Hyderabad)
Matthew 24:9-14 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Keep praying for the pastors here! And all the Christians as well!
Blog 353: HELPFUL HINTS FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP TO INDIA
Never pass up an opportunity to use the toilet (especially if it has walls around it).
A smile is a universally accepted language – use it often!
Never ask what the food you are eating is made of,
Remember that words like ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ are relative terms, very relative.
Never show shock, no matter what you see, hear, taste, smell or step in.
Always keep hand sanitizer, a spoon, mosquito spray, toilet paper and a full water bottle handy.
Don’t ever put your fingers in your mouth, never ever.
Don’t try to drink water in a moving car.
If you are riding in the front seat of a car, close your eyes until you arrive and the engine is turned off. If you are in the back seat only look out the side window!
Pay attention when you pray for God to bless the food you are about to it. It takes on a whole new meaning in India!
Keep your camera handy at all times, there’ll be something special to photograph about every 2 seconds (I usually take about 5,000 each trip).
Never pass up an opportunity to use the toilet (especially if it has walls around it). (this is not a type, it bears repeating often!)
Wash your feet as well as your hands at the end of a day, and wash your hands last!
Pray every time you get in a car, but, train or auto-rickshaw, and don’t stop until you get to your destination.
Be on time, but don’t expect others to be.
Let them serve you by carrying your suitcase, even if it does weigh more than the one carrying it.
Don’t comment on the dirt in India – they don’t see it.
When crossing a street look both ways at least a dozen times, then run as if your life depends on it (for it does!).
British English spoken by a native Telugu speaker is a language all its own!
Don’t judge India by American standards, you don’t want them judging you by Indian standards.
Write notes during the day and journal at night, every day is a totally new experience and you’ll forget most of it if you don’t write it down.
Take photos of the people, they consider it an honor when you do. Ask first and show them the picture when done, and you’ll make their day, maybe their week.
The Golden Rule is still the best rule to follow, wherever you are. (Hyderabad, January 26, 2015)
Matthew 7: 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Are there any relationships in your life where you aren’t living by the Golden Rule? Confess that sin and do what you can today to correct that.
blog 354: GOOD NEWS – BAD NEWS
Good news: India has not changed much
Bad news: India has not changed much
Good news: Some of the people are changing
Bad news: The change isn’t always for the better (persecution of Christians)
Good news: Jesus never changes!
Good news: I only had one stomach issue
Bad news: it’s lasted the whole time I’ve been here
Good news: it isn’t nearly as bad as other years
Bad news: I can’t eat Indian food, and I’d really like to
Good news: a month’s worth of stomach medicine here is just two USA dollars
Good news: Nancy misses me lot
Bad news: I can’t be with her
Good news: I miss Nancy a lot
Bad news: she can’t be with me
Good news: soon we’ll be together again
Good news: the trip is almost over
Bad news: the trip is almost over
Good news: I’ll be going home soon
Bad news: I’ll be leaving India
Good news: I’ll see Nancy and everyone at home
Bad news: I won’t see all these wonderful people in India
Good news: I’ll see them all in heaven and NEVER say good-bye to any of them
Good news: We go to a new area and speak to different pastors every year
Bad news: we can’t return to pastors who want us to come back for more training
Good news: all we do, and more, is available on our India web side
Bad news: not even one pastor in a hundred is able to access our web site
Good news: The number of computer-literate pastors is slowly growing
Good news: God blesses me more than I can ever imagine or explain
Bad news: There always I a cost to be in the place where God’s blessings will fall
Good news: The blessing makes the cost seem well worth it
Bad news: the cost comes first, so many believers end up missing it
Good news: God is very patient and gracious, giving us opportunity after opportunity
Good news: We’ve trained about 1200 pastors this year who will impact at least 20 people each so 25,000 lives have been touched.
Bad news: There are 40,000 times that number that we haven’t touched
Good news: We’ve printed 29,000 books so far to help reach more pastors and churches
Bad news: We’ve still only touched a small portion of Telugu-speaking pastors, and there are 15 other major language groups in India.
Good news: We don’t have to reach India alone, others are doing the same
Bad news: There aren’t nearly enough to reach everyone in a hundred years!
Good news: God will spread His Word and it will be victorious in the end
Proverbs 15:30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
Proverbs 25:25 Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.
How many “good news” items can you list which are present in your life right now? Don’t do the ‘bad news’ part, just the good news. Then thank God for each and every one.
BLOG 355: ‘SUCCESSFUL’ SO FAR?
We finished our ministry in this part of India yesterday. Today we go south. It’s gone quickly and slowly. I’m glad its over and I’m sad its over. It was very hard but very wonderful. I am very tired but also very invigorated. I am tired of India but don’t want to leave it. About this time I always think of Paul’s words about being “poured out like a drink offering” (Philippians 2:17;2 Timothy 4:7).
Was it successful? Only God can truly define and measure success, but I feel very, very good about how things went and what has been accomplished. It is far beyond what I expected before coming here. We held 19 days of conferences (7 2-day and 5 one day) with 1300 pastors and wives in attendance (1033 pastors, 267 wives). This is my 8th trip since 2006. In that time we’ve held 110 days of pastors’ conferences for 4325 pastors and 1245 wives. I’ve given 610 messages, we printed 29,000 Bibles and I’ve traveled about 12,200 miles. I’ve spoken 150 times to church gatherings. So is that successful? Only if its what God wanted us to do.
Success is measured in terms of faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2), not statistics and results. I would be pleased indeed if God was able to say I have been faithful in the stewardship of what He has given us to do. Knowing His patience, grace and mercy, I feel He would say so. I do know we try our best to be faithful.
So now its on to something I’ve never done here before: a week of seminary classes in Bangalore, in English, with Power Point and handouts! It’ll stretch me in new and different ways, but that’s OK if that’s what God has in store. Life is to be invested, not stored away. After all, it does have an expiration date so use it well while you have it! (Hyderabad, Thursday, January 29, 2015)
Philippians 2:17-18 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me
2 Timothy 4:6-7 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
So what about YOUR life? Is it successful in God’s sight? If you’re reading this then your life hasn’t expired yet, so use what’s left to successfully (“faithfully”) serve Him!
I JUST RECEIVED THIS EMAIL FROM A YOUNG PASTOR:
Dear Pastor Jerry,
Greetings to you in the Name of JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth. I am XXXXXXXXX, writing this letter from India. It’s my immense pleasure and considered as a great privilege to be a part of pastor’s
conference that was held in xxxxxxx, Andhra Pradesh. Personally I am blessed to listen from you and from Mr. Alon on 21.Jan.2015 & 22.Jan.2015. The topics you shared during those days were really touched my heart and empowered me to continue to do GOD’s ministry. Thank You for proving that JESUS’ Name is above all. I strongly believe that the Name of JESUS is strong and mighty tower. I thank GOD for giving you vision and passion for the lost souls in India. Really we need teachers like you who can teach us Bible in a systematic way using simple methods. I have read the books you gifted me, they were awesome and believed that the Holy Spirit led you to write them for the expansion of HIS Kingdome. I wish the conference would have been extended for another 3 days, but understood it’s time for you to carry the Word of GOD to other places also. Thank you again sir. We love you and your family. We assure you that we are praying for you and ministry. Please Visit us again.
In HIS Service……..
Blog 356: LIFE AS SEEN THROUGH INDIAN EYES
In order to communicate effectively to the pastors and others here it’s important for me to try to see life as they see it. I’ve been seeking to understand their world view since I started coming. I have a lot to learn, and I’m sure I’ll never totally understand it, but I thought it might be good for me and interesting for you if I put some of it down in a blog.
For those who aren’t Christians, their life is, for the most part, empty and meaningless, a day to day existence until they die and repeat it all over again, hopefully under better circumstances (depending on their karma). If they can derive some pleasure on the way fine, but setting goals and ambition for improvement are not strong drives in most of them. Life’s driving motive is avoid doing anything dishonorable or bringing shame to their family, for the extended family is where their allegiance belongs. Approval by the family is the strongest motivating factor. Individuals exist to benefit the family, the family does not exist to benefit them. To do so brings honor, to not do so brings shame. Decisions are made by the family as to their career/job, who to marry, where to live, etc. Independence, freedom and privacy are virtually unknown. Right, wrong, guilt, etc., are not part of their thought process, just bringing honor by avoiding shame.
Believers have hope in Jesus and a better future. Family, shame and honor are still strong, but individual faith and knowing a loving God who cares about them makes a world of difference. They have a strong bond to other believers and their church, often because of family rejection when they become Christians. They live under a double cloud of rejection and persecution, first because they are mainly Dalits or tribals and therefore below the caste system, often seen as subhuman. Also, even among their peers they are rejected and persecuted because they are Christians. They are not safe even in their own country. Like the Jews of Europe (and elsewhere), their being ‘different’ becomes a part of their everyday life and thought.
Despite this, these people have a joy and love others lack, a look in their eyes, ‘life’ in their hearts which is encouraging to see. They only have a very basic, rudimentary understanding of Jesus and the Bible, but they have a strong faith in Him. We often think we can depend on government, insurance, savings, friends, education, etc., to help us in time of need but they clearly know they have none of these things. And yet they are more content than those with all of the above. Many studies show people in third world countries are more content with their life than those in the USA or Europe. That is certainly true here. They will welcome you into their house and freely share whatever they have with joy and no embarrassment. To accept their hospitality or help shows them great honor.
Their church life is basic and simple as well. It reminds me of the early church in what they do, how they do it and why they do it. People are the central focus, not buildings or programs.
They are true servants of Jesus, both to Him and to others. That’s the reason Christianity is the fastest growing religion in India. They are far from perfect, don’t think they have arrived in their faith for they haven’t. They struggle with the same temptations and sins that we do. But there is something to be said for their simpler life that helps their focus stay where it should be – on Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Don’t idealize Indian believers as perfect, for they have their struggles and failures like we do. But do try to from the simplicity of their lives and faith. It’s something we long for, but don’t take steps to achieve. When you pray ask God how you can simplify your life and faith. Listen to what He says and take steps today to put it into practice.
Blog 357: MY FIRST DAY EVER TEACHING SEMINARY
It’s been a life-long dream of mine to teach in a seminary or Bible college. Today I had my first day doing so but it was much more difficult than I expected: no electricity (no PowerPoint), very hot dark room, students by nature totally unresponsive, fever and stomach pains, a magic trick that I messed up, etc. I talked about what God expects of us in order to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant,” what it means to be a godly husband and wife, leadership lessons from the life of Jesus (I dressed as Mark and did it first person from him) and 10 signs that we are growing spiritually. Afterwards pastors, teachers and even some students expressed profuse appreciation and said how it all spoke to them. So did the head of the seminary here. God used it as He promised He would. “When I am weak then I am strong.”
I came straight back to the hotel instead of staying for Alan’s first 2 sessions on heaven. I crashed for a few hours, and then started feeling better. Prayers for my health would be appreciated. Especially pray for my teaching: tomorrow focuses in spiritual warfare, Monday on an overview of the whole Bible, Tuesday on Bible prophecy and Wednesday a workshop on how to study the Bible and develop sermons. Alan will be talking about heaven for 2 sessions every day as well. Please pray for him and those important messages as well. He’s been a good friend, helpful coworker and all around great blessing this whole trip!
And many thanks for your prayers and emails. I really look forward to reading your emails. They are a contact with home and a real encouragement. Thanks for your faithfulness! (Bangalore, January 30, 2015)
Ephesians 1:16-17 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
IF I COULD SPEAK TO THE PASTORS IN INDIA I would encourage them to remain faithful. They are not alone, other believers know and care, and they are a good example to the rest of the world.
IF THE PASTORS HERE COULD SPEAK TO ME they would thank for coming so far and how wonderful it is that others remember them and care about them.
IF WE COULD SPEAK TO EACH OTHER we would praise Jesus for being the majestic Savor of all
Blog 358: YOU CAN’T WIN A BATTLE UNLESS YOU FIGHT IN ONE!
Spiritual warfare continues to be a very big part of our ministry in India. I didn’t plan it that way in the beginning but the needs here and the requests for training have made it so. It’s be the culmination of each conference, when attendance and attention is the highest. It brings a new perspective on things they’ve been struggling with and give hope of victory over these things.
Today was no different, except that I had time for four sessions on spiritual warfare. We talk about how to recognize, take back access, and remove demonic work against them, their families or their churches. We end up with a powerful prayer for deliverance for each one present and give them a book to help them understand and grow.
These sessions bring great blessing to them and us, but they also bring focused opposition for this is not something demonic forces controlling the areas we enter want to have taught! That’s the main reason these trips to India are such a continuing battle. We are dependent on the prayers of God’s people to be able to continue with these things. So are the pastors and Christians we teach for they go home alone to use these thing and face strong opposition. We hear many testimonies of how wonderfully God works, but never without a battle.
The principle is: there is no victory without battle. The battle must come first, and must be won. It’s not something we do on our own. God takes us out of our comfort zone. In India, ministering in spiritual warfare, is so far out of my comfort zone I feel like I am in a different galaxy. Yet nowhere else do I experience God’s grace and power, His love and guidance and His provision for all our needs. His promise is always true: (Bangalore, February 1, 2015)
Luke 10:19-20 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
So how are you doing with the battles you face in life? Maybe you are between battles and God is giving you a time to rest and learn the lessons He’s been teaching you. Maybe you are just entering a battle, or in the middle or even coming to the end of one. Do you see it for what it is, an attack of the enemy to defeat and discourage you? Never think America is free from this same demonic work, it’s just more subtle an hidden. But that makes it more dangerous and more effective. If you would like prayer or counsel please email me. For a free copy of my spiritual warfare books go to http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/ and click ‘Downloads’ or email me and I’ll send an ebook. And don’t stop praying for us, it’s been a long battle over here. God brings victory but the battle isn’t over!
Blog 359: PREVIEW OF COMING EVENTS
Pastor Moses and I have evaluated our ministry this year and make plans for the next trip. It is always amazing how we are both led in the same way at the same time. Next time we are actually changing our focus a bit. We have found some areas especially responsive to our ministries and really wanting more than what we give in a day or two.
So in 2016, in addition to several one and two conferences to new locations, we will have 5 three-day conferences. We will have larger venues so we can accommodate more pastors and because they will be staying they can come from a larger distance. Many will be new pastors but a good number will be pastors who want to come for more. We feel this is the year to do that. I’m looking forward to building on what we have done in the past and then going deeper then ever with these men. Three of these 5 will be for any pastors in the area who want to come, one will be for the leaders of the leaders, pastors who help with our work and oversee other churches in their area. They will also be at a 3-day conference in their area so I will be able to minister to these special men for 6 days! An additional feature, if it works out and Nancy can come with me, is for her to have an afternoon speaking just to the wives. That will be marvelous for them, a wonderful addition.
The 5th 3-day conference will be for youth (teens and twenties). We’ll do a shorter conference for them in each of the 3 areas we will have larger conferences, but want to have one where those interested can come, learn and grow. I really look forward to that! World View Plus in India!!!!!!!
I have other opportunities to minister and will see how God will lead with some of them. These plans are exciting for me. Believe it or not, but I can say I am actually looking forward to coming back to India in 2016! (“The spirit is willing but the body is weak” Matthew 26:41b)
First, though, is planning a trip for Pastor Moses to come to this country this summer to help expand our prayer and giving base for the future. New books are needed and these plans for next year will cost more for transportation and housing. I really hope if any of you know of an opportunity for Pastor Moses to speak and present our ministry you would let me know so we know if such a trip would be worth taking. Please pray for His wisdom and guidance. (Bangalore, February 2, 2015)
Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
The verses above remind us that God has plans for all of us, not just our work in India. Do you know what His plans are for you and your family? Are you following them? Don’t think He doesn’t have any, this verse guarantees He does, and they are GOOD plans! Take time to spend with Him, listening, writing down what you think His plans may be, and then follow them. If you don’t your life will drift aimlessly – who wants that?
Blog 359: MUSINGS OF A RETURNING MISSIONARY
(written by Alan Carlton) As Jerry and I near the end of our India visit, my mind wants to step back and consider the significance of it all. As we began, I had no idea of what to expect. It was my first trip to India. Jerry and I had never met. I did not know what he really did on his annual trips to India. Pastor Moses was only a name, the first two parts of it being unpronounceable. I had never heard of the places we would go. It was an interesting sounding clean slate with the possible potential to Honor our Lord.
Every day, I give God my blank check. I tell Him, whatever you want me to do, I will do. Whatever you want me to give, I will give. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Last year, God said “Go to India with Glory’s dad, Jerry.” . . . and here I am, nearly ready to return home. I can’t say the trip exceeded my expectations, because my ignorance kept me from having any It did, however exceed my fondest hopes.
Playing the part of Barnabus to Jerry’s “Paul” was both interesting and enjoyable, though probably more for me than for him The thorn in the flesh is a part of Paul’s journeys that Jerry understands. Persistent stomach pain and occasional nausea, when combined with a serious dislike of travel and discomfort around strangers pricked him every moment we were here . . . yet he radiated the joy of teaching God’s truths each day so brightly that the pain was hidden.
I taught a little, took over 5000 pictures and videos (so far) and helped however I could. For most of the trip, Pastor Moses was our rock . . . constantly driving, arranging, translating, answering questions, and making it all happen with few bumps in the road.
The needs and opportunities here are both phenomenal. This ministry is unique and I hope will grow. I am listening each day as I give God my blank check for how He wants me to participate, both now and in the future. You can too.
We are teaching in Pumza Tombing’s Gilead Seminary during our final week here . . . Jerry, many topics . . . me, Heaven. Yesterday, I talked about Jesus’ story concerning Lazarus and the rich man. At the end, the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn those he loves, his 5 brothers. Clearly, it is too late for the rich man, but not for those he loves. God gives each of us the choice to follow him, but only while we live. Ultimately, our time for choosing ends.
If we truly care for our loved ones (and this should include all people, as it does for Christ), we need to warn and inform them while we and they are still alive. Life has an expiration date. It was too late for the rich man to warn his loved ones, but it is not for you and for me. We need to use each and every day for the Glory of God while we have it. One key part of this is sharing the wonderful gift He has promised us . . through prayer, living in Christ’s image, talking, or any other means we can think of. This is something that won’t “keep”. It’s expiration date becomes irrevocable with our death.
As I return from a far and rich part of the Mission field, I am reminded that white fields surround us every day. In one sense, I am returning from a mission journey, greatly filled and satisfied that I was faithful in it. In another sense, I am returning to the mission fields that surround my home every day. Will I be equally faithful in those fields? I pray that God will show me how . . . show me what He wants done . . . what he wants me to give . . . where He wants me to go . . . that He will return my blank check filled out with my next mission . . . for His Glory. I pray the same for you. Alan Carlton, Former President -Samson Resources Company, Former Chairman of the Board – Total Compression Company, Former Chairman of the Board – Continental Drilling Company, Former Chairman of the Board – Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, President – G. Shepherd & Company, 20 years mission experience in Venezuela. (Bangalore, February 3, 2015)
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Missions starts in Jerusalem, in your neighborhood. You may never come to India, but you don’t need to in order to enter the mission field. You enter it when you walk outside your door!
Blog 360: LIFE LESSONS – 1
Recently my oldest son asked me to send him a list of 30 principles or life lessons that summarized what I have learned in life. That was an interesting challenge. I worked on it on the trip to India and came up with a few more than that. I’ll share some of them in this blog and others later.
- God doesn’t need me to do His work, but I need Him for everything that I do
- The more I grow spiritually, the further I see I still have to go. But that’s OK.
- Intimacy with God should be our #1 goal in life for only then can we become more like Jesus, which is His #1 goal for us.
- You can’t evaluate your spiritual worth by how well you use your spiritual gifts. Being able to function well in the Body is far less important than having a growing, intimate relationship with the Head of the Body.
- Humility is essential for growth, but it doesn’t come naturally or easily.
- A good wife is truly worth far more than rubies, or anything else we might have.
- Our first ministry is our family. To repeatedly meet the needs of others before our own family is sinful.
- Pace yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Persistence is more important than speed. Never quit, always keep moving ahead (like the tortoise and the hare).
- The better you know the Bible the more you realize how much you don’t know. It gets better every year!
- I couldn’t make it without the help of other Christians.
- Investing time and energy in my health every day is an important principle of stewardship.
- Learning to really worship is a life-long process.
- Money is a great servant but a terrible master.
- Never do anything once you aren’t prepared to do the rest of your life. But don’t use that as an excuse to not do what you should be doing.
- My hope is in God, I can’t use my family, life at home or things for security. Therefore I must make a conscious effort to stay close to God. I must make a mental choice to enjoy family and possessions but find security in God. I must pray about this regularly.
- The weaker I am the stronger I am! I must stay aware of my own weakness. I can’t function in my strength but His and I must pray for to always be aware of my total dependence on Him.
- God’s promises are totally dependable. I must continue to use, claim and depend on them. (Bangalore, February 4, 2015)
Habakkuk 2:4 The righteous will live by faith.
Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.
As you look at the first half of my list of life principles, what would you add? (Please send them to me, I’d like to see and learn from them.) Can you learn anything from them? Which ones sound especially true to you? I’d like your feedback on this.
Blog 361: LIFE LESSONS – 2
Recently my oldest son asked me to send him a list of 30 principles or life lessons that summarized what I have learned in life. That was an interesting challenge. On my trip to India I came up with a few more than that. I shared some in a previous blog and will finish the rest here.
- Enjoy the moment. Live in the moment. It will soon be gone. We can’t slow down or speed up time, we only have the present available to us, not the past or the future.
- God uses my church and family to mature more than He uses me to mature my church and family!
- The key to a healthy spiritual life is to spend time connecting with God through Bible reading and prayer each and every day.
- God often allows us to be in humanly impossible situations to show us our need of Him.
- Life is a series of stretches, stretching our faith, our love, our patience and out commitment.
- Don’t spend money you don’t have! Keep your life style within your income. Don’t choose a lifestyle and then try to fund it.
- Temptations trials, hurts and obstacles in life are really just opportunities to trust God.
- Planning ahead is absolutely essential, but plans we make must be our servant, not our master.
- No sin, however seemingly innocent or justified it may seem to be, is ever worth it. Satan baits his traps well, but they are still all traps
- You can only spend your money once so spend it wisely. Use it for the purpose God has given it to you.
- Always let your mind explain reality to your emotions. Never determine reality by your emotions.
- What God forbids us to do is always for our good, not to take away our fun. It gives us freedom, not takes it away. It is like placing markers over landmines which allows us to enjoy the rest of the field as we cross from one side to the other.
- Prayer is our greatest privilege. It is impossible to pray too much!
- Never compare how God deals with others with the way He deals with you. A good father has his own unique way of relating to each one of His children. He alone knows what is right and best for each at the time.
- Forgive others immediately and totally, even if they don’t ask for it, is totally essential to good spiritual and emotional health.
- Delayed obedience is disobedience – with parents as well as with God.
- God will get you out of your comfort zone to show you there is really only comfort in Him, not in any circumstances. (Bangalore, February 5, 2015)
Hosea 6;6 I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Habakkuk 2:14 The earth ill be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
As you look at the second half of my list of life principles, what would you add? (Please send them to me, I’d like to see and learn from them.) Can you learn anything from them? Which ones sound especially true to you? I’d like your feedback on this.
Blog 362: WELCOME HOME
Only those who have been abroad for a while, living in a difficult place, can know the feeling of arriving back in the USA and following the crowd leaving the airplane to Immigration. The walk down the corridor with all its bends and turns seems to take forever, but then there is the sign: “US Citizens Enter Here.” The majority of the crowd continues walking but you are part of a special few who peel off and stand before an immigration officer who says “Welcome home!” while stamping your passport and allowing you to enter the greatest country on earth. You belong here. There is no way you will be denied entrance. What a joy and privilege that is! How great it feels to finally be home! What could be better?
There is one day that I know will be better than that! When we enter heaven and Jesus says “Welcome home.” We have our eternal passport provided by Jesus’ work on the cross so we go straight to the short line that has immediate access. Nothing can keep us out, we are citizens of heaven. We are pilgrims returning home. We will have left the difficulties and pains of this life and this world to enter the greatest place in the universe, bar none.
Anticipating my return home through Immigration helps ease the struggles and strains of being away from home as well as the rigors of the trip back. As we anticipate our entrance into heaven and our welcome there our journey through this life can be a little easier and a lot sweeter. “Welcome home!” for us as Christians those words are something we look forward to and long for. Who knows how long the corridor will be until we burst through the gates of Glory. It could be right around the next turn. Just keep walking. You’ll be there before you know it!
Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
1 Peter 2:11-12 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
Spend sometime thinking about heaven, the welcome you will receive from Jesus and others, what it will be like to no longer have to deal with the sin and evil of this world and of our own hearts. Meditate on this. As the song says, “I Can Only Imagine.”
Blog 363: A LESSON FROM INDIAN CHRISTIANS
What stands out most in my mind when I think of India are the people, young and old, rich and poor. India itself is wonderful and terrible. It is beautiful and ugly, a joy and a nightmare. It’s the people that really make India.
The most outstanding lesson I take away from the Christians is their lack of expectations. Alan and I talked about it often. How can they live as they do? Illness. Poverty. Persecution. No hope of any change while on earth.
Yet somehow, in India they don’t expect life to be any different than it is. They don’t assume God will give it all to them. They don’t think they are exempt from these difficulties which we would see as impossible. They don’t see these limit as the exception, but as the norm in life. It’s all they know and its all most of the people around them know. They are not surprised and distracted by the harsh realities of their lives.
To them, these things are life. They happen to everyone, why should they not happen to them? God has never promised they won’t. The Bible shows no one is exempt. Life experience shows everyone faces things. They don’t expect or demand God makes things different for them. They thank Him it isn’t worse. They appreciate the help He gives through it. They don’t base their feelings about God on the ease or difficulty of their earthly life.
In the USA we are taught by the American dream that we can have it all, by media advertisements we need it all and by politicians and the government that they will give it all. So we expect it all. “What do you want for Christmas/your birthday?” “What do you want to be when you grow up?” These questions are not asked in India. They can form mind set that says that life is all about me and my comfort and desires. For the vast majority of Christians in India life is about surviving the present day so they can try to survive tomorrow when it comes.
Our fixation with “improving ourselves” affects our spiritual life as well. We don’t pray to be faithful through the battle, we demand God make it so there is no battle. We don’t thank God things aren’t worse, we question what we did to deserve even this. We don’t ask how we can adjust and endure, we ask how we can better get God to answer our prayers and take any discomfort away.
I don’t want to glamorize or romanticize the Christians in India for they are sinners just like us They struggle with their own failures, problems, weaknesses and disobedience. Still, in this are we can learn from them.
Many secular studies show that third world people are happier and more content than those in the west (USA, Europe). They studies conclude that the reason is because they accept life as it is and don’t expect that which will never happen. Despite all we have in the west people are less happy! According to western mindset, because we have so much more we should be happier than them. But clearly it’s not our circumstances in life but our attitude to them that makes the difference. There is never enough for a dissatisfied person. But a satisfied person is fine with very little.
How can we become more content with what we have instead of focusing on what is difficult in our lives? Paul said he had to learn to be content, so must we (Philippians 4:11-13). Yet that is very hard to do in our culture. And it is very hard to raise our children to be content. We have many expectations: of life, of self, of others and even of God.
But when God is our main resource, not the government or job security or family help, then we will trust Him more and depend on Him daily. Maybe that’s why it seems I’m closest to Him when I’m in India. I always need Him, but I realize it more clearly when I am there without my other resources and support systems. Then I learn God is enough!
Improving your situation in life is good, discontent is sin – there can be a fine line between the two. Have you found it? (Doylestown, PA, February 6, 2015)
Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
What are you expecting God to do for you now that isn’t happening? How else can you approach that situation? How can you change your prayer?