I’LL HAVE A BLOODY MARY, A STEAK SANDWICH AAAND A STEAK SANDWICH

Easier than writing lots of individual emails

WHO WENT TO INDIA?

COC Team India 2006 Sooo, I got an email the other day from someone who recently re-read the letter I sent out immediately upon my return from India in April 2006.  SO, I went back and re-read it.  It makes me quiet all over again.  I still get people asking me ‘How was India’, so i thought i’d cut/paste that letter in…. _____________________________________________________________________
April 2006
Hi everyone-

Thank you for your prayers, your support, your money…everything.  I’m back and I am, in some ways, speechless.

I know I need to tell you something of my 2 weeks abroad. 

I want to tell you things to help you know and understand the people there.  I want to tell you just enough so that you want to know more and/or maybe even help more.  I want to tell you the depths of my thoughts and lessons…but it seems impossible, as I myself don’t even know how deep the grooves are that India has left in my heart and soul.

We had a pretty full schedule, but I tried to jot thoughts down throughout the trip.

I just reread my chicken scratch journals and wonder where to begin or what to say.  I’ll just jump in, in no particular order…

 The common questions thus far:

-How was it?
-What were you doing in India?
-Did you get sick?

HOW WAS IT?
How was it.  Hmmmm.  I was a part of 2 Indias…the secular Hindu India and the Grace filled Body of Christ India.  So, how was it…

 Intense.  Deafening.  Humbling.  Violating.  Illuminating.  Joyous.  Disheartening.  Complicated.  Chaotic.  Prioritizing.  Never-ending. Hopeful.  Exciting. 

Just like any country, the common belief system dictates the majority of how the country functions.  In India, because of the Hindu religion and pervasive caste system, there is very little innovation.  In fact , it seems that there is very little independent thought at all…not that anyone’s dumb.  No, it’s more that the gods have decided your caste, your fate, your destiny and the matter is over.  Life is lived according to what you deserved, as assigned by the gods.  Sooo, consequently, there seems to be only an air of ‘this is it’.  Every village looks the same:  drab, dirty, sub standard, inappropriate co-mingling of man with animal with trash, with feces, with food, with hopelessness.  Just observing the traffic gives one insight… The traffic habits of ‘every man for himself’ are insane and life threatening (or thrilling depending on how you like it J).  While everyone is busily going somewhere, whether a family of 5 on a motor scooter or a huge truck loaded down with who knows what or a cow lazily meandering through the mass of motion, and all the while the horns are blaring because that’s how drivers indicate their presence, and while people rush your car when you’re stopped and try to sell you anything at all…while all that and more is happening, when you look into the eyes of any one of those people all you see is a vacant and hollow glaze.  The deeply carved and believed mentality that ‘this is my destiny’ is so hauntingly REAL in India.  It was like being with a nation full of brain washed zombies yet feeling like you were in the chaotic midst of a toppled-over ant farm.  Secular Hindu India…we saw a man riding his bike who had just been hit and killed and dead on the side of the road…he was disfigured and clearly dead.  No one cared.  No one was shocked.  It was actually more like a cat was dead on the side of the road rather than the human soul that had been crafted by the Creator of the universe and made in His image and loved by Jesus Christ.  That’s secular Hindu India…’every man for himself’ because ‘this is just the way it is’.  As one of my team members said, ‘Everyone here is in survival mode.’ This India is Dark.  So dark.

Ahhh, but there’s a reason that Jesus is called the ‘Light’ of the world. . .

WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN INDIA?
We were in India to teach and lead worship at a Bible Conference in Haryana (Northern India).  We have financially supported Grace Center for years-last year we helped raise 45k that they used to open 2 more orphanages.  This year we gave by physically going to encourage other believers…and we had no idea that going to teach and worship would change the way we saw Christianity. 

Grace Center was started over 40 years ago by a small Indian man and his wife, Paul & Annie or as everyone calls them ‘Auntie & Uncle’.  It started with deep faith In Jesus Christ, sincere prayer to God and one little typewriter in a room somewhere in India.  Today it is a campus that houses a Bible College, A Seminary, an orphanage, the largest Christian Library in all of South East Asia and thousands of hope filled believers who have counted the cost to follow Christ and have come for training to equip them to go back out into the dark streets of India and proclaim the good news…the good news that Christ has set us free from our sin and that He freely gave His life on the cross and in the resurrection to secure our place in eternity with Him.   Many of these students have and will face grave persecution for following Christ and for having rejected the Hindu way.  But as you watch their faces as they worship, with hands lifted and voices booming, and you see the absolute joy and life and hope in their eyes, you begin to understand just how precious Christ is.  No money or education or program would ever bring that resolve and peace…they know the cost, they come from the darkness and the vacant hollow chaotic disturbed ant farm…but they know the answer to the darkness.  As Christ lives in them, they bring light. 

As Ajay (Paul and Annie’s son) says, ‘Christianity is not a hobby for us as it seems like it is in the states’. 

In India, they really don’t have the luxury of debating obscure theological topics.  They hope to live another day in order to share the love of Christ-there is much urgency and cost to living for Christ in India. 

Grace Center has never once had a fundraiser in over 40 years.  Paul, Annie, their sons, daughters, and staff pray.  They pray for God to supply their needs from food for the 2,000+ orphans in their care, for Bibles and school supplies, for clothes, for money, for musical equipment, for everything…God provides it all somehow.  I had no idea how vast this ministry was/is.  It has been built almost entirely under the radar (so as not to be shut down by the powerful radical Hindu groups in India). It’s reach across south east asia is profoundly evident as there was not one known Bible-believing Christian in that part of India 40 years ago and now there are thousands and thousands of devoted followers of Christ.  It’s humbling to see how God will use just one faithful couple (who have withstood physical persecution, imprisonment, death threats, and the like) who continually surrender themselves to His will. 

SO, the answer to what were you doing there is…we were there to encourage fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  We were also there to learn about ourselves and about counting the cost in our own lives…evaluating if we’re Lights of Christ in our dark corner of the world.

DID YOU GET SICK?
Well, out of 14 of us, we had only a few get sick.  Bob had allergies the whole time and there were times of great intensity for him, but he never complained and always had a smile on his face and an eagerness to meet the people.  Kamal, the only native Indian amongst us, was the first to get seriously ill and it lasted a day or 2.  He persevered though and continued to play every session.  That was Monday or Tuesday?  Mike was the next one to get sick and that started on Thursday, I believe, and it was pretty bad.  He never complained, endured a never-ending bus journey to the Taj Mahal and then continued to play every set the next day.  Next was Daren who got sick on the plane ride from India to Phuket, Thailand.  It seemed short lived and he was fine within 24 hours.  He also took it like a man and was back on his feet.  I took a fall in New Delhi right before we were going to the airport for Thailand…I slipped down some very slippery stairs and have a ghastly bruise about the size of 2 CDs side by side (well photographed, I assure you) on my upper left leg…it looks like I was on the receiving end of a baseball bat.  Then I got a cold in Thailand…which is hilarious since the heat and humidity rage on!  It actually felt good and purifying.  Jennene was the last to contract a cold and her plane ride home was less than enjoyable J. 

Here’s the deal though…these were just physical maladies.  In light of all that we saw and experienced in India, who can complain?  Who can seek comfort knowing there is so much work to be done?  Who can be shorted by a cold knowing that Christ’s salvation is true and eternally lasting?  Me.  I forget easily…  But India haunts me.  It gets in your soul.  The little crying boy who was brought to the orphanage while we were there haunts me.  The joy and freedom that the 2 girls in the front row (that we called the Wonder Worship Twins) had while they were worshipping haunts me.  The disfigured teenage boy scuttling across the busy road on his hands (because his mangled legs didn’t work) just to get near our bus haunts me.  The field on the side of the road full of men and women going to the bathroom in the open air haunts me.  The pervasive idolatry seen on every car, on every corner, in every vacant stare haunts me.  The dead man on the side of the road with only irritated passer-byers haunts me.  The water buffalo lounging in the water hole while the village people washed and drank haunts me.  The trash in front of everyone’s doorway of their tent called home haunts me.  The paramount disorganization of the ‘streets’, the airport, the construction, the communication haunts me.  The constant jerking of the vehicle and the blarring of the horns just to get anywhere in India haunts me.  The drab and dreary scenery of India then assaulted by a beautiful colored sari worn by a barefoot village woman haunts me.  The desperate woman in the airport bathroom trying to sell me toilet paper haunts me.  The little orphan who clamored to shake my hand and then burst into relieving tears when we did haunts me.  The light in the eyes of the Bible students and the sincerity in their greeting of ‘Praise the LORD’ rather than ‘hello’ haunts me.  The single typewriter where Paul Pillai still writes his newsletters haunts me…

God’s power haunts me…He knows each one of those people.  He knows the number of hairs on their head, He loves them and He died for them…the humbling haunts me.

FINALLY…
I know this is long…these few paragraphs are really just a few of my thoughts from only 7 days in one country on one of the 7 continents on our vast earth.  Just 7 days, 1 country. 

I’m looking at a world map right now…India is small compared to Africa, China, South America, Canada, Australia, Russia…

I guess my point to myself, and if you want to listen in, is that the harvest is full and the workers are few and I want to know how to use every day of my life to share the love of Christ to those who don’t know it. 

All of the world needs Christ.  Most of the rest of the world needs food, water, and shelter in order to live long enough to hear about Christ.

What’s my role? What’s your role?  What is the cost of following Christ?

If you want to see a bunch of pictures and read another team member’s perspective on our trip, go to www.EWZ.com   J

Feel free to ask me anything you’d like.  There’s a lot to tell, just not type, I suppose J.

grace and peace

-s

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1 Comment»

  Albert Taylor wrote @

It is a very good moving account and brings back memories of our 5 days teaching in Grace Bible College, also a seminar in Chitoor and Delhi.
We have just had a book printed in Delhi `Ministering below the Surface`and 120 are for Sujay for Grace BC. You can find it on our website. It is being translated into Hindi. (India’s distributors name etc in back of book if you know English speaking pastors)
I came on yr site while putting in application for gift for India Inland Mission from IPC our church in Zurich.
We have always enjoyed meeting yr father.
Would be nice to hear more of yr life in USA.


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