Thanks to the wonders of technology, I’m wrapping up this blog on the way to the airport. Hot James is at the wheel and half the van is asleep. Between worship music and coming up with nicknames for each other, we’re trying to find ways to keep ourselves distracted from the reality of what’s going on. We were given the option of going to the condo to rest and kill some time before our late flight, but no one wanted to do that. For us, when the final day comes, we want to spend every last minute at the Mission Centers with the children. When the time comes to go home, we want to get in the car and get on an airplane. It’s really tough heading out this year. It’s always hard, but the team made great friends with our Indian team members this year. We typically have not had the blessing of having guys like Hot James and St. Stephen (now nicknamed “Dartagnan” - you know, the fourth musketeer?) serving with us. I honestly cannot imagine what would have happened had these guys not been a part of this mission. We are richly blessed because they served with us. But we’re even more blessed by their friendship. I wish every single one of you could meet these fellas. The way God is working and moving through these two guys is amazing. And to top it off, they are so much fun to be around. Add that to the heaviness of having to hug and kiss the children “goodbye” one more time, and you begin to see why we appreciate the distraction.
But it goes beyond friendship and relationships with all of these people. As I mentioned a few nights ago, while we aren’t the front lines, they are. Every day they gear up and go to war over the souls in India. Today, when picking up the kids, Hot James and Pastor Nandekumar were confronted by some men in a village where fifteen children were coming from. They made a lot of problems and as a result the kids were pulled out of the van by the village men and each were hit as they exited. Tonight, we went out to Moganapriya’s house again to check out the huge snake pit. On the way, we passed two Hindu temples with their “gods” staring out at the passerbys. I stared at one of the “gods” for awhile. He didn’t do a whole lot. Along the road to and from the snake pit, we saw huge roadside snake pits erected as well.
But revisiting all of these sites is just another reminder of the nature of this battle. It is ongoing. It is dark. It is evil. David told us the other day that the bigger, more sophisticated demons/gods are in the cities where they are revered and worshipped. But in the villages, that’s where the bottom-of-the-barrel demons live. And as David put it, they are “the blood-sucking ones”. And it breaks your heart because, while people were taking turns looking at the snake pit, Saveetha wss playing Jacks on the steps of a Hindu temple. Children were jumping rope right past the roadside snake pits. This is disgusting. This is not how these children should live nor is it how God ever intended for them to live. They are helpless against the evil that is wholly embraced by their parents and the village elders. It’s interesting that when you think about doing missions work in the villages, you picture extreme poverty and providing physical care and relief, if even for a short time. Yet, the greatest need they have is spiritual and they long for a deeper joy in Jesus. This is why we go to India. We come to encourage the believers - to let them know they are not alone. And we come to teach the children, all the time confronting the messages of false gods that they are taught at home. But there is SO much work to be done. It is not uncommon for Rajan, the churches and the mission centers (especially North River) to face persecution and threats. This is their world. This is there waiting for them when they wake up in the morning. This runs throughout the village while they sleep.
So, what do we do?
Very simply, we support them. We don’t turn a blind eye to the fight they are in. We pray that God would move us to action and make it very clear what that looks like for us. Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure exactly what that is. Talking with Rajan this week, it is clear that the ministry he is called to is only able to grow to the point that he is able to lead it. He has worked long. He has fought hard and continues to fight hard. But more and more, God is increasing his support system and the “Front Lines”. That’s why we feel so connected to Hot James, St. Stephen and Joy. We see them as the new additions to the front lines that are gifted and capable of making a huge impact on India. Last year, we were discovering the depths of the need of the ministry here in India. This year, we have a better understanding of what the work involves and what is required. This is a huge fight and we need help. Help at home and help on the ground in India. We sense that God is moving and with the support system continuing to grow, we feel that His timing might be leading us to further support for India even more. Again, we have no idea what this looks like, but the key players are in place and they need our support. If you are a details person - an organizer - someone with a desire to help us put these components in place -a creative person - a visionary - a person who knows that God is calling you to support the work in India but you don’t know how just yet - let’s talk. Please. We need people with a desire for this ministry to join us in it. There’s so much to be done and so much passion and love for these people and God is at work in a big way here. Join us in prayer. Join us in giving. Join us in going. Join us in sending. Join us in supporting a work that is changing the villages of India and raising up a generation who will stand up and tear down the temples. May the name of Jesus continue to go up. Move, Jesus. Move us.
At this point, I’m now sitting on the floor of the van. We just had some sad “goodbyes” and prayers for our Indian family. St. Stephen, Auntie Blossom and Auntie Elizabeth have been dropped off at the condo as we continue on. Pray for them. Pray that God would continue to make them world changers. Pray for new opportunities to see God’s glory as they serve Him. May they be restored every day so that they can take up the armor and go to battle. Don’t forget about them.
We’re almost to the airport so I have to wrap this up. In just a few minutes, we’ll be saying, “See you later” (never “Goodbye”) to The Godfather and Hot James. Frankly, I’m really glad I don’t have to blog after that. Pray for them. Pray that God would give them new work, new vision and new joy as they serve together. They are doing and will continue to do mighty things for the Kingdom of God and God is giving us the opportunity to play a significant part in that. Join us, please.
Impact India 2013 is drawing to a close. Your Team served hard. They served well and honored Christ with the love they showed and the boldness with which they proclaimed the truth about the One True God in a culture of false gods and idols. Team, thank you. It has been my highest honor to see God work in you and to see your obedience to Him every step of the way.
Friends, thank you for your prayers and for your partnership in this journey. You have blessed us in ways that we will never be able to communicate, so we just ask God to bless you in the same measure in which you have blessed our lives.
Families, thank you for your sacrifice and your support. Thank you for giving us up almost every week for preparation and training. We can’t wait to see you.
Oh, and Annette Spain! Thanks for not flipping out that your son didn’t call you the entire 2 weeks that he’s been gone. You are a good woman. He is coming home. He is not married. However, you never mentioned him riding on top of a truck or getting his hair cut into a mini-fro, so I feel like those experiences weren’t against your wishes.
Well, that’s it. Impact India 2013 in the books. Pray for our trip home and our ability to communicate the truth of what we’ve seen and experienced. We love you all so much.
So…Impact India 2014. Who’s in?