Friday, November 3, 2017
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Monday, October 30, 2017
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ!
Sunday has come and gone and we enjoyed many opportunities to praise God and experience Indian worship! Our itinerary for the day was as follows: Eat, worship, eat, travel, worship, eat, travel, and then, God willing, sleep! I say this as we are still driving to home base as I type.
Also of note, this is the first blog post of my humble existence and I feel all warm and fuzzy that you took the time to read it!
Now saddle up, here we go!
‘Hallelujah’ was the word of the day as it seemed to be incorporated in all phases of our day. Truly, we thank God for giving us the opportunity to experience so many moving testimonies and joyous worship of the one true God!
We gathered for breakfast at Pastor Daniel’s house where most of the team was surprised to find two of our group decked out in formal Indian suits! Karie and I were gifted these clothes from the Masih family to celebrate our engagement. Their kindness knows no bounds!
Apparently, an Indian custom involves introducing newly engaged couples at church to celebrate their pending union. We thank God for the Christian love on display in this and many other acts to us and our team.
Breakfast was delicious as usual. As we ate our turnip-infused roti (bread), eggs, sweet potato pancakes, and many other delicious items, we could hear the congregation as they began singing, clapping, and praising God upstairs long before we joined. They typically worship for well over three hours. I don’t know how anyone would not be humbled by their passion and joy for our Savior!
When we joined the service we noted the room was split along very traditional lines. All the men were sitting on the concrete floor on one side and all the women were seated in the same fashion on the other side. Fortunately for my knees and back, we were given chairs. To see their worship in what we would say were uncomfortable conditions was again humbling.
After a few more Indian songs sung mostly in Punjabi with a little English mixed in (all written by Pastor Daniel), the team was invited to introduce ourselves, lead the congregation in a couple of songs, and then give a quick lesson. Our song leader, Janet, had prepped us, with inspiration from Lynne and others, to sing a joyful VBS favorite ‘Allelu, Allelu’. We did throw in a twist in that our verses alternated between ‘Praise ye the Lord’ and ‘Jai Masih ki’, a Punjabi phrase meaning ‘Praise God’. With so many of the church members greeting us with that phrase and the number of syllables matching, it seemed too perfect to pass up! After that we sang ‘Haso, Haso’, another song by Pastor Daniel in Punjabi, but simple enough that even a foreign language neophyte like me could belt it out!
After singing, Ray gave an excellent lesson on Romans 10:12-15. Poor Ray! He’s done such a wonderful job in his team devotions, that he’s become our go-to whenever a prayer or lesson is asked from the team!
After that it was back to your regularly scheduled worship with more singing and a sermon from Pastor Daniel. We were blessed in that Pastor spoke his sermon in English and allowed a translator to convey it to the congregation. We hope it was as moving for them as it was for us as Pastor recounted how he was called to Christ’s service along with a vision for the spread of Christianity in India. Amen! With Christ’s help we pray it will be so!
I mentioned ‘Hallelujah’ as the word of the day as it seemed every song, lesson, and prayer began with it spoken by a leader and enthusiastically echoed back by the congregation. God be praised!
In an effort to stay on schedule, we then left the service around noon while the congregation continued their worship (already over three hours strong!). We were treated to another delicious lunch (curry chicken, rice, roti, saag, etc) and then we returned to the church as the congregation was enjoying their meal to experience some fellowship with the church members. We heard many moving stories and the people were very excited to talk with us. Many a selfie was taken and we left with our hearts filled by their excitement!
Next, we squeezed 15 people into a 14 seat van (child’s play for these folk!) and travelled to Chandigarh, where another congregation of believers was eagerly waiting. It was a long ride, around 4.5 hours, but at a pit stop on the way, we were lucky to catch a glimpse of an Indian wedding. A band was escorting the beautiful bride and groom and the sight prompted an interesting discussion on arranged marriages and the low divorce rates in India. Sorry, no data on that, all anecdotal stories.
Again, our ‘Hallelujahs’ were heard as Pastor Daniel and the team have developed a routine of shouting ‘Hallelujah’ every time we go over a particularly large bump. Trust me, there were many opportunities for praising God on the ride!
When we arrived in Chandigarh, we found a sanctuary closer to what we would call normal with pews, a stage, and men and women intermixed. We were told this city is much more Westernized than other areas in India.
This was the hometown of Elizabeth, Pastor Daniel’s wife and we were greeted by her brother, two of her sisters, and many other excited members. The service began with music, lead by some excellent young musicians, and had us quickly shaking off any travel lethargy to join in the clapping and praise.
We again came forward and did our song and lesson routine (you’re awesome Ray!), and then had a seat to hear some amazing testimonials of the healing hand of our Lord. We know Satan is alive and doing his best to disrupt people’s lives and faith, but hearing these testimonies of God’s power in their lives was truly uplifting!
Pastor Daniel then gave his sermon, this time in Punjabi. While there was no translator, it was obvious what a powerful orator Pastor Daniel is in his native tongue. The congregation was clearly moved and we thank God for this ministry!
This congregation has quickly grown. The last time one of our teams visited, they were meeting in a living room. Now they have grown large enough to rent out a sanctuary. God is good!
Afterward, we were honored to be invited to Elizabeth’s sisters house for refreshments before the long ride home. There we were treated to potato samosas, soda, and pickle flavored chips. We also found out that Clay is responsible for the shade of blue that M&M’s are colored, which was suspiciously similar to the color of his clothing 🤔
We then drove home, making a quick pit stop at McDonalds, where the chicken nuggets were just like back home! We arrived back at the hotel safely at 1:00 AM (I almost finished in the van, not quite though 😉)
As I reflect on the day, if I tried to re-list all the adjectives I’ve used to describe today, I would probably be up another hour! I’ll just say I’ve been blessed by this experience. Though it was a long day, we were all rewarded by seeing God’s light shining brightly in these communities! May His good work continue until the blessed day he calls us to everlasting life with him!
In Christ’s service,