I landed in Louisville 10 days after I had left. I am full of memories and wondering what is next for me and my family. The memories and experiences in India were amazing. I saw God's hand moving in new and fresh ways. I pray that as this adventure ends the memories do not fade.
This is the Atlanta team. A group of men and women with hearts for worship and lifting up men, women and youth for God's glory. These 4 folks came to India to spread the message of God and serve where needed. Many good memories with these folks!
The last day is always rough. We come together for final worship at Nissi Faith church. We celebrate the memories of our trip. We say goodbye to friends both new and old. My heart misses my family back home. My soul is refreshed by seeing and hearing the Gospel in action. My body is weary and in need of rest.
Last worship was good. Fantastic praise music, final thoughts and the heartfelt wishes of the congregation.
Bye, bye, India. Until next time.....
Nissi Faith is a network of pastors. We went to visit the newest pastor, John Victor. His congregation is the closest church in miles. Many come to see what is happening because they hear the worship and praises and wonder what is going on. Their congregation has been working on their building for 4+ years. Brick by brick they build as money allows. They still have no roof, yet their hearts are full of joy.
It was amazing spending time with this congregation. Their hospitality was amazing. Their faith in God was inspiring. Please pray they will be able to soon begin roofing.
We went to visit and do ministry in the villages. Some houses are less than a house. Some have roofs. Some have walls. Each family working with what they have. The village itself usually has a concrete main path. This path is used by people and animals walking as well as motor vehicles. There are no sewers so mostly it is a septic type system.
In the villages we just go to visit and to love on people. We come into their homes and places of gathering. We do not judge or refuse hospitality. Instead, we just come to be with them. Offering to pray. Offering smiles and laughter. It is amazing to spend time with the people that live here.
Widows in India are rejected and unloved. When their husband dies, they are thought to have done something wrong to deserve being left alone. Oftentimes their families reject them. The result is that they are alone and sometimes left to die.
My mission friend helped start a ministry a few years ago. As a result, a local pastor provides a place of refuge and dignity. The widows are looked after and cared for. On our trip, we went to visit, love on them and bless.
Two ladies from the Atlanta team gave powerful testimonies on the worth of their lives and the redemptive power of Jesus. His love is perfect and never rejects. Amen!
Afterward, we handed out new saris. We then offered prayer and gave a hearty meal. In the face of such discrimination and poverty, it is hard to complain.
We asked the pastors to enter into a covenant with one another to stay strong on the message. At the end of the conference we asked them to take a handful of salt and pray for someone that needed to hear this message. Someone that they would share with and hold accountable. And then that we would all pray together.
Our second day of conferences was fantastic. We continued with our discipleship theme. The pastors really responded well. The convicting part was the pastors asking if the same issues on discipleship existed in the American church. What a great picture of the whiles of the enemy. If he can take away the power that God has given to His people, then we are unable to walk as He created us.
As the pastors shared with one another, we heard stories of ministries that were growing and the burdens on the pastors. We also heard people speaking of conviction to begin sharing the discipleship message with their congregation and other pastors. It is humbling to hear that God's word is moving. Thank you for helping us get to India to share. Your support is bearing great fruit for the kingdom!!
In Hyderabad, Jay had a driver through his office. The driver's name was Hadja.
Hadja is a devout Muslim. He was very curious about Christianity and the beliefs behind it. Many questions came up between he and Jay. Jay was faithful to answer and always make a path back to Jesus. It was great to listen to the conversations on the day I spent with them. Pray that the seeds planted deep will take root.
We went into the village for Gospel meeting. One of the Nissi Faith pastors has a church in this area. We setup for outdoor church service in the courtyard for the school. Christians would come and gather on the inside. Non-Christians would stand outside.
We sang and then preached the Gospel. Beautiful worship to the Lord led to strong reminders of the truth of the Gospel. At the end, an altar call was given. And then people came and began to give their life to Jesus.
We then began praying for people. It was amazing. Healings were happening. People who could hardly walk were jumping and moving. Demons were being cast out. God's love was being shown. It was amazing to be a part of something so awesome. God is AWESOME!
This Is India. One of the guys in the Atlanta team coined that phrase. Its a broad term covering many things. Saying something like "We will leave at 6p". In India that means we'll get in the car sometime after 6:30p and then all the on time people will wait for everyone else to show up. Or, "this is beef". Not sure if they meant cow...
Culture here in India is different. Just like our walk, we have to be bearing of those around us. Sharing Jesus means acting like it :)
We started our pastor conference today in Khammam . The village pastors always hold a special place for me. These men and women sacrifice so much to serve those around them. Our prayer for the conference is that we can encourage these servants of God.
Jay and I will be teaching on discipleship once again. Building up disciples who make disciples.
We have a much bigger crowd this time. It will be lots of fun to work with our friends as we share in ministry.
We left our hotel at 4:30a on Thursday morning to head to Khammam village. 12 people with luggage and materials climbed into a van with 10 seats for a 4.5 hour ride. The trip was comical in that everyone was trying to sleep. We had blankets or scarves over our heads to block out the sunlight. With everyone bouncing as we drove it must have looked like we had all died.
The team from Atlanta led a youth meeting at Nissi Faith Wednesday night. Church members 15 and up were invited. They were encouraged to bring friends from school and their neighborhood.
The meeting encouraged the youth to understand who Jesus is and what he has done. They were also lifted up and encouraged in their faith. To walk out their faith. To walk as part of God's army.
Many made a commitments to follow Jesus. Many others committed to continue walking in faith and being part of the uprising of God in India. Atlanta team was fantastic. Clear Gospel message, energizing worship and a call to action. It was good to see God moving!
Today is Wednesday here in India. I have a less packed ministry day in the morning. I am using the time to get packed and ready for the next leg of the journey.
The Atlanta team is having a youth rally tonight at Nissi Faith here in Hyderabad. That will put us back at hotel around 11p tonight. Thursday, we'll wake up and be on the road by 4a tomorrow morning for a 6 hour car ride to our next location. The second pastor conference will start at 11a. That lasts to 4p and then off to villages for a Gospel meeting. Friday and Saturday are packed as well and conclude with us returning to Hyderabad and hotel around midnight on Saturday. Church most of Sunday and more meetings and then flying home Monday (that flight leaves 4a as well)
All that said, I'm going to try and charge up today. I appreciate your prayers and support. I will continue to write when I can.
We went out into the poor communities once again. The English translation would roughly be "remote area". No running water, there is electricity, no commerce, and lots of poverty. It is in these areas several pastors have made their home. God's call on their life is to minister to the children and in turn minister to their parents. Daily, these pastors provide tutoring, Bible lessons and a hot meal.
The other team here in Hyderabad is focused on the children and women. It was a privilege to go out with them and see them minister. They had the kids from Nissi Faith learn a skit so they could perform in Telegu. Here's a link to the skit.
The message was clear and the kids got it. Then the team told the kids how special they were and how God's love is so big. They also bought a meal with meat and lots of vegetables. Quite a treat for these that only have one meal a day thanks to the ongoing ministry. More than humbling knowing that a lot of the food was excess (and planned so) from the conference we had just finished. Quite a perspective considering my big problem for the day was spilt tea....
We finished our pastor conference in Hyderabad today. It was fantastic. The focus on discipleship was something we had worked a lot on. We had a booklet of notes, scriptures and discussion questions created for the conference to give tot he pastors. All of it is in Telegu.
Jay and I took turns teaching through five major ideas. Each section had several bullet points, scriptures and discussion points. The idea was the pastors can talk to one another, and then go back to their churches and teach others. So they can teach others, and they can..... It was awesome.
I was super excited to see Jay bringing the truth of our calling to these men and women. I was blown away by listening to the testimony of some of the pastors. Freedom from alcohol, witchcraft, drugs, anger, infidelity, the list goes on. Hearing how Jesus continues to set people free was absolutely amazing.
At the end we once again asked everyone to join in a covenant of salt to push forward for biblical discipleship. We had a full bowl at the end! PRAISE!
Tuesday morning started crazy here. I had woken up well, chatted with my family on Skype, took a shower and gotten dressed. I was sitting at the desk in the room enjoying reading the Bible and drinking a cup of tea. Until I spilled the whole cup. Spilled it on me, my Bible and the open laptop.
I quickly went into cleanup. Turned the laptop off and laid it upside down to start draining tea. I washed my clothes in the sink with hand soap to get the stains out. I put towels on top of my Bible. The clothes were a big deal because they were my new India clothes for preaching the second day of the conference. I felt dumb.
I continued calling myself names as I stood in the bathroom trying to use a hair dryer to dry my clothes. Kept calling myself names as I turned on my computer and it was making very strange noises (I immediately turned it back off). Kept calling myself names as I was pushing tea out of the pages of my Bible. Things were not going great.
I finally got clothes dry enough to put on. Used the hair dryer to blow more tea out of the laptop and then had to leave. I quickly called Melissa using my cellphone and Skype app. She prayed immediately. Went to war against the condemnation I was loading on myself. Went to war for the laptop and conference. She went to war for me. What a wife!
Prayers worked. I am posting from a slightly sticky laptop..... :)
This afternoon we handed out gifts to the children living in the orphanage. They were so happy! We had some friends donate gift bags for girls and boys. The girls received a notebook with the words "Jesus Loves You" written across the front in Telugu (their native language) as well as a notebook, pencils, and jewelry. The boys received paracord bracelets, hot wheels cars, pencils and pads. All the gift bags included a hand written card from the people who put together the bags. What a blessing! The children were so excited to not only get gifts, but a not e as well. That made each one special. Love God!
We started the pastor conferences today. I forgot about how it changes things when speaking to a translator. It took a little while to get used to it again. Still, it was a great first day.
The focus of the conference was discipleship. As wee taught, we were able to begin breaking some walls down. The biggest step was getting pastors to actually discuss with each other the material from each section. Normally, conferences are not ran like that. It was neat to see pastors sharing their thoughts on what discipleship meant, how do you define "gospel" and seeing the truths of our views of church.
Part of the time of lunch was spent sharing testimonies of our coming to know Jesus. It is amazing that God is so big and touches each of us. Pursuing constantly and not giving up. And when we finally submit, oh the beauty!
We closed with the parable of the sower as an illustration of discipleship. It is found in Matthew 13:1-23. I led them through thinking about 2 questions:
1) Who is the sower in the parable?
2) Where does the seed come from?
Think about it. Later on I'll post up what I taught.
Every time I witness a foot washing it blows me away. It is so full of humility on both the washer and the wash-ee. Think about it. Would you let someone wash your feet? Would you wash someone else's? One of the speakers in church today reminded us that it was Jesus Himself who offered to wash all our feet when He came to be a servant and sacrifice (John 13:1-7)
So would you let the King of Kings wash your feet?