I left for India at 3pm on Thursday, March 23 and arrived home at 7p on Sunday April 1. It took me about 30 hours to get there and another 30 hours to get back to Orange County.
I had recently memorized Esther 4:14, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” ESV
Several times during my seven days in India this verse came to mind, as it relates to the Lord allowing me to be available for what He intended to do in/through me. God’s timing is impeccable and wonderful!
In thinking about what I would say to give you a sense of the (without a doubt) most amazing experience I have had in all my life, I have decided to break my thoughts into:
- What Jesus did
- What I learned
Some of this will be similar to the post I did while in India as some will not have read the prior post (India #1).
What Jesus Did
On Sunday evening (March 25th I preached the Gospel at a house church in Damoh, which is very near to where the headquarters for the “Central India Christian Mission” (CICM) is located. What I said was translated into Hindi, as was everything I preached or taught while there. There were about 100 people jammed into a room built above the pastor’s home. I spoke from John 3:16 and eleven people (men, women and children) responded to become Christians. Ajai Lall, Founder and President of CICM, confirmed that these eleven were all legitimate decisions. Some of these had been attending for upwards of a year and God’s time for them was the night I was there. All praise to Jesus!
Twice during my time there I had the joy of speaking to the nursing school and Bible school students, along with all the staff located at the CICM headquarters a few miles from Damoh. There were around 400-500 each time. I received excellent feedback on the relevance and practicality of the teaching.
Another evening I spoke to just students (about 200) and was interviewed by Josh Howard (one of the leaders at CICM, whom I coach). Josh was responsible for having me there. Josh is an American, who is probably in India for the rest of his life, having married Lashi (one of the daughters of CICM Founders Ajai and Indu Lall). It was a special evening and the Lord showed up big time as I shared my story of becoming a Christian as well as things I have learned through the years. We camped a bit on Acts 2:42-47 sharing keys to growth for a Christian. living in community. Many came forward for prayer for loved ones who don’t know Jesus yet.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 27, 28, I conducted my “Leaders Who Last” seminar with 250 leaders from all over the country. India has 28 states and leaders from 11 of those states were there for the seminar. He gave joy, freedom and passion, and the teaching was well received. All my materials were translated into Hindi as was I.
Wednesday night I was awakened by a knock on my door and learned that one of the leaders and his wife had a major argument and they wanted me to come to their home to meet and pray with them. It was a God moment and Jesus, by His grace, used me to heal some things in their relationship. They were both extremely grateful and I was taken aback as marriage counseling is not my forté --not something I usually do much of. I went back to my room and my bed at 1a, exhausted, but so grateful and aware of His sovereign leadership in my life.
On Thursday, March 29 we had a full day of “Coach Training” (using Ministry Coaching International’s concepts and tools) with 25 of the 250 having stayed on for a third day before heading home. This training was to equip them to be able to coach other leaders and, thereby, establish one-on-one coaching as part of the culture for CICM’s church planting endeavors. 900 churches have been planted so far, with the strong possibility of there being 1,000 by the end of 2012. CICM has plans to plant churches in China, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Their vision is huge and aggressive.
While there, He did far more abundantly than all I had asked or thought, -Ephesians 3:20. I am so grateful to Jesus for allowing me this opportunity and doing some wonderful things through me. “Not to me but to your name give glory” Psalm 115:1
What I Learned
1. Christians are not welcomed, or thought highly of, in India, which is 80% Hindu. Some are killed or persecuted for their faith. I met several from Hindu families who were disowned by their family after they embraced Jesus. There is a real price to pay to be a Christian. Many of the staff at CICM live in compounds surrounded by walls for safety. There are armed guards everywhere. Each time we left the premises, there was always a guard with a rifle who accompanied us. A few years ago, a guard at the front gate of the CICM headquarters was shot to death.
2. The ministry of CICM is broad and deep. You can visit their web site to find out more
For starters, there is a nursing school, a Bible School to train church planters, a children’s home that cares for around 100 children and a publishing arm to get Christian books and magazines out in Hindi. Additionally, there is a department that helps Indians get businesses started to provide for their families. They have another Bible school and children’s home in another part of India.
3. The extreme poverty of so many is mind-boggling. India will soon surpass China as the most populous country in the world, and many of their citizens live in extreme poverty (some estimates are at 56%). The movie “Slum Dog Millionaire” matches up very well with what I observed.
4. CICM focuses on those living at the poverty level. Many of the 900 churches which are part of their network minister to the lower end of the economic spectrum. They plant village churches like the one I spoke in on Sunday evening.
5. I heard several worship bands while there and their worship is strong, enthusiastic and engaging. These people know how to worship Jesus with everything they have and could teach us much.
6. My impression of the staff at CICM was that they are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. They bent over backwards to serve me in every way they could.
7. The children at the children’s home (where I stayed while there) are happy and friendly, yet have almost nothing. They live behind high walls and come there as orphans at a very young age. Some of them will eventually attend the nursing school or the Bible school to become church planters.
8. My mind is still spinning with all that I saw and experienced and am still processing. I’m grateful for the opportunity this trip to India afforded to have an impact on the next generation of leaders. I am more grateful than ever for the simple things that many in India will never have. Running water that is okay to drink, a comfortable bed to sleep in, electricity and good food that is safe to consume. It is so easy to take these (and more) for granted.