Encouragement From The Word, India 2013

A zeal for truth-telling

I’ve been blogging a bit while I’m in India, reflecting on the work I’m seeing God do in this most interesting country.  In a recent post, I reflected on the fact that India, while one-third the size of Canada geographically, has 36 times the population!  What’s more, only about 2% of India comprises Christians, so the church here plays a very minor role, both presently and historically.

However, what I see in the people I am meeting at SAIACS does not reflect the statistics.  One might think that a faith group that is such a minority might just barely be holding on, but the church in India thinks big.  I am meeting people whose heart for mission and evangelism is as big as the nation itself.

There are parts of India that are already thoroughly evangelized; one area in northeast India, I’m told, is 100% Christian.  By contrast, there are parts of south India where hardly a church is to be found.  Clearly, the need is great, but at the same time, there is great zeal for the work to be done.

I wish that in Canada we had the same passion for mission and evangelism that I see in my Indian sisters and brothers.  They have a willingness to sacrifice much – including the admiration of their friends and sometimes even connections with their families – to reach people for Jesus Christ.  And when they see God work in power, these people receive the Lord.  In some cases, they have experienced the complete inaction of their own gods in contrast to the powerful action of the Lord, and they respond.  It’s a bit like Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:  the prophets of Baal keep pleading with their god to act, but he never responds.  Elijah, by contrast, throws buckets and buckets of water on the altar, and God still sends fire from heaven.

We serve an awesome God who loves to be in relationship with us.  We all know people who are far from God.  True, their life circumstances may be so different from those of the people of India that they feel their own affluence is sufficient to carry them, but if they are shown the care and compassion of God, who loved us so much he gave his only Son, they, too, will come into a love relationship with the Lord.

What will you do today to demonstrate the love of Jesus to someone in need?

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25.40, NIV).

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India 2013

India 2013: a spiritual battle, and sometimes a physical one

Here at SAIACS, there is a spiritual battle going on which is sometimes more obvious than one might expect.  There is a Hindu temple across the road from the seminary campus family residences, and its greatest weapon is a large loudspeaker.  There have been times that their “songs” and proclamations have been ridiculously loud.  It seemed funny to us at first, a bit like bad karaoke, until we realized that it is a sign of a spiritual battle.  One family living on campus has one member who is sensing a sometimes debilitating physical oppression because of it.  On Wednesday evening, our team gathered to pray for the family, and for the blessing of their home.  At one point, the “music” started while we were praying.  I felt a pressure in my chest, and raised my hand in the direction of the music, against it.  It stopped.  As we prayed around the property, one of my teammates had a vision of angels, but those angels looked badly beaten and war-wounded.

The church here is sometimes an oppressed ministry.  The battle is significant, but it belongs to the Lord.  He will gain the victory, because he is greater than whatever those across the street may conjure up.

I also met with a young man who is a relatively new believer – a wonderful and not uncommon thing in India.  This fellow is different, though.  He was, you see, an Imam – a Muslim cleric.  He had a special responsibility:  to re-convert Muslims who had become Christians, back to Islam.  While studying Arabic, he was taught about the Christian faith, and decided to read the Bible.  He discovered that what he had been taught was a pack of lies, based on what the Bible said, and as he read, he became convinced that Jesus died for him.  Through a variety of connections, he met with a Lutheran pastor who became his Christian mentor, leading him to Christ and to some theological training.

When his family found out, they tried to kill him.  But God had a better plan.  He was hospitalized, and then jailed (since his family fabricated the idea that he had come into their home as a thief), but the case was thrown out.  He was safely taken into the care of Christians, and now is working actively to re-convert those he had re-converted!  His zeal for the gospel is nothing short of amazing, and I praise God for him, because he is perfectly positioned, knowing the “inside story” of Islam, to help Muslims come to know Jesus as their personal Saviour and Lord.

Sometimes, the battle is spiritual, and sometimes it is physical.  But God is greater than the knife wielded in hatred.