February 14, 2008
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY to you all.
American Greetings and Hallmark have managed to convince the Indians that they should join in the celebration too. (Men are pretty easy to “guilt” when it comes to their wives and sweethearts.) So people here will celebrate it today.
We were at a church dedication this morning. Thirty people attended. It was the church’s one-year anniversary. We were also going to gather some villagers together and present the Gospel using the Evange-cube, but the pastor told us that there was opposition in the village to any foreigners, so we decided to pass.
The people in the church, and everywhere we’ve been so far, have been very friendly. All the children want me to touch them. The adults want me to bless them. I'm guessing that they think the prayers of a white man have more power. Many of these little villages have never seen a white man. So it’s novel for them. We get lots of stares. One baby cried this morning when she looked at me. (MJ does too sometimes… but that’s a different story). Finally she warmed up to me and let me touch her before I left.
We are in Armur through Sunday. I teach each morning in the pastor’s seminar. It’s a blast and a privilege to teach the Bible among them. I'm getting the hang of speaking to them through a translator. They don’t get much of my humor ... but the few English speaking people and I laugh anyway. Each night we’ll do an Open Air Festival in a fairgrounds-type place in the evening, starting about 6:30 p.m. Done by 10:00. Then prayer ministry to many sick and diseased people…. Blind eyes, deaf ears, limbs that don’t work. One boy about 22 years old had only tiny, shriveled legs (polio) and was carried by his brothers for me to pray over him. It breaks my heart. Yet they are so hungry for hope, to receive healing, and to meet any God who can heal them. Each night we see many miracles.
One pastor we visited in Challapalli this past weekend has had 36 different people in his church who have been raised from the dead over the course of ten years.
Yes, you read that right. I know, I know... it's hard to believe. I was immediately skeptical too. I quickly ran through my scientific-oriented brain for any possible explanation: nothing. But--there they were, a few of them anyway. Right in front of me. (One, in the picture above)
I suppose I could have argued with them... "no, you weren't really dead." "Had you taken some medicine beforehand, perhaps?" "Maybe you just "appeared" to be lifeless, until your body recovered?" But I didn't. I think they would have laughed at me anyway. Or frowned and walked away, wondering how an American Christian could be so ignorant of the ways of God.
In the end I realized it was my stumbling block, not theirs. They were perfectly happy to have a second shot at life, thank you very much. "Praise Jesus!" It would have been easier to remain skeptical and disbelieving it had been one person, or maybe two. But, how do you argue against 36 people who the pastor claims have all been raised from the dead? Is he a liar? Or does he have the faith that allows God to work through him? Some of "the resurrected" have gone on to be pastors—duhh, how could you not?! There is so much spiritual fervor in this pastor's church that he has started/ planted 50 branch churches, each with their own pastor whom he has mentored.
I'm beginning to wonder about the purpose of this Mission Outreach trip to India for myself. Was God sprinkling a generous dose of grace in my life? Inviting me to India to take a sneak-peek into another side of His everyday world where people are much more open to God's love and healing?