We returned from India on Saturday afternoon and I am still exhausted. My body thinks that it is somewhere over the Czech Republic at this point, I think. Jetlag really seems to affect me, and this trip was no different. Actually, this was probably the busiest trip that we have yet had to Northern India, but it was a really good busy. We saw a lot, met with a lot of people in the indigenous network that we are working with, and travelled deep, deep, deep into the mountains. I told our church yesterday that we actually found "The Ends of the Earth." It exists on the side of a mountain in the Indian Himalayas and is about a 14 hour drive from Delhi. We found it, took a right, and kept going another hour or so. Here is a picture, in case you wanted to know what it looked like:
God is really moving there. There is an indigenous church planter that we are working with along with our clean water project who has six home groups going in the past six months. We are seeing baptisms occur, development work proceed, and ministries come together. It seems as though God keeps opening doors and we just keep stepping through them into wide open vistas of Kingdom advance. I praise God that I get to be a part of it!
In Rishikesh, we interviewed quite a few Westerners who had travelled there. We asked why they had come to this holy city on the Ganges River. Rishikesh is very important as a center for Hindu worship and pilgrimage and is considered the world capital of yoga. This is where the Beatles went to attain enlightenment in the late 1960’s, so there are a great number of Westerners who follow in their footsteps. It really is amazing to see Westerners walking amongst the filth, trash, and idolatry of Rishikesh looking for something that they were not able to find in the Christian West. My heart breaks for them as they are so deceived. We were seeking to understand why they come and many told us that they were seeking peace and tranquility, or that they were interested in learning more about yoga. Very few were actually going there because they had bought into the Hindu system, but rather, they were looking for something exotic and different. There are almost no Christians in the city. What if there were some believers there, perhaps even Westerners who met the travellers looking for enlightenment? What if there were some there who could talk with them and show them the true Light that give light to every man? We are seeking God about that possibility and that framed our time there.
Darren Casper and two other men from St. Louis joined us on the trip. Darren, who some of you might know from the blogosphere, is a church planter with The Journey in St. Louis. He also works with the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association and the Acts 29 chuch planting network. Darren went with us to explore the possibility of partnerships with the work that we are connected with in North India. These guys seemed to have a great experience and I am hoping that they will find a point of connection.
I’ll have more to say about the trip as the days go on, I imagine and will be posting pictures here and there. I am just continually amazed at the sacrifice and commitment of the believers there. They are such a small minority, but they have great faith and they continue to serve the Lord even in the midst of great difficulty. With the persecution going on in Orissa on the eastern coast, we all need to keep the Christians of India in our prayers.