The following speaks for itself. This was an incredible experience even after twenty-five years of travel in more than forty nations of the world....

Dateline: Tuesday, 12 Jan 11:47:29 + 0530

On Sunday, January 3, Randy Wolfe and I left Portland,Oregon to begin the New Year in ministry in India. The Northwest Airlines 767 headed north and east, away from Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier, over the vast backcountry of Canada, non-stop to Amsterdam where we connected with a KLM 747 flight to Bombay, or Mumbai as it is now referred to.

 

Mumbai , India: Old Bombay – After seemingly endless hours crammed in an artificial life-space 33,000 feet over the earth we finally arrive. It has taken us nearly 40 hours to transit from Seattle to Bombay. It’s 1:00 in the morning, but the baggage claim area is jammed with the odd-normal mixture of returning nationals, backpack lugging adventurers and business people.

We hail a taxi for a three or four hour respite at the interestingly named "Sun and Sand" hotel. We arrive exhausted and see neither sun nor sand. We rise at 4:15 AM and the same taxi driver who must have just dropped us at our hotel picks us up again for the short drive to the domestic airport. The streets are quiet at this hour, with a haze of pollution mixed with fog lying still around us. Men and women lay along the road, wrapped in filthy grayish blankets, finding whatever relief they can from their daily toils. Ditch-diggers lay sleeping alongside their projects, skinny long-tailed cats dance, ballet-like through darkened alleyways. A rat, huge and thick, darts across the pavement; a dog here and there stands watch over their masters and their turf.

We come to a railroad crossing and our driver turns off the ignition as the sight of crossbars blocking our path greets us. We wait while three separate trains, filled with early morning travelers going who-knows-where pass smoothly by in the inky darkness.

 

This is India – an overload of sensory images: Sight, sound, smell, and we cannot escape the realization that we are surrounded by millions of people. The press of humanity shows itself everywhere, from the dirty, turban encased young man patiently sitting beside us on his bicycle to the knot of men on the corner, playing some kind of Indian poker game, to the huddled forms leaning over tin dishes, pushing down an early morning meal. I wonder what their diet consists of. I wonder what they will do all day today. I wonder what thoughts consume them – what hopes, what fears.

Randy has done this before. Bombay is not novel to him; it is desperate. I am new to the country, but I have seen India over and again in places like Lop Buri, Thailand, Danang, Vietnam, Cebu City, The Philippines, China, Hong Kong. Cities which have their beautiful side–their glitter and their glory, but cities with dying, corrupt and pathetic under-bellies. I see in the streets of Bombay what I have seen in so many cities: Quiet, painful, immutable despair.

 

We board our aircraft for our next flight and are squeezed into our seats surrounded by bags and sacks and boxes and people. Unless you've traveled in Asia or Africa or South America, you probably have no concept of the kind of overloading that is routine on flights in these places.

 

Climbing into the early morning skies, we watch the sun rise and look down on emerald green fields and jungles, interspersed with the brown and rust colored cities of India's interior. Before we know it, we are landing at Hyderabad, a city of some 6,800,000 inhabitants. We're not "there" yet, but we sense the nearness of journey's end.

 

At Hyderabad we meet John Wesley, the lovely-spirited and strikingly handsome administrator of Earnest’s church. We are dropped off at our hotel for a meal and a few hours’ rest before beginning a six-hour train journey to Vidayawada where ministry will officially begin. Vijayawada was named for the goddess Kanakadurga, also known as Vijaya. The city lies 271 kms from Hyderabad between the Krishna River and the Budameru.

 

The city of Hyderabad was founded in 1589 and is the fifth largest city in India. Hyderabad 's population, at nearly seven million, makes it the 31st largest city in the world; relatively small compared with Mumbai's 18 million plus citizens.

 
Hyderabad sprawls on the banks of the River Musi, and is the city where north meets south. This is the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. We will preach here, but first we will travel to Vijaywada, situated along the banks of the Krishna River among the Indrakiladri Hills where we will conduct a pastor's school and an evangelistic crusade. Vijiwada's two million souls make it a virtual village after experiencing Hyderabad's crowded streets.

 

During the morning Randy and I sit in the coffee shop talking about the concept of fathers and sons and biblical government in the church. We are both strengthened by our times of prayer and our discussions. We are both committed to the enterprise of not merely talking about fathers and sons and government in the church, but doing something of significance about these things. I am reminded of the Bible word, "exploit." I think about the "greater works" Jesus promised we should do. I consider the times, I reflect on the lateness of the prophetic hour. I realize there is a generation, which will arise in the earth and, with violence take the kingdom by force. I want to do exploits, greater works; I want to be part of that number "called to the kingdom for such a time as this." I want to do violence to the kingdom of darkness. I want to see Jesus become known in the hearts of men and women. I want to not only be included "in that number" when the "saints come marching in," but I want to be part of the number who will cause heaven to become overcrowded.

 

...................5:30 A.M., Wednesday, January 6 –

Rumbling through the central Indian countryside by train. I have lost track of when this portion of our journey began, and have no idea how long we have been traveling. The thick darkness outside gives no clues as to the corridor through which we pass. We can see no homes, no streets, no trees or fields, no animal or person. The world is hidden from us in our deep cocoon of fleeting light, sweeping past mile after mile of unseen landscape, yet we know at an intuitive level, that outside the steel and glass of our carriage, India is awakening to another day of quiet, painful struggle for survival.

 

While America rises to choice and comfort and option and malls and mail-order and internet communication, India opens her eyes as she has for thousands of years, simply wondering where the next meal will come, if the next meal will come, if a simple piece of cloth can be had to replace the rotting blanket which has provided thin protection against the elements of sun, rain, heat and cold.

 

Silently, our small team sits on an overloaded train steaming through the inky darkness. They have appeared from various locations, silently moving through the incessant crowds: Timothy, an associate pastor, Rana, a 21 year old girl who will sing in our crusade and Randy and myself. Each of us is now alone with our various thoughts, prayers and anticipations of the days to come. We will begin ministry tonight in Vijayawada, but for now, we pass thousands upon thousands of hopeless, aimless and precious people who wait in the bleak darkness outside our windows for light to dawn.

 

Without warning, the sun begins to tint the sky a copper and pink hue. I glance at my watch:  6:25 A.M. Trees begin to silhouette themselves, water-filled rice paddies begin to reflect the early morning light, clouds appear, then a mountain outlines itself against the horizon. India is coming alive once more and I cry in my heart, "Lord, let India live. Let her shake off the spiritual slumber that has wrecked millions of lives in every generation before ours. Let this be the hour of Your visitation from heaven. Shower grace upon the land, Lord. As the great winds sweep the heights of the Himalayan peaks north of us, cleansing the mountains of refuse and pollution and of every trace of man, so let Your wind sweep the hills, the plains, the villages and the cities and cover this people with Your mercy. Let them see, let them know, let them love Jesus."

 

Randy spends time with Timothy, his friend and interpreter from last year, who said that anti-Christian sentiment is rising throughout India. There is concern among leaders everywhere. The newspapers are filled with accounts of attacks, government responses, angry, anti-American, anti-Christian editorials. We are cautioned not mention any other religion or belief system in our preaching as opposition groups are sending people to attend church services looking for a reason to act with violence. Our God is for us, and according to our belief in His Word He shall protect us. We must pray for our brethren here. Persecution experienced is far different than persecution read about. God is all-sufficient!

 

As the hours grind slowly by to the sound of steel wheels on steel rail, I step out of the car to breathe in fresh air. I am joined by an Indian man who stands with me, silently watching the countryside as we pass through. I notice an oddity about this man: He has a green, rubber hand with a large ruby ring on its’ artificial finger. He notices me noticing and tells me about his injury. He is an Indian soldier and lost his hand and the arm to the elbow in a bomb blast. He proudly tells me that he traveled to Germany to have this arm and hand constructed. I wonder why he has chosen an olive drab green hand. It certainly looks strange to me. Perhaps he wanted the new hand to blend in with his olive drab green uniform. The ruby ring on the rubber finger seems even more odd. But the man is proud and seems to be happy, and this is India, and men with green, rubber hands have every right to have green rubber hands if they like.

 

--------------------------------1:40 PM, Wednesday, January 6 - A long journey by train ends. It has taken us longer to travel by rail from Hyderabad to Vijayawada than it took us to fly from Seattle to Amsterdam, Holland. We are weary, but when we are converged upon by local pastors, come to meet us at the train station, we are refreshed by their buoyant spirits. We drive to pastor Spurgeon’s home where his wife, Rachel has prepared a lovely meal for us. After lunch we are driven to our hotel to prepare for the evening service. The hotel is Spartan, the beds are traditional eastern – very narrow and a bit short for me, but we have air conditioning and are able to rest for an hour or two before we are retrieved and driven to the open air meeting field. I'm getting used to the colorful names that converts to Christ give themselves. We hear names such as "Spurgeon," "Wesley," "Moody" and other great Christian leaders of the past Century.

 

We arrive during worship, speakers booming a uniquely Indian melody, which lifts the lyrics of praise as our jeep takes us alongside and in front of the crowd as though we are some kind of dignitaries. I feel self-conscious as we are paraded in front of these precious people, but this is the "Indian Way," likely learned from the British.

 

Randy preaches a solid and hard hitting message on the power of the cross from I Corinthians 1:18. He tells the crowd that the choice is theirs to either believe and accept the word of God or to reject the word of God as "foolishness."

 

There is a good response to the altar call, and I am soon surrounded by eager Indians pressing their heads towards me in request for me to lay my hands on them and pray. One man tells me he is filled with blackness and witchcraft. As I pray, demons begin to manifest themselves and he twists and contorts as an ageless battle is fought before us. In a few minutes, the man is released by the demonic forces and asks Christ to come into his life. He begins to worship and praise God as deliverance and salvation come to him, evidence of what Randy preached: "The preaching of the cross is….the power of God to them that believe."

 

Many sick come – those with deaf ears, unknown maladies, and diseases, there is so much hurt and brokenness among these people, but God is faithful and manifests His glory and power among them.

 

We return to pastor Spurgeon’s home where Rachel has gone quickly after the meeting to prepare of all things, spaghetti, french fries and green beans for Randy and me. She and her husband have lived in Illinois, where Spurgeon studied at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield in the 1970’s. Two of their five children are U.S. citizens and live in Colorado Springs and Roanoke, Virginia. We are blessed by this lovely family. Their seven year-old son, Spurgeon, Jr. is a quiet, shy and handsome young man. I miss my girls when I talk with Evelyn, Spurgeon’s 15 year old daughter. She is a field hockey player, and is the national champion of India. Her sweet spirit and quiet ways remind me of my young daughter, Carrie.

 

After dinner and good conversation, we incn back through crowded, noisy streets in the church van, carrying us to our hotel. As we lay on our beds, sleep is hard to find amid the raucous litany of blaring, insistent horns, shouting their demands for passage through the narrow, motorcycle, bicycle and rickshaw-choked street below us.

 

------------------------ 6:25 A.M., Thursday, January 7

 Morning arrives again. The sun, a brilliant, tangerine effervescence, bores a glowing hole through leaden, pollution-filled skies. Billboards are illuminated, advertising the action-adventure, romance, thriller movies that must consume so many night-time hours of the people of the city of Vijayawada. Early morning merchants make their way from beds to the market-place. Trucks, cars, vans all vie with human-powered vehicles for space in the cramped, serpentine streets. High above the growing congestion, we rise with the sun and prepare for the pastor’s conference where Randy and I will teach – Randy speaking about miracles, me talking about the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Day four of our India mission has begun, and we wonder what the remaining days and nights will bring as we are joined with intercessors across America, praying for a mighty visitation of God’s mercy and glory in this nation.

 

On our way to the morning meeting, we phone home for a brief update and I learn that my brother in law, Jim, a good friend and new Christian has been hit by a train and is in critical condition. He was driving an eighteen-wheel semi with a load of steel when he attempted to brake for a railroad crossing on thick ice. The truck slid onto the tracks just as a freight train, moving at 45 miles per hour smashed into Jim's cab, throwing him through the windshield. Jim smashed into a steel pole and fell into a snow drift where he would have suffocated had it not been for the quick actions of another driver. The doctors do not expect him to live. I am stunned by the news. Jim only accepted Christ as his savior in late November while he and my sister were visiting us in Washington. The team immediately intercedes for him.

 

Thursday’s Pastor’s Conference begins with Randy teaching the first session of his "Flowing in Miracles" series. I follow with a quickly titled, "Flowing in the Anointing" teaching. After two and one half-hours’ teaching, Randy and I lay hands on every man and woman in the room. Following our meeting, Randy, suffering from nausea and diarrhea spends the afternoon in our room. I opt to leave Randy with his misery and go to Spurgeon’s home for lunch, during which we break into a lengthy discussion about the sad and disappointing levels of non-cooperation between Christian denominations in India. Spurgeon expresses frustration over the lack of fellowship and cooperation between the Assemblies of God, the Foursquare, the Church of God and others, and tells me that he believes much more good could be done if these bodies would work together. I have recently resigned from the Assemblies of God, and Spurgeon is impressed that I would leave the only denomination I have known in order to work with other Christian groups.

 

7:15 PM. We make our way to the open-air meeting and discover that the crowds have grown since last night. I preach from John 5, emphasizing that although God has not yet come through, the healing has not yet come, although men and women are still "waiting", Jesus is coming! A hundred or so men and women respond at the altar for salvation. I've heard so many reports of "thousands" of Indians responding to calls for salvation that I determine to be extremely conservative in our counting and reporting of numbers here. We lead those who come for salvation in  prayer, and I endeavor to lay hands on each of them. My concern tonight is as always that those who decide to follow Jesus will be personally led and discipled by the local Christian community. Praying for God to save us is one thing: Growing in Christ is the greater need.

 

We drive to Spurgeon’s home where Rachel has made hamburgers and fries for Randy and me. The long day finally ends and Randy and I lay awake talking until nearly One O' Clock in the morning . The night is interrupted for me over and over again as I awake to find myself interceding for Jim, then for the meetings, then for Jim. I do this all night and awake feeling as though I haven’t slept at all. The morning brings day number six. Randy reflects that we have less than one week remaining on our mission. My thoughts are now continually with Jim and my sister, Gale.

 

------------------------ Friday, January 8

Today I will teach the first session, and if Randy is feeling well, he will preach tonight. Tomorrow we will finish in Vijayawada and take the eleven O’ Clock train to Hyderabad. It will be an all night journey back to the city, and Randy and I will preach in different churches Sunday morning. In the morning session, the Holy Spirit begins to manifest Himself with power as I teach. I suddenly realize the academic nature of the session is fast turning into a Holy Spirit visitation. I invite the pastors to come forward and we lay hands on them and pray. Bodies begin to fall across the concrete floor. Many of the pastors have never seen anything like this before. We try to explain to the men to catch one another, but they still do not understand and people continue to fall backwards onto the concrete. Bodies are everywhere. No one is injured. God is moving on men. After an hour, Spurgeon begins to explain to the pastors what has happened. He says we must expect something to happen when we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives. The "something" that happened has shocked the pastors, but they also recognize that it is God in our midst.

 

As we arrive at the stadium for the evening service, we discover that Bishop Ernest Kamanapalli has arrived from Hyderabad. Randy defers and asks Bishop Kamanapalli to preach. The Bishop speaks of the attacks on Christians and exhorts us with the refrain, "It’s time to pray!"

 

------------------------ Saturday, January 9

There has been much concern among the brethren here because of the violence against Christians in the nation. We spend time with the Bishop and he speaks to us about his concern for those who have suffered loss in the violence. He talked with a man on Friday who was beaten horribly because of his faith. The violence seems to be increasing, while the public outcry against violence also increases.

 

We are in the morning Pastor’s conference sessions. Randy is speaking and I will conclude. We then must check out of our hotel, drive to the pastor’s home and wait for the evening meeting. We will take the 11 PM train to  Amalapuram. With its beautiful coconut tress and lush greenery, Amalapuram is one of the most scenic places on the planet. We will speak there tomorrow, Sunday morning, then return to Hyderabad where we are looking forward to some rest.

 

The incessant honking, bleating and blasting of every conceivable kind of horn has worn on our nerves. The sounds invade our room at night and in the morning. We are constantly blasted with these offending sounds, and it will be like heaven to return again to the quiet of our Hyderabad hotel. At six O’ Clock this morning, a loud explosion rips out from just under our window. I cannot see the source of the blast, but Randy and I are now wide awake. We don't know either the source or the target of the explosion, but someone has certainly detonated some kind of device with the intent of causing destruction.

 

We are both weary, lacking sleep. Randy has spent two days suffering from dehydration, diarrhea and nausea. We don't investigate the bomb. We only muse that it will be good to get back to Hyderabad.

 

Saturday afternoon we learn that we will not be returning immediately to Hyderabad. The pastor of Manna Church, a congregation of 2,500 has asked us to come to Amalapuram for Sunday instead. We conclude the Saturday night service, once again seeing masses of people come to salvation. This is especially important to us as we read more about the violence against Christians. The Hindus call what we are doing "making forced conversions." We will discover later that already four Indian states have enacted quickly drafted laws forbidding these conversions to Christianity.

 

We enjoy fellowship and the evening meal at Pastor Spurgeon’s home, and at 11:15 PM begin the journey by van to Amalapuram. The trip through congested, narrow roads takes five hours. On the way, we come within inches of becoming involved in a head-on collision. A huge lorry, moving much too fast for the road conditions and passing other vehicles comes towards us in our lane. Carl is driving and slams on his brakes, but it appears that we will collide regardless of his efforts. At the last possible moment, our driver swerves off the road and we drop off an embankment and come to a dusty and sudden stop in the dirt of a field. We have missed certain death by less than a foot. The prayers of our intercessors and the intervention of angels no doubt have kept us tonight. I have been sleeping soundly and miss all the excitement. The jolting of the vehicle shakes me awake. I'm drowsy, but hear the others in the car breathing heavily. These are the only sounds I hear; heavy breathing and then my own voice asking "what's happening?" No one answers for a long time.

 

 

------------------------ Sunday, January 10

We arrive at the ministry compound at 4 in the morning and drop into our beds, exhausted. At 10:30 in the morning we drive to the church and are greeted by more than two thousand voices, echoing in the street as the believers praise and worship God. Randy and I both preach – I from Acts 17 "These who have turned the world upside down have come here also" – appropriate because of the increasing tensions between Hindus and Christians. Randy preaches about the Siro-Phonecian woman who cries as a "little dog" for "crumbs" from the master’s table.

 

Following the service, we have lunch with the pastor’s family, then drive through the ministry properties. We visit Manna College, Manna Jr. and Senior High School, the Orphanage, where 500 children have found a home and love and a family. We drive to the leper compound and the ministry hospital. We then drive to another high school. The first is for the orphans, the second is for the children of the city. We are impressed with the ministry. We learn that for $2,500 each we can build a two-room house for lepers. For $14.00 per month we can support one leper.

 

We then hurry for a two-hour drive to the train depot in a neighboring city and catch the 7:50 PM train to Hyderabad. The train trip lasts for nine and one-half long hours. We arrive in an enclave of Hyderabad at 5:30 in the morning, and are met by one of the drivers from the church. We are driven to our hotel, but are too wired to sleep. We enjoy an early morning breakfast and take turns luxuriating in our first hot bath of our trip.

 

We have seen hundreds of men and women saved. We have seen bodies healed. We have seen demons flee. This is First Century Christianity at work. This is the true, pure gospel in action. As I am mobbed by hundreds of hurting people, showing me every kind of sickness and disease, I look into their expectant faces; I observe them swathed in cheap cotton robes and saris and see their bare feet. I wonder if this is not precisely the scene Jesus saw in town after town as He walked throughout Israel two thousand years ago. I want to experience the same compassion, the same care, the same power to heal that He exhibited. I want to touch them and see their blind eyes opened, their ears unstopped and their broken bodies restored. The sight of the lepers, gathered around us as I pray for them, will not soon fade into memory. I am deeply moved and touched and changed by this India experience. I will not pray the same or believe the same or hope the same again.

 

So, now we are in Hyderabad. We have only three nights remaining before we begin our long journey homeward. We are torn: On the one hand, we could remain here and preach and pray. On the other, we are missing our families dearly. We must go home, but we no doubt will return again.

 

------------------------ Monday, January 11

Monday, January 11 brings fresh news of more violence against Christians. Beatings, threats and church burnings have been increasing even since we have been in the country. The local pastors are talking about the persecution more and more. Jody Kamanipalli, son of Bishop Kamanipalli is urging the pastors to be strong, to be of good courage and to pursue the mission God has given them. Following the afternoon teaching with the pastors, Randy preaches a simple message of salvation and 43 men and women come forward to be saved. We are encouraged by this response, because these people come to Jesus with the threats of violence against them fresh in their hearing. Each of the people who attend our meetings is part of the Hindu religion. Each wears a bright and unmistakable "dot" on his or her forehead. I asked our host if these dots will be removed when people receive Christ as Savior. "Oh, yes, they will remove them" I am told. "So everyone who sees these people will know they have rejected Hinduism and have embraced Jesus?" I ask. "Yes," is the simple answer. Abandoning Hinduism and becoming a Christian, especially in the current climate will mean the loss of employment, loss of family and great persecution, possibly even death. I find myself wondering if Americans would be so bold in their faith as to mark themselves for everyone around them to see their faith.

 

------------------------ Tuesday, January 12

Tuesday, I teach the 9:30 A.M. session and the Holy Spirit breaks through in a powerful way. I ask discouraged pastors to come forward. Eight men respond and all eight are overwhelmed by the Spirit and fall to the floor where they remain until nearly noon. Then waves of the Holy Spirit sweep into the room. We are singing, "Come, Holy Spirit, I need Thee" and the Spirit speaks to me, "As at Pentecost!" The power of the Spirit increases. I can hardly imagine His presence and strength and nearness being any greater, but He increases in us again and again. Men are weeping, laughing, shouting, leaping, dancing, waving hands in the air. As tears stream down cheeks, I am overcome with thanksgiving to God for His faithfulness. I meet with Bishop Ernest and Rachel Kamanipalli in the Bishop’s office. I gave them a prophetic word concerning the direction of their ministry last night, and they have questions and need clarification. It is a wonderful time of fellowship and ministry. The Bishop says to me, "Consider your mission accomplished here." He means that he needed to hear that word which I shared with him. I learn that he has postponed his flight to Sri Lanka by one day in the hopes of hearing from the Lord. God has answered him and he and Rachel are greatly encouraged.

 

In the evening meeting, I preach about seeking God for the FULL measure of His victory in our lives. I pause to invite people to come to salvation and a dozen or more come to the altar and receive Christ. Much later, after most people have departed, I am praying for the lingering few when a lady asks "Please pray with me to be saved." One more soul has just been plucked from the kingdom of darkness and has been delivered into the kingdom of God’s Son.

 

Tomorrow brings our final day of ministry in India. We are scheduled to fly to Bombay (Mumbai) on Thursday afternoon where we will wait nearly seven hours for our flight to Amsterdam. We will wait three and one-half hours in Holland before boarding our flight for Seattle. If all goes well, we will be home in thirty hours from the time of our first flight.

 

This afternoon we drive to a market so that Randy can purchase a suitcase. We pass stall after stall of vegetable stands, meat shops, choking, eye-burning, mind-numbing soot and smoke and pollution. Smells of filth, food and crowds of people collide to produce an unbelievable, unforgettable odor. The smell permeates our clothing, our skin, our hair. We sit at dinner and it seems the food has acquired the flavor of the smells around us. Traffic is jammed together – pedestrians and vehicles and cows and water buffaloes and dogs press into a living, tediously moving mass, threading through the narrow, winding maze of streets, boulevards and avenues.

 

Randy and I are weary: The combined effect of disturbed sleep, train travel, long flights, hard beds, blaring horns, wild car rides, late nights, early mornings, praying, preaching, teaching, counseling have slowly, inexorably taken their sure toll. Randy returns home to a weekend of rest before returning to his office on Monday. I arrive at home on Friday and begin teaching a SCUBA class on Saturday and Sunday, and begin preaching at River City Assembly on Sunday night. I will have Monday to rest, then preach on Tuesday through Thursday and leave for Alaska on Friday. When I return from Alaska, I pack and leave for Ireland and England and Northern Ireland. My first opportunity to rest will come in March, just before I leave for England and Israel.

But tonight we are back in our hotel room. We are ready for sleep. Tomorrow will bring new challenge and new anointing. We are thankful for God’s faithfulness and look forward to Thursday’s long journey home.

 

------------------------ Wednesday, January 13

It is Wednesday morning. We are awakened, as we have been every morning since our arrival, by the Muslim call to prayer, blaring over loud speakers. Punctual at 5:30 A.M. the voice is plaintive, insistent, futile. After fifteen minutes of wailing, the voice evaporates. Then ten minutes later, it begins again, continuing for another fifteen minutes. I lay in bed wondering if the ten-minute interlude is the mullah’s teatime. I think about the dead god he prays to. I wonder what would happen in the earth if Christian people were as earnest and as dedicated to prayer as the Muslims.

 

This is our final day of ministry here. One teaching session, one impartation session, and the evening meeting and we will prepare to return to America. As the day progresses, we experience bittersweet emotions. I have come to love these Indian people as family. I know about their families. I have held their children and prayed for their needs. The Bible College students are especially precious. Their faces reflect zeal, excitement, anticipation, faith, hope, vision. Randy and I encourage them, bless them, pray with them, listen to their visions and their fears. We walk through their dormitories. We notice the Spartan and simple furnishings and the lack of possessions. We encourage these young people to have faith, to be bold, to refuse to limit their potential – we encourage them to win all of India to Jesus.

 

During the evening service, another altar invitation is issued. Eleven more souls are born-again as men and women walk to the altar for prayer. We rejoice. In the last three nights, in the midst of fears of physical persecution, nearly seventy people have asked Jesus to become their Savior and Lord.

 

As we lay our hands on the saints, bodies are strewn across the floor. The church is not accustomed to this phenomena, and more than a few people fall backwards and smack the marble floors with sickening sounds as pastors fail to catch them. I pray for one man who falls backwards, but I am not concerned because four pastors stand behind him. I am horrified as these pastors notice the man is falling and politely step out of the way to make room for him to fall! I wonder if we will have a funeral tomorrow, but the man appears to be in fine shape later when he rises.

 

At last the last notes have been sung, the final prayers prayed and the people file out. It is a sad scene, yet we are excited to return home again. I attract a congregation of children as happens wherever we go. The little ones – three, five, seven years old crowd around me and we play games, slapping hands, teasing, laughing. I lift two children and hug and kiss them. They all laugh and push their way through to be the next to be lifted by this huge, white-haired American.

 

A guard leaves his post at the gate and approaches me as we are getting into the car. We cannot communicate by speech, but his eyes speak better. We smile at each other, bow and wave goodbye. I bless him and we are off into the night.

 

We return to our room and pack, then lay in our beds watching the University of Tennessee upset the sixth ranked Kentucky Wildcats on television. At 2:30 A.M. the game ends, we switch off the television and slowly succumb to sleep.

 

The night, however, passes slowly, painfully for both Randy and me. Randy can’t find sleep and I toss, turn, groan, and mumble unintelligible gibberish, which does nothing for Randy’s fight for sleep.

 

We have seen hundreds of people saved. We have seen bodies healed, demons cast out, lives encouraged and restored. We have seen people fall under the power of the Holy Spirit. We have seen them laugh, scream, dance, shout, leap and run. And now we leave them, but we leave them with the Holy Spirit Who both called us here and has promised to remain with this vibrant, growing church.

 

Ahead of us lie nearly forty hours of travel before we see our homes again. We will wait seven hours in Bombay for our flight to Amsterdam. Three hours will pass at Amsterdam before we board our Northwest flight to Seattle. Then our aircraft will lift us high above the earth again, passing over the North Sea, then over Iceland, Greenland, and the remote upper reaches of the frozen mass and finally settle again on the tarmac at Seattle. Then a small commuter airplane will push us south to Portland and home. Randy has told me that this has been his most successful and most enjoyable missions trip to date. For that I am exceedingly happy and glad. We have grown closer to each other and have shared the victories of ministry together. We have been blessed with good health and have sensed and seen the protective hand of God upon us.

 

We are grateful to our intercessors. The health, success and ease we have experienced would never have happened if faithful men and women had not cried out to God daily for us when they could not see, could not know what our circumstances were. We pray that God will bless and multiply grace to each invaluable and dear intercessor for their support and help during these days.

 

We leave India with many images pressed into our spirits. We have seen abject poverty – a poverty almost beyond belief to the Western mind. We have seen cows being preferred and honored while little, tiny infants wander naked through busy streets. We have watched old men and women and young children converge on our car at intersections, pleading with their eyes for a small gift from us while Mercedes Benz and Volvo automobiles belch exhaust fumes into their faces. We silently cry – lifting our hope and faith to the Father to bless and lift these hurting, hopeless people into the arms of Jesus.

 

------------------------ Thursday, January 14

The final act of our India ministry is to invite Rachel Kamanipalli and her son Jody, Timothy and his wife and several children to lunch. We share wonderful fellowship and then our driver takes us to the airport where we board an India Air flight to Bombay. The flight is brief, a mere hour. At Bombay we take the KLM shuttle across the city from the domestic airport to the international airport where Randy and I sit in the hot and steamy "Business Class Lounge" reading books and watching the clock. We have a seven-hour layover and time seems to react with us to the heat. The hands of the clock move as lethargically as we feel. At last we board the DC-10 which will carry us up over Karachi, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, then north of Baghdad, Iraq, over Iran, Turkey, the Balkans and into Eastern Europe. I sleep most of the way. When we arrive in Portland on Friday afternoon I must prepare for ministry on Sunday and through the week in Vancouver, then leave for Alaska on the following Friday. I will need all the rest I can find.

 

Amsterdam is a culture shock for us. Gleaming floors, clean water, fancy restaurants and a hotel in the airport. Randy plunks down $22.00 so we can both luxuriate in private showers. I slowly shave, waste gallons of water brushing my teeth, then let the searing water beat into my back. I feel as though two weeks of filth, sweat and stink have been chased down the drain. Refreshed, Randy and I walk to our departure gate and wait only one minute before being allowed to board our flight.

 

After several hours at 35,000 feet, Randy nudges me awake and points down seven miles below us where Greenland, with barely a cloud to obscure our view is revealed. I have flown many times over this landmass, but have never seen it so clearly. The expanse of snow, rock, ice, water, tundra and mountains is breathtaking in the early morning light. The sun flashes crimson through the port windows of the aircraft and swathes Greenland in brilliant hues and subtle shadows. The wonder of God’s creation and man’s invention, which enables us to take in this view, are overwhelming.

 

We are four and one-half hours from Seattle. Seven hours from Portland. Eight hours from home. A workday for most people, but for Randy and me, just enough time to remember the events of the past two weeks; the victories won, the salvations, deliverances, healings; the testimonies we heard during our final luncheon – Jody informed us that the pastors who had come to the conference all began to share with him after the final service that they had all – no exaggeration, no hype, no overstatement – they all received healing. For some it was a physical healing and for others it was a healing of another kind, but Randy and I are humbled when we learn the extent that God has used us during our time with these beautiful people.

 

Eight hours and we’ll be home with our families, but only hours ago we left our family – in India.

 

Greg Austin: G2kemerge@aol.com

 

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