The intrepid man of God weaved in and around puddles as his faithful scooter took him across the field that night. Behind him, a group of Western missionaries followed in an off-road vehicle. It was the outskirts of Bangalore, and this caravan was headed for an isolated village nestled in the midst of the emerging urban jungle.
Cut off from the roads by a combination of burial grounds and newly built skyscrapers, this village had no church buildings whatsoever. The constant pounding of hammers, the dust in the air, and the glow of halogen lights spoke of the nearness of construction crews working on high-rise apartments. These luxury condos struck a sharp contrast with the humble village homes in their shadow.
That night, Pastor Christopher had already led us to the roadside home of a transvestite prostitute whose feet had been washed by the women in our group. She cried as we told her God loved her. Now as he finished his cross-field trek, we left our vehicles behind and hiked across garbage-strewn fields on narrow paths lit only by our cell phone flashlights. Helen, the eldest of our group at 84 years old, was guided by Pastor Daniel, and I was keeping up with Pastor Christopher, whom I had met a few nights before at his church in the Muslim Quarter.
“We want to build a church building here. A few years ago, there were no believers. But by the grace of God there are families here now, and we have a church,” he shared.
Entering the first home of the evening, we were greeted by a tall white-haired, dark-skinned Indian man with a beaming smile. He said he was “proud to have us there.”
As I think of that night, a night much like, as well as much different than, any other we’ve experienced here in this land of contradictions, I was touched by his pride as I’ve been touched by his countrymen and the way the Gospel is reaching India.
We’ve conducted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for a mixture of Hindu and Christian children; prayed over elderly individuals; sang about Jesus to people in a home for HIV-infected individuals; met a rickshaw driver-turned Good Samaritan who cleaned the maggots out of wounded, indigent homeless people; and we’ve ministered to a team of young missionaries whose own team-member was paralyzed in a car accident not far from where we were staying.
Our trip has been miraculous. A man who has been essentially brain-dead for years reacted to our prayers by blinking at us. An emaciated AIDS patient lifted his arms and cried “Jesu, Jesu” as we prayed in tongues and in English over his blanket-covered body. I preached to an audience of Tamil-speaking people, and the next day we led four souls to Christ on a house visit. As our VBS came to a close, we saw at least 50 kids raise their hands to accept Jesus.
Here, I’ve been privileged to lead people to the Lord. This is something I’ve always wanted to be used for and never have done. Besides the mass-evangelism in VBS, I have been privileged to personally lead six people to Christ. And I’ve also had two others accept the savior by praying with other teammates after I preached.
Yes, the man we were visiting in that lonely village that night was proud. But I was the one who was changed. I, and all the rest of the team, were so privileged to be there that night. We were with a strong Christian family on the other side of the world. As they refreshed us spiritually with songs and physically with cold soda from a nearby store, I couldn’t help but feel blessed to be among them. I couldn’t help but feel grateful to all the hard-working pastors and lay people who had been here before us and had brought us to this home.
And as our night continued through this isolated patch of urbanity, visiting home after home under the halogen-lit sky, I felt closer to God than I’ve ever felt. And as we visited the last home, leading three Hindu villagers to Jesus, I was even more grateful for Pastor Christopher and all of the other pastors who guided us into the homes where they had laid the groundwork. God is at work in India, and he has a team of workers who are out in the fields sowing, reaping, and making disciples.
Maybe some day a road will come into this village, and the people will be able to get water and supplies even in the monsoon seasons. And maybe Pastor Christopher will use that road to go and preach on Sundays at his new church. I pray he does.