Ministry, Travels

Stories of a month in India

One month in India has gone by. I arrived on July 18 in Kolkata in the North, now I’m leaving today, August 18, from Chennai in the South.

 

North India

After being in Myanmar I felt some kind of culture shock: the people in Myanmar are so friendly and like to learn, like to keep things nice and clean, what they build is nice for the amount of money they have available. In India everything is not just more loud, dirty and ‘old’ because of lack of money and circumstances, but because of a different mindset. Sometimes it just seems impossible for that to change: even an expensive new building will have some really strange issues in how it is constructed.

The 1,5 days in Kolkata were good. It was so nice to be back in a familiar neighborhood after two years! I got to spend time with Amod and Rebekah again and we took three boys that live on the streets with us for a whole afternoon. I can see such change in them over these past two years: they listen better, love better, don’t ask for money anymore and look healthier! I love seeing Amod and Bekah’s heart for them as they are currently praying how to move forward to help the kids, teenagers and their mom’s/families that live under the flyover near Sudder street.

From Kolkata I took a night train to Siliguri, near the foothills of the Himalaya’s. I really enjoyed spending time with Erik and Ajano and their family and ministry, as well as with Naresh Rai. Every year the work keeps growing. More children go to the school, more church planters are being trained, more people get to know Jesus and are being set free from demonic powers and voices, sicknesses, fear etc. Naresh took me on a two day trip to a small village where I had been before, near Darjeeling. Almost all people there work for the tea factory who owns the hills full of tea plants around the village. We had much rain on the way, but I enjoyed the challenge of riding his motorbike in the rain over a winding mountain road with potholes and Indian traffic, while often the clouds we drove through were so thick we could hardly see anything. I really enjoy riding motorbikes!

 

Orissa

After Siliguri I travelled South to Bhubaneswar, Orissa, where I met two young leaders for one day. We had a good time and were able to discuss plans and pray about possible future cooperation between them and maybe with Forerunner foundation.

Then I moved further South to Rayagada, where the Jena family lives and works among the Kuvi tribe and other people groups in the region. Visiting them was one of the main reasons for this trip. I got pretty sick two hours after arrival and had to be taken to a doctor. Finding one was already hard, but then we again had to wait several hours until he finally went to his office at 6 pm. By that time the diarrhea and throwing up had left me very weak. On the way to the doctor the motorbike was out of gas, so I had to walk on the side of the very dusty hot road – clearly someone was trying to discourage us right from the day I arrived! The Jena’s often have to face situations like this that have clearly a spiritual reason and often stop right after they pray. I got some refills through IV and we booked an AC hotel room so I could sleep well.

Next day we went to the villages anyway, in total to four tribal villages in five days. We had really good times, the people really wanted to hear God’s word. At 11 pm they still didn’t want us to stop preaching, while they go up at 5 or earlier to start working!!! Spending more time with them (I went two times before to some villages in 2005 and 2009) has given me much more insight in the situation of the churches in the region. Not only is there much persecution and are there many challenges due to poverty, but also the growth in maturity of the churches is not keeping up with the growth in numbers of new believers, causing many problems. This has given me much more clarity about how much good training is needed for leaders to lead the people well. After we came back from the villages we spend two whole days talking and praying about how to train and lead more people and made plans for the coming years.

We also were able to talk with a contractor for building bathrooms and another building in the future. We decided to make the bathrooms not for short term – which had many disadvantages, including a full pit of sewage that would be left in the middle of the property – but for long term. This plan is much better, but it also means that some more money is needed to complete this project than we originally estimated.

Living with the Kuvi tribal people is very interesting. Their houses are build in one long row and everyone sleeps outside under the open front side or on the ‘street’ – so the whole village got to see the spectacle of a white man sleeping on an air mattress on top of a small wooden bed frame with his feet sticking out far beyond the edge. Waking up in the sunshine with chicken, dogs and goats and some pooping children around you feels like you are getting a new understanding of the word ‘rural’!

The last two days we also spend time with the 34 children in the children’s home in Rayagada. They are so lovely and always happy to help. I gave whistles and balloons and we had a blast playing with them. My friend Sagar had encouraged the children in his church in Andhra Pradesh to give clothes to these children in Orissa and he was able to bring a big bag of clothes, so each kid got one new set. Really nice!

 

South India

After Orissa I had a few days with Karuna Sagar and his wife Hephsibah in Singaraya Konda and Kavali, Andhra Pradesh. I spoke at the little church in Chintoop where Sagar and Manohar are working to establish a prayer/missions/training center for that region.

Then I travelled to Mysore and Bangalore, Karnataka. I went there originally to get ideas from a children’s home and meet some people, but these plans fell through. I ended up having a few days to rest, pray and get strength in the middle of a very busy month in a country where I’m always surrounded by people, even while I sleep. It really helped me to choose to love them more in the remaining weeks.

The last 1,5 week were filled with speaking and visiting leaders in Chittoor, Tirupati, Kavali and Nellore, all in Andhra Pradesh. Sagar and myself also talked and prayed about plans for a training center, old people’s home and options to teach leaders to be self-supporting. We hope to find ideas that will raise funds to support missions with Indian money instead of being dependent on foreign funds.

This month in India was such a good time. Even though I am getting more clarity that my primary calling is not to preach or teach, still I see that it really impacts many people. Often I meet people who remember what I spoke about two years ago and have started to implement these principles! And that while I often felt discouraged, because people didn’t seem to respond much when I preached! Everywhere I went we had to tell people there was not enough time to come to them and preach, teach and encourage as they requested, in general or specifically about (houses of) prayer.

 

Coming weeks

Today I am in Chennai with my roommate from seven years ago, Devan and his wife Ruth. I’m happy that this part of the trip ends with being with them. Tonight I expect to fly to Singapore. I expect less preaching the coming weeks, but to learn many practical things from other missionaries and leaders and to have many chances to pray and encourage them. Please keep praying for each part – you can find the itinerary under ‘projects’ on this website.

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