India!

Several of the 12 ministry leaders and their wives had traveled three days by train to arrive at our mountain retreat. Each year the Indian church gathers together for three days of “soul care” designed to refresh, restore and reenergize for the coming year. We had been invited to bring a team from the US to facilitate the retreat.

It was prayer time with the ministry team at the soul care retreat. A vision formed in my (Alan) mind of a powerful steam locomotive pulling many multicolored box cars. On the steam locomotive were written the words “Spirit of India”. As the train chugged uphill it began to slow, suddenly an unseen force came from behind and pushed the locomotive over the hill.

Our Indian denominational leader, Sunny, quickly grasped its meaning. He interpreted the train to be the coming move of God that will be propelled by the Holy Spirit. The multicolored cars representing the multitude of people groups. We were gathered at the retreat center nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, the attendees came from a cross-section of over 2,000 different ethnic groups. There is a move of God taking place in this country of 1.2 billion people that will lead to explosive growth of the church in India that is predicted to outstrip China as the most populous country in the world by 2020.

Tapas, one of the attending leaders, began his long journey by train from Calcutta in the early mornings hours. The trip was to take almost 2 and a half days in a second class cabin with crowded seating and no air conditioning. But at least he had a berth so he could rest during the trip. The temperatures hadn’t yet reached their peak, however, a record heat wave was moving through the country making it unseasonably hot. 

As Tapas entered his assigned car, he began to survey the people traveling with him. He noticed an elderly gentleman who was obviously not well. This older man was unable to afford a berth so Tapas quickly offered his so the gentleman would be more comfortable on the long trip north.

The older gentleman asked Tapas why he had given up his berth. Feeling compassion for the sick, elderly man, he shared the love of Christ with him as other traveling companions looked on in the tight quarters. By the end of their trip, this elderly man and two others had placed their faith in Jesus Christ. The love of Jesus captivated the hearts and minds of these travelers.

Before our departure, we were told the Indian leaders and their wives have a tremendous capacity and sense of urgency to partner where God is at work. There has recently been a movement to recognize the great need of combining the skills of both husband and wife in ministry together.  These men and women are thinking and acting with a more wholistic approach as they respond to others with the heart of God.

Husbands and wives ministering together seems to be the most natural and practical way to teach couples that there is a better path – God’s plan. According to Barbara Yoder in God’s Bold Call to Women, “All of us are assigned a certain sphere or boundary (see 2 Cor. 10:13-16) and are given authority over everything within the boundaries of our sphere.”

These Indian leaders have a supernatural sensibility to tap into the Spirit of God using resources available to them. Tapas and Mukesh are both ministering to young children, providing food, clothing and the life giving gospel of Christ to kids hungry to know more about Jesus. Emmanuel and his wife, Joyce, are empowering women by teaching them English and computer skills. As they learn these skills they long to gain a deeper understanding of Christ.

Joyce is teaching a Bible study for children where they learn stories about intimacy with the Father through prayer. Sanjeet is ministering to a community of former snake charmers. Since snake charming was outlawed and is no longer legal, a settlement has been provided by the government for this ethnic group to relocate. Many members of this people group have accepted Christ and are eager to learn more of the gospel.

It is an exciting time for India! This is the time for revival fires to spread. Jesus is already recognized as one of the many “gods” in the Hindu religion. So there is a familiarity with who Jesus is by most Hindus just not to the degree that they recognize Him as THE one true God. India’s leaders are strategically tapping into the “Spirit of India” as the unseen, supernatural force which will catapult them into the next move of God.

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