It has been a good and spirit filled trip. We arrived very early in the morning of 27
February – January ( just FYI we did not cross the International Month line & I should always consult an editor ) see how international I am with the date arrangement…. Anyway, our group arrived after a relatively easy 27 or so hour trip. We showered, unpacked, slept a bit and tried to get our internal clocks set back by 12 hours. Then we were off to Asansol, a 3 or so hour trip by train. We left the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) guest house at 5 AM local time. The taxi I was in had a flat and we got kicked out on the side of the road about a 1/2 mile from the train station. To compound the problem the 3 of us had put our packs in with all the baggage in the other taxi so no phones, no passports, and very little money. According to Susan’s fit bit she walked 14,200 – yes that is 14 thousand steps as we hustled looking for the rest of our group. Some of us covered more than that as we left folks in strategic locations to try and regroup. Lesson one – never let your personal items out of your sight. Our translator found us after the remainder of the group and their train – the train we were supposed to be on – had left the station. He found us or we found him as we were headed back to the BMS to start over. We all made it to Asansol eventually and were back together shortly after noon.
As usual, what started a bit rough ended well. We had over 100 attend a medical clinic under a tree where our folks helped with blood pressure screening, prayed with and for people, and were able to share their Jesus stories with local natives. We had some lunch – very late lunch – and then went to set up for the Jesus Film. The Jesus film is an effective method of sharing the Gospel and used widely throughout India and other similar countries. They set up a couple of sheets for a screen, a generator, and a projector and folks started showing up. We were able to share the gospel with about a hundred children and adults prior to the film. We left to rest and prepare for the next day’s teaching while another 200 or so folks – 300 total – came to view the Jesus film.
29 January had our men leading about 50 pastors from as far as 12 hours away( side note one man who is about my age pastors a church of over 200 with more than 70 Baptisms up on the Nepal border. He is a former Muslim terrorist having killed many people and participated in hi jackings, kidnappings, you name it before he found Jesus – or maybe heard from Jesus due to the prayers for him. Yes, he pointed out our host pastor and gave him credit as the one who prayed for him – a terrorist- to come to know Jesus. Proof positive radical Islamic Muslim believers can be saved by the Blood of Jesus. I must say, I am not easily overwhelmed, but I wondered what I could say that would be of benefit to this man, as I watched him taking notes and paying rapt attention.) we spoke on vision and goals, taking care of ourselves as leaders in order to take care of others. And once again, I saw 50 men singing with hands held high, praising God and dancing – yes men…Fair warning, I will now be bolder in expecting men to lead in worship and all aspects of the church. When you see a native and a foreigner get called out by the leader because they are not singing loud enough, clapping hard enough, or dancing – well just be prepared!
The ladies expected and prepared for 40 – they had over 90 women church leaders show up from many miles away to learn about women’s leadership in the church. Almost all the churches are small house churches where the Pastor has another “real job” and his wife does the back ground work of the church – both unpaid. Truly our churches could learn a lot about service from these folks. As usual we leave having learned more than we taught.
we returned to Kolkatta late in the evening after many opportunities to share the gospel with folks who may not have heard before and after sharing our faith and experiences with church leaders. We finished up the weekend enjoying dinner with some of the local missionary’s at a restaurant in the city. What a privilege to share a meal with these warriors of the faith. Folks who give up all the creature comforts of home in order to serve in a bleak and noisy, very crowded city. Thank the Good Lord for them and thank you for your prayerful support of them and us, Blessings, mike