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We Americans, particularly American males tend to be competitive. We are score keepers by nature of our culture. I am often asked upon my return from mission how many people – actual bodies – we saw come to the knowledge of the saving Grace of Jesus.

I must confess, I often fall into the trap of believing the work we are doing is not successful because we did not see many people come to know Jesus.  Samuel ( again name changed to protect from persecution) a native pastor here in India, said repeatedly yesterday how rewarding it is to share the gospel, to plant the seed of the word of the Good news of Jesus. I watched Steven who I referred to in the previous post get flat out excited by all of us sharing the gospel.

The great part is I had prayed the night before for a word from God to affirm we are doing what He has planned – what is pleasing him. I did not have to wait long, just a couple hours until we stopped on the road to a village when Ralph( name changed) a native church planter that I had only met a couple hours before, told me how encouraging it is to them for us to come and work alongside the local national pastors.

Two affirmations for the price of one prayer. Gods local church planter saying thank you for the encouragement and another who is a national native trainer of pastors – a true hero & warrior of the faith- stating over and over the results are not up to us. Our role is to be obedient, show up, and share.

I do believe we need to regularly look back and check our results to be sure we are bearing fruit, but our responsibility – our role- is not to keep score but to simply be obedient to the call on our life and leave the results up to The Lord.

let me challenge you to get out and till some soil,  plant some seed, water some young Christians, do what pleases God and tell people about Him.  Let the Holy Spirit do its work. And for the record, we have seen quite a few folks pray to receive Christ each day!! But, as for encouragement – one of our ladies got to sew with the girls of one of the rescue organizations – where girls are rescued from the sex industry. You haven’t seen encouragement like watching a bunch of young women who have been rescued from the sex trade giggling like a bunch of junior high girls with some Americans – that’s good stuff right there!

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So often on mission here in India we are simply overwhelmed by the noise, the smells, the crowds, the bad food, the lack of our understanding the language, the needs we see and we feel inadequate, but a text that I saw at 5:00 AM this morning ( for the record it was sent earlier but the Muslim call to prayer wakes us all at 5:00 AM every morning) the first dozen or so times you hear the blare of the Muslim call to prayer at 5:00 AM you are reminded you are not in the mountains of New Mexico, or the plains of Texas. Anyway, I saw the text from my friend Scott – who is checking our house in New Mexico while we are here. Scott was texting to say we have a leak in the water heater – big problem in a house that is heated through hot water being pumped through pipes in the floors and the last couple of mornings have been in the -20 to -40 ( yes those negative numbers) range. So, Scott took another friend of ours, local home builder, home repairer and all around Good guy Chris over to see what was up with the leak. But, with out Alan, another young friend of ours in the home maintenance business who about 3 days before we left asked if he needed to check our house while we were gone. Alan spurred me to ask Scott… Ian’ God amazing, way before I knew I had a problem our Lord reminded me through Alan, to ask Scott to check things and — well you get the picture.

We worshipped with Kolkata Christian Fellowship today. Charley ( another named changed to guard identity) was playing guitar and singing with the worship team. I mentioned to C’s wife how happy and excited he looked to be playing. She said yes, he played acoustic guitar and bought that one right before we came saying he would learn to play while here. As soon as he showed up at KCF they asked if he played guitar and had a spot for him in the band – before he even knew God prepared for him, Or as my friend John Featherston says, ” What a coincidence.”

As we traveled to some very remote villages yesterday by 3 wheeled tricycle and boat we found natives who were eager to hear more of this man Je$£s. We would asked if they had heard of Je$€s and they would respond with yes, but… But we need to know more, please tell us more. And we of course would gladly oblige.

Even as God the father solved my little problem before it got out of control, He also solved all our big problem of eternal separation from Gid the Father by sending His own son Je$€s who limped a perfect life to die in our place. What an experience to be able to share with folks who have heard of the man Je$€s but want to know more of Him.

We only see examples of the unqualified & unprepared – a shepherd boy, 12 fishermen, a harlot, a scared farmer thrashing wheat – being used in grand ways to further the kingdom of the Father. Through each story we see how the Father hasprepared for us all we have to do is be willing.

Blessings, mike

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil 2:13

…we do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help 2 Ch 20:12 b

“If you wait ’till you are prepared, you will be waiting a while” Cowboy Logic

 

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We spent 3 days with the children of the New Hope School. The New Hope school is limageimageocated in the Udayan Pally slum area of New Town Kolkata, India. It is a slim school for children and gives them ” new hope” forimage a better life through a basic education in English and math and being introduced to the light of the world – Jesus Christ.

The ladies on our team did an amazing job teaching biblical truth through story, song, and craft. Joe have these children who never get a chance to just “play” some very real outdoor recreational experiences. Mainly our team just showed Jesus’ love to these kids through their time and energy.

 

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I have spent the last 6 months elk hunting with true American heroes. It is such an honor and a privilege for me to hang out with men who have sacrificed so much for our country. I am always amazed at the selfless sacrifice to serve exhibited by these wounded military veterans. I am humbled when I hear from them that they would do it again. We idolize sports figures and call them heroes, but men and women who lay their life on the line and suffer injury for our country are true heroes. I am humbled when I talk to these warriors who have lost limbs or have suffered traumatic brain injury yet quickly and surely state they would do it again.

We are currently observing some true heroes of spiritual warfare serving above and beyond what few can even imagine. Let me introduce you to Larry and Steven (names changed to protect their identity) These men serve in a country where persecution is current and frequent. They have experienced it. Yet there is no back up in them. There are many more like them, but I want to tell you of these two.

Larry was born a Muslim. He was raised in a Muslim family. He came to know Jes-~s as his savior at age 14. He was introduced to J-$us by some friends, not by a church, or a pastor, but friends. When he committed his life to J€#~us his parents beat him. The parents beat their 14 year old boy because he choose to follow J€#$us. I asked Larry if the beating discouraged him from following J€$#s. Larry responded, “No, it encouraged me.” Would I have been encouraged to be beaten? Would I have understood as a young Ch^*?tian the words of Matthew chapter 3, Blessed are those who are persecuted. I know that folks in America have no clue what it takes to have this type of hero character.

and Steven, Steven is a man of more than 60 years who drove a cab in Calcutta for more than 40 years. He still refers to himself as Muslim. When I first met Steven 5 years ago he was pastoring 3 Ch£!$tian churches. Yes working full time and serving 3 churches. On Sunday we attended the Kolkatta Christian Fellowship. After service our team and several of the local folks who work for “the company” went to a mall and ate lunch at an American restaurant here in Kolkatta. We noticed Steven, who is driving for our team this trip, was not around. This is not unusual as Steven often drops us off and goes to park or do his own thing always returning to pick us up right on time and at the right place. We finished and headed down to the basement car park where we found Steven. When I asked if he had lunch and what he had been doing he responded, ” I had lunch and then lead that guy (pointing to an attendant) to Ch£!st. Steven was as excited as if he had shot a huge bull elk – he lead a man to know his Saviour while I was having dessert & celebrating the one year anniversary of some of the company employees. What a hero. One who is focused on the mission.

Our lesson on Sunday was about missions. I am told every sermon should both challenge and encourage. The pastor spoke on the need to give of our time, get out of our comfort zone & go serve. I left encouraged and a bit proud. It took Steven about 5 minutes to remind me that missions are where we are, next door, at the oil change place, with our friends – to challenge me. Let me challenge and encourage you who live in a place with no real danger of persecution to match the work of these two men who face the very real danger every day of real and serious persecution.  mike

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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.

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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

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