I have been dissatisfied with my response to the question, “How was your trip?”
Our trip was amazing. We had the opportunity to “… do what is good, and what is required of us; to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.” Micah 6:8 What could be better.
We were in plenty of situations where we had the opportunity to be afraid yet our team was both “..strong and courageous and not discouraged.” Joshua 1:9 Sure, there were times when the terrible human condition that people were living in was heart-breaking. And there were times when there was fear. But the team moved on. As we know, strength and courage are not the absence of fear, but doing what is needed in spite of the fear or discouragement.
The trip was amazing because we had the opportunity to practice “pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father by caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to the let situation of the world they live in corrupt us…”
We ended our time in Kolkata with the visit to a village where we were able to pray with the villagers and to tell Bible stories to small groups. We visited homes in the village. We walked through the village with a gaggle of folks following and staring at us like foreigners in their strange land. One of our interpreters, whose name is purposefully left out to avoid persecution, was able to lead a villager to know Christ during the walk through the village.
While our time in the village was limited, and our impact was small compared to the number of people, the time was one of the most enjoyable and productive for me of my three trips to India. I truly believe that “God is working in us, giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases Him,” as Paul said in his letter to the Phillipians. It was pleasing to me to be a part of this direct evangelism; I hope it was pleasing to God.
Church on Sunday was spectacular. Steve Peace was privileged to bring the message at one house church. About half the team, or one car full, went with him. The other car full and I attended Kolkata Christian Fellowship. KCF is an international church not to be confused with KFC, which I did during the prayer time. They do an interesting thing there that is very powerful. The pastor assigns prayer requests to general areas of the church. He suggests you get in groups of 4 and pray for certain requests as listed in the bulletin. The power of prayer is alive and well and practiced regularly among Christians in Kolkata.
The folks there pray with a belief that is not seen in most Christian churches in the US, or at least in the Christian churches I attend or visit. We, who have the greatest availability of Christian education, could learn a lot about practicing Christianity from these folks.
Of course you have to be careful when you are praying and not transpose KCF into KFC, which I did, again proving that I am responsible for comic relief to a lot of folks. Fortunately, only a few heard and fewer still “snorted”.
The message at Kolkata Christian Fellowship was one of the most powerful I have ever heard, and I have heard a lot of messages. The message was on evangelism. The text was from Matthew. There was nothing in the message that most of us had not heard before, which in my opinion is very common because it usually takes us several times to get the “message”. The piece that really spoke to me was Matthew 10:32-33 “be careful to count the cost of following Christ.” This comes from a place where Christians are truly persecuted. And by persecuted, I do not mean when people say nasty things about you, or do not speak to you, or ostracize you from the supper club. By persecution I mean husbands taking the children and leaving their wives who follow Christ or Pastors’ wives and children disowning them: people who are truly persecuted. The pastor went on to say that by this cost, you will have evidence of your following Christ. Or, if you are not paying some cost, maybe you are not following Christ. He ended with we should be joyous in the paying of the cost as it is proof that we are followers of Christ. Now that is being joyful!
There will be at least one more follow-up post on Mission Kolkata 2014, so please stay tuned.