Get this: on the way from the airport after I was picked Sunday night up by Pastor Sammi (the main pastor that I am working with the first week I am here), he leans over to me and says, “We are going to a wedding on Tuesday morning and you are giving the wedding challenge to the bride and groom.” I knew I was supposed to be ready for anything when traveling for ministry, but I didn’t think a wedding was on the agenda. Great, I thought, I didn’t even bring a suit!
So just like he said, on Tuesday morning we went to a wedding (the bride is a member of Pastor Sammi’s congregation) and just before they took their vows, I gave a 20 minute challenge from Ephesians 4 & 5 to the bride and groom and the assembles guests. At the end of the ceremony I was again called on, this time to bless the couple. My first traditional Indian wedding and I got to be in it! Like I said yesterday, “Very cool!”
Well the wedding was wonderful, but going to and coming from the wedding was where the challenge was. The wedding was in Chennai, and we needed to travel 90 minutes to get there from Mamallapuram, the town where we are ministering this week. Pastor Sammi hired a car and driver (the car seats four, including the driver) and proceeded to load 11 more people into the car.
Add to the mix the number of busses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and animals, none of whom obey any traffic laws (maybe the animals do a bit) on the roads, streets and highways, and this was quite an experience. Pastor Sammi lives in the edge, and he pulled me out right there with him.
Tuesday afternoon and evening Pastor Sammi’s son Isaac, who is a college student and worship leader, took me around the area to give me a feel for the local culture. is a fishing/tourist town that was practically obliterated by the Tsunami. Isaac showed me where homes previously stood, where entire fishing villages were destroyed and where the water came to before it receded. He also showed me the areas where the poorest of the poor lived, the Gypsy settlement and the garbage dump that contributes to the poor sanitation.
But, he also pointed out the six churches and orphanage that his father has started. Plus, he introduced me to some of their pastors (I am staying with one). Ninety-six percent of
India is Hindu, but in this little corner of the country, the is expanding! Kingdom of God
Tomorrow, we have a morning service near a fishing village and a poor community, and then a big crusade service in the evening at the main church in the center of town. I am praying for miracles!