Thursday, May 22, 2008

India - May '08: Day 11

Tuesday saw the team leaving at 5:00 am for a five hour trip up into the mountains. The last two hours were spent on a sometimes paved, usually potholed, rarely smooth rock and sand one-lane “track” that took us to about 12,000 feet above sea level. When we arrived at the farming village of Humbol, it was obvious that these people were in need.

These are the poorest of the poor in Kashmir, the mountain farmers who scratch out a meager existence by coaxing crops from the rugged, rock-strewn mountainside. I asked the host pastor, Pastor Sadiq, what the population of the village was. I was astonished to find out that there were 50,000 people tucked away in mud houses all over the side of the huge mountain.

Pastor Sadiq had recently quit his high-paying job in communications to return to his birthplace minister, and although he has no established church yet, he pours himself out for the people building bridges and gaining their trust.

Once again the medical team showed its compassion and love by examining 194 patients, most of whom were malnourished and sick. Because this is again a radical Hindu stronghold, we didn’t preach or offer to pray for the people. The radical Hindu people are very passionate about keeping other faiths away from their millenniums-old traditions. We wanted to respect their home, keep doors open for Pastor Sadiq, and allow the medical camp to open doors for future ministry.

I was frequently asked to “look at a problem” and had to keep replying that I was not a doctor. Finally, one of the village officials asked one of the team what I did and it was mentioned that I was a pastor. Word got around and Pastor Sadiq was asked if I would pray for a woman (who was a Christian). I did, and then three young Hindu ladies asked for prayer.

One of the prominent men in the village saw me praying for the girls and began to follow me around. I thought he was keeping tabs on my movements to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. Finally, he asked Pastor Sadiq if I would come to his house and pray for him. Pastor Sadiq later related that this was a HUGE thing because the people do not trust westerners (aka the only white guy there), and inviting me into his home showed that he felt confidence and trusted me.

Well, we trekked another 500 feet up the mountain on foot to his house. He offered the two of us tea and came and sat with us. We had a bit of small talk (the man understood English quite well), and I broke the ice by saying, “I know that you wanted me to pray for you. May I first tell you a short story?” He agreed, and I simply but plainly shared the Gospel with him.

When I was finished, I asked him if he would like to commit his life to Jesus. He nodded emphatically yes! So amid idols and pictures of Hindi gods in his bedroom, I led him in a prayer to receive Christ. I then told him that I wanted him to share with his family what I had shared with him. I asked if he understood what he needed to say and he said he did. He said he would share with them that evening.

He gathered his family (wife, four daughters and a son) and I laid hands on them, asking for various healings and of course for their salvation. After I was finished I told them that their father had something to share with them later and for them to expect to hear a great thing.

With one influential man and his family now believing in Jesus, I believe that the farming village will be transformed and become a center for evangelism for the region. I encouraged the pastor to get ready for a great harvest.

It wasn’t a huge day of evangelism, but I believe that it was a huge day for the Kingdom. And once again, I got to be a part of it!

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