Wednesday, April 28, 2010

India: Day 12

Last evening's crusade service was amazing! Well over 1,000 people packed into the humble field that serves as a courtyard for a school. The atmosphere was exciting as Freddy, Jesher, and the team led the people in worship.

As has been our practice, Pastor Daniel and I shared the preaching responsibilities (complete with three power interruptions!), then for the altar call, Pastor Daniel and I moved among the crowd and laid hands on every person and prayed for them. Wow!

We concluded the meeting, then spent some time in the host pastor's home, and finally arrived back in Kazipet at 12:30 am. It was a long, but great night.

Late this evening I begin the three-hour ride to Hyderabad where I will wait for my flight to Dubai, then onward to the US. These have been great days of ministry in India, and I am privileged to have been a part of what God is doing here. However, I miss my wife and children and am anxious to get back to them.

Until next time, goodbye India!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

India: Day 11

I am posting on Tuesday afternoon...

Last night we held the second of three nights of a crusade in Huzurabad. Once again the people gathered and passionately worshiped. Once again the presence of God was strong.

We had the added distraction of a group of Hindus just outside the walls playing music very loudly, and there is a Muslim mosque right behind the stage that was broadcasting evening prayers over a sound system. We must have been doing something right!!

The crowd was a bit different from the night before, consisting mainly of believers. Pastor Daniel and I sought to encourage the people with messages on His steps to reach us (me) and His presence among us (Daniel) Over fifty people came and made fresh commitments of their lives to Christ.

Of course we prayed for those who desired it after the altar call, and once again we saw many people healed and set free from bandages. One lady came and was stooped over and walking very slowly, very obviously in much pain. Pastor Daniel and I prayed for her, and in two minutes she was speaking into the microphone, giving a testimony to the crowd of her healing. She was smiling, standing upright and being very fluid in her movements. The Lord is good!

The formerly deaf who was healed the night before (see yesterday's post) made it a point to find me and as best he could communicate, showed me he could hear and thanked me again. The glory goes to Jesus!

This evening is the final night of the crusade and my final night of ministry here in India. We're expecting a great time!!

India experience update: I drove a car today in India! That's right, I drove out on the streets and did it safely! It is just like driving in the US, except for sitting on the right, driving on the left, shifting with my left hand, and navigating around the goats (I didn't hit any!). And for those of you who understand this, I honked the horn within three seconds of starting and continued honking every few seconds the entire trip. It was no problem!

Monday, April 26, 2010

India: Day 10

Sunday worship with Pastor Daniel's church! This is one of my favorite things to do when I'm in India. With Freddy and the team leading worship, the passionate praise of the people, the receptive faces, and the wonderful spirit that is present, one couldn't help make it his favorite thing to do.

After a warm public welcome from Pastor Daniel (with garlanding of course), and recognition of the medical team from our trip, I spoke a message to encourage the people. Then during the altar call time I was able to pray for many, most of whom were simply seeking more of the Lord in their lives. It is always an encouragement for me when I'm with the people here.

Sunday evening we traveled one hour to Huzurabad, where we began a three-day crusade in the dirt courtyard of a school. Over 400 people gathered in the 90+ degree heat for the first evening meeting. Freddy and the team lead the worship, followed by Pastor Daniel and I tag-teaming the preaching. Pastor Daniel's son Jesher was my faithful translator, and together we spoke about who Jesus is and what He can do for you.

At the altar call, 22 people came forward to give their lives to Christ! It was a wonderful sight! Then we prayed for people who requested it. Keep reading...

One man in particular came saying he was deaf in his left ear (he said this in Telugu - he spoke no English). Daniel yelled into his ear and he didn't flinch. He couldn't hear a thing. Well, we prayed for him, and afterwords I whispered very softly some words in English and he began to repeat them, exactly as I said them. It was incredible!

Monday evening we go back to the site and hold another meeting, believing souls for the Kingdom of God!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

India: Day 8 & 9

I survived the train ride from Punjab to Kazipet! It actually took only 38 hours, so it was a breeze compared to my other long train ride in India back in May of 2008, which was 47 hours. We arrived early this evening, and in true adventure fashion, we jumped off with our luggage as the train stopped for a signal very near to the Ecclesia Ministries compound, saving us a half-hour of commute from the train station.

The train journey itself was pretty much uneventful, so I got a lot of reading done, had some great conversations with Pastor Daniel and the team, and even had the opportunity to pray for one of the passengers and her family.

If you are wondering, my stomach virus got better in the middle of the afternoon today (Saturday).

Tomorrow morning I preach at Pastor Daniel's church (always a privilege), and then in the evening we begin a three-day crusade a one hour drive from here.

I am planning to finish strong in my last five days here in India!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

India: Day Seven

Another day of ministry is over in Punjab! It was a different kind of day for me, because after spending about an hour praying for people at the medical camp (103 patients ministered to by our medical team), I connected with our host pastor's two sons, Vishwas and Boaz (this is me with Boaz).

Both are musicians and worship leaders, and both were eager to not only allow me to impart into them some of my limited musical knowledge, but both began to share their dreams and passions for serving the Lord. It was a privilege to be able to "mentor" these two young men of God, even if it was only for a few hours.

This evening we had a great time worshiping with our host pastor's congregation, his two sons and his daughter leading worship, and Pastor Daniel and myself bringing words of encouragement. The people are eager to hear the Word and reach their city for Christ.

I have to let you in on a little personal information: Finally, on my eighth trip to India, I have succumbed to Traveler's Stomach Virus, or TSV. It hit this afternoon, and was a relentless foe. Even as I spoke this evening, there was a shifting, but it wasn't in the heavenlies!

Tonight (or should I say early tomorrow morning) we board the train for Kazipet for a long journey (especially long for this Type-A, can't sit still, leg-shaking guy). The TSV should make for an even more interesting 40 hour train ride...

Blog Blackout Alert! Because we will be traveling, I will not be able to post on my Blog until Sunday, but please check then for a new report on my journey.

India: Day Six

I am writing this post on Thursday morning, April 22...

Yesterday was another amazing day in Punjab! The day started with breakfast at the home of our host pastor, then the team loaded up our vehicle and traveled about 30 minutes to a small farming community called Rurkimuglan. Yesterday we were in Gunachaur.

Our medical camp was located in the center of the village, in the middle of a field used to dry water buffalo dung, which is used for fuel for fires. So, we saw over 100 patients, and millions of flies! But, grace was given, and we ministered medicine and prayer for the farming families.

I had a unique experience while I was there in the village. One of the Christian families (of only three) has a son who is a professional dancer and does traditional Punjabi festival dances in costume. He happened to be in town, and invited me to dress me up in his king's costume. So for about 30 minutes, I was a Punjabi king! I didn't let it go to my head, but just to make sure, I was stung by a wasp to remind me I was human, and that the people in this village experience a very difficult life every day.

Yesterday evening the team came back to conduct an open air crusade meeting in the same field. The flies were gone, but they were replaced with swarms of mosquitoes. But at least there were no wasp stings!

Once again the crowd assembled as we worshiped, and I brought a simple message on what Jesus did to reach us. Pastor Daniel "drew the net" and we saw about 25 of the 75 attendees commit their lives to Christ! There is already a humble house church there (the three families), so now the church has grown!

Today we conduct our final medical camp and open-air crusade in Punjab, here at the host pastor's home in Nawanshaire. There are a large band of nomadic people who have "squatted" in a field in front of the house. It is a perfect mission field, right here in our own front yard!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

India: Day Five

It is Wednesday morning as I write this...

We left by train for Punjab on Sunday evening and arrived at the station at 1:00 am on Monday. Our local pastor host carried us for an hour to our accommodations, and we had a short night, waking the next morning to go to our first medical camp in Punjab.

The setting was a local man's "carport" next to his house, where an old, loud, and earth-shaking generator provided power to run the fans that pushed around the 115 degree air around. Compare it to riding in your car in the middle of the summer with the windows rolled up and the heater on full blast, blowing at your face. But, there could have been so air movement all. No worries...

Over 120 patients were seen by our medical team, and Pastor Daniel and I moved among the people, praying for them, sometimes at their request, sometimes silently. I tried to help out where I could, walking people around to the stations, praying for them as we moved. The needs were great, and the poor people hadn't had any medical care, some for their entire lives. One lady in her 50's had never brushed her teeth, and as the doctor explained to her what she needed to do in Punjabi, it was like he was speaking to her in a foreign language.

That evening we came back for to the medical camp site for an open-air crusade meeting. We arrived about thirty minutes late for the scheduled start time, and I got a bit discouraged because there were no people assembled. Well true to form for Indian open-air meetings, once the music started and the sound system broadcast the worship, people began to assemble.

About 120 people were there as I began to preach, most from the medical camp, and most having never been to a Gospel meeting of any kind. I gave a simple message about stepping out to follow Jesus, using the story of Jesus calling Peter to come out of the boat to walk on the water with him. We gave an altar call, and a full 80% of the people responded, praying to give their lives to Christ!

We concluded the meeting, praying for a few people who desired prayer. It was a long, hard, hot but incredible day... The Lord is good!

And today, we get the privilege to do it all again in another area. Check back for what I am expecting to be another great report...

Monday, April 19, 2010

India: Day Four

Last night was an exciting night, both spiritually and physically. The final evening of our crusade brought well over 1,000 attendees to the crusade grounds. The worship was passionate, the people were excited, and the atmosphere was electric (literally)!

Before I brought a message, Pastor Daniel and I had the privilege of ordaining seven local pastors to the ministry. What an honor it was to lay hands on and pray for these humble Indian men, men who were already out on the front lines of ministry, seeking to bring the Hindu, Islamic and Sikh people of Jammu to Christ.

During the ordination ceremony, the winds began to pick up and blow through the humble crusade grounds. The grounds were a 60 x 70 meter field, fully enclosed on all sides by three-story buildings. The only access is a narrow passageway between two of the buildings.

I began to speak, telling the people of my conversion to Christ, and seeking to artfully weave the Gospel into my testimony. All through my speaking, the winds continued to grow, and it was obvious that a storm was brewing.

Just as I said, "Let me tell you what faith is," the power went out and we were stranded in litterally utter darkness, as the walls of the buildings shield the field from any outside light. With no PA system to speak to the people, we waited while some of the crusade team worked by "cell phone light" to get the ancient diesel generator started. Finally, the generator was started, the lights and sound system were connected, and we resumed.

I was able to explain what faith was, and the need for all people to commit their lives to Christ, and to Christ alone. The wind continued to blow, the "tent" over the stage began to lift up from the ground (the poles came 4-5 feet off the ground!), and vortexes of dust, sand and debris swirled around the people who were doing the best they could to shield themselves from the dust. I have been in enough hurricanes to know that the wind must have been gusting up to 60 mph inside the field.

It was literally a chaotic scene as the tent was being taken down, people were scattering everywhere, and organizers were trying to keep some sense of order in the random periods of light and darkness, using an intermittent sound system.

Needless to say, the evening was over. We weren't discouraged though, The Gospel was proclaimed, people were challenged in their faith, and seven ordinations marked the evening. It was a sight though!

The "Motorcycle Pastor" rides again! As I write this, it is Monday, approximately 3:30 pm, and I am in Kathua, close to the Kashmir-Punjab border. We left Jammu this morning, traveled two hours by SUV and conducted a medical camp here. The local pastor was kind enough to take me to an internet cafe, and his mode of transportation was a motorcycle. I love it!

Tonight we travel by train into Punjab, have a day off, and then resume our medical camps and crusade activity. India and adventure seem to go hand-in-hand for me!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

India: Day Three

We had an excellent crusade meeting last night, where Pastor Daniel and myself preached to an even larger crowd than the first night. At the altar call, once again, hundreds came forward to receive Christ!

At the very back of the grounds, there were two policemen "stationed", my guess to protect me. One was a Muslim man, the other was a Sikh, a vast religion in this region of India. Pastor Daniel and I agreed to target them as we spoke. I immediately began to build bridges by publicly honoring them as I began my message. I continued to refer to the importance of the police in our lives throughout my talk, and when closing down my word on the need for all to receive the salvation of Jesus, I said that, "... all people, drivers, doctors, housewives and policemen need Jesus."

The altar call was announced, but no police came forward. Well, after the public prayer was spoken for the people to commit their lives to Christ, something interesting happened. The team was leaving the compound, and the policemen came forward straight to us."Here they come," Pastor Daniel spoke to me, and when they got close they continually shook our hands, saying "thank you" over and over.

A smile like I have never seen before on the stoic India police covered the Sikh man's face. He and the other policeman stayed with us, shaking my hand and "escorting" us the 400 meters to the car. I believe that both of the men received Christ that night, simply by their response to us after the service was over.

Today, I spoke and encouraged the people of one of the churches who sponsored the crusade. They assembled at the crusade grounds, and with the clunk-clunk-clunk of an old portable generator thirty feet away from the stage, and 106 degree temperatures even under the covering, I encouraged the people and the visiting pastors with a word from the life of Paul the apostle.

It was what happened before my message that I want to highlight: There was a time of testimonies, and four people spoke. Aided by a translator, I learned from a woman that she had attended the first night of the crusade and heard my word on the woman who had a sickness for 12 years.

She related that she also had been sick for several years, and when I had told the people that like the woman we need to reach out to Jesus, she said she began to pray and reach out to Him. Immediately, she said, her pain began to subside, and her body felt lighter. She also related that not only did her body feel at peace, but her spirit and soul did also. All that she had been worrying about seemed to go away, she said, and she felt "very close to God."

Once again, I was humbled by the presence of God, and of hearing what He was doing in the lives of people who need a touch from Him. I am in awe of His love, and that He allows me to be a part of what He is doing.

I quote my wife Elaine who says, "When Brad goes to India, God shows off, and he gets to watch."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

India: Day Two

After five different flights and six different airports, I was met up by Pastor Daniel and local Pastor Danis in Jammu City, Kashmir on Friday afternoon. My journey still wasn't over, because I had to trek several hundred meters to the outside of the airport with my luggage in tow. Because of the high security in this area in India, private vehicles are not allowed in the airport zone. I love India!

We began the evangelistic crusade in the evening, and with almost 1,000 in attendance, I brought a simple evangelistic message on faith. Pastor Daniel took another eight minutes to "tie the knot". The altar call was given, and people began streaming forward. It was incredibly exciting to see over 1/4 of the attendees standing in the front and repeating a prayer, giving their lives to Jesus for the first time! What a great way to begin our ministry here!

Today (Saturday), we began the day with a humble medical camp, where joined again by Pastor Danis and another local Pastor Ramesh, our team of two doctors, two nurses, Pastor Daniel and myself traveled 40 km into the foothills of the mountains to a city called Akhanor. On government land that is part of a military base, we began our work. We were joined there by Emmanuel, the worship leader for the evening crusade.

Braving 105 degree temperatures, we set up under a huge banyan tree in the middle of a field strewn with dusty shrubs, complete with piles of water buffalo dung. There we ministered to 60 poor people. Our medical team dispensed medical help, and Pastor Daniel and I dispensed spiritual help, praying for the people who desired it.

One lady asked me to pray for her, and after I did, I began to share with her and her husband about Jesus, aided by the translation of Emmanuel. Both prayed and asked Jesus into their lives!

We continued to pray for people , and share with them the simple message of hope in Jesus, seeing others also ask Jesus into their lives. What a privilege it was to be a part of that humble setting where lives were changed.

Tonight we continue the crusade, and then tomorrow, more medical camps. I said it at the beginning of this post and I say it again: I love India!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

India At Last!

I am sitting in the Delhi airport awaiting my connection to Jammu, where I will join Pastor Daniel and the medical team. So far the trip has been uneventful, but long (as usual). I'm tired, turned around with my body clock, but excited to be here!

I believe that I will be speaking this evening as we begin a three-day evangelistic crusade in Jammu, and we will be holding medical camps beginning tomorrow morning. (I said 'I believe' because sometimes I don't know what my assignment is until ten minutes before I'm on.)

Check back often, as I ought to be able to update regularly, now that I am on the ground in India. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Off To India...Medical Ministry To Muslims

I will be traveling on a missions trip to India on Wednesday, April 14th. Once again, I will be partnering with Pastor Daniel Kalyanapu of Ecclesia Ministries of India. He has assembled a team of local doctors and nurses who are right now traveling by train to Kashmir in northwest India.

I will be joining them in Kashmir, where we will be conducting medical camps in the remote mountain farming villages. From Kashmir we will take the train to Punjab, where we will again conduct medical camps. We will be holding crusades in the evenings in the larger cities in both regions. In both Kashmir and Punjab, we will be in primarily Muslim areas.

After our ministry there, we will travel about 40 hours via the Indian railway back to Kazipet (Pastor Daniel's home city), to minister in crusades in and around that area.

We took a similar missions trip two years ago, and of all of my trips to India, that was my favorite. I will be the only westerner on the team, but I am becoming more and more indistinguishable!

Please return to this Blog often, as I will be updating daily. I know it will be a great time of ministry. Thanks for following!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Is Over: Are You Over Easter?

In the Bible, a lot took place after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The authors of the Gospels each record a chapter of narrative devoted to the events that took place post-resurrection (John actually records two chapters, and Luke adds another 10 verses in the beginning of the book of Acts.). Needless to say, in the life of Jesus, there was more story to tell.

Isn't that just like Jesus? He not only rises from the dead, but he stays and does a bit of ministry before He goes up to heaven. I love it, because it gives us a great model to follow as creatives.

Once again I state that all of us are creative We just express it differently. Jesus, in His expression of creativity, chose to stay and do a little more ministry and invest a little more in His relationships by choice, not because His work wasn't complete. He simply wanted to keep creating.

Don't misinterpret what I am saying: I believe the fact that Jesus completed His sacrifice for mankind by dying on the cross. It was the artist in Him that wanted to add "just a little more" to a perfect creation.

I don't know about you, but I can never be satisfied with post-production on a CD or song, because there is always something more I could add or alter. I believe that is inherent in the creatives.

Jesus stayed around to "include a few more brush strokes", to "throw in some harmony", to "add an adjective to a sentence" because as you know, creators continue to create.

Is there more that you could do to celebrate the Resurrection, to expand the Kingdom of God, to invest into the lives of others? What is the next step for you?

Question: Now that Easter is over, are you over Easter?

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