We arrived safely in our ministry city, with it’s 250k residents and only one church. Pastor Wilson was there at the train station to greet us and take us to the hotel where we are staying. The train ride, about 4 hours, was pretty smooth. Rick had a good conversation with his seatmate and Libby and I were pretty much to ourselves with a couple facing us who spoke no English.
In the evening we went to the Ganga (Ganges) to watch the Arti Arti festival. It is held 365 days a year, twice a day- early morning and at evening- with thousands each time coming to participate from all over India and foreign countries. While Libby and I were watching from a bridge, two young girls and a boy pushed us out of our spots. Then they started to converse with us in English. The oldest girl was about 18-19. The other girl was about 15, and the boy was about 12. They (mostly the older girl) asked several questions about where we were from, what do we think of India, where were we going next, and others. After answering and commenting on the festival underway, I asked them of their religious beliefs. They are all Hindu. Then I asked if I could tell them of my religious beliefs. They said, sure. So I started in Genesis and told the gospel story in about 8-9 minutes. The older girl said, “That’s beautiful.” She said she likes Christians. I asked if she had heard that story before, and she said no. I told her this story was in the Bible. She said she didn’t have one and asked where to get one. I was happy to tell her where one could be obtained in her native language. The seed was planted. Pray for Tanya.
The conference started today rather small with only about 20 people present, many of them children. Then by the time we finished there were almost 40 there. God seemed to bless the teaching with many comments. We had a good Indian meal prepared by the Pastor’s wife, Gloria. After lunch, Libby talked with the women for a short session. After that, the Pastor took us on a safari! Really! There is a nature preserve about two miles out of town. We went there and rode a safari jeep through 36 km. of rough trail for 3 1/2 hours. We saw about 50 elephants, 100 deer, peacocks, water buffalo, wild chickens, beautiful peacocks, and more as we rode through. This was quite an unexpected treat.
Our friend and partner in India, Emmanuel Varghese, came to be with us today. We had asked him to come so we could talk about our conference with him in the fall of this year. Rick, Emmanuel, Pastor Wilson, and I talked about some details for the future of our work together. This gave Rick and I some needed information for planning future missions in India.
Please keep praying for us. we have two more days of conference. We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, May 4.