That’s right. This city’s name literally means “Heaven’s Gate”. Yet it is a city holy to Hindus and surrounds the holy river Ganges. There are numerous temples and other shrines here. Many thousands of tourists/pilgrims come here each day. There are more hotels and restaurants here than anyplace I have been. But in the midst of it all, God is at work. There is a growing Christian community here, and we are ministering to the ministers.
Every morning when we leave our hotel, there is a cacophony of sights, sounds and smells to greet out senses. There are the people in endless streams going in every direction by every conceivable type of transportation. Walking, cycles, tractors, trucks, cars, rickshaws of all kinds, and even riding animals is what we see. There are pilgrims on buses and in their cars, some walking and all going to the holy river or to of from Arti Arti celebration. People living in tarp tents, beggars, street vendors selling all things imaginable from food to toys to clothing and shoes are everywhere. You would see old men in religious garb and turbans, women in finery of India and women begging for money, children stopping at every car to ask for money, cripples with hand peddle bicycles, and cows roaming the streets.
In addition to what you will see here, the sounds are as hard to describe as the are to ignore. All manner of car, truck and bus horns. Motorcycles with their subtle rumble, tuk-tuks puttering everywhere, cows bellowing, bells and whistles (really) and a steady murmur of chatter from the people passing by. We hear train whistles and loudspeakers. The noise level dies down after dark, but in the morning it comes back, to life. During our conference sessions, we hear the traffic just outside the church gate. Sometimes it seems like the horns and whistles are timed to go off at just the wrong time for the speakers. Inside the church, the steady buzz of several ceiling fans creates a hardship we gladly accept since the outside temperature has been hovering around 100.
Which brings me to the smells. So close to the fast flowing Ganges with her cold, green waters you would think the smell would be fresh. You would also be wrong. Wood smoke predominates all smells. Many Dalits live in mud shacks or tarp tents cook over an open wood fire. The smells also include burning garbage and trash, rotting garbage, sewage, animals like cows and pigs which run where they want with little to no upkeep, diesel fumes and car fumes. By the way, many people take few to no baths, so there is a “human” smell as well
Yet here we are doing what we believe God has led us to do. Our brothers and sisters of India live here year round. This is their home. They don’t complain. Many have come out of Hinduism. We are here to minster to them. Thank you for praying and for your financial support through the Acts 1:8 Fund. We plan to be home this coming Friday, May 2. One more day to minister. Keep praying.