Reconstructive Paranoia

Man is so depraved

We have in one day

more sins than stars in the heavens

more than molecules in blood that reddens

when spilt on the white cloth

that we had sought

to keep clean

but now mean

to make more dirty

 menstral rags times thirty

how could we be worthy

when the water so mirky

the mountains so high

the bird in the sky

the valleys so low

but no

God chose and selected

a broken pot being perfected

to be the picture of the Gospel

we think of our sin as an obstacle

but we should opt to go

because that is satans mocking blow

we just amplify his glory

for through all history

he has used the most wretched sinners

to be the greatest lost winners

taking a murder named saul

changed to an apostle named paul

taking a worthless scum named Austin

and making life blossom

for the flower to the valley is closest

Beauty is shown at the lowest

as the heavenly father continues to grow us

the Glory of God is displayed through the grossest


Pray for us dear brothers and sisters as we endure through trials and tears to feed the lost sheep


People worship these idols till they come in contact with God

– Mac Miller

India College Team

Hello Friends!

Praise the Lord for His continual provision for his sons and daughters! Despite more than a few bumps in the road, our team of three will be getting on a plane to New Delhi, India in three days!

We have decided to follow God’s calling to spread His name to the ends of the earth. The majority of the people in the places we will be working are unreached; many have never even heard the name of Jesus. Our first goal is to equip those who are already Indian believers with discipleship and church planting goals. We also aim to evangelize with the local peoples and connect them with other national believers. Essentially, we have heard the call TO GO and are submitting to the will of the Lord because we know His plans are better than any we could ever have.

This post is to let you know to check back here for updates on how our two month trip is going. Prayer is vital to our trip, and this will be our main outlet for letting everyone know how they can specifically be praying for our team and for India.

We are so excited to see what the Lord is going to do through us!

So you can be praying for us by name, team members include: Austin Hughes, Julia Madden and Alyssa Martin


India Diary, Last Entry

India Diary, Last Entry

It is said that “All is well that ends well”. If that’s true, our mission vision trip to India is well. Everyone arrived safely at Charleston International Airport on Wednesday evening at about 8:46. We had been in and around airports for about 35 hours. We were so glad to be home we almost wanted to kiss the ground- not because we were glad to be out of India, but because we did not have another flight to catch or train to ride or taxi to get in.

Arriving in Delhi for our last day in country, we had some sense of relief that our mission was almost complete. We also had some sense of regret that it was over. Emotions as fickle, aren’t they? We shopped and explored the city a bit. We visited the Lotus Temple of the Baha’i faith. It is a pretty modern structure rising in the air resembling a lotus blossom. We went to Delhi’s malls. The three of them are located together. Most modern shops and brands are available in the malls as in a western mall. After showering and last minute packing we headed for the Indira Gandhi International airport. Since we didn’t print our boarding passes, we had a hassle getting into the airport. After some shuffling around, we found a sympathetic officer who allowed us in after we promised to bring him our passes so he could see we actually had tickets.

After waiting in long lines for immigration control, we were able to go to the gate and finally board the plane. It was on time, 12:35 am Delhi time. We arrived in Paris, France, at 5:30 am Paris time. Since our flight to Atlanta wasn’t until 1:30 pm, we decided to go into Paris for a brief look-see. We had talked about this possibility all along, but we had not truly decided until we were there to do it. We are all glad we did. We were able to store our carry-on baggage and get a train into the city. On the train we decided to take the St. Michaels- Notre Dame exit. We then walked a block to the fabulous Notre Dame Cathedral. It is a magnificent building we had seen in pictures. We were awestruck as we entered and explored the building. Afterwards we went to a French restaurant across the street and had breakfast/brunch. That proved to be a great experience. Each of us had wonderful food in a good atmosphere. Our waiter treated us very good. On the way back to the Charles de Gaulle airport, Charlie discovered he had left his phone in the restaurant. He and Carolyn got off the train, went back to the restaurant, and retrieved the phone. The rest of us were anxious for Charlie and Carolyn as the boarding for our flight was about to begin. Charlie and Carolyn arrived just in time. We boarded, got to Atlanta in time to go through customs and passport checks, and arrived at our gate a few minutes before boarding the flight to Charleston.

Many stories and anecdotes could be told. One is about Ron forgetting to place a souvenir knife he purchased in his checked luggage. As his carry-on was checked at the airport in Dharamshala, the knife was discovered by the security. Ron had some explaining to do. He finally was able to put the knife in his checked bag. Or, another is about Carolyn’s fall which she thought broke a bone in her wrist. She was able to get to a medical office for an x-ray. She did not have anything broken. However, she will be sore for a while.

All in all, it was a very successful trip. We prayed for God to show us a vision for what He wants us to do in India. He came through. Each of us agrees that we can and should invest in India missions. We have a role to play in the Kingdom work going on there. Pray with us that we will be faithful in doing our part.

India Diary, Day 11

India Diary, Day 11

As we got into the Delhi airport, having just flown from Dharamshala, we had remembrances of arriving in India almost two weeks ago. For a moment it seemed as though the past two weeks was a dream. Then as we gathered our baggage and headed for a taxi things came back into focus. Earlier today we spent time in McLeod visiting the temple where the Dali Lama lives. We didn’t see him, but saw many monks and visitors. The inner sanctum of the temple was quite interesting. As we entered, a monk was emptying small bowls of water sitting close together along a ledge in front of the central idol of the temple. It was almost as though they were for the idol to drink from. Inside the enclosure for that idol and the others were packages of cookies and crackers such as Oreos. These iterms were carefully stacked on the sides of the statues as if to offer food if the idol god hungry. Apparently the idols were not hungry of were fasting since none of the cookies were opened.

As we were leaving the central area, an Indian man, a visitor himself, started a conversation with Ron about where he was from and what he thought of India. Ron turned the conversation to religion. The man was a university professor who was quite knowledgeable about religion. They had quite a discussion. The professor stated what we have heard from several Indians, the he believed all religions were good. Ron carefully explained that in Christianity the biggest difference is that we have a living Lord and that the resurrection of Jesus makes the difference. He had to agree that this was different and that no other religions had a resurrected Lord. Ron stated that everything in Christianity stood or fell on the resurrection. If it was not true then Christianity was false,and if it is true, then all people need Christianity. The professor agreed, but did not turn to Christ. Maybe another day for him.

We looked around and shopped in McLeod. A beggar woman with a small baby approached A. and Liz tried to help her. She wanted milk for the baby so they went with her to a store and bought some milk. About an hour and a half later the same woman approached Ron and asked for rice. Again she didn’t want money, just rice. Ron had seen the girls buying her milk and didn’t get her rice. Charlie later saw this woman and several other beggar women being paid by a man who was their “master” or “pimp”. It seems they were working for him to get things which he either sold retail or returned to stores for refund. These poor women then were paid a portion of the money!

At 2:00 we went back to the hotel to get our bags and get a car to the airport. As we rode down the hill, Ron talked to the driver about religion. He too was Hindu, but listened to the story about Jesus and the resurrection. He said he knew the story since he attended a Catholic school. Again, though he agreed that the resurrection was the central essential of the gospel but didn’t trust Christ. Hinduism is so much a part of the entire culture that it takes much time and witness to lead someone to Christ.

Our trip to the airport took about 45 minutes and was uneventful. We were there early and boarded easily. The flight to Delhi was about 1 ½ hours and smooth. We got our baggage and got taxis to the hotel across town. This was the best hotel we were in all week. A. booked it so we could be close to attractions for our shopping and last day in Delhi. The rooms were small but had good AC and hot showers!

Today, Tuesday, we will see the Lotus Temple, a famous B’hai site. We will shop and see Delhi. At 8:00 this evening we will leave for the airport for our flight scheduled to leave at 1:30 am Wednesday. We arrive in Paris, France, and 6:30 local time. Then at 1:30 pm we leave Paris for Atlanta and then Charleston for a scheduled 8:30 pm arrival.

This has been a very successful trip. We came for vision of what God wanted us to do in India. We believe God has shown us what we should do. We will report to the church and to the Missions Council and recommend we form partnerships with three sites to do pastoral training and other ministry to assist the work already going on. God is good. All the time.

India Diary, Days 8, 9, 10

India Diary, Days 8 & 9

We stayed another night and day in S. so the stomach virus could settle down. Friday started with lots of rain, thunder, and lightening. We were glad we did not travel with such a storm. It stopped raining by mid morning and the sun came out. Everyone but Carolyn felt like getting out so we walked to a coffee shop and had coffee together. A young man nick named Sonny was there again. We had talked with him briefly before. As we were leaving, he wanted to talk more and went outside with us to continue. There seemed to be no entrance to share the gospel with him. We told him his brother could ride to D. with us on Saturday, and if he wanted to do so to let us know by contacting the hotel where we were staying. So later that evening, Sonny and a friend came to our rooms. Liz, Ron, Jo and Carolyn talked with them and Ron shared the gospel with the others adding to the presentation. They didn’t want to receive Christ, but we planted the seed. Perhaps this was their first time to hear the message of God’s grace.

A couple of our party began to feel ill again and returned to the hotel. Jo, A. and Ron wanted to go see the old Viceroy of India house. So we walked around the shopping area. While resting, Charlie and Ron were sitting in a look-out area when two young women approached them. They were trying to sell books written by an Indian Guru they follow. After their “ask”, Ron began to question them about their beliefs. As the discussion ensued their beliefs and Christianity were compared. The woman who was spokesman for the two women seemed to be very open. After a few minutes, Ron asked her if he could share his religious beliefs. She agreed to hear, so Ron proceeded with a talk on the gospel beginning at Genesis 2. When he finished, she replied, “That is such a beautiful story. I’m going to go home and read the New Testament I have from start to finish and find the story for myself.” We were grateful for the opportunity. Now we know at least two good things about not travelling on Friday- the rain and the opportunity to share Jesus with four young adults in India.

A., Jo, and Ron went to the former home of the Viceroy of India. When England ruled India, the monarch would appoint someone to rule India on his or her behalf. This person was the Viceroy of India. The large English style house is situated on a Ridge in Shimla with beautiful views and grounds. It is somewhat reminiscent of the Biltmore House in NC but not kept as well. It was nice. We’re glad we went. We probably not go again.
Saturday morning dawned beautiful. We all felt good or great. Our travel host arranged for us to have an 18 passenger van to take us to D. It is an 8 hour road trip over pretty bad roads in the mountains. With the extra seats we could put our luggage in the van instead of on top. That kept dust and dirt off our things. The trip was bumpy, dusty and harrowing. It also frightened us many times. Traffic here is a matter of who gets to the intersection first. On the road, it is who is fastest and biggest. There were no three or four lane roads. Two lanes only and sometimes there was only one lane paved and that was in the middle. Our driver, like others on the road passed slower vehicles on curves, in traffic, and sometimes without being able to see around the front vehicle. Also, the mountains we went over were steep and high. The narrowness of the road made it impossible to pass. A couple of times our driver had to stop to let the oncoming vehicle pass. The van did not have AC. We had a lot of sweat to add to the dust. God answered our prayers- no one got sick on the road and we had no accidents.

Finally we arrived. D. is a very pretty city on a mountain with houses on every spot imaginable and some spots unimaginable. A few miles up the road is another city, perhaps a suburb, which is a hip place for Indians, Europeans, and Americans. We went there for supper since there are some good restaurants there. We had a variety of Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan food. This is the city where the Dali Lama lives. Many tourists come here as well as S. Though there is a majority of Hindus here, there are many more Buddhists than most any place in India.

We met Pastor E. and his family here when we arrived. Liz knew him from when she was in India before. We had corresponded with him in the USA before we left. He is a self supporting church planter. He was a pastor in South India where there is a large Christian community. God led him to come to North India to start churches. He starts a church and trains the people, then appoints a leader for the church. Pastor E. then leaves to start another church. He returns regularly to continue training and supervising the appointed leader. Wow! He receives no denominational support or outside support. God provides.

We plan to go to worship with Pastor E. at the church he started here in D. It is a house church. He told me after supper that Ron was going to preach. That was news to Ron but not the first time such a thing has happened to him.
India Diary, Day 10

Today, Sunday the Lord’s Day, was perhaps our best day yet, though every day has been a good day. (One possible exception was the 8 hour drive yesterday.) We arose to a bright sunny sky. After breakfast we walked about 4-5 km to church. This is a house church which Pastor Emmanuel started several years ago when he first came to Himachal Pradesh state. The service started at about 10:30 and ended about 12:30 or 12:45. There was much singing and praying. There were testimonies. There was a lengthy devotional on Psalm 100 by the pastor, a young Nepalese man whom Emmanuel trained. There was a short sermon (can you believe Ron preached a short sermon?). However the sermon was more than doubled in length when Emmanuel translated it into Hindi. Somehow his translation was longer than what Ron said. Maybe he corrected Ron’s theology? After the sermon there was an offering. Then the rest of the team members were asked to share something. Each one did, and the service ended with a benediction. Several people came to Ron and Emmanuel and asked for prayer for different things from illness to jobs to give praise for blessings.

Sometime after 1:00, the church served lunch to our team, Emmanuel and his family, and the pastor. The food was great. They served white rice, curried veggies cooked together (I recognized only potatoes.), chicken in a sauce, a plate of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, radishes and peppers, and a delicious fried bread. For dessert we had sweet rice that had anise seeds and coconut pieces in it. All was delicious. We even enjoyed the curry flavor. We ate our meal in the worship space sitting in chairs around a small, short serving table.

The room where the service and our meal were held was approximately 10 ft. by 10 ft. The floor was covered with rugs. The walls were painted yellow with some appropriate decorations. A ceiling fan made it bearable. All of us sat on the floor (It was hard for the Americans.). There were about 31 or 32 in the room! There were several others outside and more who cooked the meal. When we were finished eating we prepared to leave. There were several hugs. We made pictures (promise, we’ll post pictures), and called for a taxi. Though we walked to church, it was all downhill. We were not in shape to walk back up since it was very steep and very warm. While we were waiting for the taxi, food was served to the rest of the people. That is their custom- guests are served first. While we waited, the people sang songs mainly for their own enjoyment, but we also enjoyed it.
We rested in the afternoon. At 5:00, we went up the mountain to the town of McLeod. This is the site of the Dali Lama’s residence and the “government in exile” of Tibet. We went to meet an “m” couple who work for our company. They have been here about 2 ½ years. Their work is exclusively with Tibetans who live in India. K and M have three beautiful daughters- 13 mos., 3 and 5 years. All of us had a good time sharing and eating together. After the meal, Ron and Liz met with Emmanuel over coffee while the others shopped. Liz took notes as Emmanuel shared the details of his work. He has started 10 churches, over 20 house Bible studies, appointed leaders for each one, and trained leaders in how to be a pastor. He continues to oversee each pastor and leader. Liz and Ron will make a report to the Missions Council about how we believe God would have us join in Emmanuel’s work. It was very encouraging for our team to see God’s hand in today. To God be glory forever.

Tomorrow morning, Emmanuel and his wife and two daughters will depart for their home. The team will visit in McLeod and see the Buddhist temples there. We have seen many monks there already. Also there are many westerners there apparently seeking a spiritual enlightenment. We will leave the hotel at about 2:30 for the airport and hopefully fly to Delhi for the night.

We saw one of the most beautiful sites we have ever seen today. The clouds on the Himalaya Mountains cleared for a while and we saw the majestic peaks with snow on them very clearly. D. is high in elevation and McLeod is even higher. The mountains we have been in at S. and here are the foothills of the Himalayas. God is good.

Good night.

India Dairy, Days 6-7

These last two days have been interesting. We are loving being in S. It is in Himachal Pradesh State which is in NW India and is very mountainous- the foot hills of the Himalayas. However two of our teammates are experiencing sickness- stomach aches, vomiting, and fever in one. They are Liz and Charlie. We were supposed to leave S. tomorrow to go west and north to D., which is an 8-9 hour drive over mountainous roads. But we are now seeking to stay one more night in our hotel and go to D. on Saturday. We plan there to meet with a national pastor Liz knows to hear how his work is going and possibly how we could partner with him in ministry.

The workers for our company we have met here are fantastic. Just ask a simple question and they give a very passionate response to describe what is happening. It is very exciting. I am making plans to have them visit us in SC and introduce them to our family. They work in some very exciting areas that we hope to cooperate in. I can’t tell details in this format. So, later at home, we can share details and pray over plans for future interaction.

Yesterday, 5/25, we made a hospital visit to see the mother of the Baptist pastor in Shimla, Pastor Ajay. The hospital was built by the British ages ago. His mother welcomed our visit. We talked with her and several family members, then prayed with her and left with the pastor to discuss his ministry. He is a fourth generation Christian. His great-grandfather was the first Christian in Chamba province of HP. This great grand was son of a Brahman Hindu priest. At age 16, the great grand heard a Scottish missionary preach a gospel message and was converted. He told his family and was cast out. Pastor’s father was pastor of the Baptist church before him. Pastor Ajay is a remarkable man. He travels in the state extensively to support the work of churches and pastors. He has a strong heart for evangelism and church planting. He believes the Lord will come soon, and that Christians have little time left to win the world. We were all moved and impressed with him in our discussions.

The young couple who live here (with 4 month old son) are jewels for our Father. They are a passionate as anyone I know for the Father’s work. They came first as short termers, not thinking this was their place. But in a short time Father changed their heart. This is their place, and they love it. The company sees their value. Father is using them greatly. They are conversant in Hindi which is the majority language here. Though most people speak English a little, Hindi is their heart language.

Late yesterday afternoon, Liz went to a doctor. He prescribed four meds. Liz began immediately. This afternoon she is much better though weak. We went to visit the young couple L. and L. and little W. as well as another worker, L. S., for supper and an evening of fellowship. It was great. We talked and laughed, played games, and ate Mexican food and chocolate chip cookies (home-baked). However, Charlie became ill there and has been most of today. This afternoon late he began to feel better.

It is confirmed that we will stay here another day and leave Saturday. We had another session with L. today which was also encouraging. A plan of action is shaping as our team continues discussing what we are hearing and seeing. We are forming a vision we will report to the Missions Council. We believe anything we do here must conform to the work being done and not be just a project we feel good about. Also, we have concluded that we must have partners to work with on the ground who are nationals or company people. We see so many needs that we have to really pray hard to discern what God is leading us to do. But He is leading and speaking. We will have more to say about this later.

In the afternoon, Jo, Carolyn, and A. went with L. S. to visit an orphanage. L. S. who works for the company, volunteers at the orphanage. It was a heart rending scene for them. They bought some bananas for the kids and Jo and Carolyn brought some things from home to leave there for them. As this is being written, we are with the workers again for fellowship and dinner. They seem to be blessed greatly by our fellowship and interest in their work. Hopefully, tomorrow we will all be well and can get ready for the long drive on Saturday.

This is being sent as soon as internet connection is available.

India Diary, Day 5

What a day today was. We arrived in Delhi last night at about 11:00 and were at the train station at 7:15 this morning. The train arrived in Kahla (sp?) at just before noon. We got in our car just before 1:00 and arrived in S. after three plus hours of driving on steep, curvy roads with lots of traffic and a driver who passed everything he could whether cars were coming or not. Ron said that the roads reminded him of WV hills on steroids. Charlie was crowded in to front seat. The other three- Carolyn, Jo, and A. were crunched in the second row seat. Ron and Liz sat in the back facing each other. Almost all our luggage was strapped to the top. The good news? We had air conditioning and stopped for lunch at McDonalds.

What the train and car ride took out of us, the sights here in S. have helped restore. This city is to India like Aspen, CO is to the USA. The climate is great. The city is clean. There are no beggars. It is a relatively prosperous place. And did I mention the natural as well as man-made beauty? We are on top of mountains and the city is spread all around on top and on sides of mountains. Mostly old and stately with beautiful public buildings are in the center of things. It is full of tourists, like H., but not pilgrims on religious pilgrimage. Many wealthy Indians have summer homes here. Other well to do Indians come for part of the summer or all of it.

We met late afternoon with a local company man named L. who gave us a quick rundown on the local scene concerning culture, history, and the company work. It all was very inspiring. Many things for good and God are going on in this state. There is an established Baptist church here and a church majestic building left over from the British days right in the center of things. However, don’t think this is a hub of Christian activity. Hinduism still reigns. The main company work is in the villages. There are 19,000 of them in the state and the goal is to have a local branch in every one of them. We are all impressed with L. who is very busy helping start these branches by providing training and some oversight of the new starts. We may be able to provide assistance in this process. More about that in MP.

The city of S. looks like a Swiss village in the town center area. It is filled with colonial era buildings, mostly used for local, state, and national government. There are quaint streets filled with shops and stores of all kinds. There are coffee shops and restaurants as well. We ate tonight at a restaurant that has Italian, Mexican, and Indian cuisine. It wasn’t exactly like we are used to, but it was good. Some of us even found a Baskin- Robbins ice cream shop. There is also a Dominos and a Subway.

At our team meeting tonight we shared our impressions about today and the whole trip so far. We all sense God is moving us to be more evangelistic at home a overseas. We are convinced that our church must do a better job of focusing on the gospel and evangelism than ever before. Tomorrow we plan to meet again with L. and make contacts with him, We are all eager to do so.

India Diary, Day 4

Today was our last in H., the holy city on the Ganga River. After such a good day yesterday connecting with pastor Wilson again, we continued exploring the city today. We went to another temple on the other side of the river. It was pretty much the same as the one we already visited. Same set up and same type of environment. It was a bit smaller, and it was a touch cleaner. Three things have to be described here to help you understand what we are experiencing. I’m confident that it is impossible to fully explain, but I’ll try a short version.

First, there are people of all sorts, mostly Indians. Since this is a holy city with many religious pilgrims, different nationalities also come. They come in all sizes, mostly shorter than Americans, all ages and all kinds of dress. Some dress pretty much as a westerner, sort of. The men wear slacks and shirts and sandals or shoes. However they are in the minority except for young men and boys. The older men tend to dress in traditional dress for men in India- linen slacks with no pockets, and a shirt that is very long, coming down to their thighs. Some older men wear a gown type garment with a shawl-like sash. These men also tend to wear turbans. I pretty sure the turban is a religious designation. I hope to find out. Most men who can grow one have a mustache. Many men have full beards, especially older men who wear the turban. The Indians, men and women, usually have beautiful black hair. A few for some unknown reason to me use red dye on their hair.

A few of the younger women wear western style clothes such as jeans and blouses or shirts. However, the majority of women and girls wear a cloth around their waist that makes a skirt, a top that covers their mid waist to their shoulders, and a shawl-type cloth that they drape over their shoulders. Their clothes are beautiful and very colorful. Women also often wear piercings in their nose and several ear piercings in their ears.

There always seem to be beggars- men, women, and children. It is hard not to give them something, but when you do, it attracts many others. We try to give only food when we give anything. When we walked through the city, people would stare at us. Some would talk to us and want their picture taken with us. We were like stars!

Second, we have eaten an almost all Indian diet. Curry is in almost everything, and if you don’t like it or at least tolerate it, you don’t get too many choices. In H., it is impossible to find any meat. So we were vegetarians for several days. We had many new dishes most of us had never eaten. A., our guide, and Liz could tell us about some of the dishes. We had a pancake-like food with tomatoes or cheese or onions, without syrup. Toast or sandwiches for breakfast was normal. We had fried veggies with an interesting batter and spices. We had chick peas, spinach, potatoes, carrots, beans, and rice. Various sauces added detail. Food was plentiful and inexpensive. We found one western restaurant and ate there today for lunch- Dominos Pizza. It wasn’t exactly like our Dominos, but it was great!
Third, we have been intrigued by the modes of transportation. There are many cars, mostly made in India and Japan. We did see two Chevrolets. But there are more of other vehicles such as motorcycles and scooters, horse or mule drawn carriages, and rickshaws. Three types of rickshaws are used in H. There is the pedal driven, the three wheeled motor driven and the three wheeled large version called a Vikram. We used all three kinds of rickshaws. It was almost funny to see the bicycle rickshaws we used today to get to the train station. Liz and Ron shared one, and with his backpack and Liz’ backpack, the driver had a very hard time going up slopes. Twice he got off and pushed. Once Ron got off and helped him! Trains are very helpful in India to help people get around. They are punctual and relatively inexpensive. There are two classes. The common class has no air conditioning, less comfort, and no food service. Upper class costs more, but it also has air conditioning, bigger seats (reclining seats too), and good food service (for India). Upper class is how we traveled twice and will again tomorrow.

We have pictures and memories already. But you cannot fully understand this country without a visit. The sights defy a camera to fully show the reality. One must hear the sounds, smell the odors, touch and talk to the people, and taste the food to get a little understanding of the country and the reason we are here.

Thanks for your prayers and concerns.

India Diary, Day 1

When we left Charleston, we didn’t know what we were getting into. We were eager to get to India and nothing seemed too hard for us. So we flew from Charleston to Detroit about two hours in the air. Then we took an eight hour flight to Amsterdam where we had a six hour layover. After the layover, we flew over seven hours to Delhi. That’s right, we were in the air and in layover mode for over 21 hours. We arrived at our hotel about 12:30, got to bed at 1:00 am and got up at 5:00 to catch a train to H., which took six hours. We were surprised at the train. There was air conditioning and good food service!

H. is a “holy” city. There is a very well known Hindu temple there where people make pilgrimages. We rode a cable car up the mountain to see it. The wait was over two hours to get on the car to go up the mountain and about an hour’s wait to come back down. The temple itself was quite a sight. It was overrun with visitors and with vendors selling everything from food to souvenirs as well as offerings to the gods. Workers in the temple and security guards kept the people moving through so that it took only a few minutes to see it unless you wanted someone to give you a special blessing. The offerings given were generally made of flowers, specially made ribbons, decorations, coconuts and other gifts that could be used to decorate a statue or used in a ritual. Incense and wood smoke were prevalent. A carnival atmosphere was the order of the day.

During the temple visit two things stood out. One was the workers (priests?). They told us to give offerings of money at least two times. In exchange they would bless us by putting brightly colored marks on our foreheads. We all refused. The second was Liz. Apparently her hair color was a tremendous attraction to the Indians. Women and girls and not a few men would stare at her and want to talk to her or touch her. Several asked if they could take her picture and did.

There is no church in H., and the best guess is that there are only a few people known to be Christians. We are seeking God’s will if this is the place we are to make connections to do the father’s work. People in India are generally open to talk about religion. On the plane from Amsterdam Ron had a long, good discussion with a young Indian about his religion and Christianity. Ron can hardly remember a time when he so fully explained the gospel to someone. God seemed to open the door wide. The young man asked good questions and listened carefully. He is studying in the states for his Ph. D. at an Ivey league school. Pray for J. that he will come to Christ one day.

Because of the scarcity of internet connections, we will not be able to send information every day. But, when we can, we’ll let you know what’s happening with us.

Five from Mt. Pleasant

India Diary, Day 2
After getting so little sleep the two previous days, we finally got to bed Friday evening at a decent hour and slept until about 8:00 am. After breakfast, we divided into three groups of two and prayer walked the city. We didn’t have a specific plan since we did not have time to cover the whole city. So, each group went where they wanted. Jo and Liz went together. A. and Carolyn and Charlie and Ron made up the other two groups. We were to meet back at the hotel at 4:00 to report.

Not knowing the city, we really didn‘t know what we were looking for. We were just trying to get to know the city, her people and her character. Perhaps we could engage some people in conversation and make friends. At the outside, we may find a “person of peace” with whom we could share the message or even perhaps someone with faith with whom we could partner. Ron and Charlie did exactly that. In their walking, they found an evangelical church, met her pastor and his wife, and visited in their home. We previously thought there was no evangelical witness or any other church in this city. We were surprised and delighted. We talked for a long time over tea and cookies. We heard the story of the pastor and the church. We found out he has a heart for evangelism and that his church is bigger that the building would indicate. We all had received good insights through the prayer walks. However, we were especially thankful for the connection with the pastor and his church. We plan to worship there tomorrow.

In the late afternoon and evening we went to the most sacred river to the Hindu faith- the Ganga (or Ganges in English). Every day in the evening there is a special celebration during which people wash/swim/dunk themselves in the river. Also people make special offerings of flowers, usually placed in a boat-like vessel make of leaves, and with a lit candle on it. They would go through a ceremony and place the offering in the water, often followed by an offering of milk poured into the river. Some did this before getting in the water, others after the water and still others instead of getting wet. The city has elaborate facilities for this occasion. There are stairways, bridges, grandstands, temples, and various vendors available to assist the worshippers. Perhaps there were 10,000 people or more present. As we talked with many people, we discovered this happens every evening all year long.

We arrived early to get good seats on the top step beside the river. People young and old, male and female were going into the water. Most of the men and boys were wearing their undershorts. The women and girls wore their dresses. Several young boys were trolling with magnets attached to a cord in order to grab coins thrown in the river as an offering. Officials kept order and kept onlookers from putting their shoes too close to the water. Others were asking for donations of various sorts. It was quite a sight. We watched the proceedings for about an hour. Then the ceremony started. It began with words from a loud speaker. Officials (priests?) lit torches on the opposite bank. At some points the people joined the loudspeaker in singing, clapping and praying. This continued about 20 minutes. Then it was over and some of the crowd began to leave. We left at this time as well.

It is really hard to describe the scene here. It is at the same time spectacular and sad. The people are so friendly and so steeped in their beliefs. They are open to talk about their beliefs but not to accepting other beliefs. That would take some time. However, we do have a contact which may be a door for us to have a continuing relationship in this city. More tomorrow about the church service.

India Diary, Day 3
After breakfast of toast and coffee, we rode a motorized rickshaw to the church we found yesterday. The service started at 9:00 am and we arrived at 8:45. A few women were there in prayerful silence. Gradually more people came, and the pastor come in and sat on the platform waiting for the service to start. All was solemn. The pastor wore a white silk-like robe with a red stole draped around his neck. He was barefooted on the platform. There was a table top pump organ and a set of 4 bongo drums. When the service started and groups of women and one young man led the singing of what seemed to be praise songs. The people stood and sang along as they clapped to the rhythm. An older man pumped and played the organ, one hand pumping and one playing. The pastor’s son played the drums. He appeared to be about 20 or 21.

The service continued with a reading of Psalm 91 in unison. Then there were songs from the hymnal, prayers, scripture reading, the sermon on Luke 17:11-19, and an offering. There was no choir and one man took the offering with a bag on the end of a short pole that he passed in front of every person present. The service was in the Hindi language. We could only pick a word or two which was in English or sounded like English. Our guide A., understands Hindi so she could understand the whole service. There were approximately 50 people present. They were cordial to us after the service, and we spoke with many of them. The pastor invited us into his home (the parsonage behind the church building) along with several others from the church including his son, his brother, a retired minister, and others. We had tea, cookies and something like Cheetos only with Indian spices.

As we talked, the pastor told us something he did not tell Charlie and Ron yesterday. He said he, his wife and son were praying in the church three days ago, as they prayed they asked God for help with their ministry. And now were were here in his living room asking what kind of help he needed! One of our team’s prayer requests was to find a place or places where we could connect with God’s people or a God-project somewhere so we could help to reach people for Christ. This pastor shared his heart to train pastors, teach the Bible to new believers and do evangelistic outreach in this city. Wow! God gave us a startling answer. We will pray for confirmation that this is where God wants us to work. Even though this church doesn’t bear our denominational name tag, it is Bible believing, gospel oriented, evangelical and missionary. This could be our India connection. Pray with us to hear God clearly.

After the visit with Pastor W. we went to the restaurant Charlie and Ron found yesterday and had a very good Indian meal. All of us ate heartily and had ice cream for dessert. The meal cost just over $30 US (tip included) for the six of us! In the afternoon we retired for naps and reflection. At 5:00 pm we visited Pastor W. again to use his internet connection to send our first three blogs. However, we could not get his modem to work. Hopefully this will come to you Sunday night, out time. At 6:30 we went to meet a young woman our friend A. knows about who is here in the city with another company than ours. She serves our Father as well. We met her at a restaurant called “Kocktails” but they didn’t serve alcohol! She also had her sister with her. The young woman is here studying language. Her sister is visiting. We had a good time getting to know each other and fellowshipping. All of us have discovered our favorite Indian foods, so far. It is an adventure to see what is on the menu next.

Tomorrow, Monday, we plan to visit another temple and talk with people. Then we will pack a leave for Delhi on the six o’clock train. Pray that our connections today will bear fruit for the kingdom.

Almost There!

It’s about 12:30am US time and we just arrived in Amsterdam. It’s 6:30am here. We’ll be here for about 5 hours before we fly into Delhi (a 8 hr plane ride). It will be about 11pm in Delhi when we arrive (2 pm your time). We are pretty tired but excited to get there! Pray that the Lord will give us energy against jet lag. We’ll update again when we can. We’re gonna try and catch some z’s now.

Grace & Peace!