“Get to Bengaluru” – check.
“Poke a passing cow through bus window” – check.
“Crash an Indian wedding” – check!
Yes, we would say our first day in Bangalore was pretty successful. We were invited to the wedding of two Operation Mobilisation staff, and were humbled to realise we were honoured guests. We were ushered to the very front seats, where, unfortunately, we neither understood the Tamil service nor the Kannada translation, and then were invited up to be the first people to take a photo with the newly-wed bride and groom! We arrived at the reception hall early due to the incomparable driving skills of our friend Muthu (he doesn’t drive; he time-travels), we sneaked up and took photos on stage, much to the amusement of bystanders.
Another thing we could check off the list is getting in touch with our feminine side – and I don’t mean just the girls!
Our schedule was beautifully and thoroughly planned – we went to drug rehab homes, orphanages, a school for underprivileged children, a vocational centre for women from the slums, and small local churches and house fellowships. Although the schedule was remarkably orderly, there was of course the Indian element of surprise, but by the grace of God, the team pulled some remarkable impromptu ministry out of their bag of surprises. There was card trick ministry: “I can find the card you hid in this deck – I know where it is, just as God always knows where you are. You’re not lost in the crowd!” There was the ‘magic’ colouring book: “God adds colour to my life just as colour is magically added to these black and white pictures!”
There was, of course, lots of singing and dancing, including ‘This Little Light of Mine’ with handmade paper lanterns.
We all shared our testimonies, and were moved and humbled by the testimonies of those we met; it turns out God is even more faithful and kind than we realised, and is at work in the lives of people all around the world. We were moved to tears by the testimonies of the orphans we met; one after one, they stood up and shared how the Lord had provided everything they asked for in prayer, even things like Christmas clothes or a guitar. We also had the privilege of sharing the good news of Jesus with just about everyone we met, in as many different ways as we could think of.
Many prayed prayers of commitment or re-commitment to Christ with us, but the story of one girl – Saraswati – is especially exciting. A few of us were teaching a dance to the women at the vocational training centre which they could use at their graduation ceremony, and the rest of us decided to go out prayer walking. Now, the thought that might be crossing your mind is that prayer walks tend to be quite uneventful, in general. Well, this one was an exception! Benjamin sensed that the Lord was leading them to sprinkle salt on the ritual drawings, called ‘kolams’, in the gateways of neighbouring houses, because Jesus says ‘you are the salt of the earth’. Pray for encouragement for the believers and churches in that neighbourhood, that they would know they are the salt of the earth.
As they walked through the neighbourhood, praying blessing and ‘salting’ the streets, they stopped to talk to some youths playing cricket, when all of a sudden, a middle-aged man emerged from a council housing block about fifty metres away, and made a beeline for them. He took hold of Peter’s hand in one of those lingering Indian handshakes, and didn’t let go until he had led them into his house! After serving them snacks, he turned to Danielle, looked her in the eye, and said, “You! Sing.” The team rescued Danielle from a solo performance by leading the household in a few simple worship songs, and then the man turned to Peter and said with surprising authority, “Pray for us.” So they began to pray for this man of peace and his family.
After sharing the simple Gospel, the neighbour, who had entered during the impromptu prayer meeting, invited them to his house. Soon, they were worshipping, praying, and sharing the Gospel there, as well. The daughter of the house, Saraswati, spoke enough English to understand what they were saying, and prayed a prayer of salvation with them that very day! We were able to visit and encourage her over the next few days and give her both a Tamil and English Bible. Pray for Saraswati, that she would grow and be rooted in her new faith.
The team went four times in the next few days. They were invited (or dragged to) four houses the first day, eight houses the second day, and after having spent six hours in the housing complex, had to turn down invitations the third and fourth days for lack of time! Danielle prayed for a lady with a toothache and she was healed. The next day, another lady with a toothache turned up, and this time we got Parvati, whom we had met the previous day, to pray in Jesus’ name, and there was noticeable improvement! Pray that every inhabitant of the council housing block will continue praying in Jesus’ name and know Jesus personally.
We went to local churches that Sunday, and were mightily encouraged by their faith and zeal.
We learnt later that local churches have been praying for the inhabitants of the housing block we’d been to for years, and so we got to connect local believers up with Saraswati and the others we had talked to. God is doing incredible things in Bangalore – pray for His Kingdom to come and local believers to be encouraged and refreshed.
The last few days were a celebration of our season in India. We went to Mysore Zoo and Mysore Palace, where of course, we acted as sophisticated as royalty. There was, of course, a Ninja Party, to celebrate Danielle’s Birthday.
India, of course, had some parting words for the India-Cambridge Team as we sped to the airport, on our way to the Cambridge chapter of our mission.