It's been incredibly difficult to put into written words my time in India, and when you consider I'm rarely at a loss for words is really incredible in itself. My camera didn't really work well so I've relied on other people's pictures but just to tell people where they are. I didn't save any of them. My fellow team member emailed me some pictures last night and it didn't take a lot of effort to save/post them, so...
The fourth day in the mission field had some difficult times. By this time in our week, we were supposed to be following up with thandas (villages) we had previously visited but somehow we were going to new thandas. Quite honestly, I can't even remember where we started that morning, because each day is similar to the one before (in some ways). Here are the parts I remember...
We were driving to a thanda and I looked up and in the distance I could see something large and white in the field ahead. As we drew nearer to it, I was told it was a monkey god statue. I can't even begin to describe to you how large it was, and to be frank, I don't want to give a lot of thought to it. It was large enough to see probably a half mile or more away. It was very ornate and had it not been a statue to a monkey, I would have been positively impressed. We drove a little further up and there was a Krishna temple. The people we were about to visit obviously worshiped something.
We stopped at the next thanda and Sharon (the other North American on the team) gave the presentation. I had the sense something just wasn't right. Oh the people were welcoming enough (India is a very welcoming country) and they listened to what Sharon was saying, but at the end of the presentation, chaos erupted. It wasn't something you'd see on TV or in a movie, it was a subtle chaos. (We dealt with chaos every time the gospel was presented - this was different.) For probably one of the first times, I sensed God talking to me. He was telling me to leave. He was not welcome in this village. They were not ready to receive Him. Our welcome was rescinded. Our team leader had told us we would encounter thandas such as this. Jesus told His disciples they would encounter towns such as this in Luke 10:5:15. Praise God I listened to Him and the team listened to me. We wiped the dust off our feet and left this thanda.
By now we were all pretty rattled. I was overwhelmed and the nationals were a little confused. Sharon was distraught over an experience she had. What I really wanted to do was just find some place and have our lunch and have some time to regroup. (Ok, truth be told what I really wanted to do was go back to the hotel and be alone and just process everything.) However, this isn't what happened.
We went on to the next thanda, which is where we were supposed to go to begin with. See, the thanda we had just left we weren't even supposed to go to. When we arrived at the next thanda, the difference in the atmosphere was palpable. God was welcome here. He came and His presence was known!
Bhadru (the translator I mostly worked with) and I presented the gospel to the people and while all of them didn't run up and accept Christ as their Savior, you could sense their willingness to listen and ponder what we were saying. They warmly welcomed us into their village and the people who did come forward and made a declaration of faith were not mocked (as they were in other villages).
On this day, there were four little girls who came forward and accepted Christ as their Savior and a mother (who wasn't one of their mothers). One of the little girl's parents listened to the gospel and when their little girl accepted Christ, they thanked us for being there. Her parents needed time to think about everything but they seemed glad she had made the decision she did.
Everyone needed to return to the fields (it was harvest time) but her family offered a place on their property to eat our lunch and relax. It was a wonderfully shady spot and very peaceful. Overall, this thanda was peaceful. I could sense God's presence there. He was preparing the soil for another time.
I was amazed at the differences in the two thandas we had just visited. I was overwhelmed at how God worked through me and at how I listened. It certainly made for a great end of the fourth day in the mission field - of that there is no doubt.
We were able to return to the thanda the next day but I'll save that story for another day. I just want to end this post by saying God turned a negative experience and turned it into something beautiful, as only He can. He can take an ordinary mom and turn her into a mighty warrior for Him and for His kingdom work. I praise You Lord.