I recently returned from a ten-day mission trip to India. I was one of six team members and this was my first trip to India. To sum it up — the experience was life-changing. Although this blog has previously been devoted solely to how Islam fulfills end-of-days Bible prophecies, my personal experience in India is something that needs to be shared. Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to cover some of the high points of my trip.
India is 83% Hindu, 13% Sunni Muslim, and 2% Christian. Hindu idol worship is everywhere in India. Man-made idols reach some 100 or more feet into the sky, many of which almost appear out of nowhere along the rural countryside. The picture above left is of Hanuman, a Hindu “monkey” god, and one of the many, many gods of Hinduism. I was told this particular god is worshiped by Hindus as a god of shelter or protection. Similar imposing statues were seen at least three times over the course of our trip, and each time just as imposing as the statue above left. Each time, the statue seemed to be out of place. I wondered who had the money to pay for such an immense structure particularly since it had to be constructed to withstand the severe weather patterns that India experiences. As I drove with my team, I was amazed to see pictures of Hindu gods adorning the entrance-ways of most huts or homes, one image to the left and one to the right. They never appeared to be the same image but of different gods; perhaps the more gods the greater the sense of security for those living inside.
Not only did the immensity of the idols amaze me but also the grandeur of the Hindu temples. They were often built in the center of remote villages and surrounded by the locals living in thatched huts and run-down shacks. The remote villages were without clean water, public sewer or garbage disposal. Public (or private) restrooms were non-existent in these areas. The bush was the toilet. The back road behind the village was the sewage system. Yet, a brightly colored, intricately designed temple stood ominously in nearly every village we traveled through. It appeared to be a display of power – by someone.
The purpose of my trip was to visit small Christian churches located in the remote villages of India among previously unreached people groups in these villages. We visited two churches in each of three days for a total of six churches. The villages were so remote that on one occasion, we had to leave our automobile and walk the last mile and a half to reach a house church in a tribal area. At each of the six churches we visited, people were baptized in the nearest river or stream. On two occasions, the water was so low that the candidates were immersed face-down. A total of twenty people were baptized, and of the twenty, several were sick with the “fever.” As they came out of the water, we laid hands on the sick. I can still remember one woman whose head was burning up with fever as I laid hands on her for healing.
On our trip, we participated in the dedication of two new churches. The churches were one room structures, bamboo reinforced with
thatched roofs. There was no electricity at one church, and at the second, the electricity failed after about ten minutes. The congregants sat on the ground which was covered with some type of bark. There were approximately fifty people at each dedication. The pastors at each church served without compensation. In fact, an offering was not collected. I asked the reason: the people had no money to give. The pastor was paid in food-stuffs. To dedicate each church, we led the people to anoint it with oil, we claimed the ground upon which it sat for Christ, and we prayed for the gospel to bear fruit through the ministry of the pastor. The pastor and the people were encouraged; and, the temple still sat ominously in the center of the village.
I could not help but compare the new churches with the temple located nearby. If you lived in the village which would you attend? The one room, thatched roof church or the brightly colored, intricately designed, eye-catching Hindu temple?
Do you think that people are attracted to power? What if power has to do with the God we worship? That is, was the one-room, thatched root church a reflection of a weaker God? After all, if God was more powerful why would an unbeliever conclude that the lesser structure was the house of God and the Hindu temple was the house of a false god?
Does that compute to you?
Since returning from India I have begun to ask myself a question: do believers reflect a God of power or a God of weakness? Have believers ceased to claim the power and authority God has given us in the Great Commission? If we have ceased to claim the power and authority of the Great Commission then how can we achieve the Great Commission?
No wonder the church of Jesus Christ is in distress.
In case you are wondering there are three components to the Great Commission:
- preach/share/testify to the Gospel. Matthew 28:18-20
- heal sickness of every kind. Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1, Luke 10:19
- deliver the oppressed from the demonic. Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1, Luke 10:19
Are you missing any of the three?
Jesus come quickly.