Friday, November 11, 2005

The Next Leg of the Mission

The next day was an odd experience for me. I have often woke up and been disoriented. That is, when you wake up in a strange environment, it takes you a moment to get your bearings. This, however, was the first time I have ever woken up and not known "when" I was. It would take me two more days to figure out which day it was. It's weird being halfway around the world.

We had a fine breakfast complements of Samuel Thomas. He is the current president of Emmanuel Ministries and the American side, Hopegivers Ministries. You can check out their website at Hopegivers. Hopefully, you will come to believe that this is a worthy ministry as I have; maybe some of you will even become supporters. Samuel came down from Kota to greet us. He also brought another pastor from Delhi named Baboo CJ. Samuel is the son of M.A. Thomas and has known Bro. Terral since he was a small child. It was a happy reunion.

From there, we caught a flight to the state of Goa. Goa is an extremely interesting state. It is the smallest in India, and it was a Portuguese colony until the 1960's. England pulled out of India in 1947, give or take a year, so Goa remained under Portuguese influence a little longer. Goa itself is a beautiful state, perhaps the most beautiful in India. Because of this, it is an attractive vacation spot. Once again our accommodations were top-notch and very inexpensive. I hardly felt like I was on a mission trip at all.

There is a reason why Goa is the home of the Bible College that Bro. Jason Job is directing, and it is not just because the place is beautiful. Because the area is so rich with tourists, it is a little easier to bring in professors there from overseas. The visas are easier to come by, and less questions are asked. Further, the area is more Christian than others, though Bro. Job lamented that it was easier to talk to a Hindu about Christ than a Catholic. It is a good situation for the school and for the teachers, and I considered it a haven, a small, wonderful outpost for the kingdom of God. The poverty in Goa is not nearly as apparent, and the standard of living was much better.

My reason for being there was to meet Bro. Job, and I was asked to speak at the Bible College graduation. There were about thirty graduates. Most of them men heading into the ministry, some were pastor's wives receiving training. They were from all over India. This college in Goa is actually only a nine week training institute; it is more like an extended seminar. The students were glad for the opportunity for study and fellowship.

Since the students more or less spoke English, I was able to preach without an interpreter. That is a blessing. As I stood to speak, I knew full well the type of situation most of these men were going to. Many were going to cities with almost no Christian work to speak of. Many would be or had already been persecuted for their faith. What do you say to such a crowd? Why would God privilege me to speak to such a group. I was overwhelmed.

This is the text I chose for the night, and I confess that it is my heart:

"I thank my God upon every remebrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:3-6).

As I spoke, I asked the Lord to be merciful to me and help me remembered those faces and remember their struggles. I asked Him to remind me to pray for them. I asked for Him to remind me that we are partners for the kingdom, and that they are dear brothers and sisters called to a task for which I have not yet been found worthy. They will suffer in ways that I will not. Though I have training for the ministry that they could not begin to dream of, God has called them to a task that I might not be able to handle. One would almost despair for them in their hardships if it were not for verse 6. My final prayer as I spoke was that God would remind me again and again and again that what He starts, He finishes.

After the graduation, we were treated to a great meal of curry and rice. Perhaps you have heard that Indian food is spicy. I am here to tell you that the half of it has not been told to you. I believe that even the coffee is spicy in India. I am judging by South Louisiana standards, and they are no slouches when it comes to spice.

Before we left Goa we went to visit Jason Job and his wife at their home. I suppose their home has around 3,000 square feet. In that home, they take care of nine orphans and their two children. This is the second home that they have lived in while staying in Goa. They rent, and when the landlords find out that they are Christians and that they have orphans there, they will not renew their lease. As you can imagine, this is a terrible strain. Almost every year pastors such as Bro. Jason Job have to find a home that they can afford and that is large enough to accommodate the children. I pray that the Lord will grant Bro. Jason enough money to buy a place to set up. It is not only inconvenient for him to move, but also for the small church that meets in his home. They currently have around 20 members.

I have walked on the shores of Arabian Sea of India, and I have met the believers there. But more wonderful than the Sea and the scenery there are the men and women who labor there for the sake of Jesus Christ, who struggle in a dark place to reveal His bright light. Please pray for the church of God in Goa, and for the work that they are building there.

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