It's been a long day... so let's begin.
Wednesday AM - Pastors' Training
I led a 4hr training session for the local Bible Faith Mission pastors [about 50 persons]. We did something similar last year on our first trip and made numerous cultural errors and did not present all too well. But God redeemed the time [thankfully]. And we learned a lot about the struggles of our new friends and what it means to be a Dalit Christian pastor. This year I felt like God was laying a simple message of encouragement to my brothers, to remind them that God has not forgotten them, that he won't leave and that he's doing a work through and in them. I took some time to encourage my brothers and was able to present some simple material on church-planting movements and discipleship. We'll leave the rest to God and see how He'll bear fruit from it.
Like last year, the pastors asked heartfelt questions. One pastor stood up and shared that there is a group in the US that is funding the construction of a large Hindu temple constructed here in Kerala; upon it's completion, it'll be shipped back to the US. He then asked, "How can we sustain when even the Christian countries are funding Hinduism here in India?" It was a very sobering moment and I was at a loss as to how to respond.
But the Holy Spirit was gracious to give me a simple response – that though the powers that oppress free movement of the Gospel seem insurmountable, the Gospel was meant to flourish in the margins, in places that seem least viable, in the midst of persecution, oppression and poverty. Maybe a reason we have not seen significant revivals in the United States?
In the end, it was another opportunity to learn more about the struggle of my brothers laboring to lead churches while working against government, extremists and caste. Please pray for these pastors and leaders – there is so much working against them and they teach us every time what it really means to take up our cross and follow.
Wednesday Afternoon – Children’s Camp Prep
We started looking at the VBS package that we purchased and realize that it was garbage. There’s not much more to say about it. So we began the process of writing our own stuff the night before. Yes, ambitious. We’ll see how it turns out tomorrow.
Wednesday Night – Dinner Debacle
So we decided that we’d cook for the Bishop and his family as an introduction to Chinese food, but primarily to give them a break. They’ve lovingly served us and it’s not easy to feed 7 people, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It began with us taking stock of what we could cook. It came down to green beans, fried rice, stir fried chicken and green onion pancakes. Seemed doable. We started and things just took longer than we expected. A few things that were working against us: foreign kitchen setup with stoves equivalent to camp burners, unfamiliar ingredients and not entirely understanding the preferences of the Indian tastebud.
When we were ready to eat, we were almost 45 minutes late [they normally eat at 8:15p], kitchen was a mess, food didn’t look quite right and we didn’t even have time to finish the fried rice. There was this feeling of impending doom.
When we finished praying, the Bishop’s wife scooped some green beans that we stir-fried with some Hoisin sauce. And as she put the bean in her mouth, she immediately spit it back out and quickly moved [by hand] each bean to Bishop’s plate. I had to stop my mouth from dropping to the floor. I looked at Dave and he had this expression of pure dejection and later quipped, “Tonight, I’d rather have been a coward than a failure.” We were pretty embarrassed!
The chicken and the onion pancakes had a better reception. But it was hard to ignore the pain of green bean “FAIL”. Bishop’s daughter Keren said it well, “My mind says yes, but my mouth says no!” We were able to really laugh it off as we finally made it to the end of dinner. Keren even joked that they would take a picture of the dinner and put it on the fridge as “inspiration” to other foreigners who want to volunteer to cook! Bishop’s family were good sports and they appreciated the gesture even though they had to supplement that night’s dinner with some leftover Indian food from the night before.
Again we learned a lot and shared a very memorable moment with Bishop’s family. And hopefully our week doesn’t continue on that trajectory! God has still been good to us and we’ve been learning a lot. We look forward to sharing more soon.