Well, I’m sitting here in a hotel in Mumbai, India, waiting to head home. I was unable to post yesterday, because the Internet café near our hotel was closed for the Hindu holiday, Holi.
Yesterday, I finished the final two sessions with these precious pastors from Northern India. I spoke on How Do We Sing to God? We focused on singing with our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. As in Visakhaptnam, we took time to express how Psalm 23 applied to our lives. Three people shared stories of God’s faithfulness, protection, and power. Then one woman, a new Christian, began to describe through tears the recent persecution the believers in her village have begun to experience. She had to keep it secret that she was at this conference, and was seeking to “fear no evil” during this trial. We prayed for her as a group and encouraged her in her faith. Later on I learned that many of the pastors have been through persecution, and having experienced it, realize it’s not as bad as they thought. Lord, give me faith like these men!
I was able to spend about 30 minutes with Jacob, the young man who led us in singing at the conference. He was humble, teachable, and a joy to interact with. He told me that God was showing him that his worship leading has focused primarily on exciting people’s emotions, rather than engaging their minds with a greater picture of God’s glory in Christ. He said he wanted to be a “telescope.” He was referring to an illustration I used earlier. When we look up at the stars, they look like small, twinkling lights. However, through a telescope we realize they’re massive, flaming balls of fire that would consume us if we got near them. They don’t change in size – our perspective does. In a similar way, nothing about God changes as we exalt Him in song – just our perspective. We want to magnify God and the Savior in people’s eyes as we lead them in song. So we want to be telescopes, by the Spirit’s power.
I can’t express how grateful to God I am that He allowed me this
opportunity to interact with some of the leaders of His church here in
India. I was inspired by their faith, their example of courage, their
humility, their joy, their love for God’s word, and so much more. I
can’t help but imagine that in heaven Americans will make up the
majority of those around the edges of the vast multitude, while unknown
millions from churches like these will be gathered close to the
Savior’s feet. Of course, we’ll all be filled with inexpressible joy
just realizing that we’re even there.
Last night we had dinner with Wilson and Aruna Barria, and their daughter, Angela. Wilson spent some time in the United States at the Sovereign Grace Pastors’ College, and we asked him what struck him about America. “The unbelievable wealth,” he replied. He was referring to financial and material wealth, of course.
But after being in India for these few days, I wonder who the wealthy ones really are? I have interacted with hundreds of men and women who live on next to nothing, yet are overflowing with love for their Savior, God’s church, and those who have yet to know Christ. Their zeal to see India bow the knee to Jesus Christ is overwhelming. Their willingness to suffer for the Gospel is something I have a hard time relating to. I recoil at the thought of someone saying something unkind about me. Many here have gladly returned to villages where they face not only verbal persecution, but physical and social persecution as well. These are the rich ones, not us. They live with the greater and more lasting treasure clearly in view.
May God make us rich in that way, for His glory.
I was encouraged to learn that there are many hopeful signs that more and more people are turning from their idolatry and rebellion in India and being added to the kingdom. I even found out that some of the Indian states in the far Northeast have largely Christian populations. In the midst of great darkness, the Gospel continues to conquer the souls of men and women for God’s glory.
Thank you again if you have prayed for Larry and me while we have been in India. I pray these brief updates have been an encouragement to you to live a life worthy of the Savior, wherever you happen to be serving Him.