It was two or three in the morning, the year was 2006, and I was cleaning overnights at a private club in the city. I took a break and got on my knees; no one else was in the building. I started to confess to the Lord all my reasons for desiring to go to India. I then sat down and prepared for the VBS lesson I was to teach later that morning. The passage was Esther 1 and the first verse mentions INDIA! Only twice in all of scripture is India mentioned. What are the chances I’d read that word? Just two in 31,102 to be exact. That’s how many verses make up the Holy Bible. I held onto that scripture trusting God would send me and give me the desire of my heart. Little did I know that it would be 13 years after receiving that confirmation that I would finally make the trip.
As I reflect back on my India experience I realize I would not have been ready in 2006 or 2016. My children were not old enough for me to leave. I needed more learning and equipping for the work. My bible teaching and preaching had to be cultivated and developed. Most importantly, God had to send me. When I received a call from George and Christine Jegadesh on a Sunday afternoon in November, I knew GOD WAS SENDING ME! When we got off the phone a friend sent me a random text message out of nowhere that read, “you are chosen”. Coincidence?
I started the process of getting my passport renewed, applying for my visa, and I attended the medical missions meeting at Pastor Tony’s house. I felt God’s peace and presence in a very deep way, and never had any doubt enter in. The team left a few days before me due to a prior commitment, so I took the three-plane trip, just me and Jesus, 17.5 hours in the air, Rochester to JFK, JFK to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Pune, India. It was the first time I had flown in 22 years. During take offs I prayed a lot; it worked!
I arrived in India at 3:15a.m. and met Brother George Jegadesh at the little deli outside the airport. We had a cappuccino and then my first India lesson. Never, ever, take a hot drink along for an Indian drive! Splish-splash all over the place, and then eventually I threw it out the window. The driver seemed un-phased. After about a 45-minute ride we reached The Hiwale residence in Pune. Bishop Hiwale was up, as well as Ann Harper (a team member from KF). You can sense the Holy Spirit is with Bishop Hiwale; he is meek, kind, and truly is a holy man. Ann kindly helped me out with some details, and I was flying high on adrenaline. The medical clinic started at 9a.m. but I was to lead rooftop devotions at 7a.m., so I stayed up.
The second day of the clinic (I missed the first) started out with a debrief, short devotion, and prayer. I was stationed at the prayer table. We prayed with so many people. The needs are great: physical needs, family needs, financial, and much more. Several individuals make confessions for Christ! New Testaments and tracts are given out to many throughout the day in their native tongue. The medical team is working hard giving much-needed care for hygiene, hearing, blood pressure, and much more. The Indian people are respectful and kind; they love to listen and learn. Professors Mithun and Enosh are with me during different parts of the day and they are warm, humble men.
Day 4 of the medical clinic really stood out. It was “HARVEST DAY”. As Leah (a 22 year old budding evangelist from our team) and I ministered at the prayer station, one person after another, after reading specific scriptures and hearing the gospel explained, wanted to pray to receive Jesus! This was not easy-believism because we warned those who wanted to pray for salvation. We explained to them they would have to leave their other gods and forsake all their idols because Jesus desires all of them. Yet they still wanted Jesus Christ! 20 or more that day prayed for salvation, and not only did their lives change, so did our team member Leah’s. She led two people to Christ and discovered that what she was doing is exactly what God has called her to do! One of the most interesting encounters of “Harvest Day” was when we prayed with a Hindu woman who was experiencing fear. Her head fell to the table and I placed my hand over her head and prayed fervently along with Leah and one of the Bible College students. After a few minutes we stopped and waited. About a minute or two later she lifted up her head, and we could see her countenance had changed. She said a dark force was coming at her, but then the light came and drove it away. Praise God! That gave all of us a “Holy Ghost boost” for the rest of the day! When the medical clinic concluded we had an ice cream party with all involved. The team reflected back on the clinic the next morning during rooftop devotions.
The next few days would bring some teaching opportunities at the church and with the college students. It was an honor and privilege to share God’s word at Sunday morning service. At the Sunday morning English service I taught from Matthew 5:1-20. For the Hindi service it was Isaiah 6:1-13. I taught a missions class and spoke about “the missions circle” in the book of Acts, and then taught on the usefulness of the law in an evangelism class the next day.
We visited the Girls Home and encountered 38 of the sweetest little girls you could ever meet. We also got in some shopping and ate at some fantastic restaurants. I have no regrets about any part of the mission. The Hiwale family is extremely hospitable and live for God and others. Every morning I had my two cups of Chai; what a great way to start each day. Indian food is spicy and delicious. We ate three Indian meals a day. Esther (Pastor Ben’s sister) was a gracious hostess and took great care of the team.
I can’t say enough about the team members for this mission. They were wonderful, all of them served so generously each day. They were nothing short of a blessing to the over 1,400 people seen in 5 days. We laughed, we prayed, we cried, we fellowshipped, it truly was an honor serving along-side each one.
I waited 13 years for India, and it was worth the wait. How long have you been waiting? Pray, seek God’s word, attend a meeting, and let God do as He did with Isaiah and send you (Isaiah 6:8). There is nothing like it. To go to a land that is only 8%-10% Christian and share the everlasting gospel and demonstrate the love of God to so many is deeply rewarding. It will change you as God uses you to change others for His glory. I hope to serve with you in India someday.