Jun 15, 2013

In the Land of Pi

A recent movie titled the Land of Pi depicts the life of a young Indian boy born in the South Indian city of Pontecherri who leaves with his family for the promise of a better future in Canada on a Japanese ship only to be met by disaster on the high seas.  His whole family and the entire pax perish at sea except for him and a tiger from their family zoo.  The opening scenes are laced with deep spiritual and philosophical questions as the characters wrestle with life's meaning and purpose and the nature of divine revelation.


Several hundreds of believers stand to rededicate their lives to
bold witness at one of the services yesterday morning.
In a way the boy's story captures the incredibly complex reality of the Indian people that spans the globe.  In his quest for divine revelation, he embodies the searching nature of the Indian soul from time immemorial.

I arrived here in Bangalore on Saturday morning for a time of ministry on two  fronts: one to the Indian local church and the other to the global church leadership. 

On Sunday morning I ministered in three services at Rose of Sharon Assemblies of God Church pastored by Rev. Jeya Kumar.  God worked in wonderful ways allowing me the privilege of praying with nearly sixty people to receive Jesus Christ into their lives for the first time as Lord and Savior.  Myriads of others prayed to rededicate their lives to active witness for Christ as they live their faith out loud.

Maha Kumbh Mela

My Sunday morning hosts, pastor Jeya Kumar, 2nd left,
with his family and associate pastor, left
A great insight came to me in the course of preaching such that I felt it was prophetic utterance that spells great hope for India's future as a reached nation.  In my several missions here I have noticed the incredible commitment to collective prayer that permeates the worship expression of the Indian Church.  Every single church I have had the privilege to minister, holds early morning prayer services, usually between five and six AM daily, irrespective of their denominational leanings.  These prayer services are always packed by praying believers.


Last year during our mission in Tamil Nadu, I had the privilege of speaking to over seventy thousand people, believers and non-believers alike, gathered for a prayer meeting organized by pastor Mohan C. Lazarus.  As the evangelist for the occasion, I was privileged to lead more than half of the audience in the prayer of repentance and salvation.

It occurred to me as I preached yesterday, that in spite of this commitment to prayer for the church, India remains largely a pagan nation.  Only two out of every one hundred people have heard of Jesus Christ.  With India set to overtake China as the world's most populous nation in the next fifteen years, the minimal reach by the church spells a dwindling effect for the church's global influence. 


Close to seventy thousand attend last year's prayer gathering
during our mission in Tamil Nadu, South India
Conversely, the Holy Spirit showed me in the course of preaching that a confluence of what I will call India's three rivers, borrowing from the Hindu religious festival Maha kumbh mela (meaning the greatest of the greatest get-together- the world's largest religious festival that takes place at the confluence of the "three" holy rivers, River Ganges, River Yamuna, and the imaginary River Sarawadi every twelve years), could have a revolutionary impact that could reverse the church's status from minority to majority in India in less than one hundred years.  This has happened with Sub-Saharan Africa and there is no reason to believe it cannot happen with India. 

The three rivers are the river of authentic, credible, prayer-packed Christian faith fuelled by collective devotion, the second is the river of bold, loving and Holy Spirit-fuelled witness informed by cultural sensitivity, and the third river is that of the church's attention to technology and the arts (right attention to globalization and globalizing forces).  These three combined with the massive populations of unreached peoples form the right recipe for a future of Spiritual revival and Christian Maha Kumbh Mela.  A future spiritual confluence that could see millions and possibly a billion Hindus entering the holy waters of baptism.  Wouldn't be awesome if the confluence of the Gangis and the Yamuna became the sight of the baptism?

I had the privilege of praying with these four young
Indian women from Hindu backgrounds as they got
ready for water baptism yesterday. Encouraged by my
message drawn from 2 Kings 5:1-19, they felt like the
Holy Spirit had addressed their concerns on idolatry.
Obviously the prayer piece is already in place.  Throughout Church history, every single revival since Pentecost has had prayer at its core. In India's case, the collective prayer habit is informed by the culture of devotion inherent in Hindu religion.  Looked at from this perspective, the seeds for India's transformation to spiritual greatness are already inherent within the culture.  The hard work lies in ensuring an authentic faith, bold witness and the right attention to technology and the arts.

Pastor Jeya Kumar, a doctoral student, agreed requesting if he may in fact use this analysis as introduction to his dissertation on Church planting in this state of Karnataka. "Definitely!"... I said.


Lausanne
Starting Monday, 350 Christian leaders from 83 different  nations are gathered here to pray for our world and to strategize for global evangelistic impact.  As I wait for the start of the conference I have had the privilege to interact with a number of very choice brothers and sisters that God is using in multiple arenas around the world. 

My two-day roommate is a gentleman by the name Major Dr. Luke.  Luke is a former Major in the Indian army who took an early retirement so that he can serve as Bible School President for a small Seminary with 200 students in Karala.  We have had great prayer times together every evening and morning the last couple days and I am very blessed by His testimony.

Another gentleman I met Saturday evening participating in the Lausanne Leadership consultation is Ram Gidoomal, a businessman from the United Kingdom and author of the book Sari and Chips.  Like me he was born and raised in Kenya.  But later his family relocated to the United Kingdom.  While in Kenya, his family was a leading Hindu family.  His grandfather, a successful businessman, sponsored the building of majority of the Hindu temples around Nairobi.

But Ram met Jesus while in the United Kingdom and today he has a ministry spanning several nations.  God has greatly blessed him and his work around the world and also given him influence in London. He once ran to be mayor of London.

Ram's story inspires me for two simple reasons:  In Kenya where I grew up, it was unimaginable to see an Indian person who is a Christian.  Then one time in 1994 at a church service in my then home church of Nairobi Pentecostal Church, a visiting speaker from the United kingdom spoke of reaching Hindus with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was the first time I had heard somebody talk about reaching Hindus with the love of Christ.

For me it was the beginning of my journey to India that manifests itself today in the partnerships that our ministry has today here in India helping us reach thousands of Hindu people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Incredibly, that speaker was Ram Gidoomal.