Where do I start with today — Sunday in India? The short version of it is that it may have been the best single day the Lord has ever given me in ministry! The long version, however, may be more than I can handle in my present state! I’ll give a shot at a brief report before I crash:
We had two Sunday worship services today, scheduled for 11:00 and 6:00, I think. We made neither in time. The traffic here is SO bad, it is taking us up to two hours to get some places. Despite delays and inability to find the first church, the whole team remained very prayerful. I had my “game face” on, as I was to preach the two services, and we were told that there could potentially be a lot of lost people at both. However there were mostly church members at the service last night, so I had prepared a message to the church for a Sunday service. But when we arrived, the translator told me that there were MANY lost people present. I told him that we would switch, and preach the gospel message from the night before. But as we were listening to the worship service, the Lord impressed me to change some things in the message; to share some of my personal testimony, and to share the story of the little girl from last night, and add some other things to the message. I have never really done this in my ministry; I just share what I have studied. But the Lord led in an unusual way, and really seemed to use the message. James carefully watched and prayed, and he said it appeared that the Lord had tailored this message perfectly, that I had a great freedom, and that the Lord was working. Just as I was giving the invitation, a band began to play outside; the lights went out; there were several distractions — James said he believed it was spiritual warfare, and I agree with him. That was too much for coincidence. Nevertheless, there was great evidence that the Lord had done some work. Dozens came forward for prayer. Two men I talked with told me they had prayed to receive Christ: one a first-time guest who was a Buddhist, and who had been oppressed by evil spirits. He is now a former Buddhist! Suzie Rivers led a woman to receive Christ during this prayer time! As I wrote last night, the Indian tradition is for the pastors to follow up and visit the attendees later, ascertain who made professions, and baptize them. But with so many guests, and listening to the prayers that were prayed, there was every evidence that a number of folks were saved in that service. It was also a sweet time of discipling and counseling, as person after person would bring problems for prayer. Through the translator, I did pray for them, but also shared with several: like the young boy who came for prayer for fear of the dark at bed at night. I told him I had that same problem as a boy, and that memorizing Psalm 56:3 helped me. I had him repeat it until he could say it to me by heart. Every one of our team counseled and prayed like that for I don’t know how long. Then we left to hugs and kisses — one man kissed several of us men on both cheeks; my first time at that … you could have picked my jaw off the floor! We all loved and were loved by these people; it was just an incredible service.
I knew it would be hard to give a brief report on this; how do you pass over such things? But I am going to have to wrap up. We had a LONG drive back in bumper-to-bumper traffic in a city of 20 million, ate lunch at 4:00, then turned right around to head for the p.m. service. To summarize, it was virtually the same story again as this morning, only this time there were perhaps twice as many people — 150-200 packed in a 18 x 25 open-roofed room, and by show of hands before the service, 2/3 of them hadn’t yet received Christ or been baptized. I preached the same gospel message, struggled a bit with weariness (James said he noticed and was praying hard for me) but there was every indication the Lord had touched many — same story as this morning. Only eternity will reveal how many were saved today, but it could easily have been dozens. We are all thrilled with what the Lord did today, but all are weary. We are gratefully looking forward to what our hosts planned as an easier day tomorrow: some prayer walking, then the afternoon off! Sounds good! But what a Sunday in India!