James 4:14

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4:14

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas! I guess it's merry in America and happy in India. As usual, there's lots of stuff and I've been slacking a little on the updates.

The pastor's meeting went well. It's always fun to get together with them. Pastor Daniel had the meeting in one of the village churches to try to encourage the local church as well. I was encouraged by the local church there. They have some men and youth there along with the women. Pastor Daniel had given me the opportunity to give the message. I pray that it was an encouragement to them. We also had dinner after the meeting—potato curry and rice. This was by far the most spicy food I've had so far. It packed a good punch. The interesting part happened after the meeting. One of the women got in the car with us to ride back. As we were going, I jokingly asked Pastor Daniel if the other pastor (Israel) didn't want her anymore or what. He laughed and explained that Israel and his wife had come to the meeting on the motorcycle and that it wasn't safe to ride back at night with a woman. I understand that, but what really hit me was what he said next. He said that Moses and Ravii (also pastors) would also ride back on the same bike with Israel to up the manpower. This is interesting because when we were going to the meeting in the daytime, Sallie (P.D.'s daughter) had to catch a taxi back to home. It amazes me that at 5pm it is perfectly safe to leave your 18 year old daughter in a village to catch a taxi while at 11pm you need 3 men on one motorcycle to be safe. This seems to be a theme here. On the surface, some things look good or okay, but underneath they are not so good.

Mom was sick last week. She didn't look good at all and didn't act like herself. Everything seems to take a hit when she's sick. She does so much that it's hard for others to pick it up when she's out. It took a couple days to finally convince her to go to the doctors. They gave her some drugs and she's pretty much back to normal. Praise God!

Last Sunday was pretty fun. The older kids play a game called “Christmas Friend” for every week in December. Basically, you get a note from your “C.F.” and have to do what it says or else buy them chocolate. My “C.F.” said that I had to sing a Telugu song for a special song on Sunday. It was sketchy at best, but still fun. I also had the opportunity to give the message during the service. God has given me good thoughts on strengthening the church. At night, Sallie, Stella, and myself went to a Christmas candlelight service at the other side of town. This was a huge meeting. There was lots of singing as well as a dance team (or whatever you call it). The speaker was basically the Indian version of Louie Giglio. He taught the Bible using science.

This past Thursday afternoon, P.D. Informed me that Jay Raju's (village pastor) mother had just pasted away and asked if I would like to go to the funeral. “Sure.” “Okay, we'll leave in an hour or so.” Yeah, they just do everything themselves and so they do it that day. We arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon and waited till about 7 for one of the brothers to come back with a coffin. Although I got some surprised looks from some of the family members when they first showed up, I was amazed at how they welcomed me in to be a part of it. I was wondering if any of them would feel weird about having an outsider at something that was so personal for them. There was absolutely none of this attitude. I'll spare you all the details, but some are very interesting. After everything was packaged (for lack of a better term), all the men carried the coffin to the grave while the women stayed back. As they carried it across the village, they sang hymns. We then walked a ways into the middle of the jungle to the place that they had dug earlier. We buried the body and then returned home late at night.

Christmas was good. We had early prayer service at the church at 5am. Yeah, early. Then we had regular church service at 10am. It was amazing to see the regular congregation plus some for both services. P.D. Gave me the message for the 10am service. This was a blessing. The interesting part came in the afternoon. Uncle Levi's family stayed and had lunch with us. After this, they had the whole wedding arrangement meeting for Stella and Kanukarao (Levi's son). Of course I had no idea what was all being talked about, but it was still cool to see it take place. Some things in India are very similar to the States. This isn't one of them. The whole thing is just really strange. Yeah, I've just had all sorts of cultural experiences this week!

There's also been some very hard times the past couple weeks. There are always difficulties, but they have seemed especially intense the past couple weeks. However, as I look back, they're not really bad because I've seen God's faithfulness more and more in the midst of them. He is so faithful in everything.

Bonus: Here's a little bonus for you just because it's Christmas. There are typical phrases that most of you heard this past week. “Jesus is the reason for the season” etc. This is true, but I think many times we miss the true meaning of Christmas because we stop short. I'll give you an example. Most of you probably heard this verse in Luke 2 where the angel says, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (vs 10-11). I've heard this so many times that I'm beginning to think maybe it's a sin if a pastor doesn't use this passage for a Christmas sermon. It is a wonderful passage, but we often stop too short. Most people, even unbelievers, will most likely enjoy this verse. “Good news.” Everyone loves good news! “of great joy” Everyone loves joy! “for all people” Yes! Wonderful! “for today in the city of David there has been born..” Oh boy! A baby! Everyone loves babies! So now we have good news and great joy and it's for everyone AND there's a baby! Everyone just feels great and lets go home.

Sometimes I think people believe that the angel came and said, “I have come to bring you good news of great joy for all people; you can now have Christmas, a time when everyone should be happy.” This is not what it says. It says, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It's not just a baby. I have joy when someone I know has a baby, but I have little to no joy knowing that right now someone somewhere in the world just had a baby. So, why would this baby be good news of great joy, for all people?

To look into this. I would like to look into the first mention of Christmas. We find it in Genesis chapter 3:15, “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” This is the first reference we see for a Redeemer. A Savior. This is the first reference for Jesus. It came right after Adam and Eve had sinned against God. Right after they had chosen to obey the devil instead of God. When they chose to sin, they separated themselves from God. Man could no longer experience a close relationship with God. This is the reason for all our suffering in the world. This curse was also hereditary. Everyone since Adam and Eve has sinned. We have willingly rebelled against God. We were lost and without hope in the world. It's good news to have a Savior, because we needed to be saved! It's of great joy because it means our relationship with God can be made right again. It's good news for all people not because all people love babies. It's because all people are sinful and need a Savior. If I'm playing in a mud puddle and someone runs up to me and says “I'm here to save you!” it's not good news. The only joy I will have is laughing at them. However, if I'm out in the middle of a storm-tossed ocean and I'm drowning and someone comes to save me, then it's truly good news.

Talking with some people, you would think that the purpose for Jesus coming was just to say that everyone should get along and set a good example. Jesus did not come to earth just to check up on things. He came with a specific purpose. In Matthew 1:21-23, we see, “you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” The reason Jesus came was to redeem mankind. He came to do for man what we could not do for ourselves. He came to make right what we made wrong. He came to give His life as a sacrifice for our sin. He came to take upon Himself the sin of the world and death. He came to conquer sin and death so that it would not hold us captive anymore. This is why His birth was good news of great joy for all people.

I've heard many Christmas messages and one thing that seems to always get left out is the very thing that Jesus preached and Paul preached, and Peter preached, and all the disciples preached—repentance. The birth of Jesus wasn't good news of great joy only at Christmas. It's all the time! We have true joy by being free from sin and at peace with God. We get this not by just believing in the baby Jesus, but in the crucified Jesus, and the resurrected Jesus. When we repent. When we turn our minds from trying to get to God on our own, when admit our rebellion against God and believe in Jesus' sacrifice for it. Not when we hide our sin, but expose our mess and filth and cry out for the Savior. This is when Jesus comes in and we are set free and filled with joy. If we will repent and believe the gospel, we will be saved. “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21). THAT is the meaning of Christmas.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Please pray for:
--Tabitha's husband-salvation
--Wisdom for the future of this ministry
--Believers here—that they would be strengthened
--Jay Raju's family

Praise Him for:
--His vision
--Good health

P.S. I did not have time to proof read this update, so I apologize for the grammatical mistakes. It'll give you all a chance to practice grace. Haha, jk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Last Saturday night we had prayer meeting, like every week. After wrapping things up around 10:30pm, we came upstairs into the house. Everything was pretty quiet until I heard Pastor Daniel begin yelling something in Telugu from down below. Sallie started running down the stairs. Mom looked over the railing at Pastor Daniel and ran towards me saying, “Snake! Snake!” It figures that the family member with the least English would be the one to tell me what's going on. I ran down the stairs ahead of Mom and rounded the corner to find Pastor Daniel pinning the back half of a king cobra to the wall while the front half was unseen in a drain pipe. Pinning the snake, Pastor Daniel was unable to beat it. Tabitha's husband had just showed up when I got there. I glanced around looking for a beating stick but couldn't find one. Mom showed up behind me with a solid 4 by 4 block of wood. Someone hit the body of the snake. As soon as its head came out of the pipe...BAM! Mom jacked it up. I think she stunned it and Pastor Daniel used the stick to pull it out. Mom gave it a couple more good crushing blows to the head just to make sure. It was sick! Moral of the story: when someone yells “Snake,” you bring your own beating stick. God protected us and no one was injured....except the cobra. Now that I think about it, the curry did taste a little different the next day...haha, jk.

I was given the opportunity to preach twice on Sunday, once at home church, and once at a village church. This was good and I pray that it was an encouragement to the people here. We also got to take communion at the village church. It's so amazing to see the Church. I never would have imagined that someday I would be in this little village in India joining believers there in communion. It's pretty incredible. After the service, one of the ladies in the church had prepared food for us so we got to eat there. I think it was chicken. It's one of those things where you're like, “huh, never seen that before. I don't know what part of the chicken that is, but I'll eat it anyway.” It was good though. I saw the same trend in this church as far as demographics. There were maybe twenty people there (not counting kids). There were only two men aside from the pastor.

We had three days the past week with lots of rain. It was so cold I had to put on a light jacket. P.D. Got sick during these days and was then kind enough to share it with me. I thought it was kind of ironic that I got sick while I was preparing a sermon about the lie of the prosperity gospel.

The family here jokes about how it was “by mistake that I was born in America.” it came up the other night when Mom put a little more spice than usual in the curry. I noticed it had some good kick, but of course I'm used to just eating what is put before me. Sallie said it was too spicy for her. So they joke that I'm actually Indian. Since then, Sallie will sometimes just shake her head when I do something and mutter, “by mistake.” Haha, I guess that's encouraging.

I have lots of time for prayer and study. It's been great. Just when I start getting bored or feeling somewhat useless, God gives me opportunities to do something. It's incredible to be driving down some bumpy dirt road blocked by goats and buffaloes knowing that you are in who-knows-where and will have the opportunity meet believers and preach the gospel. However, just as special are the small things, the stuff that happens everyday. It's holding hands with one of the kids as they walk around pointing at everything in sight and saying the name of it in Telugu. It's not learning the Telugu that's important, but the time with the child. It's playing “Acha mena” (Indian patty-cake) over and over with the girl orphans. It's the piggy-back rides and decorating the Christmas tree. It's playing tag and trying to cook tortillas. The most special times, though, have not come with any of these. It has been the times when I can get alone, by myself, in my room and kneel down against a chair and have no care in the world for how long I can be there. It is this time of praying that is more special to me than anything else. To have time to just press into God has been the greatest blessing.

I am convinced that what India needs most is not schools and hospitals, but Jesus. They need to know the real, living, life-changing Jesus. This is the only hope for it. I am not against schools and hospitals, but I know that it's quite possible to be rich, healthy, and educated and still go to Hell. Jesus says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and foreits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). I read a short blurb in the paper a while ago about a girl in ninth grade who committed suicide after doing poorly on her exams. She believed a lie that told her that if she doesn't do well in school, her life was worthless. The kids, more than anything, need to know Jesus, and know that He loves them no matter how they do in school. Their hope must rest in Jesus and nothing else.

The question seems to be getting asked more and more frequently, “Do you know about the future? Are you called to India?” The answer is “Naku teleadu” translated means, “I don't know.” I could probably write fifty pages if I were to describe all the different aspects of being a missionary here or not and everything that goes on in my head. However I look at it though, it has to be God's leading and His guidance. We'll see where He leads me. Right now I have two and a half months left and that gives God plenty of time.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

Please Pray:
-Tabitha's husband-salvation
-Men to be saved
-Pastors meeting tomorrow (thursday)--for unity and encouragement
-Sudir (orphan)--doctors looking to see if they can fix his speech impediment.

Praise for:
-His consistent goodness and faithfulness

Friday, December 3, 2010


Here it is, the next couple of days. jk. Here's some more highlights, there's just no way to include everything.

On the last day that Pastor Dempsey was here, we were able to travel to most of the village churches. We didn't get to see the church (the people, that is) but it was still nice to see where all of the pastors work. Some of the church buildings were small and in very poor condition. One in particular sticks out to me. It has some cracks in the walls, but the biggest problem is the roof. It is made of tiles and supported by wooden beams. These wooden beams are being eaten away by termites. The beams look very weak and about to collapse. On top of that, the building sits in a low spot and water drains to it. This is also taking it's toll. Pastor Daniel says that this building is his main issue right now and he needs to fix it because it is very dangerous for people to be meeting there. The man who pastors the congregation in this building is very faithful. He has his main congregation in a nearby village, but shepherds this flock as well.

There were usually a couple believers or the pastor at each place we visited to show us around. Of course, they had to give us something at each church. In some places it was pretty simple, like a coke or a couple biscuits (cookies). Other places were more exciting. At one church they brought us warm buffalo milk. I've thought it might be the milk that caused my stomach problems in the past, but you can't really refuse the people's offer. So I prayed and drank it thankfully. It was actually pretty tastey. We visited a house after this and they brought out a tray with chips and buffalo cheese (kind of like pudding). Pastor Daniel told us to pick one. I started going for the chips, but the ladies pointed to the cheese and said, “This one, this one.” So I ended up with the cheese. More prayer and thankfulness. It was a little different but still pretty good, and my stomach felt good the rest of the day. Praise God!

One of the harder parts of the day was visiting the widow who couldn't make it to the meetings. We walked from the church to her little grass hut. She was sitting on her bed and in obvious pain. She has chicken fever (gout) which is extremely painful. She also had a broken leg. Dempsey asked if she could go to the doctor. Daniel said that the cloth with sticks in it wrapped around her leg was from the doctor (obviously not a professional doctor, but the local doctor). We prayed for her. It would have been great to see miraculous healing, but in His ultimate, sovereign wisdom, God chose not to. I don't always understand why, but I only see a small part of the picture. I thank God though, that He has saved this woman and that her sufferings in this world are only temporary and seem so incredibly small and short compared with the glory and joy of eternity with God.

In another church, I had the privilege of meeting an elderly man who was the first person in that village to come to Jesus. This was so cool. He kept talking to Pastor Daniel about something. I learned later that he wanted to have Scripture verses painted on the inside of the church building. Haha, sweet old dude. I also met two young men in this church who are now in college and had grown up in the orphanage. It was very encouraging to see the span of generations in this church.

The next day we took Pastor Dempsey to the airport and had some excitement, but the bottom line is that he made his flight and called us later to let us know that he made it home safely. Praise God!

Since then, things have gone back to “normal,” which is a little slower...sometimes. There's been lots of good times in prayer and having fun. After prayer with the church one Friday morning, some of the ladies mentioned Dempsey leaving and asked Daniel how long I would be with them. He jokingly replied, “till Jesus comes back.” They laughed and then said that they would arrange my marriage for me. Haha, glad to know I've got that taken care of. I also tried making banana bread one day (failed), but Mom was daring enough to try it anyway and said, “not so bad.” Tried round 2 a couple days later and I'd give it a solid C+. Considering what there is to work with, maybe a B+.

In other news, one of the N.C.M. pastors has a house church that has grown and is now looking at building and raising funds for it. It's good to know that the church isn't stagnant, but moving forward and growing. Praise the Lord for that!

Another blessing is that God has placed my mind in serious OVERDRIVE this past week. It's been one of those weeks were everything I read in the Scripture seems to stand out to me. I can hardly keep going on one thought because the moment I turn to look at another reference, a different passage catches my eye and another line of thoughts and references with that. It's like I can't keep up with it. It's wonderful. I've also learned to “be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). Pastor Daniel asked me Friday night to preach twice on Sunday, once in home church and then in a village church we would be visiting.

So, Sunday was pretty busy but good. Preaching went well. The village church was encouraging in some ways, but also showed some weaknesses. It has over a hundred members, but out of this, only about 10 or 15 men. The men and women sit on opposite sides of the church, which makes this contrast that much more apparent. It was still good to be with them. After the service, we got to pray with people. One in particular was very encouraging. He is an elder in the church (good to see a church that actually has elders). For two years, this man has chosen not to sell his tobacco, which is the main crop in that area, and is now having financial difficulty because of it. It is one thing to be poor because of circumstances that you can't control. It's something totally different to be poor willingly. It's powerful seeing a man follow his conviction in obedience to Christ.
Another praise is that we have to buy more chairs for the women's side in the home church. We did not have enough on Sunday. Praise God! What a good problem to have!

As always, thanks for your prayers and support. You have no idea the impact they have. I'm so blessed by all of you and the emails you all have sent. I'm sorry that I can't respond to each one individually in a timely manner, but I'm still encouraged by them. I pray for you often.

“And He said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.'” Luke 16:15

Please Pray for:
-Tabitha's husband-salvation
-More men to be saved and lead these churches
-Wisdom and finances for the building in poor condition
-30 to 40 sponsors for kids

Praise for:
-Pastor Dempsey's travels
-God moving His church forward
-Faithful men here
-More people in home church
-Opportunities given
-Continued physical health
-His teaching me His word

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gospel Meetings

If I were to recap the entire week it would probably be about twenty pages long, so I'll just update you on the Gospel Campaign last weekend. It was a great time and we've already begun to see some of the impact from it. Thank you so much for praying. I cut a lot out of this already, but it's still kind of long, so you might want to get a cup of coffee before you keep going.

Friday was the first night of the meetings and it went pretty well. Most of the day before the meeting was spent praying and then working on sound stuff. The meeting was a blast though. The first part was all singing, which sounded amazing. They had a gospel band with a drummer, electric guitarist, keyboardist, bongo player, and a couple singers who were all extremely talented. Pastor Dempsey gave a good message. He definitely has a different style of preaching than what I'm used to (maybe because it was in English, jk) but it was good and heartfelt.

The second speaker of the night was a native named John. He was an incredibly gifted speaker and the pastor of a church. I wish I could have understood what he was talking about, but it was still good to see how he engaged the people and and held their attention. He preached for a while and we ended late, around 11pm. It was a good night, but not very comfortable. There were about half a bajillion bugs out and we were sitting on stage in the lights. I put on tons of bug repellent beforehand, but I think that just made my arms sticky so when the bugs landed on me anyway, they just got stuck. Lots of bugs everywhere and all over us.

When we had dinner around midnight (hmm, feels like I'm back at the Brushfire), the bugs apparently thought it would be great fun to have a sporting event on our plates. They dropped on our food twice as fast as we could pick them out. It was seriously raining bugs. Eventually, we stopped trying to pick them out and just went for it. We had the lights off, to attract less bugs, and also so you wouldn't really know when you were eating them. I'm sure there were more than a few unlucky bugs that ended up in my stomach. However, as Pastor Dempsey told Samuel, “It'll put some grit n' ur' craw'.” (Did I mention he's from Mississippi?) Uncomfortable? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely! I haven't seen the verse in the Bible that says we're supposed to be comfortable at all times. I pray that there were some good seeds planted.

Saturday night was incredible. Right before the meeting, it began to rain. We covered up all the sound equipment and began praying for good weather. The rain soon let up and we began the meetings. We had no rain for the rest of the night. We found out afterward that there had been heavy rains on just the other side of town. God is so awesome! Everything else seemed pretty much the same as Friday night, only there were more people there. Pastor Dempsey gave a good message. Again, much different style, but still good.

We had the same speaker from Friday for the second message. I didn't sit on the stage tonight which was good for several reasons. One of them was that Sallie translated a little bit of his message so I could at least follow where he was going. I was very impressed. I knew he was very entertaining to listen to from the night before, but I didn't know if there was a solid message with it. Tonight cleared all that up. He had good content and presented it in a great way. I praise God that He has raised up men like this here. It's amazing to see how God has worked. It was a wonderful night. Also, there were less bugs, partly due to Indian “fly paper.” That's another story though.

Sunday was AMAZING! We had baptisms in the morning during church. There was one other man and two women who joined “Uncle” in getting baptized. It was great to witness. They do some cool things with baptism too. First, they give the people Biblical names. The people actually go to the government and get their names changed to this name officially. They also take communion during the service after they are baptized and get a Bible. What a cool time. Also, I can now call “Uncle,” “Levi.” Pastor Daniel also told me later that there were a couple ladies in church who hadn't been there before. One of them came up to pray with him after the service. She said that she had heard about salvation before, but she came to the meeting Saturday night and the Holy Spirit spoke to her through the messages. She would also like to take believers baptism. Praise the Lord!

Pastor Dempsey's message was very good this night. I felt like maybe he was beating around the bush a little the first couple nights. Sunday, he gave a good, simple, and straightforward presentation of the gospel. He has a wonderful heart for these people and it showed on Sunday night. I only felt bad for Pastor Daniel who was translating. He had been getting more and more sick from the lack of sleep and stress from the Campaign and it showed more Sunday night. He still belted out the message like a champ though.

We had a different speaker for the second message. He is an older pastor who is part of N.C.M. (Pastor Daniel's ministry). His name is also Paul. Good name. jk. He was not as engaging as John was, but he was also much older. Sallie translated a little, which I thought was pretty good, but Pastor Daniel told me later that it wasn't as good of a message. I guess Paul used to be better, but isn't as good now. It seemed like his message and presentation were not the best. This was sad to hear. However, I know he did use a fair amount of Scripture and God will use that for the hearts that He's prepared.

The meeting ended around 11:30, but the night was far from over. Around midnight we went into the church to pass out the new clothes to the widows in the village churches. The church was packed out. It was a bittersweet time. Before passing out the clothes, Pastor Daniel asked the people how many of them were in their local churches for worship this morning. Maybe half of the people raised their hands, maybe less. This was very hard for all of us to see, but especially hard for Pastor Daniel. He was already stressed and now he had to do some discipline. I could tell it was very hard for him to deal with this while being so frustrated. I was glad that he did it though. I couldn't help but wonder what would happen in some American churches if the pastor got up and said, “You call yourself Christian. What do you have better to do on the Lord's day than be with your family in Christ worshiping Him?” This is essentially what Pastor Daniel told them. After the clothes began to be passed out, it was a much lighter and happier atmosphere. This was bittersweet too though. It was great to see some of these old widows, some dressed in very dirty, worn out clothes, getting new ones. It was very hard to see the young widows. At first I was surprised to see a young woman come up when her name was called, but it broke my heart when it sunk in that she too was a widow. We then passed out a pair of clothes to each of the pastors and their wives and dismissed everyone.

The hardest part happened after everything was over. Some of the pastors were lingering and having a somewhat heated discussion with Pastor Daniel. It was not super heated, but it was definitely arguing. Sallie said that this seems to happen every time. She said that the issue is that Pastor Daniel had taken the stance that the widows had to come tonight in order to get clothes. He made an exception for one widow who is very faithful in one of the churches but has some leg pains and there was no way she could travel. So, naturally, as soon as you make one exception, everyone else feels cheated. That's what the arguing was about. I felt terrible. It is so hard to see God's children fighting. Pastor Daniel was not in a good condition to deal with it either, but he did the best he could. It was a long day, we got to bed around 3am.

Monday morning we had a pastors meeting. Pastor Daniel had Dempsey and Paul and myself sit up front. While we were waiting for all the pastors and their wives to show up, thoughts on Christian love and unity were going through my mind. At one point after the meeting had started, Pastor Daniel asked me if I had anything to say. It was clear that God had given me a message for them and I was supposed to say it. It was not an easy message to give, but I pray that it encouraged them.

When the meeting finished, we got to hang out with the pastors and their families. One of the most special things was that I got to meet a pastor from the persecuted church in Orissa who had come to visit. His son is one of the kids in the orphanage. I couldn't talk with him at all because he didn't speak English or Telugu, but it was still a joy to meet him. I've also had some great talks with Pastor Dempsey this week and he's been a great encouragement to me.

Well, there's so much that I've left out, like Pastor Daniel having me sing a song with my guitar each night of the meetings, but it'll have to go in a different update. It was interesting to say the least. I'll try to get another update out in the next couple of days. God is faithful in everything and He is worthy to be praised. It's good to know that even when we have ups and downs, God is consistent. “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

You are all very special to me and I appreciate your prayers and encouragements. I love you very much and I am so blessed by you.

“For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.” Deuteronomy 10:17-21

Pray for:
-Tabitha's husband-salvation.
-Sponsors for kids.
-Unity among the pastors.
-More people's eyes to be opened.

Praise for:
-Holding off the rain on Saturday.
-The people who want to be baptized.
-The believers who were baptized.
-Good Campaign.
-Continued physical health.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sick Week!

It's been a sick week in several different ways. The first way (and least important) is the literal way. I feel like the only person to ever get sick on a missions trip....okay that's a lie. I've heard it happens sometimes. The downside of being sick is that you feel terrible. The upsides to being sick are much more abundant. 1. You get to pray a lot more. 2. You're much more grateful when you're not sick. 3. You get to see if your joy is circumstantial or not. 4. You realize that 3am actually exists. Well, it was certainly exciting times, but it was only for one night and a small part of the next day and I feel splendid now! Praise God! I only ate bread and banana's that one day and I'm very happy to be back on rice and curry.

I spent a lot of the week praying and reading. A super-cyclone hit the lower part of India this past weekend. If it had come farther north, it would have put a real damper on the Gospel Campaign this weekend. We were praying for God to redirect it. We only had some wind and mild rains. There's a bunch of other stuff that are all stories in themselves, like Diwali, getting fitted at a tailor shop, and today which is worship a snake day. There's always funny stuff with the kids as well and we got a baby water buffalo. However, I don't have time to go into all that so I'll just share the most important story. It's about a man named something that I still can't pronounce much less spell whom the kids call “Uncle.”

Uncle's family was all Hindu. About three years ago his wife and son accepted Jesus and got baptized. He was holding out though (the men are a little more stubborn). He began coming to church and helping out Pastor Daniel about five months ago. He has been a great help, but seemed unaffected by the gospel. Anyways, Sunday after church I went outside to help some of the men move a concrete slab for the baptismal. When I went back into the church, I saw Uncle and his wife praying with Pastor Daniel. Uncle was sobbing and praying. After that, they joined us for lunch and tea in the afternoon. Although I already knew, Pastor Daniel asked me to pray for them before they left because Uncle had accepted Jesus that morning and wants to be baptized next Monday. WOOHOO! Praise God! I'm super-stoked to see God bringing people to Himself.

I guess there's other stuff, but it's all pretty small in comparison with that. Man! God is good! This weekend is the big Gospel Campaign and we're pumped for that as well. I can't tell you how cool it's been to pray with the women nearly every day for this event. They are so faithful. There is also a pastor coming from the States for this event. Pastor Daniel went to pick him up in Hyderabad today and they will come back tomorrow. I'm very excited to meet him. Please pray for Pastor Dempsey that he would have good health as well and God's words while preaching. There are TONS of things that all have to come together in the next couple days, but none of that matters if God does not move. PLEASE continue to pray for God to prepare people's hearts and that they would come to Him. Because I know some of you are very connected to us in prayer, I have a special request for all of you. Would you please fast for one meal and use that time to pray specifically for the Campaign this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? Thank!

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Pray for:
-Tabita's husband—salvation
-Sponsors for kids
-Pastor Dempsey—health and message
-Gospel Campaign—souls to be harvested

Praise for:
-Redirected cyclone
-Physical Health—no more sickness.
-Uncle's Salvation! Woohoo!

Monday, November 1, 2010

What the Portland?

Portland has been very nice the past couple of.....er...wait. Sorry, I got confused for a second. It's been raining continuously for the past several days. Personally, I don't mind it, but it's bad for the rice farmers here. It's harvest time, but they need dry ground to harvest and the rain has ruined some crops.

I've heard that some people are wondering how I'm doing with eating all the rice...well, I feel great and I'm not sick of it, so I'd say pretty good! The secret is to just find out, what I call, the right “spice-to-rice” ratio. I don't always know what I'm eating, but that's okay. Even though it's not what the passage is talking about, I've still found good advice in 1 Corinthians 10:27b “eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience' sake.”

Earlier in the week I traveled with Pastor Daniel to see his brother in law (also a pastor) in some village somewhere in India. As we passed through one of the villages along the way, there was a crowd of people in the road. As we crept through the crowd, we learned that there had just been an accident where two people were killed on the spot. These accidents seem to happen fairly often. A little later we came across a large truck that had rolled over. Finally, we arrived at our destination. Jaydodge (sp?) was very hospitable and kind. We ate some chili things and then some kind of dessert that's made from water-buffalo milk. They were both delicious. Anyways, as we were driving home at night, a policeman redirected us to a different road saying that the people had gone on strike where the accident had happened before. I guess the whole community comes out and won't let traffic through until they get the information or payment they want for their lost loved ones. This redirected traffic from the two way highway to a one way backroad that almost doubled our time getting home. It was crazy seeing buses and shipping trucks and everything trying to make room for each other on the small one lane road. This was actually a blessing though because it gave me some great time to talk with Pastor Daniel.

It's hard to explain what's going on with me spiritually. God has helped me realize more of what it means to abide in Christ. It's not any new feeling, but certainly a knowing. I know that I am in Christ and He is showing me what all that includes. For example, this week I was battling lots of thoughts about the future. I knew it didn't matter and knew I wanted to focus on the here and now but it seemed like I couldn't get rid of them. Then God gave me the realization that I'm IN Christ. I belong to God. That means my future also belongs to Him. Then I look to Him. Is He worried about my future? Haha, the thought of it just cracks me up. No way! So why should I be? That's just one area. This knowing of being in Christ goes in every other area as well. I can't explain it here, but if you really want to know about it you could just read “The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee or “Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret,” or both of them. It's no coincidence that God had me read both of those back to back. It's just so incredible that I can't describe it. God is good!

Preaching was a joy on Sunday! It's a whole story in itself, but basically it's just awesome to trust God to speak and such a privilege to be here proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Pray for:
-Tabita’s husband—salvation
-Sponsors for kids
-Gospel Campaign Nov. 12, 13, 14—hearts to be prepared

Praise for:
--Continued Health
--Spiritual Guidance and Opportunities

Monday, October 25, 2010


Week whatever it is...three? I think? Crazy week. First off, I realized I might be bipolar. I felt like it was a pretty slow week, but as I look over my journal, it was actually pretty busy. I say I'm bipolar because last week was almost overwhelming—speaking at the village church on Monday, teaching and praying all night Thursday, while preparing a sermon for Sunday. This week, nothing like that, so I got all bummed out and felt like I'm useless and not doing anything. I spent a lot of time this week praying and studying. God has been teaching me so much it's insane.

Mostly God has been teaching me a lot about me doing stuff, since I felt like I wasn't doing much this week. Sometimes, especially on missions, it's easy to get caught in the mindset that I need to DO something. Then we run around frantically trying to make up stuff for ourselves to do just so we can say we're doing something. God has showed me that I need to let go and then He'll take over and do what He wants to do. This works out a lot better because instead of my trying, it's resting in Him and enjoying peace. So yeah, I learned that it's harder in missions when stuff isn't going on than when it is. A great encouragement to me was a wise saying I read. “A praying man can never be a useless man.” The scripture reference was Psalm 27:14. It was perfect.

Speaking of prayer...I had the wonderful opportunity to pray with some of women from the church who came over to the house one day. I learned that they get together for at least an hour every day to pray for the upcoming Gospel Campagn. That's pretty amazing. I also went to Vijayawada one day this week with Pastor Daniel to organize some of the fliers and posters. Traveling and eating “pizza” is always an experience, but the coolest thing about the trip was visiting a Christian bookstore in that city. SWEET! They even had a small English section. I know it's probably the only one for a very large area, but it's still cool to see it there and be fairly busy. Praise God!

Another HUGE praise! The Hindu temple took down the new loudspeakers. Thanks for praying! We certainly serve a great God. I've heard a little bit from their other speakers, but it's far less than it used to be. Please continue to pray for the salvation of the people there. Also, a new couple has joined us here to help out. They are a great blessing to the ministry by helping take care of the orphans. Their names are Pradeep and Ester. Pradeep has an incredible testimony, coming from a Hindu family and now they are all Christians. They are just wonderful to be around. I am so amazed at how the Church, as the Body of Christ, works. The connection I have with my brothers and sisters here even when there is virtually no communication is incredible. It's our connection in Jesus that brings us together and that warmth is great to experience.

My Telugu is coming along slowly but surely. It's fun learning from the kids. I also got to teach them in Sunday School. This was fun as well. So the funny thing is, you remember at the beginning how I said I felt kind of useless and like I wasn't doing much? Well, I gave that to God and told Him that I am content with whatever. If He wants to do something through me, do it. If He chooses not too, then I will be content to just be with Him. Anyways, Saturday night Pastor Daniel asked me to preach next Sunday and said that we would also be traveling to another village church this week so I can speak there as well. Oh, okay God. I'm so glad He's patient with me. What a wonderful God we serve!

So here's a funny story. I had a dream last night where for some reason I had to be back in the States. I had to be there for a couple days and then I was stressed and trying to figure out how to get back to India for the rest of the time of my visa. “oh, praise God,” I muttered as I woke up and realized I was still here. Haha! Good times.

Wow! God is good! What a mighty, marvelous God! Man, God is just so awesome! I'm sooo pumped to see what He's going to do!

“Cease striving and know that I am God;” Psalm 46:10a

Pray for:
-Tabita's husband—salvation
-Gospel Campaign—Hearts to be prepared and logistics
-Sponsors for orphans
-Me—that God would speak through me for His glory.

Praise Him for:
--Taking away the loudspeakers
--Bringing in Pradeep and Ester
--Physical health.

Monday, October 18, 2010

3 Dozen

This is approximately the number of bananas I eat per week. Yes, that is a lot of bananas. However, they are super cheap and super delicious and super good for helping digest food. So in spite of all the spicey food, I'm feeling pretty good. I could make a new detox program. You just eat Indian food and lots of bananas. It works great! I think the only thing I eat more of than bananas is rice. It's kind of like creol, it goes great with everything...especially curry. Let's try to just list a few: fried potato curry, veggie curry, shrimp curry, goat meat curry, chicken curry, fish curry, carrot curry, beet curry, and yogurt. And that's just this week. So yeah, rice is good with everything, and it's better when you eat it with your hand.

Thursday night we had all night prayer with the fifteen or so pastors from the village church plants. This was also a great time. It was a blessing to pray with them and their wives and some of the believers from the church here. We then had a “pastor's meeting” Friday morning. I thought there would be more discussion, but it was pretty much just like church: Singing and praying and getting into God's Word. It was fun to meet all the pastors anyway. Pastor Daniel also gave me some time to teach Thursday night. I hope it was an encouragement to them.

The spiritual battle here is raging. Sunday morning, I had a good alarm clock that woke me up at 5 something. It kept going and I couldn't find the snooze button. Well, the Hindu temple next door doesn't have a snooze button. They do have another set of speakers though. Yes, they got two more loudspeakers and placed them on a telephone pole right next to the church with them facing toward us (as if they weren't close enough already). Pastor Daniel went over to talk to them about it, but it didn't seem to accomplish much. They kept the speakers going all the way through the church service into the afternoon. The purpose of the new speakers is mostly to disrupt us. Please pray that God would give us wisdom with how to deal with this situation. More so, pray that these people would get saved. The biggest thing is not that these speakers are loud and obnoxious, but that these poor people have yet to meet their Savior. They need Jesus!

On a different note, Pastor Daniel's family asked me at lunch on Sunday how I lost all the hair on my forehead. Haha! Oh yeah, good ole receding hair lines. Thanks for those genes Granpa! I told them it's because I'm getting old. They laughed but said that in India it's considered favorable to have no hair...so I guess I'm well on my way. I probably should have just told them that receding hair lines are considered attractive in America.

Anyways, it's hard to take pictures and update more on the culture now because so many things have begun to be normal for me. It's normal to see ox-carts and water buffaloes on the road along with bikes and bike-rickshaws and auto-rickshaws. Near collisions don't seem all that strange or out of the ordinary when traveling. Or seeing tons of people and playing real life frogger when we're in the city. It all just seems normal.

It was a joy to preach on Sunday morning, even with the loudspeakers going off. I don't know if they were turned down or not, but I honesty didn't notice them at all while I was preaching. I noticed them before and then afterward when I was praying for the people to be saved, but that was it. Praise God! Another praise is that one of the guest speakers for the Gospel Campaign confirmed that he would be able to come on those days.

The weather has been relatively cool here and we've had a little rain from the cyclones. God has blessed me with good health physically. He also continues to work on me spiritually. I'm learning so much about drawing near to Him and He gives me new ways to trust Him all the time. My mission and ministry seems to be solidifying here and I'm so stoked to be here and be a part of what He's doing. I'm also excited to see what He's going to do in the future.

“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” Luke 15:7.

Please pray for:
-Tabita's Husband—salvation
-Wisdom and Discernment—for the spiritual stuff and also for the loudspeakers.
-Gospel Campaign—Hearts to be prepared and logistics
-Sponsors for orphans
-Me—that God would be glorified through me.

--Confirmed Pastor
--Physical Health
--Clarity while speaking Sunday. Praise God!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Your not in Kansas anymore....

You're in Nebraska! Pastor Daniel informed me the other day that the area we are in is mostly agriculture and it's very flat, like Nebraska he says. Anyway, it's very hard to give an update for the past week but I'll do the best I can.

First off, I am continually amazed at the godliness of some of the believers here. We've had great times worshiping together on Saturday evening and Sunday morning as well as fasting and praying on Friday. It was so cool to see the believers show up on Friday and pray all morning into the afternoon. It's obvious that they love the Lord. I've also been blessed by the family devotions we've had every night. I think sometimes in America we do some of these things just because we feel like we should or because that's what “good Christians” do. God has used the believers here to teach me that if we are consumed by a love for God, these things are a joy and it's not about whether I should or shouldn't. It's not about us at all. It's all about God. If our focus is on Him, we won't have time to think about ourselves. I also got to meet a spiritual giant named Tabita whose story is way to crazy to write in a letter, so you'll just have to wait till I get back to hear it. The short and skinny of it is that you need to pray for her husband to be saved.

I've been able to help the orphans with some of their homework in the evenings, but they have been gone since Thursday because there is a big Hindu holiday and they get 5 days off from school. Most of them went to be with relatives during this time. I asked Pastor Daniel why their relatives don't take them in and he explained that they can hardly take care of their own kids, so they can't support the orphans too. So the past several days have been fairly quiet around here.

We've gone to town a couple times which is always fun. One day we went to the fish market, but Daniel asked me beforehand if I had a strong stomach. Needless to say it smelled a little fishy. There's just no way to describe it. Lots of people and lots of fish and lots of bartering. I also bought a shirt in town. It took a couple different tries because most places didn't have my size. I finally found a shirt that fits perfect—XXL. Apparently I've put on a couple of pounds since being here. Just kidding. I guess I'm just an extra extra large Indian. So, aside from being a 6' tall white guy, I feel like I blend in pretty well. The first day we went to the Internet I was standing by Pastor Daniel waiting for him since my updates wouldn't work. I was wearing shorts (and no, I'm not the only person to wear shorts here. Just the only white guy to wear shorts, but I'm the only white guy in the town so it's okay). Anyway, there were three ladies who were leaving and as we were crowded by the door, one of them stooped down and felt my leg. Not sure if it's because it's white or because it's hairy....or maybe cause it's just so attractive...jk. I didn't want to embarrass her so I refrained from looking down, but I did laugh to myself, a lot.

Other than that, the days have seemed to be slow. This has also been great because it's given me the time to get more and more intimate with Jesus and press into Him. I'm learning that God often works in us before He works through us. Things picked up for me a little bit this weekend. I was asked to teach a story to the children for Sunday School which was wonderful and a lot of fun. Then Daniel told me that we would be visiting one of the church plants in a village on Monday and that I should prepare a message for that. This church was just starting a three day period of fasting and prayer. After the service, several of the people came up and wanted me to pray for them. Many of them had health problems.

Now, this part of the update is very hard for me to write simply because it can be taken in so many wrong ways. As I write this I am still debating whether or not to delete this paragraph. For now, I will include it and pray that it will be received in the right way. I include it because it is an issue that needs much prayer and I know some of you are standing firmly with me in your prayers. Okay, here goes.
After the service, one of the elderly women in this church came up and asked me to pray for her back. As I was praying for her, she suddenly grabbed my hand and pressed it to her face (my other hand was on her shoulder) and began yelling. At first I was startled and a chill went through me. Immediately I tightened my grip on her shoulder and knew I was in a battle and that I should pray against anything unclean in her. I prayed for this intensely while she was shouting. After a short time, she stopped yelling and went into soft crying and I finished praying. I asked Pastor Daniel about this in the car on the way back. He said that some people have unclean spirits in them but they think it's the Holy Spirit and that this lady is known for disrupting the peace in this church by breaking out in yelling and she says that she is speaking in tongues. It does not surprise me that demons would try to impersonate the Holy Spirit by giving people some “spiritual” experience. “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). If Satan disguises himself, and false apostles disguise themselves, I don't doubt that demons follow this example. There is a great need for spiritual discernment. My fear is that some people may read this and be wowed by some “spiritual experience” that happened in India. Or..(I wish I didn't have to even mention this) but the terrible thought that some people may try to glorify me in some way. There is nothing here to glory about. This is incredibly sad and my heart is broken about this whole thing. I'm broken that this woman has this and that the enemy has created so much confusion and chaos. I pray for this lady, that the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard her heart and her mind in Christ Jesus. I would be here all day if I were to address every other wrong way I know this could be taken. I am not trying to make any point with this story or take any certain denominational stance, but I share it simply to ask for prayer. However you feel about it, please just pray that the love and light of Jesus would shine clearly in the midst of the darkness, confusion and chaos. I give this to God and trust Him to help it be received in the way it's intended.
Also, please be praying for me for Sunday. Pastor Daniel asked me if I would give the message. Pray that God would speak through me and show me what it is they need to hear. We will also be having a Gospel campaign in November with some guest speakers coming in. Pray for that as well.

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14

Pray for:
-Tabita's husband—that he would be saved.
-Gospel Campaign—that God would prepare the people's hearts. Also for the logistics.
-Sponsors for more orphans
-Me—that God would speak through me Sunday and that He would be glorified.

Friday, October 8, 2010

School Situation

So I think there is a lot of confusion about the school situation here. Most of you know that the school has been a huge part of the ministry here and were very sad when you heard about it's closing. After speaking with Daniel tonight, I have a much better view of the whole situation and I hope to clarify some things for you.
First, I need to give a quick look at the ministry for those who aren't familiar with it and also because everything is tied together in this ministry. Everything is on the same grounds here, the school building, the orphanage, Daniel's house, and the church building. Right now there are about twenty children in the orphanage. Previously, there were about seventy children in the school, the twenty from the orphanage plus fifty from the neighborhood. The fifty neighborhood children came from Hindu families.
The trouble for the school came this last year when a Hindu temple was erected literally right next door to the premises. This temple has loudspeakers on top of it and it broadcasts their ceremonies throughout the neighborhood. Although they only do it less now, it used to be every day for several hours. Pastor Daniel tried to talk with them to get them to shut it off, but they became angry with him. The conflict comes because Daniel broadcasts the church service on Sundays through our speakers. So the Hindu temple guys are obviously not to happy about hearing Daniel preach about the Only God every Sunday. So, because of this conflict, the Hindu parents took their children out of Daniel's school. So Daniel had to close the school because he only had the twenty orphans left.
The orphans now go to a public school a short distance away. This is not a good school and doesn't care much about the kid's education but is more of a waste of time. The first question then, is, “Why don't we just hire one teacher for the twenty orphans?” The government requires that the children attend a government certified school for a certain number of days out of the school year in order to take the government exams. This means it is not possible to homeschool the orphans and then just send them in for the exams. The predicament that we are in is this. The government requires that in order to be a certified school, you must have at least fifty children. This is why we cannot hire one teacher for the twenty orphans we already have. The government would not certify it as a school and the Department of Education would not approve any of the children or give them certificates.
Right now, we are helping the orphans understand what they have been taught in the school and helping them understand it, as well as giving them a Bible story or Bible reading and prayer at the end of their study time. These kids also go to Sunday school to learn about God. The kids have not been abandoned as far as their education goes, but it's still not the Christian education they were getting.
So, the vision is to get fifty orphans in the orphanage. This way, we will have the minimum requirement to stay open even if there are no other kids, although they would certainly be welcome to come. In order for this to happen, we need sponsors for the thirty additional orphans ($40/month/child). I forgot to ask Daniel about it, but I'm sure we would also need to hire at least two teachers (apprx $150/month/teacher). So this is the vision and we are trusting in God to provide. Please pray for all of this. It is sometimes easy to look at the external things and forget that it is a spiritual battle and prayer is our most effective weapon. We would love to have the school back up and running and training these little ones to grow up and be ambassadors for Jesus in this country that is so spiritually darkened. Daniel shared with me tonight the story of one of the orphans he had a long time ago who is now the pastor of a house church. This is what we are praying for. Please pray for the kids and for us as we train them as best we can with the time we have with them. I hope this clears things up a little bit.
If God has placed it on your heart to sponsor a child, you may email myself (jesusfreak41488@yahoo.com) or Pastor Daniel (ncm_daniel3@yahoo.co.in) with your mailing address and we will send you the profile of the child which will have a number on it. You can then send a check to either Restoration Fellowship or Crossroads with Daniel Motakala and the child's number on the memo line.

Mailing Address:
Restoration Fellowship
264 Village Dr.
Pagosa Springs, Co, 81147

Super Travels and More!

So turns out, India's pretty much the exact same as Gunnison only different. Okay, just kidding, it's a lot different. I LOVE IT! It's everything I'd hoped and then some! Traveling was lots of fun. I had a wonderful conversation with an elderly Jewish lady on the flight from Denver to New York. God opened the door for our conversation. After explaining where I was going and what I would be doing, she asked me how I got interested in religion. I was able to share my testimony before we even took off! The conversation continued for the next couple of hours. It was good, but also very difficult. Like so many people, she believed that she was “good enough.” I was reminded of Mark 3:17 where Jesus says, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” She felt like she was old and there was no point in changing now. How sad to see the spiritual blinders on people. It helped reinforce for me that people will not understand the Gospel unless God first opens their eyes. Please be praying for Beverly.
Pastor Daniel found me easily in New York and we then flew to Dubai in some 12-14 hours. Less conversation on this flight and more sleep. The woman next to me spoke hardly any English. Next flight to Chennai also went well. There were fewer people and I slept most the time. The taxi ride to the train station was very interesting as well. It was heartbreaking to see all the people sleeping on the sidewalks going there. Driving in India is super exciting. I don't even know how to describe it, it's just something I wish every American could experience just once in their lives. We waited at the train station for a couple hours before our train came. This was a busy place. Despite what you may think, there's actually quite a few people in India. Pastor Daniel said that with each train that comes in, there's probably about 5,000 people who get off. Glad we were there during the slow time. It was here though, that Pastor Daniel reminded me of a very hard thought. As we gazed at the FLOODS of people coming from the trains, he reminded me that the saddest thing is that only 2% of India knows Jesus. It was truly heartbreaking. It is so hard to see people wearing the dot on their foreheads that signifies them as Hindu. It is nothing short of the mark of the beast, a sign that they are on their way to eternal destruction. May God save these people!
We rode the train for 8 hours and then waited for Daniel's family to arrive. His family is amazing. We all jumped in a taxi and had another not-so-leisurely drive to Eluru.
God gave us so many blessings during our travels. First, we didn't have as many bags to carry because one of Pastor Daniels bags didn't make it. Second, I don't have to worry about breaking my sunglasses here because I already accomplished that on the plane..yeah..apparently me and sunglasses and pockets aren't a great idea. Also, the inside of my backpack will not be getting any bug bites or malaria this trip due to one of my bottles of bug repellent exploding in it. In all seriousness though, God has blessed us greatly and we are very thankful to be here safely.
As we came to the grounds, some of the orphans had apparently been expecting us and came running out jumping an laughing. I LOVE them all already! They are all so precious. I learned that some of them have infections. I have already been able to play some games with them and get to know them. We played freeze-tag, steal the bacon, and other games. They have been teaching me more Telugu than I can keep up with. Very few speak English. So, with the ones who don't, our entire conversation is “trading” languages. For example, last night we were hanging out and we saw some frogs. I pointed to it and said, “Frog.” They smiled and said “Kappa” (spelling is probably wrong). So now I know how to say, “Praise the Lord,” “Come here,” “Go away,” “Give,” and “Frog.” Good start. “Come here, give me the frog. Praise the Lord, go away.” Seriously though, if I can retain everything they teach me, I know I will pick up the language quickly. Please pray that God would strengthen my mind so that I can effectively learn Telugu.
Church here on Sunday was absolutely amazing! The believers in this church are few but mighty. Pastor Daniel had me preach for a little bit yesterday. God gave me great clarity of mind. I've heard it's hard to speak with a translator when you're not used to it. I thought it was great. It gave me time to think before I spoke my next sentence...which some of you know I need sometimes. Might have been helpful to have a translator in America. “Okay, here's what Paul actually means.” haha. Anyways, it was great.
Physically, God has blessed me as well. I am already adjusted to the sleep schedule and feel great. The food is delicious. Everything is spicy, but good. It's almost like they just put Creol seasoning on everything, which is what I did in America anyway. It's great! Spiritually, God has already been showing me things inside of me that need to change. Areas of my life that are still focused on me. I have been handing those areas over to God. I realize more and more every day that in order for me to be effective for His kingdom I must be dead to myself and my own desires. He has taken me in His mighty hand and given me His strength and I trust Him to keep guiding me. My devotional this morning was very encouraging. Oswald Chambers said, “One of the difficulties in Christian work is this question--'What do you expect to do?' You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing.”
One of the things I told the people on Sunday was that even though I am very far away from my physical home, home is where your family is, and so I am home because they are my family in Christ, which is the greatest bond of all because it lasts for eternity. I told them that they are not alone and that they have family in America who love them and are praying for them. They are also praying for all of you! I can't tell you how incredible it is to hear them pray for the believers in America. I cannot see the spiritual state of things here very well yet, but I trust that God will make it clearer to me as time goes on. I feel like I could write an update every day and it's impossible to get even half of everything in one update a week. This will have to do for the first one though.
Thank you so much for praying for us. We will need it in the days to come. You are all so special to me and I love you very much.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7-8a

Pray for:
Beverly—that she would feel the weight of her sin and turn to Jesus for salvation.
My brain—that God would give me the Telugu language.
The Hindu people—that they would come to Jesus and be born again
Your family here—that they would be filled with the Spirit and be bold witnesses to their neighbors.
Me—that God would be glorified through me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I call this a pre-update because I'm still in America. This is where I will be posting all my updates when I'm in India though. I'm posting this because some of you have asked for the blog address and I hadn't made it yet...which makes it kinda hard for me to give it to you. So much for procrastinating...anyways, here's my blog and you found it. I thought it would be kinda lame to send out the address for the blog and have nothing posted on it.

Some of you may be confused about the title of my blog, or may be worried about me because you think the title is slightly depressing or something. So...I'll explain it to you. The main text is James 4:14 "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." That is all I am. I am just one quick little vapor named Pablo, hence the title. Depressing? Not at all. Moses prays, "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). It is much more depressing when we assume that we will live forever and waste the time that God has given us pursuing things that won't last.

When we realize how short our lives are, that our days are numbered, it allows us to focus on what we are using them for. Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luke 9:23-25). The only way our lives will matter for anything at all and not be wasted is for us to first be in Jesus. While we maintain our wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), we can do nothing that will matter for eternity. Our whole purpose is to glorify God and we can't possibly do this while we are dead in our sin and by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). We must first become reconciled to God through the cross. When we repent of our sin and accept God's free gift of grace by believing in Jesus, He transforms us into totally new creatures and cleans us out (I Cor. 5:17). "To the pure, all things are pure: but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled" (Titus 1:15). It is after this that we can say, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20). Any life that Christ lives through will matter for eternity.

So what does any of this have do to with me going to India? Glad you asked. Even though my life is just a little vapor, I want it to be the most glorifying little vapor that it can be. Although I'm super pumped about going to India and I'm sure I'll have lots of wonderful cultural experiences there, that is not the purpose of going. The purpose is to glorify God. More than traveling and seeing cool sights and experiencing the culture, I desire that men would be reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus. This is the ministry God has given those of us who are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). When people are saved from Hell by turning to Jesus, it lasts for eternity. This is my desire, that if He wills, God would use my little vapor to bring souls to Himself!

I'm so thankful for all of you who love me and care about me. It is such a huge blessing to know that I've got such a wonderful group of people supporting me as I go to India. If you are in Jesus, please, please pray for me. I will need lots of prayer and I will update you so you can know how to pray specifically for me. If you're reading this and you have yet to accept God's free gift of grace, I beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God! Repent and believe the gospel! "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

I leave the States next Thursday. More to come after then.