12 June 2012 ~ Comments Off

E-Pray: June 2012

Dear e-pray friends,

We hope you are having a wonderful summer so far. We are really enjoying having John home and we have been keeping busy, as usual!! We want to remind you that you are all invited to
Jake’s Graduation Open House,
Sat, June 23rd, 1-4pm, at our house

SERVE India Appreciation Dinner
Fri. evening, June 29th, 6pm
FCC, 777 Carmichael Rd, Hudson
(please RSVP at serve-india.com)

We would love to see you so hope you can join us!

Here is another story from Pastor Larry’s time with us in India this past Spring. He tells of a highlight for all of us on the team… a challenging, wonderful, amazing, encouraging day.

Yesterday (March 27) was a day I don’t think I will ever forget. We headed into a state where extremists had been persecuting Christians in a significant fashion.

This persecution had lead to an orphanage at the Pastors Training Center for those who had been displaced or without parents. It also created a relationship with a friend of John Nanda’s (whose name is being withheld for safety’s sake), whom SERVE India has supported as he leads another orphanage. At one point 40% of the children housed in this orphanage were displaced because both parents had been martyred for Christ!

We went to the orphanage and the kids welcomed us with great joy. They sang and danced for us. We had a little program and gave gifts and there was much happiness. Then we were informed of what we have “almost” come to expect in our times in India…that there were a few additions/changes taking place on our plans for the day.

First of all, we were to celebrate the dedication of a nearly completed facility that the extremists could not burn down (no wood or straw) like the previous one. So we went through a number of rooms and cut ribbons and sang and prayed for the children and the workers there.

Secondly, we found out there was to be a baptism and that people were traveling 240 kilometers (approx 150 miles) to be baptized. I was asked to perform the baptisms along with Michael, an energetic, loving Australian.

To be honest, my first thought was about that I only had one set of clothes and we had one orphanage visit and one hour of cramped driving followed by a three hour train ride back home ahead of us in the day. Then it was the fact that I was going to get into THAT water…shared by animals, used as a latrine…

Terri Nanda couldn’t believe I was being given the opportunity and John simply assumed I would and told me that he would find me a lungi (a traditional wrap that men use in lieu of pants). I had already determined that if people were coming 240 kilometers to be baptized (did I mention that if baptized in their home state they could face seven years in prison), I could be wet and stinky for the rest of the day…a small price to pay for those who in following Jesus do so at great expense daily.

So we drove to a place where there was a sufficient supply of water. After John helped me with my lungi (I informed him I didn’t need to create an international scandal by having if fall off of me!). Our group met with the six candidates and a handful of well wishers and the curious at this small (70 yards in circumference) water source.

Michael shared a few thoughts about the nature of baptism that were translated into Oriea, the language of Orresa the state directly to the north of Andrha Pradesh, the state we focus in and the Telegu language John speaks. I then asked two questions that we ask people in the states…

“Are you trusting in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of yours sins and the hope of eternal life?” All six hands quickly shot up in the air in affirmation.

“By God’s grace, will you follow Jesus as your Lord, obeying Him and His teaching as the Spirit enables you?” The hands went up again (all the while making sure the breeze did not lift my lungi past anyone’s comfort zone!) and we made our way down to the water.

My first steps in the greenish water were rather encouraging…it felt like the familiar sand of the St. Croix. About step five things changed. I encountered some significant muck (actually I have stepped into worse in the US) and the rest of my walk into water deep enough to dunk, was a bit tenuous.

As the candidates made their way to us I looked at the sights around…the twenty or so standing on the shore…three others bathing thirty yards away. Trucks and cars navigating the narrow road we had driven on. Brick firing ovens were fired up to help the local economy and the building trade…and six people clinging to hope in the One who says “Whoever comes to me I will in no way cast aside”.

They came…through persecution to find that Jesus is worthy of their lives. They came…240 kilometers (no small feat in India) in 98 degree weather in an electric rickshaw. They came…in defiance of the desire of their state to say that Jesus is Lord…they came, and stood between Michael and me.

At the moment I felt like John the Baptist (bear with me here). Jesus comes to him to be baptized and John understands that in God’s economy he is most unworthy and thought it should be the other way around. I can’t tell you how upside down it felt as I have baptized hundreds of people over the years, but before these poor oppressed people I’m thinking “You should baptized me, your greatness in the sight of God dwarfs mine”.

Yet there they stood waiting. It’s strange that a Christmas Carol comes to mind, but the phrase “the hopes and fears of all the years” were being met in this moment for these for whom the beings in heaven applaud. I could sense their dependence, their determination and the uncertainty of this life they were now entrusting to the One who sustains in life or death.

Amidst the pounding heat of the sun and the dirty water something beautiful was taking place. Down they went and up they arose in hope of the sure and certain resurrection that awaits them in conjunction with the Risen Christ.

We all walked back to shore where the newly baptized were given names to reflect their status as now serving a God who hears and sees. Many of the names given at birth are tied into Hindu gods. The new names are indicative of their new life in Christ.

To participate in such an event was humbling indeed. I was reminded of Christ’s beauty that these people were willing to identify with Christ in such a hostile land. He must be that great and more as one of those baptized, who took on the name David wanted to follow the Christ both of his parents were killed for, placing his 14 year old life at the disposal of Jesus.

As an American I am often living in a state of unintentional inoculation, having lost the sense of wonder and grandeur that is Christ. I was reminded of the greatness of the king and the beauty of His bride that is from every nation, yet one over all the earth. Christ is worthy and I want to live in greater awareness of His worth!

Thanks for your continued prayer!
His joy, Much love, The Nanda’s

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