Archive for November 2016

Weekend in New Delhi

November 20, 2016

96-dpi-4x6-new-delhi-5Saturday, November 19, the congregation with which I worship in New Delhi, India hosted a seminar from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its meetinghouse. Approximately 200 invitations were mailed. Though not as many people attended as was hoped, nevertheless, all who attended were edified and enjoyed fellowship with one another.

96-dpi-4x6-new-delhi-4Speakers included brethren Thomas Dohling and Sunny David, as well as myself; brother Vinay David graciously translated for me into Hindi, as he did throughout the several days of seminar elsewhere in India last week. I presented two lessons in the series “Come Meet Jesus.”

96-dpi-4x6-new-delhi-6Of course, brethren and friends ate together. Christians are pretty good at that. After eating some rice and chapatti, I slipped away for a few minutes to a market area next door. There the first thing on my agenda was the acquisition of a Coke Zero. Then, I wandered about a little before returning to the seminar.

96-dpi-4x6-new-delhi-3Sunday, the auditorium was full for worship. Preceding that, several brethren also availed themselves of the Bible class, more than ably and excellently taught by brother Dohling. I was afforded the opportunity to speak another lesson in the series “Come Meet Jesus.”

A second congregation of a different language group has worship in the “upper room” while worship transpires on the ground level in Hindi and English. Brethren from several countries are represented in that worship period.

Following worship and much time spent in pleasant interaction among members of both congregations assembling on the site, my host family and I resorted to McDonalds for lunch. Our littlest one, Aaron, chose the meal venue – to get his Happy Meal, no doubt.

Aaron is a remarkable 5-year-old, fluent in Hindi and in English. Saturday night back at his apartment living room, he conducted an hour-long worship service all by himself with me as the audience. He really preached for at least 30 minutes and did the song leading. Though he preached in Hindi – with emotion, inflection of voice and appropriate gestures, he quoted flawlessly Scripture in English. India has a bright future for the church through the likes of him and others just a little older than him of whom I am personally aware. God bless India!

As I write this, I am packed for my return trip to the USA of around 30 hours or so. I have checked in online. All that’s left is the going, which I will do around 9:30 p.m. local time to catch a 1:25 a.m. flight to Paris. From Paris, I will fly to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to Memphis – arriving the same day that I left India! I didn’t waste any time publicly or privately these weeks away in Asian countries, but my present tasks are complete, and I’m homeward bound. Your continued prayers and encouragement are much appreciated.

Off the Grid & Back Again

November 18, 2016

Friday, November 11, brother Ricky Gootam and I left Kakinada, India by car, bound for Vishakhapatnam, India. We headed out late afternoon, and it was long past dark by the time we arrived at our hotel destination for the night. The driving was fierce and wild as we dodged and overtook or were ourselves passed along a national highway over about two to three hours. Everything was on the thoroughfare from pedestrians, animals, bicycles, motorcycles, 3-wheeled autos, cars, push carts, buses and heavy trucks.  Driving in India is a lot of bluster and playing chicken with slalom-like darting around and between vehicles. Otherwise, it resembles taking a handful of sand and dropping it into a funnel. There is a reason that India maintains the highest highway fatalities of any nation on earth; the USA is third.

My Good Buddy in New Delhi

My Good Buddy in New Delhi

Friday night wasn’t as restful as I had hoped. Ricky and I had to share a bed, which was satisfactory as it was a very large bed – big enough for an entire family. The problem was the proverbial freight train in the room! Even trying to sleep with noise cancelling headphones on – which can nullify jet engines, and as excellent as the technology is, Ricky’s snoring bested them. I pondered trying to retreat to the bathroom or to the elevator lobby, but stuck it out – with little slumber.

Early Saturday, we both went to the Vishakhapatnam airport for our respective destinations. Brother Ricky was heading to Dubai, and I was flying to New Delhi. That night, I lodged with brother Vinay David and his wife Reshma and their 5-year-old son Aaron. That little boy is one of my biggest fans, and we played together.

Express Train Sleeper Car

Express Train Sleeper Car

Sunday morning, I worshipped with the local congregation, at which time I preached, “The Church in Prophecy” – with translation into Hindi, taking longer than anticipated. By 5 p.m. Sunday, Vinay David, his father Francis and I were aboard an express train for an 18+ hour excursion to Chhattisgarh State. We debarked on Monday in Bilaspur, India, and continued another three hours or so by car to Korba, India. Tuesday through Thursday we were principle speakers in a seminar for the Lord’s church in Balco, India.

Express Train Sleeper Car

Express Train Sleeper Car

I was essentially off the grid, deep inside India. Internet was not available at my hotel. I wasn’t able to find any international news this deeply inside India. Like last year, I didn’t see another white person the whole time I was there. I always know that when I arrive somewhere where English wording is absent from signs, no one expects me to be there. Such was the case for the most part here.

Seminar

Seminar

The seminar and hospitality extended to me was delightful. At times, attendance reached between 150 and 200. I was afforded the opportunity to speak from God’s Word 12 times in three days. There were some baptisms, attended to with discretion aside from public observation in view of India’s non-conversion law and the Hindu sentiments in this part of the country.

Tea Time

Tea Time

Our return to Delhi on Friday involved a 5½ hour jaunt along Indian roadways to Raipur, whereupon we boarded a plane for the nation’s capital. We were early at Raipur, and so we had to wait two hours before waddling up ground ramps to the plane door. Only two hours flight, we spent more time than that creeping through Delhi traffic.

As a sidebar, Prime Minister Modi made a late evening speech a few nights back whereupon he demonetized 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. The nation has been thrown into chaos. Long angry lines of folks are trying to exchange their now worthless money at banks and ATMs. People cannot buy or sell much of anything; shops are closed; farmers cannot sell their harvest; travel is impeded without fare money; rents cannot be paid; there is no change available for any purchases that can be made. This has impacted the seminar somewhat and threatens church work generally.

Today, one more all-day seminar in Delhi. Christians and non-Christian contacts as a result of the Hindi TV program will convene for lectures. Tomorrow, of course, is the Lord’s Day. That night, I will be deposited at the international airport for a 1:25 a.m. Monday departure to America (via Paris, Atlanta and Memphis). I am scheduled to leave on Monday and to arrive on Monday, with more hours crammed into a day than ordinary, owing to crossing nearly 12 time zones. Here and there, across the planet, I intend to be a servant of our Lord, and thank you for making that possible.

The Party’s Over!

November 10, 2016

96-dpi-4x6-lectures-1Three days of lectureship hosted by the Satyavani Church of Christ in Kakinada, India have come to a close. Each day, sessions were offered mornings, afternoons and evenings. One hour yesterday, about 900 people crowded into the second floor upper room of the church’s meetinghouse. I presented part of my series of lessons on “Come Meet Jesus,” speaking a total of eight times across the days. Brother Therman Hodge spoke the same number of times, plus he preached on the Lord’s Day.

96-dpi-4x6-lectures-2The congregation hosts a children’s home, and the youngsters were ever present and a joy with whom to interact daily. Between the two of us, brother Therman and I saw to the acquisition of 65 plastic, woven sleeping mats on which the children will sleep as they slumber nightly on the floors of the respective rooms for boys and girls. All ages are represented among the children except for infants. They are truly happy and blessed despite not afforded all that every child deserves.

Tomorrow, brother Therman and I will part ways. I will travel by car to Vishakhapatnam and lodge overnight in a hotel. Saturday morning, I will fly to New Delhi. Brother Hodge will stay behind for Sunday worship in Kakinada and speak for the local congregation with which we have been for several days. Sunday evening, he, too, will make his way to Vishakhapatnam for the first of a series of flights back home to the USA.

It has been a true joy for me to travel with brother Therman and to share the venues in two countries. On November 21, I, too, will wing my way, Lord willing, back to the USA.

A Good Day in Kakinada, India

November 7, 2016

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Monday, November 7, 2016 local time zone for Kakinada, India was the last interlude prior to the commencement of the annual lectureship put on by the Satya Vani Church of Christ. Tomorrow through Friday, brother Therman Hodge and I along with several Indian Christian men will speak day and night to several hundred attendees and overall throughout the week to about 4,000 persons – if this year’s attendance mirrors that of last year.

Today had its unplanned opportunities. Around 10 a.m. brother Therman and I tagged along to an engagement party. Dozens of family members of the prospective bride and groom gathered for the ceremony; at the actual wedding months from now, about 5,000 people will be expected to witness the nuptials and participate in the celebration. The ceremony involved the two families exchanging gifts of food, clothes and gold.

Brother Hodge and I each were allotted opportunities to speak for several minutes and offer a prayer on behalf of the affair. Most people present were Hindus, which afforded us the opportunity to offer some divinely inspired advice as well as to speak from experience and observation respecting matrimony.

Going to the church office from the engagement reception, I was pleased to observe the delivery of my wife’s and my book in Telegu, Noble Ladies: Ruth and Esther. This title is dedicated in memory of my dear late wife, and it was made possible by the generous memorial gifts provided by so many children of God.

Later in the day, Therman and I gathered around a brand new crib along with the extended Gootam family back at the Joshua Gootam home. Indians have a ceremony also for introducing a baby to its crib for the first time. I think that Indians must have a ceremony for nearly everything! The patriarch of the family led a prayer in Telegu. Baby Roselyn is the second child of brother Ricky and sister Sudeepa Gootam. Presently, father Joshua and mother Kabita share their dwelling with two of their sons and their wives. Ricky and Sudeepa have a fine young son, Justin, also; he is 8-years-old, and his sister Roselyn is 40-days-old. Robin Gootam and his wife Rachel also reside there; she is eight months pregnant.

In the afternoon, I shopped for a couple of baby gifts – one for the baby recently born and one for the baby about to be born. Of course, we didn’t forget Justin; I got him some animated movie themed flip-flops.

Our day concluded with the acquisition and distribution of plastic, woven sleeping mats for the children at the home in the church compound. Children sleep on the tile floor, and most of them do not have a mat on which to sleep. Brother Therman Hodge, representing the Union, MS Church of Christ and I, representing several congregations and Christian families, used some of the Lord’s money entrusted to us to buy these modest sleeping accommodations.

Hours of the day exhausted as well as somewhat exhausted ourselves, we returned to our respective borrowed bedrooms for the night. Tomorrow, if the world still turns by the grace of God and we do too, Therman and I look forward to days filled to the fullest for the balance of the week preceding the weekend to participate in the lectures. We only desire to glorify God and edify Christians and non-Christians with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Worshipping with the Satya Vani Church of Christ

November 6, 2016

96-dpi-childrens-class-2Today, Sunday, November 6, 2016, brother Therman Hodge and I assembled with the Satya Vani Church of Christ in Kakinada, India. For readers in North or South America, our Lord’s Day arrived nearly 12 hours before the arrival of your first day of the week.

96-dpi-childrens-class-1Brother Therman lodged last night in the “holy man of God’s” “small Upper room on the wall” (2 Kings 4:8-11) on the third floor of the church building; Bonnie and I previously resided there in past years. Being present in the meetinghouse as the youngsters from the children’s home assembled outside his bedroom for their morning devotional, brother Hodge seized the opportunity to interact with the young ones and teach them a Bible lesson.

96-dpi-4x6-81-rupeesA couple of hours later upon my arrival at the church compound, it was my turn to speak to the children. I was requested to speak about mission experiences to them, whereupon I narrated some of my efforts in 2016 in Myanmar and Guyana. Some of the young ones asked thoughtful questions. At the conclusion of our time together, a very unexpected and humbling thing occurred. The children’s home children bestowed on me 81 Rupees for us in my ongoing mission work around the world! The hearts of those little angels are far bigger than the $1.22 equivalent in US money to which their generous gift amounted.

96-dpi-4x6-worship-2For worship, brother Therman preached a fine lesson, which brother Joshua Gootam interpreted to the Telegu-speaking audience. Though the congregation only meets once on the Lord’s Day, between Bible class and worship, the saints fellowshipped, studied God’s Word and worshipped four about four hours. The children’s devotionals were additional and preceding the assembly for classes and worship of the balance of the church. Around 300 gathered for worship, and the church is ably led by elders and served by preachers and numerous other brethren.

96-dpi-4x6-worship-1In many ways, Sunday worship seems to me to resemble first century worship by Christians in ancient Palestine. Brother Therman and I were privileged to step back in time and worship with God’s people whose Christian faith is surely timeless.96-dpi-4x6-printing-1

Travel days

November 5, 2016

96-dpi-4x6-hmawbi-3Thursday, November 3rd, brother Therman Hodge and I concluded our stint for this year as teachers for the Hmawbi Bible School (from newly screen-printed T-shirts, evidently known lately also as Myanmar Bible College). We taught the last two weeks of the fall 5-week session. Our final act before parting from the tropical oasis was to assemble for a group picture with the student body and staff. Doubtlessly, photos were posted to Facebook and other social media before our taxi was able to painstakingly navigate the one lane, rutted and washed out muddy swath meandering through jungle vegetation back to a hard road.

Therman HodgeLouis RushmoreFriday was a travel day via two jet airplanes from Myanmar to India via Singapore; Silk Air, a regional carrier associated with Singapore Airlines, carried us along for both flights. No hitches, hiccups or delays challenged our forward progress. Neither did we have a long layover; it was almost like we planned the trip that way, and everyone involved in our passage was deliberately on the same proverbial page with us. We couldn’t have asked for more. Approximately nine hours after taking flight from Yangon, we touched down in Visakhapatnam, India. There, we opted to spend the night in a hotel before being retrieved by Indian brethren on Saturday for land travel to Kakinada, India. Both of those cities are on the coastline across the Bay of Bengal from Myanmar. Brother Hodge and I arrived in Kakinada late Saturday afternoon.

November 2016 Gospel Gazette Online

November 2, 2016

The November 2016 edition of Gospel Gazette Online is ready! I published this month’s issue to the Internet today from my hotel room in Myanmar (also called Burma). Editors Louis Rushmore and Rodney Nulph welcome you to enjoy this month’s 16 pages as well as the thousands of pages in the Archive that have accumulated over the last 18 years. As always, Gospel Gazette Online is offered without charge. May each reader find personal enrichment and spiritual edification.