It is a blessing that we as a church are able to reach out into the world through my mission travel. Our missionary partners, and those I minister to while traveling, appreciate our willingness to be used of God in this way.
I arrived in India around 1:30 am. I passed through Immigration and Customs easily. My pre-arranged taxi driver was waiting for me and had me at my hotel by 3:00 am. Perhaps that sounds like a long time; but, by IST (Indian Standard Time), it was quick and smooth.
My flight from Delhi to Bagdogra did not leave until 2:20 pm. That gave me time to rest from the long journey. After more than 24 hours of flying, layovers, and connections, I arrived in Bagdogra at 4:30 pm. From Bagdogra we drove to Siliguri where the national pastor we are working with lives.
The next day (Friday) we left for three days of ministry in Sikkim. We visited a couple of church planters and had a chance to observe their ministries. On Friday night I preached at an outdoor gathering at the home of a church planter. He invited his neighbors to come see a Christian film, eat, and hear preaching. Jim Starr, Founder and Director of Vision 2020 Asia, and I both preached. That night, three or four people made professions of faith. The next morning (Saturday) we went to West Sikkim to visit another church planter. Incidentally, over my first seven nights here, I slept in five different beds/places.
On Sunday morning I preached at a small church and two men made professions of faith. After lunch we drove back to Siliguri – a journey of approximately four hours over poor, treacherous roads.
Monday, we drove four hours into the mountains of far, eastern Nepal. I had never been to Nepal before and one interesting difference I noticed was condition of the roads. For the most part, the roads were paved and well-maintained; however, we covered many miles on mountain roads with virtually no guardrails. There were plenty of twists and turns on our way as we traveled up one mountain, down the other side, and up another mountain to arrive at the city where we were headed. We saw many interesting sights as we passed through the tea gardens in the mountains of Nepal. Of course, the purpose of our trip was not for sight seeing. We came to Nepal to conduct a conference for pastors, church leaders, and church planters.
At the conference, the attendance was smaller than anticipated – we had about 25. However, this is a good reminder that God is not as obsessed with numbers as many churches are. On a side note, I read a quote from E. M. Bounds, an author from a previous generation who is well-known for his writings on prayer. In the quote, Bounds spoke of the “lust for church members”. He was referring to the obsession that churches in his day (around 1929) had for members at all and any cost. If he were living today he would see that things have been taken to a whole new level when it comes to the “lust” for numbers at any and all cost. Unfortunately, this often occurs at the expense of other churches.
Let me get back to the conference. We went from morning to evening for two days. Jim spoke on The Charismatic Movement. I spoke on The Biblical Distinctives of Baptists. The sessions went well; the participants seemed to understand and appreciate the information.
Yesterday morning we visited and had breakfast in the home of a church planter. Everywhere I have traveled, people seem to love having you visit their homes and to feed you. They go “all out” cooking and serving – usually spending far more than they can afford. It is, of course, their way of saying “thank you” for visiting and ministering to them.
Following breakfast we made our way back to Siliguri. Our trip was all in the daylight. As a result we were able to take in the beautiful mountain scenery and “tea gardens” (what you might call “fields of tea”). Tea is grown on short bushes, and the leaves are picked by hand every couple of months. We got to “enjoy” the traffic while crossing the border between Nepal and India arriving back in mid-afternoon. I spent the rest of the day unpacking, organizing, and resting. Last night was the best night’s sleep I have had since arriving in India.
This morning (Friday) I’ve been writing, sorting laundry, reading, etc. We will leave at 10 am to visit a few schools in preparation for the ministry of National Hoops. National Hoops is a Christian outreach that uses basketball as its theme for ministry. They will be here in a few weeks.
Tomorrow we will spend a good part of the day in discussion and conducting future ministry planning for Vision 2020 Asia. Please pray for wisdom, direction, and clear communications.
Thank you for your interest and prayer.