It’s June 24th, 2009. We’re just about halfway through our summer journey to India. As you could probably guess, it’s still hot. Really hot. But I have adjusted to the heat as well as possible. It is difficult to understand how so much of the trip could be gone already. I was reminded just the other day of how quickly times passes. I wrote this in my journal:
” This is the only chance I’ll ever have to live today.
I can remember driving from Poway to Carlsbad with that sentence sounding off in my mind. Up and over the hills with subdivisions of identical houses and high rises of newly built office buildings, I would drive the green Honda. One the way to my security, my 9-5 job… with benefits. My slow and steady, even comfortable, upward mobility, with one chance each year to take a small step up the ladder of social class. I believe it was October 24th the first time that sentence hit me… 8 months ago. And if I remember right, it didn’t make me want to quit my job immediately… it just made me want to live my life on purpose… to do everything for the glory of God… to make everything count.
Here I am 8 months later, finding that sentence to ring even more true in the corridors of my heart. God has taken me on an adventure in the last 8 months, and I’m learning more and more to focus on him and his leading… because the times I have been truly happy in life, the times that I have known that I’m making my life count, is when I’m doing exactly what I know God wants me to do.”
So that’s a little of where I’ve been internally of late.
Things here have been running smoothly. I have been learning a lot, and God has definitely been stretching me. One area that is most noticeable is how the role I am filling here is forcing to me be a lot more confrontational. I’m a very non-confrontational person normally, but in protecting the girls on our team, I’ve had to confront several Indian men here.
Apparently in Indian culture, men and women don’t really talk unless they’re married or family. So if a guy is saying things (like: “marry me woman”) to one of our girls, he’s overstepping his own cultural boundary. Basically what he’s communicating is that he thinks the Hollywood stereotype of American girls is true: that American girls are whores. If he were to do this to an Indian woman, she would have every right to slap him, hit him or push him away.
So, because I know that the girl on our team are godly women, and because I want to defend their reputation as Christians, I’m forced to confront several men here that overstep those boundaries. The thing that works in my favor is that Indian men are very bad with confrontation… and also the fact that the Hollywood action movie American male stereotype is that of dudes that run around killing people and blowing up things! So, needless to say I’ve had a little fun with these confrontations.
Last week, I took a pair of binoculars from a guy who was on his roof looking at the girls on our roof. Last Saturday, while we were sightseeing, men kept taking pictures of our girls with their phones. So I would walk right up to them, look them in the eye, and yell a little bit. Then I’d bust out my camera in their face and take a few pictures of them (in hopes that they would feel violated). I think they got the point. It was so funny when one dude was about 50 feet away with his camera phone out, all I did was look at him with the most stern look I could muster and then I wagged my finger ‘no’ and he immediately put up his phone even though I was at a distance! So although that role is challenging for me, it has enjoyable moments as well. I’m playing Cowboy and Indians.
Ministry with our team has been plugging along. I preached to the church that meets in the slums last Sunday. I preached on John 6 (when Jesus feeds the 5000 after asking the disciples to feed them) and how Jesus will let us face impossible situations so that we will learn that we can rely on him. Then I talked about our universally impossible situation of being justified on our own merit before God, and how that Jesus is the bread of life for our souls. God meets that need for us in Christ.
Our team was invited to do a VBS there Monday. About 75 children were gathered and it was a great time of singing and teaching. Things are going really well there. At the leper colony Friday, we visited at the precise time that some Hindus were visiting to feed the colony… and they offered us their food too. So we joined them in lunch, and in classic Indian hospitality they gave us much more than we could finish. Each time I almost had my plate cleared, they would come give me more food. This happened about 4 times! I was stuffed with something really good and spicy and yellow.
Ministry at the leper colony is really stretching me. Much of the time I sit in silence with the men. They aren’t really very talkative even though I try. But I’ve learned that as I sit just to pray for them and that God would heal their spiritual blindness and their physical ailments.
Our team has been doing great! I am so impressed with how intentional they are about their time here and about really digging into what God has for them during this time. Just the other night we had a 2 hour session of worship on the roof of our house : singing, praying, reading scripture, praying with each other. It was beautiful. I’m excited to see what God is doing in their lives while we’re here, and praying that God continues to lead us.
A quick book recommendation: Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. I wouldn’t recommend the whole book to just everybody, but definitely the first two chapters to any Christians. The first two chapters cover the importance of the church being gospel-centered and community-centered. The rest covers how that looks in practice. I guess the main reason I like the book is because I’ve thought and prayed a lot about “what the church should look like” for a few years now, and this book really gives a framework of the ecclesiology that God has been placing in my heart. There are of course some areas I disagree with, but overall it’s a great book if you’re interested in church.
Annnnnnnd, just because this is my one weekly entry, you get a little bit of everything: journal entry, ministry update, team update, culture lesson, book recommendation, and now… funny moment from the week.
I’ve been driving a Scooty (small scooter) for market runs and such. It’s great because a scooter was all I wanted for Christmas a few years ago… haha. Anyway, like I said last time, Indian traffic is simply ridiculous. Yesterday on the way to the market I actually got pulled over by the police! The reason that’s crazy is that Indian police don’t pull people over with their cars, but they did to me. Usually, police are on foot at check points on the road, and if they pull you over you just pay a bribe and are on your way. Anyway, he came up behind the Scooty, sirens and megaphone and all. Then he asked to see my driver’s license… so I showed him my California license, which he didn’t even read. Then he just told me that it was important to have a helmet (because I wasn’t wearing one) and that was it. I think he just wanted to talk to a foreigner. Anyway, that’s one of those neat things that not many can say ” I got pulled over in India.”
Well, that’s all for this week. Thank you so much for checkin up on me, and thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement! God bless you and keep you and may his face shine on you.