Yesterday was more than just a neat experience; it was me experiencing God through the worship of a small church in a whole new way! First we (the driver plus an interpreter and his wife) had to drive thirty minutes to get to this community. The whole time while in the city of Salem I have seen a few Hindu temples and some “gods” so to speak but nothing major. On this trip tho, I was set back by the amount of idol worship. Along the roads of this trip we passed by approximately 15 different Hindu temples. As far as I have been able to figure out, a temple is built by a community of Hindu believers. Therefore, the larger the temple the more believers are in that area, typically. Not only this, but the temples display the most notable gods above them in an elaborate display of craftsmanship. Truly they are works of art, color, imagination, and skill. Why describe all of this? Well, quite simply, God broke my heart once again for the lostness of this people. There is no other way to put it. It is heart-wrenching to see a people place their hope in colorful figurines and wild imaginations. This set-up my heart for what I experienced next:)
In the midst of all these temple is a small church of nearly 50 people worshiping the risen (and only) Savior Jesus Christ. We were a few minutes late so we walked in and went on stage during the worship time. What happened next would probably be called radical or charismatic in the US. Yet, in the atmosphere I would call it crying out to the one true God. They led songs as normal but the intensity to which the people cried out their sins to God and sang with all their might was something that was frightening and glorious all at the same time. I know this only because my interpreter sitting beside me translated some of the words. The women, especially, allow the Spirit of God to flood their hearts and pay no attention to anyone else in the room. One of the “rules” or traditions is for the women to cover their heads with a covering when in the building. Yet one lady was so moved by God and poured her heart out in such a way that she didn’t care when her head covering came off; even when the other ladies had to put it back on for her! When I stood to preach I almost wanted to sit back down and thank them for inviting me for worship and that now they could go home haha. But I did not. Colossians 3:12-17 was the passage and as I dug in to the heart of the passage I could see the power of the Word affecting them. I am not sure what the preacher had preached on in weeks past, but a message on love, peace, and being grounded in the Word was what they needed at this point in time. I forgot to mention that they gave me a rose upon arriving to the pulpit as a gift for coming:)
When I left I felt sad because I wanted to stay and dig deeper with the people and the pastor. Then I felt angry because I forgot that Indians are relatively short and therefore their door-frames match the people. After bumping my head, we made our way back to the truck to head back to IGL. One other interesting happened as I learned Sunday rituals for the people. For one, they are American in that Sunday is just another day of the week for too many people. Two, the enjoy going to the mountain and spending the day at a park. I was told the climate is much cooler and families enjoy a little peace and quiet. I can relate to this. But three, Sunday is typically the only day in which they eat meat. Interesting I know. So lined up along the streets was shop after shop with hanging chickens and other assorted animals that were skinned/plucked/beheaded and ready for sale. When I talked to Sam (interpreter) he told me that Indians simply do not include a lot of meat into their diet. When I told him that I ate beef for three nights in a row before going to India because I knew I wasn’t going to be eating it for a month, he chuckled and told me that being a Christian he is not against eating beef. But that when he does, he does not tell many people that his family did lol. He said it can be bought in a few grocery stores in town.
Altogether it was a day much needed. No matter what day you believe the Sabbath day should be celebrated, the fact remains that a Sabbath day is needed to gather with fellow believers and worship our Savior and Lord. I thank God I was able to participate with this church family for a day.