Yesterday was a first for me here in India. I preached to an English speaking congregation!! I was so excited when I pulled into the church parking lot. Outside might have been cows and dirt and other things of the sort… but inside were medical students who could actually understand what I would be speaking without having to hear it from a translator! It is the little things in life that are the most exciting lol. The service went well. We were about forty minutes outside of the main city of Salem. The church finds itself in Chinnappampatti, a community of medical colleges. So I was able to preach to about ten English speaking medical students for the first service out of Mark 10. That is the passage of the wealthy man who thought he could out-think Jesus.
After the service we went for tea at a local cafe and enjoyed the company of each other: Asap, his sister, the pastor, and myself. They thought I was crazy for ordering black coffee with no cream or sugar but it was good to drink and that with water made for a good break between services. Also, of all things, I saw a bottle of Mountain Dew in the stand outside on sale. I don’t know why this surprised me so, but it is the first bottle of MD I’ve seen in my time here. Otherwise they have Coke in a few places and different flavored drinks like Fanta.
The second service started later and lasted much longer. The pastor was slow to arrive and I only learned later that the service lasted for nearly three hours! The last time I preached the same sermon twice I noticed that in the second sermon I cleaned up my mistakes in the first. Where this sounds like a good practice, it left me finishing the sermon plenty early. This time was not the case. I enjoyed tweaking the sermon but keeping the central message the same. This time was to about 30 villagers and done through a translator. He and I have become good friends and understand each others thought patterns quite well. Scary, I know. When I was through preaching and we sat down he motioned me to get up again and leave. The pastor had gone up to the podium and started to sing and play the keyboard in the time that we left. I wanted to stay until he told that it was going to last another two hours. They fill their time with singing and dancing, rejoicing and praise, and testimony of how God is working in their lives.
Not only is God stretching with my people skills with Indians, He is also stretching me in general with English speaking friends. I said goodbye to my Indianapolis friends on Saturday and said hello to new Australian friends yesterday. It will be neat to watch their development toward the people here at IGL as the week plays out. I will be working side by side with one of the boys, my age, as we seek to share responsibilities among the college students. The rest of the group will be teaching a conference to the local pastors here on Romans.
Please be in prayer as I try to finish strong here in India. I am nearing the one hand mark: that mark of counting down the days and being able to do it on one hand… There is still plenty of work here to be done. Come join me if you don’t believe me (I dare you)!