Archive for October, 2011

Moving Today by Car

We are moving from the Tenali area today back to Nalgonda which is 250 km from here. However, there is a strike in the province there, so the train is not running (we came to this area by train, but can’t return that way). So we will leave here earlier than planned and travel by car back to Nalgonda. There we will spend time with the main pastor here, Martin Tagaram, who works with Kenneth. On instruction from God several years ago, he left his job in his home region and moved to this state, Andara Pradesh, to start a church. The church meets in his home, and he is starting a school with Kenneth that will train members how to go out and plant churches house to house-style. From there church planters will move outward planting churches in communities as they go.

He told me an interesting custom of his house. Whenever his church meets, he always prepares a special dish, “the guest dish,” in faith that God will bring a guest to their meeting, often an unbeliever who is seeking God. When that guest arrives, they are given the special dish as a welcome. The pastor and his family rarely know ahead of time if there will be a guest or not, so they always prepare the gift by faith and have it ready. It occupies a special focus in the preparation for each meeting. What a wonderful testimony to their young church family and their children. The Indians in general are an extremely hospitable people, and I like this custom of the guest dish as an expression of hospitality and of faith. I might bring that one home with me, along with the three-finger scoop. Really, I can’t envision anything you couldn’t eat with the three-finger scoop…ice cream, spaghetti, salad, mashed potatoes…the list is endless…pie…pudding…pancakes with syrup…


Sunday Labors

Quick entry before leaving for the training today: Yesterday was Sunday here and I preached in three different churches, 1 hour, half hour, and 1 hour. Three different villages, ladies in their beautiful colorful sari’s and men in their white. Preached twice on deity of Christ and last on the priesthood of believers, encouraging them all to be church planters which is what our training is about. Got home at 7pm, lay down on the bed “for a moment” and woke up at 3 a.m.

We will have about 50-70 in the school today and will begin to teach about the different levels of leadership that it takes to plant churches. The spirit of the people is high and encouraging to me. Loving the Indian food, lots of rice but mixing it with all kinds of curry dishes with vegetable and/or chicken. VERY GOOD! Eating Indian style with three-finger scoop – I’m going to love showing that method of eating meals to the grandchildren when I get back. The method involves balancing the plate on your left hand and scooping the food into your mouth with three fingers of the right and. They keep trying to provide me some kind of table to put my plate on (because I guess I look like a clumsy westerner), but I am enjoying learning to eat their way and (warnings to Gail) may continue to eat this way when I get home…. Three more days here before leaving all these wonderful new friends in India and traveling to the work in Uganda. Pray that the churches catch the message of church planting – it’s the way to win India to Christ, but we must move on from the western idea of “we will build it and ya’ll come” to “Here is Christ.What will you do with Him? Let’s meet to learn about Him. Now that you know Him, let’s baptize you and introduce Him to others…” And so the work goes…

Apologies to all subscribers who got the strange email delivered from this blog. It is now fixed on the website, but I had tried to load a picture and the hookup here is just too spotty to accomplish it smoothly. Electricity is on and off, internet is in and out, etc. With all that going on, I finally deleted the picture and reset the text. However, what got sent was a messed up version apparently from the picture deletion, so I apologize.Computers…ya gotta love em…, but hey, I’m writing from the field in India, so that’s pretty great.

I am hanging back today to prepare for tomorrow, while the others are continuing the teaching in the village of Kancharlapalem. I’m preaching for an hour three times in three different churches tomorrow – yes, they like their sermons at an hour or more. I will be working through an interpreter, so that also takes time. So I am resting up, fasting, praying, studying for tonight when I teach and tomorrow when I preach. The Lord is gracious.

I have a good internet connection this morning because, I think, they moved our rooms in the place we are staying each night, and the access must be better here. So far, it’s been very spotty. I’m eating breakfast as I write – coconut paste and fried pastries with hot sauce.

We are in the city of Tenali in SE India. We drive out from the city each day to a village on the outskirts, Kancharlapalem, which sits in the middle of wide rice fields all around – I saw my first mongoose yesterday, and we have a pen of water buffaloes not twenty feet from the church door. The homes in the village are a mix of brick and mortar, stick and thatch, etc. At the back side of this village sits a nicely built solid church facility, one room, which can sit maybe 125 people. We regularly have about 60-70 in attendance. From all around, the people walk in from the neighboring farms, villages, and house churches to attend this church-planting training that we are giving.

I am with Martin, a pastor who serves in another region and is a leader in the church planting work here, and Kenneth Rooks, the head of ICE International Ministries (link to his website at the bottom of this page). I am scheduled to speak on leadership multiplication later in the program while Kenneth and Martin are busy now laying the foundations. Yesterday Kenneth taught about the 10/40 window and it was the first time any of these folks had heard of it, much less discovered that they were in it. It is exciting to see their paradigm shift before my eyes as their perspective as believers is shifted from very, very local to a more worldwide view of the Kingdom. They discover through this training that they are part of this larger view of Christianity as they become church-planters in the other villages around this region. They discover that the best way, perhaps the only way for them to win India, is to plant house churches in every village. The popular and frequently used “ya’ll come” rallies of thousands of people simply don’t produce much fruit – there is little organized follow-up by the churches, and they are mostly attended by all the Christians in the area, anyway. The average Hindu doesn’t attend.

At night I return to the village with pastors Martin and Rao and teach about the deity of Christ. This is a subject that is very important for them because as converted Hindus they hear all kinds of myths and stories, and it is easy for their theology to become confused. I am teaching these simple truths for about an hour each night from 9pm to 10 pm. Yes, it’s a long day for them, but this is an opportunity for them to hear from the outside, and they seem for the most part attentive and excited about what they are hearing throughout the days. At the end of each teaching, they line up for prayer, which may last another 40 minutes or so.

I am preaching in three church services tomorrow, Sunday. I drew the lucky straw! If you read this in time, please pray for these messages and services. The local language is Telegu, so I am working with translators which is new for me.

Arrived in India

After passing throught the beautiful city of Dubai, we connected with our flight into Hyderabad, India, about 20 hours flight time total. Emirates Air is great. Can anyone tell me if they fly to Oregon? Seriously, I just heard that they will start flying out of Dallas/Ft.Worth next year, so that will be great for direct flights to come back here.

Surprisingly, I am not very tired. I was able to sleep a bunch on the flight, so feel pretty rested. But I have no idea what time it really is, so it may catch up with me. We are staying for the moment at a pastor’s home but will shortly check into a hotel where we will stay the week while working at the school where we will meet other local pastors. This will be very exciting. We are in Southern India and I understand somewhere in the region, maybe more south of here, is where the apostle Thomas was martyred and the early church in India was established. I have to say, it was a truly harrowing ride from the airport here by car. Everyone kind of drives where they want to at any given moment, and I have never seen so many cars, trucks and buses headed for the car I was in head-on in my lane – I’ll say this for them: it seems to be a universal skill to swerve back into your own lane somewhere in the last 6 feet or so, everyone honking madly. Kenneth described the ride as “stimulating.” I describe it as, “I wish I were asleep.” I think going home in my sleep is the way to go.

So far the people are wonderful and I am enjoying getting to know Dr. Kenneth Rooks who is here with me and doing the introductions. The mother of the household served us breakfast – a very delicious French toast…hmmm, I need to get her recipe,since that’s one of the few things I cook that doesn’t come in a can.

Anyway, we are here. We are in the area where we will meet many of the local people. More to come. Stay tuned, encourage others to subscribe…thanks for your prayer support. Keep up the good work.

Trip October 2-22, 2011

The trip that was planned to India, Pakistan and Uganda started out was an on-again-off again kind of venture for Bob. Due to uncontrollable events, the trip planned in August was cancelled. But then a trip for September was offered and Bob signed on again. Unfortunately, we were unable to get visas for Pakistan. So that left a trip to India and Uganda, which is what has finally happened after several date adjustments relating to airfares, etc. Bob leaves on Sunday, Oct. 2, for India. After ten days he will travel to Uganda for the remainder of the trip. He will work with the director of ICE International Ministries to teach church planting and discipling seminars for indigenous pastors. This is a very exciting opportunity that is right up his alley.

Bob will attempt to provide blog updates while on the trip, depending on access to the internet. What we need most is prayer now – for Gail as she stays at home, and Bob as he travels for health, energy, strength, boldness, discernment, and being filled with the Spirit moment by moment. There will probably be preaching opportunities too, but since this is the first trip with ICE, we are feeling our way forward a bit at a time. So more on this from future blogs.

So it has been a hurry up process to get visas in place, numerous shots and pills -ouch!, and everything in place to be out of town for three weeks. Pay attention to your email for updates.