Wow, we have been so busy I haven’t had time to write in this travel blog since early Friday morning when I woke up at 4:00 AM. We have been attending at least three of the four sessions each day and I have been teaching/preaching twice each day since Wednesday. Any spare time I spend pouring over notes, seeking God’s direction for the next service, and catching a few z’s so I can keep going! I have been getting up between 4:00 and 5:00 each morning to have some quiet time of preparation for the day. It is usually after 11:00 before we get to bed. If I can get a short nap in the afternoon it helps keep me going in the later service!
I’ll try to summarize the last two days before I return to my sermon preparation for this final day of conference.
Friday, we met in the lobby about 8:30 AM. Blessing, Glory, and Chrione (we found out his nickname is Kenny) went before us in a rickshaw (a motorized three wheel taxi). They are praise singers and the drummer so they have to be there and ready to start on time.
I preached in the early session about 9:30 AM. The lesson was an extensive lesson on Baptism in Jesus’ name, entitled The Name that Saves. Pastor JP preached on the importance of the name of Jesus. He referred to the Hebrew names of Yahweh and emphasized “YAH” in the names given to God.
This afternoon we went to Subway for lunch with Pastor JP, Gabriel, and Pastor Manoj (conference director). I guess they were feeling sorry for us having to eat Indian food everyday. Rhette rode on the back of the motor scooter with Manoj (pastor of two churches and conference director). He held on for dear life! We had a roast chicken sub and shared some salad. It was good and very similar to what we get in the States. It was very thoughtful of them to consider our tastebuds!
Following lunch we came back to the hotel for a little rest and to get ready for the evening session. Rhette agreed to play the keyboard for me and harmonize with me, We sang the course Jesus in English, and then in Hindi, Yeah-sue! I guess they enjoyed it! Asked for an encore!
I preached from the series, The Ministry of Jesus, a message on The Healer of the Brokenhearted. There was a good response. There was a wonderful spirit of brokenness and seeking God for restoration. We sang some more of the same chorus for the altar service. I felt better today (my stomach and digestion) after a little break from the Indian spices! So, after service, I declined the camp food and we returned to the hotel and had room service. Rhette ordered the Toast cheese, a grilled cheese sandwich. I made a mistake by ordering the club sandwich thinking it might be American style. It wasn’t. It was three pieces of toast with cucumber, tomato, and a fried something that might have been mostly potato … full of Indian spices. Masala club sandwich would have been a better description! Rhette ate some of it and shared his grilled cheese with me.
Saturday morning, Rhette went to the conference in a rickshaw with Blessing. He wanted to experience the whole adventure! It was only 10.00 rupees for the taxi fare to the conference grounds, quite reasonable according to our economy. About 25 cents!
I taught in the first session Saturday morning. I have been developing the lessons for the day sessions based on fundamental doctrines of Scripture. Ephesians 4:4-6 provides a basis for these lessons, “one body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, etc.” However, since Pastor Jaiprakash expressed his intention to make Saturday night the time for people to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and have special prayer for healing and deliverance, I swapped the lessons for Saturday, saving the message on The Promise of the Father for the later session. Saturday morning, I preached the third lesson on the ministry of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19, Deliverance from Oppression.
Following the morning session we had a break for tea before beginning the next session about 11:00. Pastor JP preached on being a love slave of Christ from the book of Exodus. It was very touching at the end of the message as he referred to Christian persecution in India and how as a love slave you continue to serve God whether you live or die. The recent uprising of radical Hindu fundamentalists in the state of Orissa has caused Christians all over India to be concerned for their safety. The radical Hindus have focused on disturbing baptisms of Christian groups in Gujarat. I suppose it is because they view baptism as a sign of one’s conversion to Christianity. The church here has two locations where they bring converts to baptize them. They have quit baptizing them during the conference to avoid attracting persecution to the believers.
In the afternoon break Pastor JP took us to the veg restaurant we went to last time we were here. It is in the basement of another restaurant. It was tasty but still very Indian!
Gabriel and Pastor Anil went with us there. After lunch we went by the hotel for about 45 minutes. I laid down but did not get a nap. We went back to the conference grounds for the late afternoon session. Pastor JP has been really choked up from all the dust, especially after the dancing in the service Friday night. He changed the schedule and made the late afternoon and evening session all one long service. He asked me to just go ahead and do it all! When the service began they had one of the village churches singing a special song. It was basically just the drums and congos and went on for 30 minutes or longer. They really got into the dance! Pastor JP said in the local village services they can go on all night singing and dancing.
When the service was turned to me I taught on The Promise of the Father and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I told my experience in receiving the Holy Ghost as a young teenager and some of the obstacles I had to overcome. At the conclusion I turned the service over to Pastor Anil. He called for all those who wanted to receive the Holy Spirit. Many came forward, probably close to 100 people. He led them in corporate prayer of repentance and encouraged the elders to pray for them. Many received the Holy Spirit. When asked, at least 50 raised their hands. I’m not sure how many of them was first time. Pastor JP estimated 20-30. I guess we don’t have to concern ourselves with numbers as long as people are receiving the Spirit and growing in God!
Following the prayer for the Holy Spirit, Pastor JP had people line up for special prayer for healing. He took them one by one praying for specific needs with Pastor Anil and Gabriel. As the line continued to grow, he asked for my help and between Pastor Anil, Pastor JP and I, we prayed for three at a time. I had to have an interpreter to find out specific needs to pray for. Pastor Anil helped me and then one of the elders from Ahmedabad stepped up to help me. We prayed for a lot of people, probably about an hour or longer. Several confessed to receiving instant healing or miracles.
Finally, Pastor JP asked for all who were possessed or oppressed by demons. We prayed for at least six who needed deliverance. An obvious peace came over several of them after prayer and casting out the devil.
We concluded the service about 9:30 --- about 6 hours for this service!
We returned to the hotel about 10:30 exhausted and a little hungry. Rhette and I ordered grilled cheese (cheese toast) and Coke before going to bed. I also called Dad for his birthday. It was 11:00 in India but about 12:30 Saturday afternoon in Arkansas when I called. He was actually down at Toleda Bend lake in Louisiana. When no one answered at home I called dad’s cell phone and caught him there.