Due to the time change I was wide awake at 6:00 AM. or it could have been the bomb blasting. Apparently this conference always coincides with the Hindu New Year celebration, Diwali. They celebrate with abandon. Fireworks and lots of firecrackers punctuate the day. Some of the explosions sound like a supercharged M80, the largest firecracker I can ever remember as a child growing up. Rhette got up shortly after I did and began to get around. We ordered the service coffee (two cups, hot water, instant coffee, milk and sugar) and two cheese omelets that I remembered being tasty from the last trip. The omelet and toast was 40.00 rupee (about $1 US). It makes a good meal and it is safe! (I hope.)
I prepared for the ministry today printing out the sketchy notes I have made for each day of the conference. About 10:45 Chrione (Pastor JP’s son, also called Kenny) came to our room to see if we were ready. We went next door to the room of Pastor Jaiprakash and met his family. Chrione is 13 and already about 6’3”, a tall good looking young man, and the drummer for the conference. Glory is the middle child and she is a senior in high school. The eldest girl, Blessing, is completing her second year of college, majoring in Commerce.
After a brief visit and prayer, we loaded up to make the 10 minute drive to the conference grounds. It was the same location as the conference I attended in 2006, convening on the old grounds of a hospital that has been closed for nearly 20 years. A Christian organization now owns it and makes it available to various groups for meetings such as this one.
We met Gabriel, Pastor Anil (JP’s cousin from Anand), and some other pastors and leaders of the camp. They had to offer us some masala tea as others prepared the music and equipment for services. We had a time of worship and then the traditional welcome, the presentation of a flower garland for the guests and leaders of the conference. Rhette was thoroughly embarrassed when they called him to the platform and honored him with the floral garland. We were allowed to return to our seats and then after another worship song I was introduced to preach the first message of the conference.
After making the appropriate remarks and greetings I introduced the concept of what I felt led to speak this week in the day session. I plan to speak on some areas of fundamental doctrine of Scripture. Today I began with faith, the “one faith” of Scripture, and the importance of believing in a living relationship with Jesus. It went pretty well, however the people are adjusting to the conference and to me. They did not immediately respond at the conclusion of the message, but Pastor Anil had them come forward when I turned the service back to him and led them in prayer and commitment.
We ate our first authentic meal with the people at the conference. It was a dish of white rice, roti (a type of whole wheat tortilla), potato and cabbage stuff, and a spicy mix you could use on the rice or bread. It was tasty but I worried about the spices. It caused me a little indigestion this afternoon and Tums became my friend again. We came back to the hotel about 3:00 PM and rested this afternoon. I felt worse when I got up from my nap at 5:00. Jet lag works both ways!
Service was planned to begin at 6:00 but there was a problem with the lighting so the start was delayed for a little over an hour. They are trying to get enough light to make good video copies of the messages for their new website. The lighting contractor finally arrived and patched in three more lights to add to the stage during the worship service. Pastor JP preached tonight from the book of Ezekiel and the valley of bones, “Come to life, Stand up, and speak the word of faith.” He challenged everyone to accept what God has already done but to speak out the faith of their heart and receive the miracle and the touch that they desire from God. One lady came to Pastor JP after service and confessed to receiving a miracle in her eye. She had lost the vision in her right eye and came praying specifically for that need tonight. God healed her during prayer in the altar service.
Rhette and I struggled with jet lag tonight in service. After taking the nap this afternoon we were very tired and fought to stay awake during the preaching. It was very good and Pastor JP had everyone stand a couple of times (I think it was to help us!) during the message. After service we had some more local food. This time it was yellow rice with a potato stew. I ate the potatoes out of it and a little of the rice. It was still rather spicy. I think that is a requirement of Gujarati food!
When we returned to the hotel, I ordered two American Cokes and we prepared for bed. The Cokes were in the old 10 ounce glass bottles and were 20.00 rupees each, so about 50 cents.