Reflections, re-acclimation and renewal

I’ve been back from India for just over a week now.  My body is finally getting back to normal and the case of Delhi Belly that hit me upon my return home is finally gone.  I’m finally sleeping at normal hours and getting back into my normal routine.

As I’ve taken time to reflect on my time in India, there are a few things that stick out:

First of all, God used my absence to bring about some strengthening in those around me.

My first Friday out of the country, Mike and Kim learned that their brother-in-law had been killed in Afghanistan.   Mike and Kim were able to be a source of strength to their family, even though they did not have my presence to draw from.   Mike and Kim were forced to lean on the Lord in a way they had not had to draw on His strength before.  Carol also felt led to join some meetings that I normally attend, and also led out with our monthly overseer’s meeting.  This was a large growth step for Carol as well and she now sees her role as my ministry partner much more clearly.

I believe the second primary purpose of this trip was my influence on some key people:

My interactions with Tom and Santhosh, in particular were part of a molding, shaping and directional process that the Lord is taking them through.  In the case of both of these men, I watched God take them through some stretching of their comfort zones and standard modes of operation.  Additionally, in two of the cities where I led meetings, the pastors came under conviction about their need to work cooperatively towards the purposes of God’s kingdom.  In the wake of our meetings, these pastors have committed to working together towards the fulfillment of God’s plan for their individual communities.

The third key issue was the reminder of the completeness of God’s power and strength.

On two particular occasions, I was speaking with almost no physical or mental strength.   On both of those occasions, I spoke not with force or vigor, but the power of God was incredibly overwhelming.  On the first occasion a demon manifested in a man as I was speaking and threw this man into the adjacent river.  He was immediately delivered from the demon and received the life giving touch of Jesus that night.   The second time I gave the invitation after making a very simple gospel presentation and I watched as over 30 people came forward to give their lives to Jesus.

It was good to be back home on Sunday.  Sunday was the first anniversary of the launch of Simplicity – Corpus Christi and the Simplicity Church Network.  We all marveled at how quickly the year has gone, and how much God has molded, shaped and changed us in this first year.   We also decided to replace our big orange water cooler outside with some of the sack lunches we have put together.  Sunday we set out 6 lunch bags with Vienna Sausage, fruit cups,  and crackers.  By the time church was over, only one bag was left.

Tuesday was a great day of victories as well.  Carol and I were short on making our house rent.  Our rent is $1,000/month and we only had $179 to our name.   We asked some people who are close to us to pray with us over this need.  One of those individuals told Carol, “I’m praying that someone will show up at your doorstep with a check in hand.”  Not 10 minutes later this same individual called back and said she would be bringing a check by…she ended up being the answer to her own request.

Tuesday evening we were praying at the church when we heard a knock on the door.   A young man entered and said, “I believe God sent me here.”   We then told him how he got to us and he agreed…I told him we were praying for him to come, we just didn’t know it was him that we were specifically praying for.  This man has been in Corpus for 2 weeks.  In the past his life has included many pitfalls, and of course he found himself in the epicenter of those things here in Corpus Christi.  He knows he has a call on his life, but his frustration with his circumstances had led him back to some places he swore he would never go again.  After speaking into his life we offered to walk with him as he works to rebuild his life.  Over the past two days I have had the opportunity to help him find new housing arrangements and to begin looking for work.   While I was in India, the Lord spoke to me about someone he was raising up to become the leader of Simplicity – Corpus Christi…something in my spirit, says this man may eventually be the one God was speaking to me about.

Some pictures from India

Leader's conference outside of Delhi

Leader’s conference outside of Delhi

Speaking at leader's conference outside of Delhi

Speaking at leader’s conference outside of Delhi

Pastor Santhosh and his family in their home

Pastor Santhosh and his family in their home

Tom speaking at pastor's meeting in Amellepolly...he had not slept in nearly 3 days at this point

Tom speaking at pastor’s meeting in Amellepolly…he had not slept in nearly 3 days at this point

Tom after his all night train ride in the top bunk.

Tom after his all night train ride in the top bunk.

Tom and I praying with a pastor in Amellepolly

Tom and I praying with a pastor in Amellepolly

Tom speaking at open air crusade in Madurai

Tom speaking at open air crusade in Madurai

Open air meeting in Madurai

Open air meeting in Madurai

Waiting in line for lunch in the Delhi pastor's conference

Waiting in line for lunch in the Delhi pastor’s conference

Praying with a church leader in Kerala

Praying with a church leader in Kerala


Pastor Sabu and his wife ministering together in Kerala

Pastor Sabu and his wife ministering together in Kerala

Sharing a meal with pastor Santhosh

Sharing a meal with pastor Santhosh

Madurai – Day 2

Today we began with a monthly pastors meeting with about 200 people in attendance.   A local pastor was the first to speak and he spoke on taking “your” limitations off of God.  This pastor was very energetic and animated, engaging the group as he spoke.  As he was speaking Tom showed me his message notes for the day.  He was also going to speak on taking “your” limitations off of God.  

When Tom finished speaking, I was given 10 minutes to conclude.  I challenged the group to move from “amen” to “action.”   I gave an invitation for them to commit to removing the barriers that were preventing God from using them corporately to redeem this city. 

Tonight we did another open air crusade.  Tom took a new step and preached without notes or a manuscript (which he normally uses).  It was a great message about life changing encounters with Jesus.  When the invitation was given many came forward.  We spent 30-45 minutes praying with the people for their needs.  

This is our last evening with Tom as he will be flying back to Canada tomorrow evening to be home for a few days before leaving on his next speaking trip.  He and I have begun to develop a good friendship and I hope that God will continue to build our relationship and dialogue in the days to come.

Tomorrow we are speaking to a group of pastors and church leaders at Pastor Paul’s church.  He has advertised that we will be speaking on end times prophecy (good thing Tom has his Blackaby Study Bible with him).  Tom is going to speak on the first 3 chapters of Revelation, discussing Jesus examination of His church.  I will be speaking on God’s judgment and grace.

Later this week I will be ministering in a leper colony and speaking in the cities Dindigal and Tirchy, where I have spoken previously.

India Mission Trip – Week 1

I left Houston on the morning of the 12th and flew to Chicago.  While in Chicago I met several passengers who were going to be aboard my Air India flight to Frankfurt.  Included in those I met was a pastor from St. Louis, MO who was going visit pastors he supported in Germany.  There were also 2 men and a woman from Calvary Chapel in California, who were going to visit pastors they supported in India.  It was a sweet time of fellowship, each of us going to encourage overseas pastors in their work.

In the past I have flown Lufthansa to India, but this time I was on Air India.  I actually like Air India better, as they offer better leg room, which made the long haul much more pleasant.  I was also intrigued by the external nose camera they had on the plane.  It was fun watching the take off and landing.

I arrived in Delhi at 9PM on Tuesday.  My first stop was a Swine Flu health check station that included a thermal imaging camera and video display that recorded each of us as we got off of the plane.  Once I cleared customs I retrieved my luggage and exited the airport to find Pastor Santhosh waiting for me with a big smile.   We met Pastor Joy Thomas and loaded my luggage in to his vehicle.   They then took me to a nearby hotel.  The hotel was basic, but very comfortable.  Because Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights) was beginning this weekend, there were big flashing lights on my hotel window, so my sleep mask became very necessary.

Wednesday we went to a small village outside of Delhi, where I met Pastor Wilson.  Pastor Wilson runs the Rohini Pentecostal School and Church.  The interesting part of his ministry is its location.  The school and church are located in a village that is 100% Hindu with no Christians; however, all of the students in the school are Hindu, even though it is a Christian school.  The school teaches the students Hindi and English using scripture verses and songs.  Pastor Wilson has found himself having great favor with his Hindu neighbors.  You can see the harvest in the making.  The other memorable thing about Pastor Wilson’s ministry is his daughter Glory.  Glory has a worshipper’s heart and a smile that just radiates from deep within.

We met with a group of about 25 pastors on Wednesday.  We were very delayed due to traffic, so I only was able to speak for about 1 hour and then spent time eating lunch with them.  Chicken curry and rice was the menu for the day.    Wednesday evening I went to the home of Pastor Joy Thomas and his wife.  Pastor Thomas has visited the US on several occasions and will once again be in the US next April.   He currently oversees a great number of churches in eastern India.   We left his house and drove back to my hotel in the dark, because his headlights quit working.

On Thursday we once again went to the village where Pastor Wilson’s church is located.   We had a great conference again with about 25 pastors and ended up having a great time of dialogue and sharing.  The best part of the day came when the Lord gave me the opportunity to minister to these pastors.  As I laid hands on each one, the Lord would give me words for them.  I watched a great number of these men and women begin to weep as the Lord used me to speak deeply into their hearts.   The Lord also gave me a word for Glory, Pastor Wilson’s daughter, to begin writing down the songs that the Lord was putting into her heart and to share them publicly that the body of Christ might be built up.

After returning to Delhi, I spent the evening with Pastor Santhosh and his family.  Pastor Santhosh lives in a small one bedroom apartment with his wife and two children.  He is very benevolent, often sending his resources to the pastors he oversees.  We enjoyed a great meal and fellowship, as I have been communicating with and praying for he and his wife for number of years now.

Since Diwali was getting ready to start the streets of Delhi were very crowded and fireworks were being set off all around my hotel.  Between that and my fear of oversleeping and missing Friday’s flight, I did not sleep very well.

Friday morning, Pastor Santhosh and I headed to Delhi airport to catch a flight to Kochin.  Once we arrived in Kochin, we went to the train station and Santhosh and I caught a train to a city approximately 3 hours away.  We were tired once we arrived, so we rented a room to drop our bags and take a small nap.  I met Pastor Sabu Daniel while I was there.  Pastor Sabu would be our host over the next few days in Kerala.   After catching 2 hours of sleep, Pastor Santhosh and I headed to the train station once again to catch a train back to Kochin, so we could pick up Dr. Blackaby at the airport at 4AM.   This train ride was an experience.  We had “general admission” type tickets and Santhosh convinced the conductors to let us move to a 1st class coach.  So at each stop we would get off run further up the train and try to find an open door on a first class coach.  The train would begin moving, so we would have to jump back on.  The final time we tried this we ended up on what could best be described as a “cattle car.”   It was packed wall to wall people, with people hanging out of the doors, we were in fact barely able to get on the steps.  I pushed my way in and spent the next hour with a man’s hands on my waist, back, and shoulders, with flesh pushed against me from all sides.  My prayer simply was “God if they are going to be pushed against me, let your anointing flow through me and touch some of these lives, because of it..”

We arrived at Kochin at 1:40AM.  I was barely able to get off of the train, because of the crowd and again had to push my way through.   I was very tired having only slept for 2 hours.  So I tried to sleep sitting up, but could not, so finally I laid out on the concrete floor of the train station and got an hours sleep.   We go to the airport right as Dr. Blackaby’s plane landed and a half hour later, Dr. Blackaby appeared….tired, but mobile.

We went to the Kochin train station and caught a 6AM train headed back to the city Santhosh and I had been in the night before.  We arrived shortly after 9AM and stopped by the guest house to change clothes.   Then we jumped into the 3 wheeled cab and drove an hour into the hills.  We went into a very beautiful area full of rubber, banana and coconut trees called Malepolly.   We went to the house of Pastor Sabu and his wife Monemah.  This precious couple has a house church and they have taken watch care over 10 orphan children who have lost one or both parents.   This precious couple blessed us with eggs, toast and coconut milk.   We then began our conference with approximately 20 pastors.  Most of these pastors are young men in their mid to late 20’s.  They are very fiery in their desire to undertake fully the work of the ministry.  We had great discussion and they asked many great questions.   After lunch Dr. Blackaby spoke, even though he had not been to sleep since early Thursday morning.   God gave him the strength and he delivered a great word of encouragement to these pastors.   When he had finished speaking, we laid hands on each pastor and prayed as the Lord gave us words to speak.  Again the words of the Lord brought great strength to these young men.   Then in a very touching gesture, they asked to pray for us.   We sat down and these young men began to pray, the sounds of their prayers roared loudly, then a young pastor from Nepal began to speak and prayed a prayer of favor, boldness and authority over Dr. Blackaby and I.

As evening neared, we headed towards town and were taken to the home of a precious Christian couple.  This couple has a beautiful daughter who faithfully serves as a missionary to Ethiopa.  Their home sits on the banks of one of the rivers and provided a beautiful place of rest.  We watched as local men fished, others washed clothes and others paddled by in their wooden boats.    Dr. Blackaby headed for the nearest bed and bid us farewell for the night, while I also took a short nap.   At around 7:30 Pastor Santhosh and I went to the house of Pastor Sabu Daniel.   There as about 70 people gathered in the courtyard worshipping.   I went inside where I met pastor Santhosh’s mother, father and sister.  Pastor Santhosh’s sister is also the wife of Pastor Sabu Daniel.   Pastor Santhosh asked me to only preach for about 20 minutes, because the public address permit was good until 8PM and the Hindu people would get offended, if we went longer.

I decided to tell the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5.  As I said the name Yaweh, all of the sudden there was a shrill screaming and a splash as a demon manifested within a man who was standing outside the fence and threw him in the river.   Many jumped up to rush to his aid and Pastor Sabu and others delivered him from the demon.   When I was finished speaking, I prayed for many who were sick and one woman whose marriage was on the verge of divorce.   Several people trembled and wept as I placed my hand on them and prayed.

When I returned to the house where we were staying I found Tom awake…his sleep schedule was definitely not adjusting well.   We talked about the service and then both went to sleep.

Sunday morning after waking up we had tea that was provided by the home owner.   Tom and I spent several hours talking…actually, I think I did all of the talking….I told Tom to remind me to be quiet the rest of the day.   He brought out an interesting observation.  He said you were speaking on a man being healed by immersing himself in a river, and a man was delivered last night as he was thrown into the river.  I had not thought of that and was grateful for the observation.

We walked to Pastor Sabu Daniel’s house for morning worship.   We learned that a man had been struck by car and killed earlier in the morning and that many of the church members were ministering to this man’s family.   I also learned that Pastor Sabu Daniel had written a book, from a dream God had given him.  The book is an interpretation of the dream and it is called “Renaissance.”  Pastor Sabu Daniel will be translating this book into English at some point and I will be very interested to read it.

We ended up with only a handful of people for church, but the presence of God very strong.   Many shared in prayer, song and scripture reading.  Tom spoke on God’s molding and shaping process.   When he was finished, Pastor Sabu led a very fervent prayer over Tom and I that very much echoed the prayer given by the pastor from Nepal the day before.  As he was praying, the Lord gave me a word for Pastor Sabu.   The word dealt with the spirit of revival that has been birthed in this pastor.  The Lord had me describe the outward flow of this revival and how the river in front of his home was a representation.   The Lord also had me liken the effect to the flooded rice patties behind his home.

We spent the afternoon with Pastor Sabu and his family, before returning to the home we were staying in.  We recharged our computers and rested up for our overnight train ride to Madurai.

The train ride to Madurai was a new adventure as well.  Our tickets were for the air conditioned sleeper car.  Tom opted for the top bunk and I took the bottom.  All 6’4″ of me on a 6’1″ bed was pretty amusing.   As we got to Madurai, I hung out the door of the train, looking for Pastor Jesudoss.   He of course, found the whole thing very amusing.

This afternoon, I caught up on the latest happenings with the Jesudoss family since we had last visited.  The big news in the house is the baby that Elishba and Benjamin are expecting in March.

Tonight, we held our first open air crusade meeting.  I spoke for about 40 minutes and then we spent another 45 minutes or so praying for those who came forward.  The man that stuck out in my mind, has a skin disease and is mute…I look forward to the news that he has received healing and the ability to speak.

Lunchbags, luggage and layovers

This past week we were blessed by a family from another local church.  Their pastor is one of my overseers and he had shared our story with his congregation.   They were so moved that they decided to help support our ministry efforts with something we had been seeking for some time…vienna sausages, fruit cups and crackers.   They even supplied the lunch sacks for us to put together ready made meals for the homeless who come across our path.   We had no sooner put them togetherand  prayed over them, when a young man walked in.   He asked if we had work and we told him that we did not.  I asked him if we could pray for him or feed him, but he walked out the door.  I prayed for him as he walked away and almost as soon as I had said “amen”, he reappeared in the door asking if the lunch sacks had food.   This contact allowed us to meet and further minister to Jamyron.

I’m writing this blog post from the international terminal at Chicago O’hare.   Last night’s flight was uneventful, but my hope to get a decent night’s sleep was not so grand.  My room was on the end of the hall near the motel entrance.  I was serenaded by traffic noise, people entering and exiting, and a very amorous couple in the adjacent room.   That’s ok, it should allow me to sleep more on the two overseas flights.  I have a 7 hour layover in Chicago before catching my 4PM flight to Frankfurt, Germany.   Fortunately, this is the longest of my layovers.

God is already doing miraculous work in this trip.  Pastor Santhosh had great difficulty in getting the conferences together in Delhi and Kerala, prompting him to cancel them yesterday.  After an email session that included some options for a more “intimate gathering”, the conferences are back on again and Pastor Santhosh seems to have gotten his second wind.

I will try to post as I have internet access.