Dispatch India 2013:
Yesterday, the little old man next to the church where I was teaching, a Mr. Ao (as in ouch), asked me to pray for his wife’s poor health. He was a retired evangelist, and he and Mrs. Ao had been preparing the food each day for the students (rice boiled in rain water). I knew immediately that I was in over my head. Here this guy had been kickin’ Satan’s butt for 50 years among the hostile Hindus, and I had just turned 50. I was embarrassed. I should have been asking him to pray for me. I laid hands on the woman and prayed for several minutes while the two of them prayed along and, every once in a while, slapped their hands together and shouted. They were into it. I was getting nervous and running out of words. I was sincere, but I just felt inadequate. I didn’t want to let these sweet people down. What if God didn’t answer? When I finished, Mr. Ao called for an interpreter. He said he had a vision for me. The Holy Spirit showed him a white horse on the World Hope campus in Houston (he had never left the jungle). My children were astride the horse and very happy. My wife stood by shaking my hand. He said my wife had told him in the Spirit to pray for me. What, in God’s name, to make of this? Then, he said he was going to pray. As he did, he nearly broke my fingers and wrist with his intensity. It hurt enough to take my mind off his prayer and make me hope it would be over soon. When it was, I was relieved and turned to the interpreter for some insight into the man’s words. The interpreter didn’t have a clue, the man had prayed in tongues.
Today, I finished the third and final day of theology classes here in Nagaland with around 44 students in all (mostly youth workers and a number of pastors). Their grandparents were headhunters. The soggy tube sock I kept on the pulpit next to my iPad for sweaty head wiping worked great. Anyway, every group is different. This was a shy bunch. We wrapped up early, so I opened the floor for Q&A. The usual. How old is the earth? When is divorce allowed? Where did the devil come from? What about the dinosaurs? Pretty routine. I closed the session and sat down on the bench next to the pulpit to rest my weary bones. I was wiped out. I was not prepared for what happened next. A young girl, maybe 15, came with one of the pastors and asked me to pray. She had given her heart to Christ, and her Hindu family had thrown her out on the street. What could I do but feel humility and compassion for this pretty young girl whose life was turned upside down for the sake of Christ? I prayed as intensely as I could. I was worn out after teaching for three days in the heat and humidity of the small church. When I said, “Amen,” I dropped onto the bench. Another pastor was tugging at my arm. I looked up and twenty or so people were lined up for prayer. A young couple had had three miscarriages. A woman was being beaten by her husband. A high school student wanted to get into college to study theology. They just kept coming. I wanted to love them all so much and give them something. I thought of Jesus and how He would minister until he had nothing left. I started to cry.
Before leaving, I was told that a new convert (an older woman) had come from a nearby village. She had heard I was there from World Hope and wanted me to baptize her. The locals tried to talk her into coming to the church service for baptism on Sunday. Nothing doing. I asked if I could counsel with her and she agreed. Through my interpreter, I asked her about her conversion and what it meant. She knew. Why had she decided to follow Christ? The prayers of some World Hope workers had healed her. She wanted to give her life to this God. Her husband was a Hindu and was harassing her daily. I would not deny her. We went across the road to a tea plantation, with the entire class in tow, and I baptized this precious woman in a stagnate pond. I feel two inches tall and yet a deep sense of peace. Humility before the Lord works that way, I guess. The smaller I am, the larger He is. Lord, keep me small.
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