Day 5,6 Chennai
Sundays are always the best days in India. Every day is filled with its own adventures, but on Sundays we always get to speak at several different churches and enjoy fellowship with lots of brothers and sisters. Plus, Sunday night is usually the biggest night for our crusades. This makes it an action packed day with lots of ministry.
The group split into two groups for the morning. Barrett, Kyle, Linda and Yasab left at about 5:00 to go to Jenova’s church for the early service. Then they were invited to stay for the late service, which was at 10:00.
Billy, Zach, Cassie and Jami left at 7:00 to get to Josh’s church by 8:00. As soon as the preaching was over, we had to get into the car again before the service ended and hurry to Christudoss’s church to speak again over there. By the time we finished, the team was waiting for us at home.
We made the attempt to go do some shopping in between having to get back to the crusades, but all we accomplished was lunch.
Zach, Cassie, Kyle, and Jami left early to get to the crusades because there was a youth service at 4:00 that they were invited to speak at. The rest of us enjoyed a few moments of down time before we arrived at 6:30.
Our last night of crusades had the biggest turnout yet. There were quite a few people. Yasab gave her testimony and drew a hearty applause. God has done absolutely amazing things in her life, and is going to use her in awesome and mighty ways. Before I got up to preach, we joked that all there was left for me to do was the altar call.
The first two nights of the crusades focused on who Jesus is, and how he had come and taken the form of a servant, so the last night I wanted to focus on his return and the urgency that there is to respond to the gospel. I preached about the realities of death, judgment, and hell, and pleaded with them not to die without Christ, and to make sure they knew their sins were forgiven. There were several people who stood during the call to repentance and called upon the name of the Lord.
We also called people up to the altar for prayer in specific areas of their lives. There were lots of people coming forward for a variety of different issues, and we were honored and blessed to be able to pray for those needs. We hung around afterwards for quite a while enjoying fellowship with all the people who had been working so hard to pull this whole thing together, but eventually, the lights had to go out and we headed back to the house.
After such a long day, people were pretty tired, but that didn’t stop us from getting a bite to eat at Tasty Jones. We were literally laughing at each other because almost all of us were dozing off to sleep over our food. Everyone was going to sleep good tonight.
We had a bunch of plans for Monday, but we had to choose which of those things we wanted to do. Our first mistake of the day was that everyone slept in too late. We had planned to visit the St Thomas Mount early, before it got too hot, but that didn’t exactly work out. When we finally did leave, we split the team up again because Zach and Cassie wanted to go to the gypsy camp to see Kowsalya again, but that was an hour and a half drive away, so it was going to take most of the day. Kyle and Jami went with them, while the rest of us went up to the St. Thomas Mount, which is the place where the Apostle Thomas was martyred.
It was smoking hot up on the Mount, but we went, took some photos, and checked that off the list of things to do, then went to the mall so we could fill our shopping lists. Everyone has to get a few souvenirs, right?
The other team had a totally different experience on the day. They finally got to the gypsy camp, but Kowsalya wasn’t there. She had gone into the city with her family to beg and sell some beads. Josh told me over the phone that it would be impossible to find her, so he would call when they were getting close to the mall so we could meet up again.
One cool thing that happened at the camp was that they spoke with a woman from Caleb’s church, who is one of the people in charge of the gypsy ministry. Her husband is gone on a mission trip, and she was really low on funds. She was feeling anxious about it, but the Lord told her that morning that He was going to provide her with some money that day. When the team was there, for whatever reason, they all felt compelled to give her some money. They did not know any of this was going on. After they had each pitched in to give it to her, she explained what had been happening. The amount they had given to her covered the needs plus a little extra. Wow! Praise the Lord for his faithfulness!
An hour later, Josh and I talked again, but he said he was in the city, walking down the street, looking for Kowsalya. I told him that they were wild, to which he replied, “Tell me about it.” He didn’t think they stood a chance of finding her. They were marching up and down the streets in the marketplace, in the muggy heat, looking for one little girl.
A short time later they called again and said they had found her! Zach and Cassie got to spend a little more time with them. Al the other beggars, including her parents, were amazed that four Americans had made such an effort just to come spend some time with them. They were able to buy her some clothes and other provisions, and just hang out with the rest of the people there. Kyle got some photos with them and their monkey.
It really was a miracle that they were able to find her. All their hard work paid off. We hope that this will go a long way in building trust in the relationship with Caleb’s church. Also, that her parents would see that the Americans really do care about their daughter, and perhaps that will help them be willing to negotiate some kind of way to allow her to grow some more before they give her to her husband. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but we have all been praying that God would do something to intervene and help this little girl. If nothing else, at least she will know that she is loved and that that love is coming from Christian people.
Monday was our last day in Chennai. We didn’t have a whole bunch of ministry planned, because after a packed out week, we needed a little bit of time to recharge before we hit the ground running in Rajahmundry on Tuesday.
Overall it was a totally awesome week. We saw the Lord do some great things through us, and also a great work in us as well. Some things didn’t exactly go as expected, but the Lord has done some pretty cool things even in that. Five nights of crusades, five church services, the pastor’s conferences, the gypsy ministry, the leper colonies, etc. I’d say we had a fruitful week!
Now we are all looking forward to what’s in store up in Rajahmundry.
I will keep you posted on what the Lord is doing!
Thank you for taking the time to lift us and the ministry up in prayer. We walk in the strength of your faithful prayers.