The Middle of Nowhere
On Monday, we flew north to Nagpur. Our friends met us at the airport and we began a 6 hour drive to a very remote area in Chhattisgarh. Two hours of our journey was through the jungle, an area where an unfriendly communist cell is active. Our drivers became very nervous as this area has a bad reputation. God used this situation to give us an opportunity to share Christ with our driver, Poltu. Poltu prayed with Benson and me, asking Jesus to be his Savior – praise God! He was even at one of our puppet shows.
Now we are in Pakhanjore which is the only town in an area surrounded by 300 villages. Less than a fraction of the percent of the people here claim to follow Jesus Christ. We have been wonderfully busy doing ten puppet shows, two devotional meetings, two training sessions and teaching a Bible study, in two days. Many teachers have come to me and commented on the loving way I deal with the children. I am quick to tell them that it is only Jesus and His spirit within me. This is a strange concept for a Hindu person as they have no experience with the idea of God’s presence indwelling you. Pray for all these teachers to understand the source of our love.
Our Great Adventure
It is extremely hot here. Until now, I have simply been too tired to write. It is the middle of the night here, but sleep eludes me. I see a sea of children’s faces. I hear their laughter. I hear them praying. The wonder of these days is precious. Let me share with you what God has done. You won’t be able to sleep either…your heart will be too full!
Hundreds and hundreds of Hindu children have prayed with us, calling on the one true God and his son Jesus Christ to rescue them. They hang on the words of the Bible stories, eager to hear about the God who considers them a treasure. In this place of many idols, God is revealing Himself to these precious little ones.
At a government Hindu school, little girls brought me five bouquets of lovely white flowers. One little girl handed me her flowers and said, “Aunty, thank you for coming to India.” My heart danced.
Every time we did a show children loved it. They screamed for the puppets that they liked the best. Our friends here are helping us with the puppets and it is so much fun to see them enjoying the work as we do.
At the Catholic school, I had an awkward moment as I was introduced as a sister!
We watched God turn the hearts of the people who had previously been very negative in their criticism of our Christian friends, but the day we visited them they were warm and friendly. They were very positive with their comments. Only God can turn hearts like this!
Despite this being the rainy season, our God has held the rain off during the times we have done the shows. This enabled us to set up in school yards and have more of the children attend. More, many of the people in the village would stand nearby and watch the program. Sometimes the crowd of people that came was almost bigger than the crowd of children in the school! Many of these adults were also hearing the story of Jesus for the first time. God is so good to us!
One afternoon, we set up out in a school yard to do a program for an after school bible club. So many people in the village gathered to watch the show. It was unusual that when it came time for the children to pray, they were strangely silent. I am very sure that some of these children prayed to receive Christ but I am also happy that they did not pray out loud where their watching Hindu parents could hear. Instead I watched two little boys drawing my heart and cross picture in the ground – you could tell they were listening. Perhaps the parents concluded that our God was not powerful because none of the children responded. This is actually a good thing because they will continue to allow the children to attend the bible club.
On two mornings we met with the teachers of a local Christian school. We had a sweet opportunity to share with them how God could help them be better teachers. Some were struggling with discipline issues and had resorted to using the world’s methods with the children. Please pray for them to understand how God would have them train the children.
We have all been smiling as we watch the older adults especially enjoy the puppet training. Everyone has been very eager to learn but the older adults seem particularly thrilled with the balloon lesson. One older lady comes to mind as she went home with two balloon animals in her bag and one under her arm!
I was particularly happy as I listened to David teach the Bible at church one night. He shared his testimony and did a wonderful job of opening the scriptures. I kept thinking of how proud his father, Ian, would be. Ian is an evangelist and bible teacher and the head of a ministry called Brining Good News. If you would like to learn more of Ian’s work in Sudan and Pakistan then go to his web page, www.bringinggoodnews.org My husband, Mike, loved David like a son. I know he was in heaven smiling with pride at all God is doing in David’s life.
The hospitality here has been wonderful! All of the schools have treated us to cookies, samosas and cups of hot tea. More, our friends are taking great care of us. They have done everything they possibly can to make us comfortable.
While in India I have been thinking a lot about the team that God gave me for Ireland. I was so amazed at how God provided just the right people for that trip. And now I am equally amazed at God’s provision for the Indian team. David Thomson served with the Agape Puppets for many years but this is his wife, Heather’s, first trip. Each day I enjoy David’s skill with the puppets and his curiosity about all the things around us. Heather brings a sweet spirit and a gentleness to our group that I treasure. God gave us a surprise in sending Nick Santmier, an 18 year old young man who is spending six months serving with friends in India. He is very willing to help and laughter comes easily to him. More we are partnering with national friends who love Jesus deeply. Every day I spend with them I am challenged to love Jesus more.
Linda for David, Heather, Nick, Benson and Sampson