Friday, April 19, 2013
We arrived at the aiport yesterday morning and were greeted by Ajai Lall and his staff ahead of our two hour drive to Bal Bhavan. He is such a gracious man and so hospitable to us. We had some great conversation and took in the sights and sounds of central India as we did (even saw some black faced monkeys along the road where we took some pictures - something you don't see everyday in Illinois). A little after noon, we arrived at the children's home where 100 former orphans stay in a place called Bal Bhavan. The literal interpretation of these world are "children's palace" - Their tag line - where every girl is a princess and every boy is a prince. We were greeted by all children with the traditional flower necklaces and hugs. Very cool. Then we ate lunch and caught up with all of the staff. Ajai's children all married Americans and all of them are on staff in some capacity and my paths have crossed with some of them through my youth ministry days. Of course, Ajai and I have known some of the same people - including a couple named Philip and Margaret Ho who were missionaries who came to my church when I was a boy and are still living. Philip is in his mid 80's still preaching the gospel near Tibet! The rest of the day was emotionally tough. We sat for three hours as some of the pastors spoke of the conditions of ministry as they face persecution from militant Hindu extremists and others who would destroy their ministries literally. Yesterday we prayed over pastors whose wives had been killed, houses had been burned, father were killed, wives were raped, and families disowned them. Yeah....it's that real and it breaks your heart. But you know what is amazing?...none have given up on God or preaching about His son, Jesus. In fact all of them have baptized into the thousands of people because of their courageous faith. Our vision statement at Eastview is a "Fearless Church of Christ followers whose ridiculous love and dangerous witness are irresitible". I met some people yesterday who are the embodiment of this statement. And I pray that my faith is as strong. Well, the emotional gut wrenching of those stories was healed by the evening meal and children's presentation where the kids celebrated the end of their school year with singing, dancing, report cards, and presents. Also they celebrated the birthdays of the kids of that month. It was truly joyous to see these beautiful kids smile and laugh and be filled with joy. Even now, tears come to my eyes as I think of the redemption that has taken place in them through Jesus and his church here in Damoh. Someday in heaven, all of us in Christ - the persecuted, the unwanted, the unlovely, the hurting, the lonely - the forgiven children of God will meet Jesus face to face and there we'll be such joy - and we'll dance, and sing, and eat cake - and we'll stay there forever!
at 7:13 PM