Our journey to India took us again through Doha and gave us a night’s layover in Nepal. We stayed at a hotel called Dream Nepal. We were in the heart of Kathmandu. We had four rooms, two to a room, and Caleb and I bunked together again. We took that night to get some authentic Nepalian food. We walked for a while to get out appetite going and then we finally found a good place to eat. The food there was great! I had never really liked curry until then. So good. It was interesting too because we began to get a taste, for the first time, of a culture more unlike ours then most. In Nepal and India, the men don’t like to receive things from women or shake their hand. So with Carmen being a woman and being our leading, she had to pay for things through one of us guys for the most part. It worked out, and I even enjoyed it. Once we got to India, I was able to go help her out with that a lot and it gave me more responsibility and it really helped me see more of who God made me to be. I was able to establish relationships with the people around our house and they would wave and smile whenever we walked by. I loved it. Anyway, we rested that night and watched the power go off and back on several time. We thought that was strange, but little did we know that would be an almost every day and night occurrence for our time in India as well. The next day we shopped around for a little bit near the hotel and then packed up and headed to the airport.
We got to into Kolkata, India in the evening and found our contacts. We came to be a part of YWAM Megacities. Every other year, Megacities prayerfully chooses a major city in the world to spend a year bombarding it with missionaries. They break the cities into different sections and send teams to the different sections to work. The section we went to had had only one other team before us. We were partnered with a local church who found us a place to stay the day that we landed, but it was completely the Lord because we were literally next door to one of the pastors at the church, Brother Mark. He was our contact in that section and he took great care of us. Our first day, we got unpacked and met with the Megacities people who was us an orientation to the culture. They also told us that many teams begin their time with reading the Word out loud, usually the entire Bible. They asked us to pray about whether or not God wanted us to do that as well. We prayed as a team about it and felt led to read the New Testament out loud and as much of the Old Testament as we could. We did end up finishing the New Testament before we left. We also got to meet some of the people around the town and some of the people in the church.
I was able to help Carmen in relating to the men in the community, like I mentioned before. We found that it didn’t seem to be that big of deal, but we wanted to be above any reproach and so we did our best to honor their culture. I got to know Brother Mark well and he took me to meet his friends in the area that would also be helping us. I got to know them too. Brother Aseem ran a shop down the street and he supplied us with clean water. Brosanto ran another shop that we would get some other supplies from, and Sapun and his wife owned the “hotel” we ate at (restaurants are called hotels there).
The next day, some of the youth of the church took us into the city to buy traditional outfits for the ladies and some shirts for us guys. We had a long productive day of haggling and shopping. We ate downtown and some of us got their traditional egg rolls that were fantastic. We had to take a rickshaw, bus, and subway to get downtown so we opted for just a single taxi ride to get home with our bags.
What we did a lot of in India was street evangelism. We would meet the youth in the local church and team up with them and pray about where or what to do. We did our best to follow the Lord’s leading in where to go and who to talk to. We built relationships with many people in the community and introduced the youth of the church to a different kind of evangelism and they jumped in with both feet! They are so hungry to see the lost saved! We would also read the Word as we walked and waited. It would be too lengthy to share all the stories that we had especially since I don’t even know them all as we commonly had two teams, but I will mention some of the best ones. Tapu, Samuel, and Deepshikha usually went with us to evangelize. Sometime some of the other youth would join us as well. The day after shopping, we began street evangelism. We met later at the “hotel” for lunch and got our first experience of eating with our hands. It is tough to eat curry and rice with just your hands. I can’t quite remember what else happened that day. I’m not even sure if this was the day that we first eat at the “hotel” but you get the idea.
The next day was our free day. We decided to just stay indoors and chill. Well, not chill. It was far too hot for that! haha Jenny and I made a make shift chess board and played a couple of games. We played a game called Flux that Carmen brought. It was a relaxing day.
The next day was the first Sunday that we were there. We had been invited to the local church for their dedication service. The bishop of their region had come to dedicate the church. The church was packed and the service was mostly in Bengali (we were in the state of West Bengal and that is what they speak). It seemed good from what we could tell, but then they did something we did not expect. They wanted to honor us for being there so they invited us up front and presented each of us with a basket of roses. It was an incredible gesture of kindness and it really touched us. Afterward they had a church lunch and we were given the first plates of curry and rice. It was very good but so spicy it hurt. I was short of breath by the end of the meal. Samuel and I got to talk for quite a while aswell. He is an amazing man of God and I loved getting to spend that time with him and getting to know him deeper. Later that night, the youth had a service that we were invited to. This is from my journal that night: “We went back to the church and shared with them testimonies and a ‘message’ that we all added to by each of us taking a turn speaking. It was great! God totally led the whole thing. It was very cool. We invited people up for prayer and several of the youth stood up before we even stood up. Deepshikha and Tapu were two of them. Caleb and I prayed for Sandip, Tapu, and Raul. Jesus spoke into their lives.”
Monday, we went out again for evangelism. The following is an except from my journal on July 14, the sixth day that we were in India: “We went out with Tapo and Deepshikha today to evangelize. Tapo, Amber, Kaso, Andy, and I in one group and Carmen, Franco, Caleb, Deepshikha, and Jenny in the other group.[…] We prayed and started toward the hotel to order dinner first. We got there and did, then Sapun invited us to sit inside because of the rain. As we sat we began to read the Word starting in Genesis. As we read a shop owner across the street came by and took pictures. We asked Sapun if we could pray for him and bless him. We did and we offered a chai. We drank it and as we left, Tapu asked him about his son. Tapu had prayed about how to pray for him and God told him to ask about his son so he did even though Tapu knew nothing about the man’s son. Turns out the son had had a brain aneurysm and complications as a result. We prayed and thanked Jesus for his son’s healing and that Jesus would do it so that Sapun would know that He loves him. We walked away from there and went across the train tracks and saw a fruit stand so we stopped and a guy that was following us since we left the hotel grabbed Tapu’s arm and started talking to him. Tapu explained to us that this man had suffered a stroke and had many issues on the left side of his body and with his eyes. He said he had prayed to every god he could find, but none worked. When he heard us praying for Sapun’s son, he followed us because he had to try Jesus. We briefly shared the Gospel message with him and told him that Jesus would heal him to show him how much He loves him, then we prayed. Tapu and I closed our eyes and bowed our heads. When we finished praying we looked up and there were about 25-30 people gathered around. This man to my left asked what is going on here. I briefly explain and then he asked, ‘Well how does he feel?’ The man with the stroke took off his glasses and looked around, he said he could see things that he could not before! At this we were all so excited. I turned to the crowd and briefly spoke that if anyone is in pain or in need of healing or freedom or an encounter with the love of the Creator of the universe to come forward. A man to the right began to ask me what is the religion I believe. I explained we believe Jesus is the one true God, the Creator and that He came and paid the sacrifice for all men. He commented of the idols of India and something else but then we think he said he agreed with us. We also think he was a police officer. We began to leave and I noticed that a train had gone by and had kept even more people there and listening. We went and waited back at the hotel for rain to stop and read more of the Word. There was even a Muslim couple there. We read in English.” This was one of my FAVORITE moments of outreach! We saw, with our own eyes, the book of Acts being lived out right in front of us and no one can ever take that away from us of try to discredit it. We were there! Jesus is awesome!
The next day was Tuesday. We got invited to a housing complex right down the road to do an open air for one of the buildings. One of the mothers of the youth in the church wanted us to come and share the Gospel with her neighbors. We happy went and about twenty or people came to hear us talk about Jesus. We got to pray with most of them for different things. Some of us even went to visit a lady who was sick in bed and pray for her. Later that day, Carmen, Jenny, and I went to a nearby mall complex with a couple of the youth to get some groceries. To get there we had to take the bus and hop off in the middle of like twelve lanes of traffic at a toll stop before a bridge and run to the side then walk the rest of the way. The mall had AC! that was soooo nice haha. We got what we needed and ate dinner there at McDonald’s. To get back we all crammed into a took took (a three-wheeled taxi) to get to the bus stop and on the way we scooted in between two buses that actually collided and bounced off each other shortly after we drove past.
The next day, we had what was called Corporate. It was basically all the teams of operating in Kolkata operating under YWAM Megacities getting together for testimonies, prayer, worship, and evangelism. We rode the bus for about an hour and a half to get there. Brother Mark, Samuel, Deepshikha, and Tapu came with us. We got to the church that was hosting the meeting and we were able to worship with all the teams for a little bit and then we broke into team to pray over the city. There were a lot of people there. There was a team from Teen Mania that had probably thirty to forty youth on it. We all broke up into multiple teams and set out into downtown Kolkata to evangelize. Our eight joined up with half of Teen Mania and set out to do an open air in a nearby park. We got to a spot that seemed good so we set up and began. People began to gather; they would be walking by and stop and listen. People in India are very curious. It was similar to what happened at the train tracks a couple of days ago. Shortly into our “program,” some security guards showed up and told us that we would have to stop. They appreciated what we were doing and regretted that they had to ask us to stop, but they also had to for their job. So we ended our open air and went to the people and began talking with them and praying for them if they wanted it. Most of everyone way in front of us, but someone of the team noticed some people behind us and went to go talk with them. The was a paralyzed man over there as well. He was in a bicycle designed to be operated by hands and not feet. They began to talk to him and pray for his healing. Amber was one of the first (if not the first) there praying for him. They asked him if he would try to walk. He did and he was able to take his first steps with some assistance. They helped hold him up, but he was able to take steps that he could not before. I came over with some others around that time and we continued to pray for him. At this point he was sitting on the ground. Deepshikha had been there with Amber and she was translating and praying fervently as well. We asked if he would like to try again and he said yes. We helped him take several more steps. A crown had formed here as well. There is a picture below of the people all around him with his bicycle in the foreground. As we continued to pray, Amber, filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit called out to the crowd and preached the Gospel to all that where there with Deepshikha translating. We helped him take several steps back toward his bicycle. Someone asked Deepshikha, whose was in tears at this point because of the heart that she had for this man’s healing, what else her God could heal and she told them that her God can heal anything. We hadn’t even seen the full healing of this man and this other person said that they had sent for a paralyzed boy to be brought to us for us pray for. They paid for a rickshaw to bring him to us. Again it was just like Acts and the Gospels where people would bring their sick to be healed. The boy arrived and we split up, some of us continued to pray for the man and some of the other went to pray for the boy. We were able to get the man some food and got him seated again in his bicycle. We noticed that he had on some prayer strings to some of the idols.We asked if he would be willing to take those off and he did! We continued to pray for his healing. The others prayed for the boy and began to see movement in him that he was not able to do before. Unfortunately, we had to be back at the church and had to leave before we saw full healing to either of them, but it was amazing to see what God had done. We continued to believe for full healing for them. We got back to the church and I was able to share the testimony with everyone there. We began heading back and when we got on the bus, there wasn’t even really standing room available haha. We would think, surely no one else can fit and three more would get on. It was quite the experience. We stood packed like sardines for about and hour of the hour and a half trip. I thought it was kinda neat. We got home and we were able to tell Franco and Caleb all about the day. They had stayed home because Caleb had gotten really sick.
The next two days, we continued to do evangelism in the area. We went to several places around the community and visited a few people. Brother Mark began teaching me Bengali, which was awesome! We went near the housing community again and there we continued to read the Word out loud. I also began trying to talk to people in Bengali with Brother Mark’s help. I was able to speak with a man there about Jesus. He had asked how to become a Christian. I was able to explain about accepting what Jesus did for us and believing it and making Him the only God. He did not accept Jesus at that moment, but we had a very good conversation about Him. After he left, Brother Mark explained to me that he was a very prominent figure the area. Almost everyone knows about him; he was basically a celebrity there. What an awesome opportunity!
The next day was our second Saturday and second free day. Most of us decided to go to the indoor mall that had AC for the day. We went and promptly got an ice cream cone from McDonald’s. We spent most of the day there shopping and just walking around and finding wi-fi. It was the first time since arriving in India that we had had a chance to check anything on the web. We had fun shopping for gifts or different things for ourselves. We got to eat some non curry food which was very nice. Four of us stayed a few hours longer while Carmen and Amber headed back to the house. We we left, we grabbed a taxi and took that home. The taxi driver decided, at one point to just go the wrong way down the road instead of staying on the correct side and doing a u-turn later. Just another drive in India haha. It was a well used rest day. Later that night, we had been invited to Brother Mark’s house for his son’s birthday party. It was really cool to get to be a part of that. They had party hats for each of us. It was actually really cool because before we left Denver, we had prayed about each country and asked the Lord for anything He wanted to show or tell us about each country and one of us had seen a picture of Amber wearing a party hat when we prayed over the trip in general and it happened here. We didn’t even realize it until after she put it on. It was really cool.
Sunday, the youth had a service that they had been preparing for for months. We were able to be a part of it as well. We did several dramas and spoke a little bit. I will post some videos of us practicing the dramas in the next post. Ankit (another of the youth) delivered a really powerful message. He spoke with great passion. The church was full of many youth from all around the area. We invited them all to join us for an open air that we had planed for that evening. Once the service was over, we ate lunch and shortly after, we went back over to the housing area and began getting ready for the open air. Someone had lent us a large speaker and microphone. We were set up right next to a temple to some idol. We started by playing the youth playing music and singing and people began to gather. Once quick a few people gathered, we started a small puppet show for the kids. They loved it. We then got a chance to do some dramas as well with us sharing testimonies of the Lord in between. As always, we had prayed about who should share when and what our focus was. At one point, we were in the middle of something and the power went out. We were like, what do we do now, and one of us said keep going. So Franco began speaking in a loud voice and continued preaching the Gospel. Right as he was talking about Jesus he said, “and He died for us!” Right at that moment, the power came back on all of a sudden and everyone cheered. God was completely in it all. From our best count, we figure there could have been more than two hundred people there! What a night! We were able to go out into the crowd and talk and pray with people; we had more translators than usual there too because many youth had come from the service earlier that day. One guy that was a believer around there, asked us to come pray for his daughter. She was ill. Andy, Kaso, and I went with him and two of our friends, Ani and Goldie. We were able to pray for her and they treated us to some desserts. When we all regrouped that night we were able to swap stories. Amber told us that a young boy came up to her and said that he wanted to accept Jesus and that he understood what it meant. He was the only salvation that we know us from that open air, but that young boy had an understanding of accepting Jesus far beyond most his age would. We found out later too that the temple we were by was one of the more famous ones there. All those people who came were walking by and just stopped. We didn’t advertise at all for the open air; it was incredible.
We began winding down our time in India the next day. We went back to many of the people that we had met the last week or so. We got to spend a little more time with them. We also got to visit a Catholic school that was right down the road. They showed us all around the school and talked with us for a bit. The administer of the school really appreciated us being there and was very encouraged. Later that night we invited all of our friends from the church over for dinner. We went to the local market and bought vegis and chicken and rice and some other stuff to cook for them. We got the chicken fresh. By fresh I mean it was alive when we walked up and we walked away with it in pieces. We got to watch the man butcher the chicken right there; he was really fast. We wanted to make sure it was fresh and, well, I can assure you it was. We cooked up a nice dish with all kinds of stuff. We even had tea and biscuits for them. When we had all finished eating, we wanted to honor them and really thank them for all of their support and time spend with us so we took them up on the roof and we got to wash their feet. It was such a special night! It really really was a joy to get to wash the feet of these humble servants. It was a beautiful night. I can’t imagine any better way to honor them.
The next night was our last and Mr. Ghosh (He was the first person we met and Samuel and Deepshikha’s dad. He is also the secretary of the church.) invited us over for dinner. We all hung out on the roof of his house and admired the stars as we waited for more people to arrive. We went back in and we were given first meals. We stayed with them for a bit and they shared with us a video they had but together of our time with them. It was great. We said our goodbyes and went home to get some sleep. We had cleaned and packed earlier that day. Early the next morning, we left for the airport. We had three taxis and the one I was in left last, got ahead of the other two, stopped and got gas, and then passed the other two again and had to wait at the airport for five minuets for the other to catch up. I was in the front seat, which is the driver seat in American cars; it was very scary. Even the youth that came with us were concerned. We made it and said our final goodbyes. All of those people hold a special place in my heart.