Saturday, October 16, 2010
Today eight of us headed to Pastor Joseph’s house church, which was over 100 km away in Andhra Pradesh. It was a long trip, and we were packed like sardines in JD’s borrowed vehicle. We were told that Pastor Joseph’s church is in a village right outside of the compound of a world-famous guru worshipped by people from all over the western world. Pastor Joseph’s people have purchased land on top of the highest hill on the edge of town and have started a building that can be seen from anywhere in the village. Right now they are meeting under a canopy on the foundation of what someday will be their building.
My dad and I were asked to give testimonies, Deb and I sang, and both Pastor Jack and Pastor Scott gave powerful gospel messages. While this is a gathering of believers, they also invite their unbelieving neighbors. God was proclaimed to be more powerful than any idol, yet full of immense love. God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Pastor Jack showed the distinction between helpless, worthless idols and the all-powerful creator of the universe. Yet the beautiful creation that God made is being ruled by the Prince of Darkness; he is a liar and deceiver and will blind you to the truth. The people were invited to turn from worshipping idols to serve the one true God and receive forgiveness of their sins through the blood of Jesus Christ which washed on the cross. Approximately 15 people stood and came before Pastor JD and stated they really wanted to believe and follow Jesus. They were shown that we must admit that we are sinners deserving God’s judgment and that there is nothing we can do to cleanse us from our sin, but we cry out to Him to have mercy on us and save us from the wrath to come! I’m so thankful for these village churches which are being a light in such a dark place.
After the service, we headed back to Joseph’s house where his wife had prepared a terrific meal for us. When we had finished, we got back in the vehicle and headed to another house church another several hours away. After a couple of hours of travel, we stopped at a government rest stop. I don’t think the men were nearly as excited as Deb and I were to see the bathroom. It was about 4PM and we hadn’t seen one since leaving our hotel earlier this morning. After resting about an hour, we continued on to Pastor Philip’s village.
It was dark when we arrived, and we had another amazing time of worship with these believers in their service. They, too, had invited neighbors to join, and seven more men and women publicly stated that they wanted to turn from idol worship to serve Jesus. The churches here started with open air preaching by Pastor JD and some others. It is so exciting to see these house churches grow, and new ones started! Salvation is a wonderful gift!
Once again, we were fed after the service and then we got on the road to return to Bangalore. We were going to a church dedication in the morning… and I was so exhausted. The LONG trip home was far too bumpy and uncomfortable to get any sleep. As I mentioned, eight of us were crammed into one vehicle. I felt badly when I thought of Pastor Scott who is over 6 feet tall. I could hardly feel my legs, but resigned myself to just try to wiggle them a bit. When we arrived back at the hotel, I got out of the car and tried to get the feeling back in my legs. I thought something still felt odd, so I finally looked down and gasped in alarm. My ankles were huge and puffy! I was shocked at the sight (that I’ve only seen when I’m about 9 months pregnant) but decided to wait until morning to see if they returned to normal size before I panicked.
By Sherri Stocker