What a joy it was to be back in India recently. Since my first visit in 1979 I have grown to love the country and especially the saints there.
I love its colour, its crowds, its sounds, its smells, its food, its incredible traffic and its complete indifference to the concept of any vehicle having ‘right of way’ on the road. I have nothing but admiration for those who drive me around, but no ambition to take the wheel myself.
Although most of my previous visits have been to serve the Newfrontiers churches there, I was on this occasion invited by my very dear friend Rambabu, an exceptionally gifted evangelist who not long ago moved to Bangalore and one year ago started a new church, now attended by over one thousand people. Unusually for India, he was very keen to establish a church founded not only on his remarkably powerful evangelism and signs and wonders ministry, but also a clear grasp of gospel grace and full awareness of our new identity in Christ. He invited me to speak on these themes.I spoke at two morning leaders’ meetings on the New Testament church and at four other sessions on the grace of God. His people were remarkably responsive and we enjoyed some wonderful meetings, one of which included a kind of surprise birthday celebration for me!
Even Wendy had got the dates wrong and had not realised it was my birthday, so nothing had been said in the morning. So when, in the evening, we arrived at the auditorium, I was amazed to find it packed with people with party poppers of huge proportions, music, birthday cake and an extraordinary display of affection. Not a birthday to be forgotten!
We so enjoyed our time in Bangalore and were so impressed by the vitality of the people and made many new friends.
Kochi and Changanacherry
This was followed by an equally enjoyable time in Kochi, Kerala, hosted by our dear and longstanding friends Arun and Joy Ann Philip, whose wedding I attended in Mumbai many years ago.On arrival Wendy and I relished the opportunity to take a four day break in the Kerala mountains at a super hotel belonging to Arun’s uncle and aunt. What a blessing from heaven!
On our first day Wendy was taken out to see the neighbourhood and ride an elephant while I rested, read and recovered from our days in Bangalore. Later we visited a tea plantation and factory and were driven around the beautiful Kerala hills.
Then on to our next busy weekend. Following an excellent Friday evening with the church leaders we rose early and drove two hours to Changanacherry where we were greeted by Robin and Rani, originally saved in our Dubai church but now leading a fine church there. Two morning sessions on the Spirit-filled church were followed by lunch at Robin’s home and then the long drive back to Kochi.
Next morning I had the pleasure of speaking at the Community of Grace in Kochi followed by a church lunch and more opportunity for conversation with the saints who had certainly encouraged me by their response to the word.
It is hard to express the sense of privilege that we have in travelling to this magnificent nation, ministering among such superb people and feeling the pleasure of God upon what we were doing. We were utterly thrilled to make new friends in Bangalore and to renew fellowship with long-standing friends in Kerala. How rich is the Kingdom of God and what extraordinary blessings flow when we simply follow God’s prompting and enjoy his people.