India Diary 5

Dear All,

Let me begin with, first apologizing for any spelling mistakes or not using correct English in my diary notes, there are times when I obviously suffer from word and sentence blindness, assuming this is the right terminology for it. Cannot always pick up the mistakes prior to sending off to you, even though I would have read many times before sending, and would have used the spell and grammar check. The choices I have of course is, either to send and suffer the embarrassment or not to send at all, the latter is certainly not an option to me. My heart and intentions are known to you all and as Susan Jefferson (spelling of surname!) the American psychologist writes ‘Face the fear but do it anyway’ so I will always keep sending the diary notes. To remain positive about it all, when I pick up the mistakes after I have sent to you, I just make a cup of tea, put my feet up, smile and say to myself, now isn’t that interesting. Ha ha. Hope this will also help others, who maybe suffer the same problem.

Over the past weeks some really great things have happened, which causes me to smile and say “thank you God”. One of the things that happened was, whilst walking through the streets of Panaji during the day reading my prayer book, a man crossed the road and spoke to me “are you a Christian” he asked “yes” I replied happily, “how did you know?” “I recognized the prayer book you are reading” he replied, to which we both smiled. Reading or carrying prayer books and bibles when visibly seen by others in public often appears to attract people to notice and sometimes to talk, it has happened to me so many times and helps so much in evangelising. Also one must not forget, we will never know how many people just observe and take note without directly saying anything, then go home to find and open a bible, isn’t it exciting to know that it just may help someone. So please take note, all those who are shy, or find it difficult to engage in conversation with strangers or simply worried of rejection, just carry your bible or prayer book and sit and say nothing.

Anyway back to the story, this stranger I met in the streets, invited me for tea and we went to a small restaurant nearby. He was a Methodist, and an elder of his Church located just outside of a place called Vasco, which is the main sea port of Goa, his name was Pramod Bunyan, he was very quick and pleased with his humour, to point out that he was not the Bunyan that wrote Pilgrims Progress, could not help but smile at him in amusement, God Bless him. We enjoyed one another’s fellowship for an hour, prayed, and exchanged telephone numbers and then bid one another farewell, with the promise to meet up in the future. About three weeks had passed, it suddenly came on my heart to phone him, for no particular reason other than to wish him a blessed day and God be with him, when he answered he informed me he had just been taken to hospital not feeling well and was undergoing tests at that very moment in time, he was amazed at the timing of my call, it gave him hope and he was renewed with the thought that God was with him.

Another thing that happened, was I went into one of my favourite Indian take-a-ways, whilst talking with Saby the owner, there was a guy playing his guitar who joined in the conversation, gave them both my details if they would like to come to the terrace at my home for a cup of tea, prayer or would be interested in joining the Alpha course, also asked if they had any Christian books they could donate to the library. The guitarist by the name of Savvio D’souza came several days later. He explained he was a Roman Catholic but had changed to following an evangelical church which he relates to much more and feels blessed to have experienced the Holy Spirit. This young man was on fire with enthusiasm and wanted to know more of Jesus and the bible, so was interested in the Alpha course. In the evening on that same day he phoned me back and asked if he could bring his Pastor (Berty) with him that evening to explore even more about the Alpha course. Both gave me their testimonies and agreed to sign up to the course starting on Weds 31st Aug which I have now started to plan. Savvio also informed that his wife may well be interested in participating. Savvio has since been back to the terrace to spend time reading some of the books now in the Christian library, to meditate and to pray. Tea, water and biscuits were given to him which he appreciated.

Further development news on the terrace (veranda) at home, which has now been set up as the prayer room, library and study room and for the Alpha course. When I am not there, as previously explained, the terrace has to be locked as requested by the owners. However, between my room and the terrace entrance is a small landing area big enough to put two chairs, a small carpet, a little table and a picture on the wall. The door to the terrace can be left open to let the natural light in, as there is a metal grill door which one can view through and it lets in a breeze to the landing. It occurred to me that it could be set up as a waiting room, so when people arrive and then phone me, I will not be more than half an hour away if I am in town, so they can use the landing as a small prayer and reading room whilst they wait for my return, without actually interfering with the security aspect. So it is now equipped, by taking a small table from my room, two chairs from the terrace which was around the normal table, and I purchased for £2 a carpet and a picture of a scripture reading for the wall of ‘The Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means’ 2 Thessalonians 3:16 KJV. On the small table is left two bottles of water, a container of biscuits, KJV Bible and literature/newsletter of the Alpha course, so that is a great improvement. So we are now one step closer to having a 24/7 prayer room, suppose we could call it a 15/7 (7am – 10pm) prayer room, for at least the time I am here in Panaji. The long term solution of course to the 24/7 is either permanent guests, or a watchman who can be there all the time, please pray on this for an acceptable solution.

A Christian friend of mine, Vikash, who is the owner of a Christian Book shop called OM here in Panaji (also known as Panjim) came for prayer one evening about 8pm, with him was a friend of his called Kalam, a Christian of about five years. Kalam explained, when he is not working, all of his spare time is with spreading the word of the Gospel by evangelising, he was happy to share with us his journey with the Lord which is following and quite amazing story.

Kalam comes from a village in Madhya Pradesh, a central Indian State, he explained he was originally a Hindu and in his younger days was a very frustrated person which led him to abusing people including his teachers at school and was generally a very aggressive and unpleasant character. He was so angry, not just with others but also with himself, he felt worthless, many times he just wanted to commit suicide. During his youth days in the village he was brought up in, he at no time had any knowledge of Christians or their work, had never seen a bible or even knew what a cross was, let alone what it actually meant to be a Christian. When he was about twenty he had a dream that showed a burning cross with lots of indication and images relating to anger being around, so he started to ask people of the significance, it was only then that he started to hear of Christians and what the cross was. The dream was simply telling him to change his ways and be a more peaceful person, the burning cross was playing a big part in his dream but he could not really work out why. As time went on, he got a bible and started to learn more, his ways started changing and he was becoming much nicer to people and felt the need to study more and appreciated life in a better way. He started to have purpose in his life and he left the area he lived in and went looking for more of what the cross in his dreams meant. It was at this time he met a Pastor who helped him to attend a bible college to deepen his knowledge and faith and he subsequently gave his life to the Lord. He is now beginning to find true fulfilment in his life with the knowledge of Christianity which is playing more and more of a part in his life. A moving story of how God brings home lost sheep. When he feels able he wants to return to his village and to help others find the Lord Jesus as he has and to give them fresh ‘Faith, Hope and Love’ in their lives. I am praying that Kalam will join us on the next Alpha course.

Today has been a difficult day for me. Feeling very low and having to lean on the Lord heavily and have taken encouragement from Philippians 4:4-9. It started yesterday really, it was a day talking to many friends who are Roman Catholics and others from other Denominations. I got very low as they were so negative of each other, unable to find common ground, accusing one another of unjust Christian behaviour relating to Idolatry and not following the true scriptures, they were my friends, yet they were not searching for common ground, understanding and forgiveness and love to one another. Then there were Hindu friends I met and whilst they talk nicely of Jesus and that he was good and was one of their Gods, almost in the same breath they were praying to their Hindu Goddess Kali to help them fight battles and winning against their friends, without compassion at all. Then this morning when walking, I came across a house that had a black effigy of a person hanging upside down outside their front door, with hanging dried chillies and other items. This apparently was to drive away evil spirits and to protect themselves against specific people wishing them harm, certainly something of dark forces, as was confirmed later when I enquired about it with friends. So all in all it was not a good time for human nature. But I am remaining positive with the Lord and praying for peace and compassion to all those involved, thank God that I believe in the power of prayer, for them and for my own compassion around such disturbing situations.

Its time to finish now, so will bid you all farewell and wishing you all.

Love and Peace in all you do.

God Bless

Jim

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