India Diary Note 1 (Sept to Dec 2011)

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Dear All,

It’s been just three weeks since I landed back in India, so wonderful to be back and really beginning to get settled down again in the Indian way of life and to the work of the Lord.   Settled in the sense of being happy and full of the presence of the Lord, but not in the sense of being in one place all the time, albeit I am back in Panjim, Goa, in my room/veranda as my base.  As a disciple (we are all disciples if we have given ourselves in faith to God through our Lord Jesus and received the Holy Spirit) and an evangelist, I am on the move most of the time, visiting people with sometimes staying overnight, travelling to towns and villages, sharing in house groups, visiting Churches and prayer groups to join in fellowship and love with others.

You will know from my previous diary notes, prayer walking is a big part of my ministry, it is a simple and uncomplicated act of sending love to others in prayer, praying for all people you pass and home dwellings and properties, to communicate God’s blessings to them, it is very fulfilling.  Many of you I know have done this and know the feeling so please share this with others.  Before leaving UK I know this was on the heart of Luke Ingledow, who was calling for people to join on such prayer walks and I would pray for people to be encouraged to support Luke in this, this will also put a smile on the Lords face.

Having read the book of Sadhu Sundar Singh, a sikh in north India who turned Christian in the early 1900’s, he dressed in orange cloths indicating he was a man of prayer, peace and wisdom, it is said that this allows the Sadhus, who wander around India to be trusted by the people and they are welcomed more openly by the people. As a young sikh growing up in north India, Sundar knew this to be so, so when he became an evangelist for Christ he also dressed in Orange to have greater access to people, in particular in north India, Tibet and Nepal thus allowing him to spread the good news of the Gospel.  After reading this I thought how good it was, so purchased the same type of material and colour from a local trader and had shorts and shirts made to do the same.  Some of you at St Stephens and the New Maria Church which I love in Neath, South Wales have seen the cloths when I showed all at a few services that I was blessed to attend.  So now every day except Sunday, I have gone to some of the Churches to show and explain to them this story wear and my actions, it is received with an amount of amusement which I do not mind as it does have a serious and meaningful side to it.  You see, when people see me, it reminds them not to forget to pray so as to help them with any stressful or challenging situations in their lives or just to pray to be in peace and in the presence of God, if they only want to be reminded of prayer that’s great, but if they see me they will also know that I will always be happy to stop and pray with them in love and fellowship, whether on a bus, on the side of the road, or just to go for a cup of Chi (tea).  It is working and people smile, wave, put their thumbs up and several days ago two ladies at the Kadamba (bus station) saw me and came over and we just stood there and prayed together, how wonderful it felt.  The more I am seen of course the more it will become known.  In evangelism, it is never to have judgment over that which exists with people but is to show the strength of a Christian relationship with our living God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Just going back to when I arrived in Mumbai three weeks ago.  On my previous trip to India I travelled by train from Goa to Mumbai and met a wonderful family and friends who were travelling back home to Mumbai, we shared time, food, fellowship and prayers together it was so good, their names are Maria Mendes, Christopher (brother), Ma their mother and their family friend Mohita, a beautiful young Indian lady studying fashion design, plus some other family members from Goa who were going to Mumbai for a holiday, all were Catholics except Mohita who was Hindu, we promised to meet up when I returned to India.  Arrived at Mumbai Airport from Heathrow at 3am, too early to phone my new found friends so found a place to sleep and waited until a more reasonable hour before contacting Maria.  Spoke with her about 10am, so nice to talk with her again.  Do you know, they gave me instructions of how to get to a specific train station using first a rickshaw then a train, all of which only cost me 106 rupee (£1.40), just so that we may spend a few hours together.  Marie left work early for a few hours to come and meet me, take me home to meet up with the others, they had prepared a fantastic welcome and lunch, they had even already arranged a sleeper train ticket to Goa for me to leave that afternoon, such hospitality.  We went from their home to the place that Maria works, met the owner of the company whose name was Jay, he so kindly instructed his driver to take me to the train station to get the train, Mohita accompanied me to ensure all went ok.  The love of these people made me feel so humble and special, truly such wonderful fellowship and we agreed to stay in touch and support each other in scripture messages, prayers and bible readings.  Read 1 John 1 which is great in explaining this, ‘we have fellowship with one another’.  Maria as mentioned is a Catholic, but wants to know what being Born Again is and what it feels like.  So I will do this, God Bless her in her journey.  Read John 8:32 ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.

So I arrived back in Goa, while in UK I stayed renting an inexpensive room/veranda from my last visit so had a place to go to directly on my arrival back in Panjim, Goa. Was a little concerned however, as I had tried to contact my landlord Joanita, from UK without success so was a little mystified as to why she was not answering her phones, I had by chance found out that Antonio her husband had been killed in a road accident and so thought that maybe she was distressed and was staying with her children somewhere, which in fact proved to be the case.  I arrived back at my room in Panjim at 6am in the morning, had by this time been travelling for over 48 hours so was a little exhausted as you can imagine, although I had a sleeper on the train it was very basic and not too comfortable (or maybe I had got soft with UK comforts ha. ha.), it was hot and humid so little sleep.  Had my keys to get into my room but the shutter grills leading from outside had a large padlock on, so could not get into my room, the security had been necessary because Joanita was away and the entrance also leads to her place as well.  It took several hours to get Joanita’s sister to come and open up for me, she said they had been awaiting my arrival but that Joanita the landlady was in Canada with her daughter; anyway I got in so all was well.

When I opened the door to my room I was so shocked at what I saw and the heavy musty smell that hit me.  During the four months I had been away, and of course Joanita not being there my room had not been ventilated in anyway and with the monsoon weather, the heavy humidity and with the door and windows being closed, the walls were black with mildew, my clothes were white and black with like a fungus growing over them, I had heard about this effect but had never witnessed before, so I obviously had a lot of cleaning and work to do, mmmmmmmm I thought to myself, now isn’t life so interesting.  At least I had water, the gas rings were working and I had tea, sugar and milk so at least I could sit and have a cup of rosy lea (English expression for tea, for the Indian readers).  But I was not too concerned as it was overtaken by the fact that I was happy to be back in India and all my books were just fine as I had wrapped them in newspaper before I left, pity I had not done the same with my clothes.

Just to call to mind my calling in coming to India, in brief:

  • To stand shoulder to shoulder with Indian Christians, in prayer and fellowship
  • To understand and share some of the difficulties faced by Indian Christians in their faith.
  • To help train the leaders of the Alpha Course and be a source of knowledge for Alpha in the area of Goa and closely located border areas of neighbouring states.
  • To evangelise the Good News of Jesus.  To eventually go deeper into the Indian interior to villages that has never even heard of Jesus, but I need to be more experienced before I do this and indeed to listen and discern what God wants.
  • To establish a 24/7 prayer room.
  • To have a base to help travelling Preachers/Teachers and others on Christian missions.

A specific task during my stay over the next three months has already begun, by organising an Alpha training day here in Goa, the day will be on Weds 7th December and is being planned for a hundred plus people, the venue has now been booked and verbal invitations beginning to be issued.  All Church denominations will be invited including the Catholic Church, so as you can imagine much work is now required.  The Alpha Operations representative in Alpha India’s main office in Bangalore is Rajesh and he has agreed to come with a team from Bangalore for this event.  We will also be doing the Youth Alpha.  The purpose is to further introduce Alpha to Goa and train the Church Pastors and leaders to do their own Alpha courses in their respective churches, by giving a full one day training course of how to run.  Food for the day is also being arranged with some help from local people, Rajesh is now producing from Bangalore the handout information for candidates to take away with them.  Alpha is such a good evangelizing tool and is having a great impact in all of India.

My plan is also to evangelise in Durgapur, West Bengal where I have now made a Christian contact in the Church of North India.  After which I hope to continue to spread the Gospel by going to Orissa and meeting up with a Pastor Sameer at a place called Bhubaneswar.  The journey from Goa to West Bengal is about 2000 km taking about 48 hours, then a further day to get into Orissa.

Finally, there is a lady called Anna husband John and their daughter Elva and husband Cruz, they have a large Villa here in Goa, they are out of country most of the time but are good Christian people interested in using a part of their villa in a place called Bambolim, to set up for Ministry work, so we are discussing and praying for ways through the Holy Spirit of how best to achieve this.  A few days ago I went and spent a night at the place alone, to get a feel of the place and to pray.  Several friends also came to pray with me for the first few hours and then they departed.  Good feelings were felt and the place has good potential in simple and humble beginnings, so now we will wait and see what the Lord wants.

So now you know what I am up to.  I am led very much by Acts 20:24 to quote ‘However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’.  This is not to say that the love to my family is any less, I love them from the bottom of my heart and they travel with me where ever I go in life’s journey.  But I cannot live their lives for them, as indeed they cannot live mine, but the Lord is so gracious that he has blessed and surrounds me with such love.

God Bless, and thank you for you.  You are with me and I love you.

Love, Jim

To see photos from Jim’s travels, please visit our ‘Jim in India’ gallery.