When I write these diary notes, it is truly a reflection of my life here in India and my deepest inner most thoughts, even of a personal nature of my emotions at various times. But mostly it follows my journey in faith with the Lord Jesus.
It is so hard to believe that it’s already been four weeks since leaving UK, especially with all the wonderful and sometimes challenging situations that have been happening here in India. It’s really a good thing that I love and have the company of God through our Lord Jesus, as it can be a very lonely existence here otherwise. That’s not to say I don’t have wonderful friends, I do, but I guess it’s the times when one is alone and when there is no intimacy for sharing, especially at the ‘end of the day when I kneel and pray’ (this was a favourite song line of my father, may he rest in peace). There is no TV, but this is by choice as it does exist but I choose only to have a Robert’s radio, the frequency is only really good between 6-9am & 2-3pm for BBC world service, I normally tune in about 6.30am each morning so I know what is happening in the world, it’s enough for my needs. To be honest, there are times when I need to held and comforted and told ‘I love you’ which is a normal human emotion which I make no apology for. Of course I will survive without it and rely of spiritual comfort and joy. There was never a time more for this comfort that what happened in the last few days, the story goes like this; just before I begin, take a break, make yourself a cup of tea get comfortable and I will begin.
The following is a true story I experienced concerning rats, which I really detest but have to confront my fears of. It’s a story that can be contrasted with Christian faith as you will read at the end. Great care is taken regarding cleanliness, my failure was not that of cleaning but was in not observing the signs of rat infestation that were around, well it was not that I didn’t observe but that I thought I had time to take action, tomorrow will do I thought, how many times have we all said in our lives in various matters ‘that tomorrow will do’. Anyway, one day I left early in the morning to go off prayer walking and forgot to close the windows to my room, on my return I noticed my mistake and closed the windows quickly but was not being observant enough in identifying the presence of rat droppings, you see, because I could not see them and they were not making any noise I thought all was safe and after all I was tired and hungry and it was hot and humid, this was kidding myself really which is so easy to do, isn’t it? After an hour or so I went off to bed for a good night’s sleep. Had only been asleep about an hour when I woke up to a rustling and squeaking sound that had disturbed my slumber. When I looked up I could see a rather large rat the size of a cat at the top of the metal wardrobe in my room, I jumped out of bed quickly and with fear, opened the door to chase the unwelcome visitor out, but it would not go and ran behind the fridge, I guess it wanted to leave the same way as it entered being through the window. So I opened the window and as I did so three more rats fell from the curtain and once again they stayed in the room and did not run out of the door, but I did, and closed the door behind me. Standing outside the door feeling dirty, threatened and I admit somewhat scared as these were large rats, my thought was ‘what am I going to do now’ not only had they got into my room because of my stupidity, but they have now driven me out and taken over the total room! So I sat, prayed and waited a while to formulate a plan of attack, difficult for me, as rats are one thing that I really hate the slimy little creatures. Ha ha my apologies to all rat lovers.
After about ten minutes a plan was set, it required me to take down the curtains quickly which had obviously been a good hiding place for them, move out from the room the chair and tables and to lift everything off the floor so to create a clearer view, once everything was out and off the floor, I armed myself with a broom handle, went back into the room and closed the door behind me ready for battle. It took me an hour to get them out which I finally achieved; it was obvious to me they were a whole family as two were the size of cats with two smaller ones, and yes they went out through the window where they came in. The next few hours were spent cleaning the whole room including scrubbing the floor, finally got back to bed about five in the morning feeling exhausted but woke every fifteen minutes in a paranoiac state thinking they were still there, only when it became light at 6am did I finally get a more lasting sleep, but the first stage of the job of rat removal was done. Poison was then purchased, put down during the day which was in the form of a cake block that drives the rats out to open areas to die. The veranda area was also heavily treated and I was to discover was more infested that my room, it has taken me three days of rat chasing but I am winning, so my battle is almost won, now I have to be so vigilant if I am to keep these unwanted infiltrator’s away. Just a little knowledge for you, black rats have brown droppings, brown rats have black droppings and a mixture of coloured droppings are piebald rats, they are also creatures of habit so it is fairly easy to follow their trail.
Our Christian faith has a parallel to this story; the devil will tempt us by giving us un-deserved rest at times as it did with me when not giving quick action against the rats, the devil through temptation will try to infiltrate our lives through sin, unacceptable behaviour and lack of forgiveness, until we are in Satan’s clutches and then the demons will pounce. The rats are like the devil and his demons; if we do not take note of the warning signs and take quick action to remove them, they will cause dirt, disease and infestation in our lives, resulting in unrest and fear. Jesus died for sins and by his blood at the cross cleansed us all and through repentance and faith leads to living a life of purpose and through following of God’s word will lead us all to a guilt free and joyful life. But we all have to be honest with ourselves, vigilent and always on our guard against the rats/satan/demons who will try to disrupt our lives and make us live past guilts.
So looking back on the episode of the rats, I am now glad it happened as it was just a warning to keep following God’s word and follow the path of Jesus more and be vigilant all the time. Don’t wait for infestation, act now against sin both of words, thoughts and deeds; repent, give love and show forgiveness quickly to others, follow God’s word in the Bible. Colossians 1:13-14 ‘For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’
The Church I attend most in Panjim is the ‘River of Life’ (Church plant of New Frontiers Church, Brighton), the pastor is Wellington, he preaches with a good message and delivered with authority. The fellowship is very good and full of hospitality and love, very much like our Church. On a Tuesday at 10am there is a prayer group that gathers which I go to. A few weeks back when the prayers had finished the group went off, with me in tow, to say prayers at the launching of a new fishing boat owned by a Muslim man and his family. The family are poor and had difficulties and the head of the family was a good fisherman but had such hard times, as no work and no way to fund his own boat to earn a humble living. Wellington and his church had heard about this and together with another church group put the money forward to help this man and his family. Such a wonderful action, you see they looked at the situation with love and the need of the family, without any conditions, judgement or discrimination because he was muslim, they just helped by taking action in love. The name given to the boat by the fisherman was, ‘The Shepherd’ very apt. We all launched the boat with prayers in the name of Jesus, and then cast off with a big push, many other fisherman that were around also joined in for the prayers and the pushing to launch, it reminded me so much of when Jesus was gathering his disciples, very biblical theme. Afterwards the Muslim fisherman took us for a quick boat trip. The whole event was very meaningful. 1Corinthians 13:1.
In Diary note 1: it was mentioned at the end of the note, about a part use of a Villa being offered for Ministry work by Anna, John, Elva and Cruz, and that I spent a night there in giving prayers to hear and feel what the Holy Spirit had to say about it through feelings. A period has now passed and desire and satisfaction remains in the heart, it has really good potential. Elva and I have now talked again in understanding a way forward, we are both inspired by it and have decide to proceed with God blessings.
My return to UK is 22nd Dec, a few days before this I will move all my belongings, household items and library of books there, so on my return to Goa, expected to be end of Feb, I will go straight there when I arrive. Have informed Joanita my existing landlady of this and she is pleased that ministry will be done. She so kindly said, she would welcome me back at any time, God Bless her. In a way I am sorry to leave as I am very comfortable (even with the rats, which are now under my control) and I like Joanita and her family very much. I have met her daughter Nina who lives in Canada and Son Thomas who lives in Dubai. But when you feel God is calling we all have to take the step of faith into the unknown. 2 Peter 1:3-9.
Friends of mine, Ashwin, Arianne and Ingmar invited me to stay with them at a place called St Estevam, quite a remote part in the North East of Goa, about an hour’s bus ride from Panjim where I live. Ashwin is an Indian journalist with lots of experience but is struggling to find suitable and regular work in his profession, but he does have a little work freelancing at the moment. His wife Arianne is a most charming Philipino lady; they are a very humble and nice people. Their dwelling is the ground floor of a villa, they have two rooms excluding the toilet and shower room. Arianne cooked a great Philipino meal called Panseet (spelling) a noodle type dish with chicken, it was really special. Ingmar the fourteen year old son, a respectful and pleasant young man, and I walked to the top of rather a large hill at the back of where they live, at the top was an old fort ruin, it gave a good view of the surrounding area which is a collection of small islands. Quite a few monkeys were around that I saw the following day, and apparently quite a number of large snakes are present but I did not encounter any, Ingmar informed me that where there are frogs so there are snakes. The area is quite heavily infested with mosquitos as there is lots of water around with heavy undergrowth.
The purpose and highlight of the evening was to go to a local Christian believers house group, where I gave a testimony, we prayed and shared the Gospel together. There were twelve of us gathered that included three children, it was the only Christian group in the area, but they are trying to build up their numbers. At the end of the day when we got back home and retired for the evening, Ashwin and Arianne slept in the kitchen area and Ingmar and I slept in the living area on mattresses. It was all very peaceful and enjoyable, the mosquitos were kind to us and left us alone.
The following morning we had porridge (Indian spice) and fruit together, porridge cooked by Ashwin. After breakfast we went to a market area as I needed to buy some pots, pans, cutlery and crockery all in a type of aluminium/stainless steel including the plates which we duly purchased at a great price, thanks to the bargaining powers of Ashwin. Caught the bus back home about midday loaded with my pots and pans etc., ha ha every time I moved I dropped a pan or two which made a loud clatter on the bus, I just rattled all the way home, not sure whether is was wise for me to purchase such items so far from home, interesting journey though, when people looked at me I just smiled and said a quiet prayer or two. We all had a great time together and lovely fellowship. I have got really fond of these good people.
Whilst prayer walking, wearing my orange attire clutching my bible the other day, a man who I vaguely remember from when I was here at the beginning of the year stopped his scooter to stop and talk to me. He is Hindu but his name is Isaac! he explained how a Hindu got the name Isaac, basically his mum just liked the sound of the name, we looked at each other and we both burst out laughing, I wonder how many times that happens in the world. He said he had seen me in recent weeks but no time to stop until now; he wanted to know why I just wear orange clothing. I just said it was to remind people to stop and pray to God through Jesus, and if anyone liked, I would also join with them, he liked this and we indeed stopped and prayed together in Jesus name. Then I told him the story of Sadhu Sundar Singh the Sikh who converted to being a Christian and subsequently became an evangelist in north India.
A person at the River of Life Church pointed out referring to my orange shirt & shorts that one of the main line political groups called the BJP also used the colour of the saffron orange as their colour and also the hari krushna’s used the colour for their dress. My reply was, ‘isn’t that just great’ as it is the non Christian’s that I want to get the Good News message to, so if it opens doors I will most certainly walk through with a smile on my face and the good news message of Jesus. So the coloured clothes are certainly beginning to have an impact.
Well its time for me to be off now, so I will wish you all a good week and you are in my prayers. Please pray also for Anna, John, Elva & Cruz and for myself for Gods blessing on the Villa at Bembolim, for the future ministry work.
A special note for Dorothy of the Tuesday ‘Pause for Prayer group’ Please pray for Elva & Cruz and their young sons who all live in Kuwait, pray that the children all develop well in God’s Kingdom and that they are protected with the love of Jesus. The son’s name’s are Kaylan, Clyde and Chade, I think this is the spelling! but will check with Elva when I next speak with her.
A special prayer also for Savio, Queenie and their three year old daughter Brianne. Pray for their guidance in life and assurance of God’s love and forgiveness. In the next diary note there will be a lovely story of how Brianne showed and acted out a forgiveness story that will melt your hearts and be a lesson to us all.
Love with God’s blessings to all.
To see photos from Jim’s travels, please visit our ‘Jim in India’ gallery.