Praise the Lord! This was often a common Christian greeting as we met our brothers and sisters in India. We thank God for showing up at the conference and doing a work among us. There were times of recommitment’s and times of healing. During the revival meetings individuals responded to surrendering their lives completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. PTL! One of the great challenges was the language barrier. The key to the language barrier is a good interpreter but also as a teacher to use applicable illustrations. I was teaching on faith from Jam. 2:19 about how demons believe there is a God and they tremble. So just believing there is a God is not sufficient to save us but to place our complete trust in Him. I was using the illustration of the tight rope walker who pushed a wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls on a tight rope and then ask if he could push someone across in the wheelbarrow. Everyone said he could but when asking for volunteers no one volunteered. At the end of the sharing the illustration the look they gave me indicated that they did not get it only to find out that they did not know what a wheelbarrow was. I found out later that the interpreter explained it as a wheel where you take a stick and guide the wheel with the stick sort a like child who play with tires in third world countries. No wonder the audience gave me the stare and the wrinkled up forehead. They never got the point. However, Bro. Raymond was also going to use the same illustration in one of his sessions. He had a power point picture along of a wheelbarrow and was able to clarify it later. It was encouraging to see how God at different times had led Raymond and I to teach on some similar concepts and principles as a way to confirm that this was a needed teaching for the audience.
The Full Conference Group At Phulbani (Orissa State), INDIA
When communicating across the language barrier illustrations, object lessons, and pictures are an effective way to communicate truth. It was fulfilling to use an illustration and see the lights come on in the eyes of the attendees. In one session Raymond taught on the Kingdom of God out of Matt 5 where Jesus said that we are to love our enemies. The town where the conference was held was called Phulbani. This is where the rioting and persecution of the Christians broke out in August of 2008. What motivated the persecution was a Hindu guru, or priest, was killed by some terrorist organization but the Hindu’s blamed it on the Christians. They started beating, raping, and killing the Christians and burning their homes and churches. During one of the breaks one of the pastors showed me a video clip of the persecution. My heart was so burdened and saddened that I turned the phone away because I could not continue to look. Many of these pastors lost friends, homes, and churches as a result of the persecution. Another pastor shared how he was being chased and he called out to God for protection and his pursuers stopped chasing him but they burned down his house. During the session on loving your enemies Raymond shared about Derek William and how he turned back to rescue his pursuer only to be burned at the stake later. The audience really connected with this teaching. At the end of the session the conference moderator took the people through a prayer of healing and forgiveness as raw memories live on from what happened in 2008. There were many tears shed as God’s love and forgiveness began to pour into their hearts.
Before we left Phulbani on Saturday the conference coordinator took us to the village area to show us some of the churches that were destroyed and still not rebuilt. In the one church where the walls where still standing but the roof and windows were gone the pastor was holding worship services with his people.
This Church Has Never Been Rebuilt Since The Persecution Riots Five Years Ago
We were able to meet with some of the Christians to pray with them and hear the stories. Again my heart was saddened. In the one village I saw a house that was owned by a Christian man that was destroyed. As we walked through the charred, deteriorated house our conference coordinator explained that this was a very nice house and the man had many acres of rice paddy fields and also had a good paying job. It was all lost in one days time. He and his family fled to a major city about 7 hrs away probably never to return to the village. Other people have taken over his farm. The church was right next to his house which was also ruined. It has not been rebuilt to this day since the Hindu’s in the village will not let them rebuild. It was interesting to note that the Christians before the persecution were not doing much evangelism. Little interest and desire was there to reach the lost for Jesus. However, after the persecution in 2008 the Christians were scattered and as they were scattered the Gospel of Jesus went out. Reminds us of what happened in the early church in Jerusalem when persecution came they were scattered and the Gospel went out to the regions beyond Jerusalem. Does God need to allow some persecution in the Church in America??
Editors Note; Brother Ray Weaver sacrificed his time and resources to come all the way from Lancaster county PA in USA to serve the Lord with MTM. Brother Ray Weaver and his family have served five years in Ghana, AFRICA training native church leaders. Brother Ray did an excellent job in cross-cultural teaching. Thank you brother for allowing the Lord to use you in this way.