Is God Alive in India?
The plane touches down. Our excitement turns from thoughts of India to family and friends, routine and assimilation back to daily lives. Our lives will be different after this India experience and we search for ways to keep our memories alive and use what we have learned in this far away land and apply it to our own soil.
I’ve already been asked, “Is God alive in India?”
Oh yes! He is very much alive. We saw God in Abhishek and Angie Gier, our Catalyst hosts, as they minister to the young women in their program. God is vibrant in Robyn, our young college graduate guide, who speaks boldly about God at work in the lives of his family. God is alive in S, K, H and V (full names eliminated to protect their identities) who lived out His love and grace as they served us and as we witnessed their interaction with other friends. God is living large in the believers of the Community Church of India where Christians gather on Sunday and sing very loudly and boldly proclaim their faith. God is powerful in the lives of the women from Central India who face daily persecution, but live with dignity and reassurance of their hope in Jesus.
Maybe the more accurate question is, “Is God alive in me? In the USA?” The answer is Yes, of course. But I perceive a difference—-a measure of hesitation, of reserve, of holding back. My faith now seems too quiet, too measured. I wonder how I would be perceived if I sang praise songs with the same abandon and volume as did those with whom we worshiped with in India? What would my pew mates think? What would corporate America think if a businessman or women attended a meeting with open resolve not to hide Christ in the same manner as does Abhishek? And if on college campuses or in high school cafeterias, if students like the girls of Catalyst or Robin, were to openly and boldly proclaim how God has been and is still working in their lives……….well, what would the reaction be?
Yes, our team went to learn about extreme poverty and ways to alleviate it. We sought information on human trafficking and how to intercede on behalf of the most vulnerable. We went to learn about industry and business in the burgeoning middle class of India. We went to understand how the small Christian population (only 2%) manages among the majority religions of Hinduism, Shiekism and Muslim. We soaked in all this and more, taking in every sight, smell and sound we could absorb. But what I am struck with over and over is recognition of how small my faith is. And, I live and worship among the majority in America where I don’t have to daily fear persecution or reprisal for what I believe. Christianity is easy in the US. Yet, I live small for Christ. It’s the surprise realization of this trip that I didn’t expect to learn.
Our team is still working on processing all we learned and saw in this amazing country of extreme contrasts, of kind and generous people. I can only speak for myself, but as I process all this new knowledge, I go back to my faith. What do I do now with what I’ve learned and how will I apply it all to my daily walk with Christ. The path isn’t quite clear yet, but one thing for certain is I have a new boldness for Christ. If 2% of a population which by law is forbidden to proselytize can still worship, work and live out their faith daily among 98% of non-believers, well, that’s certainly a challenge to me to not hold back. To be bold at the grocery store or post office. To talk about Jesus to my non-believing friends and family. To do what Christ calls us to do and be His hands and feet on the ground. Our friends in India were the perfect example for us.
The rest of what we learned will sort itself out in time and will be put to use here in our community. Don’t be surprised by the changes you see in the 7 women among you at Chapel Hill. Please allow us to share with you our experiences, to tell you what we learned. Rejoice with us as we remember all the good taking place in India and pray with us as we wrestle for solutions to the disparity. Consider joining us at our India Celebration:
When: Sunday, April 10th – 12:30 – 2:00 pm
Where: Gathering Place – Chapel Hill Church
Light snacks will be provided.
OH, and if you happen to be sitting next to me in the pew on Sunday, please forgive me if I sing a little too loudly!