There are probably a couple of dozen pictures of this event, actually. My colleague Jen took this one. But our 20 students all have cameras. The students from the college we were visiting all have cameras. The staff from the college all had cameras. There may have been more photographing than praying.
It’s my favorite picture so far because it matches one in my head, one of my father doing exactly the same thing—praying with elders and pastors in tribal villages here in India. This may have been 30 to 40 years ago and if any prints exist from that time, long before digital cameras became ubiquitous, I haven’t seen them.
But I have imagined them.
Dad had wanted me to come to India with him. He loved India and part of why I’ve come is to see why. It becomes clearer every day.
He was part of a group that helped train indigenous pastors, here and later in the Philippines. I’m sure there are pastors here today, young men then, who were encouraged by him and influenced by him, that I will never meet. But that I will pray for now.
Dad’s several trips here were more ambitious than mine. He preached from the tops of trains to crowds of thousands. And he preached a simple gospel, one that frees us from the bondage of the law and gives us a living hope.
It was this living hope that I preached about myself last Sunday, at the Free Methodist church in Bogaram. I said
You can understand what it means to born again. You can have hope when before there was no hope. You can have light when before there was no light. You can have joy when before there was no joy.
It’s a message dad preached and India still needs. It’s a message we all need.
At the airport in Hyderabad yesterday, where we were catching a flight to Kolkata (Calcutta), there were several men on pilgrimage, wearing heavy weights on their heads as penance until they reach their destination.
There is darkness here. There is bondage. We feel it when you stand in a Hindu temple. We see it in the streets, everywhere we turn. We see it in the victims of human trafficking.
But there is light too, in the faces of God’s people.
And in the preaching of the Cross.