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When God sends us out, He often teaches us things. I learned four very valuable lessons on our recent missions trip to rural villages in India. I am doing a teaching series on these lessons. This is not a bible study, it is more sharing things I experienced and what God taught me from them. I believe these lessons are valuable to others in the body of Christ. That is why I am sharing them with you.
Let me start by giving a report of some of the highlights of the trip. GodSpeak International sent Bret Wade and myself to a remote part of India on a two week short term missions trip. We left on Nov 24, 2000 and returned home on Dec 9. We ministered primarily in remote villages in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, which is on the east coast of India, about 1/2 way up the Indian coast.
One of the things I noticed was that God kept brining many more people to our meetings than we expected, and they kept getting saved. They even ended up impromptu scheduling some extra meetings at the last minute and many more people came to them than was expected. For instance, the day we arrived, they decided to schedule an impromptu meeting that night at someone's house. They said to expect 35-40 people and about half of them would be unbelievers. When we got there, there were about 75 people, mostly unbelievers. Some of them were neighbors who heard that foreigners would be speaking and invited themselves. I talked about intimacy with God and knowing Him in a personal way. At the end of the evening, I invited the group to pray to receive Jesus and reounce all other gods. All but 5 of them did so. It was amazing!
We went to another village for a crusade on the following 4 days. This was a village dedicated to the Hindu snake god.. and where a temple to this "god" (really a territorial spirit) was located. The Hindu religious leaders did not want Christian meetings there.. they met to figure out how to oppose our meetings. They "prayed" for rain to "rain out" our meetings on night three. These were outdoor meetings, so if it rained, it would have shut down the meeting. This is what the followers of the snake god desired. But God had other ideas. He allowed it to rain everywhere except for the area where we were having our outdoor meeting... it began to downpour about 8:00 or 8:30 PM everywhere except around our meeting. In fact some nearby outdoor meetings were shut down by the rain. But ours was unhindered. We ended about 11:30 PM. Just after I finished praying for the last person who was waiting for prayer, then it began to rain. Word of God's power over the weather got around and attracted even more people to the final night's meeting. The last night of our meeting coincided with a big nation-wide celebration to this snake god, so the local authorities were very frustrated at our increased attendance, but powerless to do much about it.
That night Bret and I were having an emphasis on physical healings and the power of God really flowed when we started laying hands on people and praying for them. Just about everyone I laid hands on was physically healed. Only 2 or 3 of the ones I prayed for (maybe 250 to 300 people) were not healed. Everyone except 1 or 2 that Bret prayed for were also healed. It was incredible.. God demonstrated His power of the power of the local idols. There was a demonic manifestation but Bret took authority and the demon ended up leaving in terror of God's power and authority.
The four day outreach crusade was at night. During the days, we trained about 60 or 70 local pastors, Bible College students and local church leaders on hearing God's voice and on spiritual warfare. There is a bit of a breakthrough story here as well. First, in India the church is very fragmented, there is not much unity in the tiny body of Christ there. Churches from different denominations will not work together. But we had pastors from different denominations traveling up to 12 hours to come and hear us teach. (A few came from ever further away.) The hosting church provided free room and board for the pastors from far away. There were multiple denominations represented in this training. That was a first step at promoting unity in the body of Christ. Then we had wonderful results with the training. We got most of the local pastors hearing God and even prophesying to each other. And Bret taught them how to pray for the sick and we saw many physical healings as they practiced getting words of knowledge and praying for healing. Both Bret and I felt that training these pastors and future pastors was one of the main items on God's agenda, as they will now be able to train the people in their churches in these areas.
On Sunday we visited a Weaver community. There was a little church plant there, only a year old. They only had about 8 adult and about 22 children in that church.. the weaver community is very resistant to the gospel. Normally, they meet in someone's livingroom, but since Bret and I were coming, they held an outdoor meeting and put up an Indian tent.. these have the roof, but no sides. We were told to only expect about 30 people. When we got there, there were over 90 crowded into the tent. As we began to speak, another 50 from the community gathered nonchalantly near the side of the tent, acting as if they just happened to be in the area but clearly they came to listen to us. The weavers were just so curious (as white people do not visit their village often) that they could not stay away. I preached that morning. I intended to teach on one thing, but God changed my material a the last minute and told me to speak on breaking curses and on His blessings. So I talked about Balaam and how God caused His people to be blessed even though others want to curse them. And I talked about how God was powerful enough to turn away the enemy curse and provide His blessings. Then I invited everyone who wanted blessing from the Christian God to come up for prayer. We had all 90 in the tent plus all 50 who were hanging out near us come for prayer. This is a major breakthrough for the local churchplant to have the people in the community ask to receive blessings from the Christian God, it opens the way for the church to begin to grow. I did not know it at the time, but the weaver had taken a curse upon themselves many years ago and that was why there were such an impoverished community. That must be why God had me speak on breaking curses with His blessings.
We had Monday off as a sightseeing day.. only had to visit a blind school and pray for the staff there.
Tuesday and Wednesday we had a crusade in another more remote village.. so remote that few (if any) white people had been there before. The presense of white foreigners was such a curiosity that the village elders all decided to come and see the meeting. They were given seats of honor on the "platform" .. e.g. a row of folding chairs at the front of the open air tent just behind the speaker's podium and facing the audience. The audience all sat on mats on the ground. I did not know they were unsaved village elders. I though they were pastors and church leaders. I did not understand why they all raised their hand to receive Jesus when we gave the alter call. It was explained to me after the meeting.
Again, we had been told to expect a small turnout, maybe 75 to 80 people. We had well over 160 on the first night. About 30 were men and the others were women and children.
The village elder's conversion was genuine. They told many of the men in their village to come to the second night of meetings and the men obeyed them. We had over 280 people that night, and over 90 of them were adult men. (I know because I counted them as we sat in those folding chairs facing the people during worship. They did not all fit in the tent, but overflowed to mats in the open air. It was very cold that night by Indian standards (Comfortable for Bret but chilly to me.) The Indians were all wrapped in heavy winter coats, had ear muffs and knit hats on. Many were visibly uncomfortable with the chill of the night air.. yet they came and stayed for our meeting. Bret has spoken the first night (when the village elders got saved), and he taught about God causing breakthrough in the lives of His people. The second night, I spoke on trusting God. God put me in story teller mode.. I literally acted out some of the Bible stories. What I did not know was that this particular village had a real love for story tellers and that nothing could have reached them as effectively as story telling... but God knew, and that is why He had me do it that way. Then he backed up His stories with His power. A large percentage of the people there received Christ, including many of the men who the village elders brought.
We also visited an orphanage during the day. We were told to expect 10 orphans and 2 staff, so Bret and I did not prepare anything for that meeting. We planned to just lay hands on the kids and bless them. But when we got there, we found over 150 kids and about 40 adults. And we found ourselves being asked to speak. Everyone who knows me knows that I am not good at ministering to kids. I stood up, with no idea of what I was going to say. Then suddenly God told me to tell them the story of David and Goliath (starting with slaying the lion and bear as preparation). I found myself doing an impromptu teaching, which was mostly story telling, somewhat interactive and very anointed. At one point I had one of the older boys stand up in the front to show them about how big David was when he killed Goliath. I asked the children some questions. I ended up pantomiming and acting out a bunch of things. I had their total attention.. all 150 kids and 40 adults were both interested and amused. I KNOW that was the Holy Spirit, because there is no way I could do that on my own!!!
There were other ministry sessions where we prophesied to believers, did impartation and encouraged the church. I don't have the time and energy to report every detail, but I think I have given you most of the highlights.
God's hand was over just about every aspect of the trip. This is not to say that everything when smoothly or that it was always easy. We had some real spiritual warfare when we were there, and even more on the trip home. But God was clearly with us, and He demonstrated over and over again that He is more powerful than the enemy. We saw it all on this trip... divine revelation and prophetic ministry, God leading and directly us clearly, many salvations and physical healings and even miraculous signs in the Heavenlies. Both Bret and I were greatful to God for sending us there, and very blessed to minister with Him in His power and anointing.
I will share lessons that God taught me in the following four writeups. I hope you will enjoy this five part series.