It seems unreal that in less than a week we will be crawling into our own bed. In many ways we feel like we’ve been gone for much longer that four months. So much has happened. The blogs have only skimmed the surface. It is always a bittersweet week for us. We are anxious to get home to our country, family and friends, and yet we are sad to say goodbye to the forever family that we leave behind in India.
The conference in Bellary went very well. There were about 200 attending. Our biggest challenge was the oppressive heat. And yet, God gave us the strength to bear up under it. In fact, I am convinced He supernaturally cooled our bodies. I discovered the benefit of walking around with a wet cloth. It is amazing how refreshing it felt on my face and neck. Sal consumed several liters of water each day which kept him fully hydrated and able to speak without any difficulty. Adjusting to the climate changed was not without its difficulties. Both Sal and I are left with dry coughs.
We have been especially blessed here in Bellary by the pastors and their families who are hosting the conference. The friendship and fellowship they share together is extraordinary. There are about 15 pastors from independent churches who worked together to plan the conference.
They share a bond of love and unity that is obvious the moment you see them together. Pastor Christopher told us that they meet at least twice a week at local coffee shops to talk, pray and share with one another. They greet one another with overflowing joy. You know the friendships are authentic and genuine.
They laugh together and they cry together. The churches come together at various times to evangelize and host events such as the End Times Conference. The wives know each other. The children know each other. The congregations know each other. They care about each other. They are moving forward in one body, one Spirit, one glorious hope. (Ephesians 4:4) And for these few days we have been given the privilege of being a part of that fellowship.
Each night a different pastor hosted a dinner party for us at his home. The first night it was full Indian fare with three main dishes of mutton biryani, chicken curry, and roasted chicken. The hosting pastor and his family served the meal. They did not eat with us but waited on us. There were several church ladies helping in the kitchen. If our plates were empty, they were ready to fill them again. The other pastors and wives were happily talking and laughing together.
The following night it was a similar Indian “feast”. First a delicious main dish was served. Then the fruits were passed. Then an unusual after dinner soda flavored with cumin and turmeric was served followed by ice cream. Pastor Anand drove us to the dinner in his newly purchased “ministry” vehicle. He was so excited because he considered it a great honor to have us be his first passengers.
Sadly, because of this persistent cough, I did not attend the last dinner. Sal went and was greatly surprised to find pizza on the menu! The hospitality is really over the top. It put me to shame. I was not permitted to so much as clear my own plate or carry anything to the kitchen.
God saved the best for last. To be a part of that strong bond of fellowship for even these few days has blessed us beyond anything. It’s the way it was meant to be. One body working together for one cause. The glory of God is in the midst of Bellary because of these pastors and church families.
Romans 15: 5-7 Now may the God of endurance and encouragement grant you harmony with one another in Christ Jesus, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring glory to God.
Post Script: This will be the last post from India. We are scheduled to leave on Tuesday, April 10, and arrive home about 7:00 PM EST. It has been a difficult few days here in Bangalore because we both came down with upper respiratory infections. The Samuel family has treated us with such patience and care during these days. We are so humbled by their sincere love and concern for us.
Please keep us in prayer as we make the 9,000 mile journey.