See the woman standing quietly in the doorway, looking on as the scene before her unfolds? Her story of devotion is woven into the fabric of God’s faithfulness to His people in India. This woman, Pavani*- a Christian, was arranged in marriage to a Hindu man. She met with other Christians and read her Bible in secret, hoping her husband would not find out. Her husband was not a Hindu in name only, but a radical Hindu intent on India being a purely Hindu nation.
One day, her husband – Manyu*- found her reading the Bible. He became violent, tearing up the Bible and threatening divorce if he caught her with a Bible again. Yet, she persisted in her faithfulness to Jesus.
In time, her husband became seriously ill. After medical consultation, he was told his kidneys were failing and that he would die. His family offered sacrifices to Hindu gods and consulted Hindu priests to no avail. Pavani boldly asked Manyu if she could have her pastor pray for him in the name of Jesus. Manyu agreed, with the condition that if it didn’t work, he would divorce her. She brought him to the house church she attended where her pastor and fellow believers prayed for Manyu. God was at work – Manyu was healed! His pain left and he has not had any kidney problems since. Manyu became a believer in Jesus. This was at a high cost – his family kicked him and Pavani from the family home. In prayer, they heard God asking them to move to Bihar as missionaries.
Several years later, the now-Pastor Manyu was asked to pray for a young Hindu man’s brother, who had been sent home to die. That brother was healed in the name of Jesus, and the young Hindu man (asking for prayer on behalf of his brother) was MK, now a believer in Jesus and the leader of New Life Mission Church (NLMC). Pavani and Manyu now work with NLMC establishing house churches, bringing Jesus to communities through literacy groups like the one in the photo.
It was a tremendous blessing to visit NLMC this past month with a team from BelPres. We met and encouraged the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, worshipped in house churches and prayed with many. We heard testimony after testimony of healing – physical healing and/or freedom from evil spirits. The Holy Spirit is at work in a mighty way in northern India. As people are freed from physical or spiritual sickness, they (and their families) are accepting Jesus as their Savior. They are bucking their culture to live and follow Jesus, forming house churches to worship and learn together. New leaders are being raised up and becoming church planters and pastors in neighboring villages. We witnessed Jesus’ power transforming lives in the smiles of formerly untouchable orphans now at home in an NLMC orphanage. At every turn of our trip, the Bible came to life before my eyes.
God invites us to be part of his rescue mission for humanity. Jesus clearly asks us to “let your light shine before men” (Matthey 5:16), but how often have I kept Jesus hidden away? In India, I met person after person who accepted Jesus not only as their Savior, but as their Lord, orienting their life to serve Him. I met a man whose home was tormented by evil spirits banging all over his house each night. When he accepted Christ and began reading the Bible in his home, the banging stopped. A short year later, he now works as a church planter. I saw this same passion in MK – feeling such thankfulness to Jesus for saving his brother, he could do nothing less than launch a movement and a vision to establish a church in every village across the Ganges plain. I saw this in Manyu: hearing God in prayer asking him to move across the country and doing it. And I saw this in the steadfast faithfulness of Pavani, risking all to share Jesus with her unbelieving husband. So the questions loom: Would the church planter have accepted Jesus if it weren’t for MK leading a group of believers to spread the Good News across northern India? If it weren’t for Manyu praying for MK’s brother, could MK have come to know Jesus? Would (Pavani’s unbelieving husband) Manyu have come to know Jesus if Pavani hadn’t sought prayer for him? Only God knows the answers to these questions. How fulfilled are their lives now knowing they are helping to establish God’s Kingdom here on earth?
What nudge is God asking you to respond with a “yes?” Our individual action does make a difference. On a Saturday afternoon in October, I sat in a conference room in Bihar, India hearing MK speak of the incredible vision that God has for India and beyond. I wondered: Why was I, a mom from Redmond, hearing this vision and feeling so inspired? And yet, I knew that joining the India Impact Team was saying “yes” to a nudge from God. I’m still not sure of all the consequences of that “yes,” but I know my life is bigger now that it includes all I experienced on the other side of the world. My heart is chastened and broken and full – all at the same time as it never has been before. I know it is impossible for me to speak of our experience in India without mentioning Jesus, so my light is shining brighter these days.
The Holy Spirit is working in miraculous ways in northern India. That same Spirit is at work here. I am so thankful for the shining examples of faithfulness witnessed in the lives of our brothers and sisters in India. As I pray Colossians 1:3+ “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you since we heard of your faith in Christ and the love which you have for all the saints because . . . the gospel which has come to you . . . is constantly bearing fruit and increasing . . .”. The “you” looks like the beautiful faces of men, women and children gathered tightly together in the room of a house in Bihar.
There is so much more to share, but you can come and hear of it first-hand as MK, director of New Life Mission Church, and his wife Punam will be visiting BelPres – Sunday, November 25, 12:15pm in S-140. Be prepared to feel inspired as MK shares the vision that God has given him and excited as you learn of God’s faithful work in India.
*Names have been changed.