I have now been in India for 2 days, and my days and nights are blurred…it is 4:39am Monday morning. My body is slowly adjusting to “sleep” time. My flight from Chicago to Delhi was on time and the flight was good…packed plane (which is normal for all AA flights these days) with many from India including families with small children. Everyone slept on board including the kids, which is a blessing in itself. I was lucky to have a 2 seat aisle next to the window. The Indian man sitting next to me was probably in his early forties, extremely bright, an editor and publisher of technical magazines. He had just left a convention in Las Vegas, on his way home to Delhi. We had a great conversation about many things….US politics, culture, Indian politics, culture, and many ways India is similar to the US. He was extremely helpful with tips and things to do when I am in Delhi. In a small cramped space, this encounter made my plane ride enjoyable. I had a very short stay (about 6 hours) in Delhi before it was time to board my flight to Raipur.
Raipur is the capital of the state of Chhattisgarh located in central India. Lots of new building, new roads, and “cleanup” for this capital in a fairly new state. The contrast amongst the people is amazing…extreme poverty and a middle class. Chhattisgarh is one of the poorest states in India, which is apparent when you see the crowds along the road as we drive by. Water buffalo and cows mingle on the roads with adults and children eating through piles of trash. Many are in the streets participating in a Hindu festival that will last several weeks. Schools are out so families can participate together in worship throughout the day…the air is full of incense, idols the size of large statues are everywhere. The scene looks like a rock concert at the State Fair…idols on stage ready to perform with rows of seats in front of them, crowds everywhere, bright and colorful decorations, and street vendors selling food. Yesterday we saw several parades in the streets with idols held up high leading the procession. In the streets many women are lined up with offering baskets on their heads waiting to present their gifts to these idols. The most disturbing image was a man lying in the street tormented by a spirit. At first I thought he was in extreme pain thrashing around…arms and legs convulsing, but I knew it was demon possession. The people gathered around him were laying down gifts and insence….they were worshipping the spirit that was being channeled.
I witnessed this on my way to a small church here in Raipur. What a great time of worship and prayer I had with the handful of believers. God’s presence was so strong and so real…The light is brightest when darkness is all around. The evangelist preached God’s word in a true straightforward way….I was impressed. These believers do not take their conversion lightly. The government in this state is not friendly towards Christianity and may persecute them at any time. Many have been abandoned by their families for turning against Hinduism. Several of the young girls from the orphanage were there, and so happy to see us. They are friendly with big smiles and lots of questions. What a blessing they are…I look forward to seeing them again soon. After church we went to a large indoor bazaar (like Wal-Mart) to buy things for the upcoming conference. Back to the hotel which is a good home away from home to discuss upcoming events. Waiting to see what God does in the next few days….keep me and the team in prayer.