Friday, February 29, 2008

The 2008 Convention Opens!

Friday, February 29, 2008

This morning, I was treated to a new tasty dish as a part of my breakfast – an Indian flat wheat bread called “Chapathi.” It looked like a square, thick, brown flour tortilla. So I did what any Los Angelino worth his salt would do, and made myself a breakfast burrito! Not like home, but was good, nonetheless.

The next few hours after breakfast were spent with Pastor Prem doing last-minute things for the Convention and also trying to get some electrical issues solved here at his house. The end result: I now have wireless internet access for my computer. I don’t have a tub, I don’t have a shower – but I’ve got wi-fi! Hey, it’s India, folks. Thankfully, I do have a toilet and running water to wash with. Many people in the surrounding area (especially the outlying villages) just use the canals for bathing. They also use them for cleaning – and for cooking – and for washing their animals – and for drinking water – and for… well you get the picture. If you don’t, I’ll share a couple with you.

Around 11:00am, Pastor Prem, one of his assistants and I headed out to visit some affiliated churches and Pastors in the surrounding area. We ended up visiting three churches – one here in Tanuku, one in a neighboring city and one out in a village. The Pastors were very happy to see us, and each of them wanted me to pray for their churches and their families. I must confess that the Christians here in India are very hospitable, respectful and friendly. Actually, the western church could take lessons on honor from these precious people. After visiting with the Pastors and praying for them, we headed back in to get ready for the Opening Night of the Convention.

Tonight, we had a great service to open the Convention. There was some confusion as the promised (and advertised) venue was changed at the last minute (due to officials that do not want Christian events in the public arena). So some people went to the advertised venue and thought the event was cancelled, because nobody was there. Pastor Prem said he is working with the pastors to get the word out and that the crowds will grow through the weekend. However, those that came out were treated to a great event. One thing that caught me a little off-guard was that Pastor Prem brought in a Christian Band from the big city to do the music at the Convention. They were very contemporary and really got the crowd involved – this is a great turn of events for India Christianity.

There was a great move of God present and many people came forward for prayer as the service ended at around 9:45pm. Thank you for your prayer support as I was able to operate with much more liberty than I had in the village the night before. On Saturday, I will be ministering in the Youth Session at 11:30 in the morning.

To my friends and family: I love and miss you. Keep praying for me – I need it.

PS: There’s more to the lizard story.

Stay tuned…

Man on a Mission

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pastor Prem is still in Hyderabad. I am in Tanuku with his family. Prem’s wife Shanthi and his mother have gone out of their way to make me comfortable. Prem’s aunt from the US (Corona, CA – Go figure), is here visiting, also. They seem to enjoy feeding me and the food so far, has been very good. This morning for Breakfast they made me fried eggs and grilled sweet bread (like an Indian version of French Toast). For lunch, it was roasted meat and potatoes. Of course, there is always rice. I told them that I generally do not eat three big meals a day and do not want them to go through the trouble just for me. I also told them that at this rate I will gain weight and nobody back home will believe that I really was in India! They seem to enjoy me or, at least, they humor me.

Okay, so let’s get to the real reason that I am here at Spirit and Life Ministries in Tanuku. Since we arrived so late last night, I couldn’t really get my bearings. I am staying in Pastor Prem’s home, which is part of the ministry compound that is compacted into about an acre of land. Along with their home, it includes an Orphanage and a school for the children. The church is just outside the compound on a cornering piece of property.

They took me on a tour of the Orphanage this morning. My heart was broken as the children sang for me and then each of them quoted a Scripture. These precious children are being loved and ministered to by Spirit and Life. If it were not for this ministry, these children would be on the streets. Fortunately, I have been filming everything – which helped me keep my composure as I toured the facilities. I have a lump in my throat as I share this with you. This is the heart of God – to take care of these little ones, the “least of these” Jesus called them. I have been profoundly affected by this today -- more than by anything that I have experienced in a long time. I don’t know what the end result will be, but I refuse to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.

This afternoon, Pastor Prem returned home from Hyderabad. Tonight, he took me to a village way out in the country. There were probably between 50-75 people that came out for the late-night service. The church in this village was started about 3 years ago, by a man who got saved and delivered through Spirit and Life Temple Church. They do not have a building so the service was held outdoors. Many of the people present at the special church service were Hindu. However, nearly everybody in attendance came up for prayer at the end of the service. I must confess that I had some difficulty preaching through an interpreter – something that I have not done in a long time. Please pray that it will be much smoother tomorrow night at the Convention.

Thank you for your continued prayer support of this ministry. I appreciate each of your prayers and comments left on this blog as it keeps me in touch with each of you.

You can also check out the first video that I have uploaded at Godtube. Here is the link:

I love you all.
Until next time...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Things that Go "Plop" in the Night

After my whirlwind, few-hour tour of Hyderabad (7th largest city in India), I can attest that street signs, stop lights and traffic markings here are just suggestions, not the rule. In fact, when it comes to rules of the road – it would seem that there are none. The streets are jammed with motorbikes and scooters plus three-wheeled taxi’s called “autos” that zip around everywhere.

I experienced my first Indian buffet for lunch. Prem gave me samples of this and that to try out. There were some things that I liked, and some things that I did not care for. Then there were some things that were just way too spicy for me. I did discover a nice Indian flatbread that I enjoyed quite a bit. I know “man shall not live by bread alone,” but I think I could make it the next 7 days on it.

After lunch, I checked out of the hotel, and we headed to drop off Prem at the hospital for his eye surgery which was re-scheduled at 4pm. We prayed together and then He sent me off to his home with two of his associates. That means the dreaded 7-8 hour road trip from Hyderabad on the infamous highway 9. The young man escorting me, happily offered that it was probably the most dangerous highway in India. After nearly 2 hours of stress and intense prayer, I understood with crystal clarity what he was talking about. Our driver had one hand on the wheel, one hand on the gearshift, one hand on the horn (or was it both hands?), and one hand on his cell phone. The highway was 2 lanes for 3 lanes of traffic. I honestly, in all of my travels, have never experienced anything quite like it before. Drive on the wrong side of the road? No problem! Drive off-road? No problem! Pass motorbikes, buses, trucks and whatever else is on the road -- on either side of the road? No problem. It was an experience that I will not soon forget. After sufficiently praying-through, I decided to leave the SUV and our driver -- and anyone else on the road -- in the hands of the Lord, and I laid down in the back seat and went to sleep. I can assure you that my angel got hazardous duty pay for that trip!

We finally arrived around 11pm to the Mallipudi home and a very warm reception with customary garland lei’s put around my neck as I was showered in flower petals (pictures will be upcoming on my next post). The folks here are warm and gracious people. I was shown to my room at their house after midnight (after having to eat in front of everybody, of course). After journaling some, I turned off the lights and went to bed attempting to sleep in spite of the heat. At about 1:30 in the morning, there was a big “plop” on the bed next to me. It was a fat lizard about 7 inches long. Of course, I jumped up and came flying out of the bed -- not knowing what it was. I turned on the light and there he was, staring at me. Well, I’m wide-awake now. So I got up and took some pictures of my friend the lizard that sufficiently freaked me out during my first night here in Tanuku (Having trouble getting pictures online--hopefully, I will figure it out). For some strange reason I didn't sleep well the rest of the night.

Anyway, today is a new day with new adventures of it's own.
Stay Tuned In...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Accessing India

I am sitting in a hotel room in Hyderabad, India. It is early in the morning and I am about ready to experience my first day in India. I already experienced a wake-up call that let me know I wasn't in Kansas anymore. At daybreak, public loudspeakers in the city began playing a chant/prayer quite loudly. Not sure if it was hindu or muslim, but it was an experience.

It was also quite an adventure just getting here. My wife Karlene and daughter Tara sent me off from LAX on Monday afternoon and after some 20 hours of flying to the other side of the world, I arrived in India on Wednesday at 12:30am.

I was met at the airport by Pastor Prem Mallipudi and a few of his associates. We were scheduled to go directly to his city, (which is a several hour drive away), but the plans changed. I ended up in a decent hotel called the Green Park for the night, so that I could get a few hours of sleep. I think I probably got around three and a half hours in. The good news is that they have internet access -- the easiest way to stay in touch with home.

I failed to mention the reason for the schedule change. My host, Pastor Prem had eye surgery last week -- here in Hyderabad. Unfortunately, he is not doing well in the recovery and they will be doing a 2nd surgery on him this morning. I am praying that all goes well for him, today.

While that is going on, I will be with his associates checking out the city of Hyderabad and awaiting the good news from the doctor's medical office. They believe that it will be out-patient, so that we can depart this afternoon.

More thoughts from India -- later.