The conference in Lucknow was a great success—PG says the best ever. The people seemed to be very blessed and encouraged and strengthened and taught. We left the hotel every day at 9am, returning very late. We had a few hours in the afternoons at the government guest house across the street from the conference center. The second day as we were finishing our lunch, Brian pointed out the window and said, “Look, there’s a monkey in that tree.” It was just a few feet away, and it turned out there was not one, but three. I went outside, and they were everywhere, running around, swinging from the trees, teasing the dogs who chased but never caught them. There were four on the roof of the building, including two tiny tots, clinging to their mothers. It was fun to watch them, but actually, they’re a little on the mean and nasty side. I don’t want to take any home with me. I’m content to visit them in India.

Monkey chasing is exhausting….

The Sunday morning service was more than five hours long. They recognized fifteen different missionaries who had received beatings in the past year for preaching the gospel, allowed them to tell their stories, and then the leaders honored them by washing their feet. They had been dishonored by men, but they are honored by God and the church. It took an hour for them to tell their stories, and how I wish it had been translated for us, but it was not. Shaji whispered a few details to us as the stories were being told. There was one woman among the group, perhaps a 30 year old woman from Indore, in the center of the country. She told how she and her husband were both arrested for preaching, and were separated and taken to the police station. Her four year old daughter was taken with her, and the woman was beaten by a policeman all the way to the station. She was kept in the jail for some days, and during that time sang and worshipped the Lord. When she began to do so, a woman jailer fell on the floor and began to have demonic convulsions. The woman prayed for her and she was set free. It seems she had had these fits all her life, and her husband had left her because of them. She has remained free, and the young missionary woman said it was worth the beating she received to see the woman set free.


Brian preached on a door of hope being opened for the church in India, a door of hope in the valley of trouble. At the end of the service, the people streamed through the “door of hope” with great rejoicing! I believe that great breakthroughs will occur this year for these missionaries.


We concluded the evening service with a candlelight ceremony. It was very moving. PG told the story of how he and Lilly first saw the cooking fires burning all over the mountains, and how they were challenged to take the light of the gospel to the people of India living in darkness. He told the stories of many of the first workers to join them, who I have come to know and love here in India.


God is moving greatly in this country!


The pastors conference has been awesome—everybody is loving it and feeling like they are getting and understanding new revelations about the Kingdom of God. We arrived for the first meeting on Thursday evening, and were greeted by music and dancing and having our feet washed, as is the custom. Then we all danced in a throng together into the meeting place. Nope, this isn’t Kansas anymore. At one time Brian was picked up on the shoulders of some men and was moshed around. They did the same thing with the leaders of the conference. I was dragged into a circle of whirling women—the tribal girls are pretty rough and wild—there was no saying no. I guess it was an honor to dance with the American—I had lots of partners break in, and it wasn’t done gently. Red Rover, Red Rover. I was a head taller or more than most of the other women. That gives you a strange feeling.

There is a huge range of kinds of people here—from well-educated and genteel to illiterate tribals. There is one group of tribal women whose dress is very distinctive and who never seem to smile. They stand out in stark contrast to the rest who seem exuberantly happy.

Brian preached from 9:30 to 2 yesterday with only a brief break for tea. He preached “What Does It Means to be a Christian?” which was a series he did on Sunday mornings back home in January. It was fascinating to think about that message cross-culturally. At one point he was talking to the Indians and the particular challenges they face on a day to day basis—poverty, Hinduism, the caste system. He said Americans face very different challenges, but that they are very real as well. He told those Indians that Americans are killing themselves with their 200 kilometer an hour pace and the pressures they put on themselves to acquire material possessions. He warned them that as India continues to prosper, which is a very good thing, that they would have to beware the temptation to put too much emphasis on things and not people.

When we were finished, we went across the street to a government guest house, where we ate lunch and had a room to rest in until the evening meeting, rather than drive 45 minutes back to our hotel. We were going to eat our lunch out in the garden, but the proprietor said there was too much problem with the monkeys! That sounded intriguing to me, but PG, our host, said no. After lunch inside, I went out monkey hunting, but unfortunately didn’t find any!

The evening meeting went very well too. Worship was in full swing when we arrived. The meetings are being conducted in a conference center owned by a Christian ministry. The center is halfway between Lucknow and Kanpur, on Kanpur Road, which is the road that runs right in front of our hotel. There are 1000 people staying on the grounds, in rooms that encircle the large courtyard where the meetings take place. It is an open courtyard, but has a fabric canopy over it. The air is heavy and doesn’t move—it’s hot in February in there. (I’m sure it gets a lot hotter a month or two later.) All the dancing kicks up a lot of dust, and it was visible in the air when we arrived. The music is SO LOUD it hurts. It’s very Indian, very foreign, very wild.

Daybreak has come to Lucknow this morning. The pollution in the air here is most evident in the early morning as the sun struggles to break through. A dark haze covers the city. Power outages are frequent—they have occurred in every one of the meetings thus far, and just went out here in the hotel. The noise is probably the most annoying pollutant—the noise of all the cars/motorcycles/trucks on the road below, and particularly their nonstop blaring horns. By nonstop, I really mean nonstop. I awoke in the middle of the night last night, around 3am, and was aware something was different. It took me a moment to realize it was the quiet. I counted about 30 seconds before I heard another horn. The novelty airhorn variety is the worst. I can’t imagine wanting to drive through the city hearing those again and again! The traffic noise is despite the fact that we are on the fifth floor of this hotel with our windows closed. It sounds like we are right on the street.

India is full of problems, but there is incredible potential for change. Eighty percent of the people that IET ministers to are members of the Dalit caste, also known as the Untouchables, the lowest of the low. They are the people that are turning to Christianity in record numbers, because they are eager for change. And the gospel is making a huge difference in their lives. I’m praying we can be used to bless and help them.

View from our hotel window

The garden of our hotel

The welcoming committee


In the mosh pit

Brian preaching–our friend Shaji as interpreter

we’re in luck now!

That’s Lucknow, India, in case you didn’t know…We arrived in New Delhi, India at about 8:30 pm Wednesday night, after getting on a plane in New York about 8:30 TUESDAY night. No, it wasn’t a 24 hour flight, but there’s an 11 1/2 hour time change–not 11, not 12, but 11 1/2, part of what makes India India. There was nothing too unusual about the airport, but I knew the moment we stepped outside we weren’t in Kansas anymore!

Since we didn’t find a hotel car waiting for us, we took a taxi. You pay at a little window for your particular destination, get a little slip of paper, and go to the front of the taxi queue–hopefully the taxi number matches the number on your paper. The cabby put our bags in the trunk of a well-used 1960s vintage Tata, and while he was doing so, the young boy who was hanging around wanting to help us with our bags tried to open the car door for me. But he couldn’t get either the back or front door opened, and looked at me a little sheepishly, lowering his eyes in silent apology.

The cab driver tied his trunk shut with the rope that hung from the lid of the trunk and was able to wrench the door open. He got in the car, verified our destination, and we took off.

Riding in a taxi in India is an adventure that you can dread or just sit back and enjoy. I figure these guys drive these streets all the time and are used to it, so I don’t sweat it. I was tempted to try to tell the guy we really weren’t going to a fire or anything, but since his English was minimal and my Hindi is non-existent, I decided it just wasn’t worth it.

This taxi creaked and rattled and the brakes squealed, and drivers in India pretty much keep one hand on the horn at all times. We pulled up right on the tail of a motorcycle two different times and blasted him with the horn until he moved over and let us pass. It’s not road rage, and the motorcyclists are never offended, it’s just the way it’s done.

It was warm for 9 pm in February in New Delhi, a balmy 72 degrees, but even so, many people on the streets wore heavy winter jackets. It doesn’t rain here in January and February, and the air was heavy with dust. You could see it illuminated in the headlights of oncoming vehicles, and smell it too, as well as lots of diesel exhaust. Mmmm, dirty diesel, my favorite scent.

We had a short night at the hotel–I slept from 10 pm till 3:30, and then laid awake until our 6 am wake up call–better than I expected! We had to leave for the domestic airport at 7:30, and our flight to Lucknow with PG and Lilly.

And here we are now, in Lucknow, enjoying the warm sunshine! The flowers are blooming and are beautiful. I guess if spring wasn’t coming to us in St. Joe, we just came to it!

The first thing I saw as we exited the airport was a group of young boys playing what I first assumed was a pickup game of baseball, but quickly realized it was probably cricket. (They use a bat as well.) You don’t see kids in America playing cricket, but that wasn’t as unusual as the six or eight COWS that were grazing in the midst of their game. There was also a couple of goats…and nobody seemed to mind.

Our hotel is nice and roomy, overlooking a main road below. There is a constant flow of humanity–trucks, cars, buses, motorcycles, more often than not with at least two riders, autorickshaws, bicycle rickshaws, so many bicycles like the stars of the sky, you could never count how many you see at any given moment. The horns never stop honking. I don’t see any cows at the moment, which is surprising. There go two bicycle rickshaws, each carrying four people, and those men look like they’re pumping those bikes hard! Fortunately, the streets here are absolutely flat…

We leave for the beginning on the conference in just a few minutes–I’ll dig my camera out and try to get a few pictures up soon….

Winter is the best time to read!

Of course, the other three seasons are perfect as well. I once had a woman ask me how I ever found any time to read. But reading is like breathing to me—it’s pretty high priority.

I finished God on Mute by Pete Grieg. I loved it. I loved his honesty, and the truth he presented in a very doctrinal, rational way, but still extremely accessible and clear. How do you handle it when God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you think he should?

I recommended this book to a lot of people. I got some negative feedback. One said that she felt her hope for God to answer her prayers diminished, that it seemed to throw cold water on her faith. I didn’t feel that way at all.

I think one of the greatest models for miracle faith is found in the biblical story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. What did those boys tell the most powerful man on earth right before they were thrown into the fiery furnace? “We believe our God CAN deliver us, and we believe He WILL deliver us. HOWEVER, even if He does not, we still won’t bow down and worship your image.”

Their confession of God’s ability to miraculously deliver them, and that they indeed believed He would was FAITH! In fact, it was GREAT FAITH! But their final statement was a kind of greater faith, a deeper faith. In their statement of “even if He does not” they were proclaiming that they would continue to serve and worship Him alone. They were acknowledging that they were willing to worship beyond their understanding. And incidentally, they did get their prayers answered! They did get delivered. Their faith did prevail. It was essential that they “go for it.” If they had just acquiesced to their fate, if they hadn’t believed for a miraculous deliverance, it most likely would not have happened.

I praise God for the strong faith heritage I have. I thank Him for all the incredible answers to prayer I’ve seen, honest to goodness miracles. I could, and probably should, write a book about the things I’ve seen our great God do. I thank Him for the ways He has delivered me when there wasn’t a chance in the world. I believe in GOING FOR IT!

I believe we have a mandate as believers to do that—to pray for the sick and see them recovered, to believe God for impossible things. The Bible says we are to pray without ceasing, and I’m praying more than I ever have in my life. My faith is bigger than it’s ever been, which is the way it ought to be—constantly increasing. However, I’m honest enough to admit I don’t bat 1.000. I don’t get every single one of my prayers answered the way I think it ought to be!

But I also believe that, as God’s children, we win even when we lose, that He is able to make all things work together for good for those who loved Him and are called according to His purpose. A great model for unanswered prayer is King David, who fought for his infant son’s life with fasting and unceasing prayers, but who, when the baby died, got up, worshipped God, and went on with life. He continued to trust and have great faith in his Father God. He was willing to worship beyond his understanding, and I am too.

I’d love to discuss the book with anyone. I’m three chapters into another great book, Water from a Deep Well, by Gerald Sittser. Each chapter is a historical overview of a different era of the church and what it can contribute to the Body of Christ today. The author makes the great point that every generation has made mistakes, but not the same ones. We have the advantage of coming along afterwards and can learn from what they did wrong but also what they did right. So far the book has been fabulous…but I’ll leave it at that for now!

People – They’re The Worst!

“People—they’re the worst.” That’s a famous Seinfeld line that Brian and I laugh over a lot. There’s also an old preacher joke—“The ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people.” People are everywhere—you can’t avoid them, although some people sure try!

I read something last week that I haven’t hardly stopped thinking about, an excerpt from a chapter of a book by an author I’ve never heard of, L.T. Jeyachandran. It’s part of a further unfolding of the word “community” that God has emphasized so strongly in our church, and it means so much more than hardly anyone understands. Continue reading “People – They’re The Worst!”

New Years’s Resolutions

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Trouble as a door of hope.” –Hosea 2:14

This is the prophetic promise that our church is entering into the new year believing, that 2008 will be a year of new beginnings, and that our Father has opened a door of hope in the place of our troubles. It speaks of being brought into the wilderness, and finding something unexpected but very precious there. Continue reading “New Years’s Resolutions”

Leo, The Cool Cat

A few blogs ago, I wrote about Leo almost getting in the hot tub with me. Leo is a boy, a tomcat, he’s big and he’s tough and fearless. He’s only six months old, but he’s huge, a big yellow cat. Tonight, New Year’s Eve, Pip and I cleared the snow and ice that accumulated today and got in the hot tub for a bit before going to our service at the church.

Once again, Leo hung around the edge acting like he wanted to get in, and we decided to help him over the little bit of fear that held him back. I reached out, grabbed him, and slowly submerged him in the warm water. He didn’t love it, but he didn’t hate it either. He didn’t struggle (much), and we let him swim a bit before I got out and took him in the house. Continue reading “Leo, The Cool Cat”

A Sled Story

Summer, 1944. My dad, Ron, was 9 years old. Jack Howe, the neighbor boy who was fifteen and best friends with Ronnie’s big brother, was moving away with his family across the state to Hannibal, Missouri. The truck was packed and there was no room for the big toboggan, and so he made a gift of it to his buddy’s little brother.

I’m sure he never guessed how many years of fun our family would have with that sled. My dad kept it through his teen years, and we rode it countless winters through my childhood, and my children’s. There was room for four or five people, and the more you put on, the faster it flew. Continue reading “A Sled Story”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… the North Pole?

This afternoon we have experienced one of the biggest snowstorms I’ve seen around here in a few years–it started about 11 am and we have had some whiteout conditions and several inches of accumulation. Philip, who’s 15 and works at a car wash, called around 2 to tell me he’d been in a wreck riding with his boss, Scott, on the interstate. He assured me quickly he wasn’t hurt, and had waited until they got back to the carwash to tell me. Thank God for those angels that surround my family on the roads. He said it was a 50-car pileup–let’s hope there was some teenage exaggeration there. But the interstate is now closed all the way to Iowa due to the many accidents that were occurring. My daughter in law Ashlie is stuck at her Mom’s house about 20 miles up the highway and will be spending the night. Continue reading “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… the North Pole?”