What about India?

What about India?

Hello, friends! I apologize for the tardiness of this post. I have recently begun a new job and with all the busyness that it brings, I haven’t found time to write a post in a while. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the reason why I chose to spend three months of my life in India recently. To be more specific I was in the mega city Kolkata. To put it lightly Kolkata was chaotic. For the purpose of perspective let me throw some facts in here. Kolkata proper has an area of 185 km2 and a population of over 4 million people. By contrast Calgary has an area of 825 km2 and a population of just over 1 million people. I must admit to using a more shocking statistic than necessary here, in reality the total metropolitan area of Kolkata is 1,886.67 km2 with a total population of 14 million. This is true for most of India, as the second most populous nation on earth, and yet by area it is the 7th largest. People are everywhere! There is very few places that you can go without seeing people. But, this is part of what makes India, India. People.

India has 2,295 people groups as defined by the Joshua Project, and of these groups 2,077 of them are considered unreached by the gospel. This equates to over 1.2 billion unreached people in India alone. Out of the countries included in the studies conducted by the Joshua Project, India has more unreached people groups within it’s borders than any other country. India is one of the least reached places in the world. I think that this is something that people don’t really think about when they think about India. We see it as an exotic far off land, full of culture and adventure. Which it is, but at the same time it is a country desperately in need of the gospel message.

In 2014 I was able to go to Kolkata for the first time. And on this trip I was exposed to the depth and all encompassing nature of the extreme poverty that exists there. I realized that the reality that I grew up in – a life filled with hope for good education, and the ability to really become whatever I wanted to be – did not exist for the people in Kolkata. It was on this trip that God opened my eyes to the need for His love to be shown to these people. The reality for people in Kolkata, and the rest of India, is that Christianity a) has been portrayed as part of British colonialism, or a foreign ideology that is trying to change their culture, and b) is becoming increasingly dangerous to observe as the government leans more towards Hindu nationalism. With these two things combined, India has become a hard, and resilient ground to the message of Christ. However, God is raising up some incredibly gifted and passionate leaders from within India.

One of my closest contacts while living in India most recently was a young man let’s call him Jonathan. His story is one of miraculous healing and signs from God. When he was a young man he developed cancer, and as he prayed to a God that he did not yet know, or follow, he began to receive healing. Jonathan was healed of his disease and as a result of this turned to Christ for his provision and health. Now, he is a pastor pursuing pioneering efforts in and around Kolkata with the vision and dream to see 1,000 local people come to know Christ by the year 2020. Another friend that I had the pleasure of meeting was a man in southern India. He had grown up very, very, poor. He was not able to receive a proper education, or have a real childhood. But God has given him a great ability and passion to minister to the poor and downtrodden where he lives. He plans to begin a program that would help send young Indian men to school for proper training and equipping so that they can continue to minister to those around them. The thing is that even though India is a hard ground and becoming more hostile towards Christianity, God is doing some incredible things in that country. I have been lucky enough to meet some of His servants there and I am amazed and encouraged by the faith of these people.

We don’t always here about India, at least in a positive light. And while there are many amazing happening in India, we should not forget about this amazing place that is so in need of the love of Christ! We can’t always go and be part of the work that is happening there, but we can pray for those who are there doing amazing things in the face of such opposition. If you think about these things in the coming days, weeks, or months, take a second and pray for those who are in ministry in a country across the world that we don’t get much exposure too.

Thanks for reading friends! Please take some time to pray for these incredible people and the ministries that they are part of!

Grace and peace!

 

Symbols.

Symbols.

Something that I have noticed recently is the use, lack thereof, of symbols in our Canadian culture, but also in other cultures around the world. While in Asia, these symbols were especially prevalent. Symbolic significance is all around you when travelling throughout Asia. Nearly everything can, and often does mean something. For example, the placement of certain rooms around the homes of indigenous Vietnamese tribal people, signifies different levels of importance in relation to the other rooms of the house. Or how about in China, where historically, the number of beams that would stick out of your house symbolized your status in society. In Central Asian countries, when praying it is customary to open your eyes while looking up, and holding out your hands. This is symbolic of the relationship between the person prayng and God. I vividly remember an experience we had as a team while visiting Central Asia. As we were driving a, seemingly homeless, man was sitting beside the road as we were passing by. As we passed he lifted up his hands and covered his face briefly, he then brought them down and looked at us with a large smile. I didn’t understand what it meant at first until our friend told us that it was his way of blessing us as we passed by. This experience is something that will always stick with me when I think about travel, blessing, or symbolism. The man on the street did this because in that culture it is customary to “wash your face” with the blessings of God after prayer. I look back at my time spent in Asia and I realize how rich many cultures are with symbolism. I wonder now about Christianity? I am writing this on the evening of Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. This day, and season, is full of symbolism for the Christian life. Now this was my first time observing Ash Wednesday. The symbolic nature of this service with it’s liturgies, and marking with ashes, make this a very powerful ceremony. I sat in my chair realizing the significance of this, though still not to it’s full extent, and I began to wonder if there are other symbolic evets, ceremonies, or celebrations, that Christian culture has downplayed to the point of apathy towards them. I know in my life Christmas has been more about the gifts than the birth of Jesus on more than one occasion. Or how about Easter? I’ll admit that I do look forwardto this time of year for more reasons concerning chocolate, than concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When I think about symbols, I think about them as just that, symbols. I do not mean, for a minute, to say that symbols can save you, or make you a better Christian. However, I do think that observing symbols that help us reflect on what it means to be a follower of Chist can help us to gain a better perspective and avoid becoming indifferent to something that should exude from every part of our lives. In short, symbols are so important to many other cultures and religions around the world, so why aren’t they to us?

I always love to hear feedback about these kinds of topics! Please feel free to submit a question on here or on Facebook or Twitter (wherever you found this).

Thanks, for reading!