Sleeping on the floor.

Sleeping on the floor.

“If the rain doesn’t stop, how will you go?” I looked away from the window to see who was talking to me. I saw my friends wife standing there waiting for a reply. I just looked kind of blankly at her while I considered my options. And keeping in mind that this was only my second full day in India, and I had no idea which part of the city I was in, my options were rather limited. Now, let me explain why rain caused such a big problem for transport. The first reason being that we had come on a motorcycle with absolutely no rain protection. And the second being that Kolkata lacks appropriate drainage for such a downpour and so with the numerous potholes and curbs that litter the streets hidden by water, it would be almost idiotic to try to ride a motorbike across the busy city in the dark and the rain. As 10pm hit, our cut off point, my friend broke the news to me that we would be sleeping on the cold cement of the old schoolhouse that was hosting a large church conference. We had no pillows, no blankets, and no sleeping mats. I was crushed. I should explain that in the 4 days prior to this I had, been awake for 34 hrs, been traveling for 12 hrs, preached in two churches, and “slept” for a combined total of about 13 hrs. I was pretty tired, mentally and physically, and honestly a little frustrated at the lack of solutions to our problem. Long story short, I ended up lying awake on a church floor in the middle of a rainstorm for about 5.5 hrs.

During this “adventure” I was reminded of the disciples as Jesus sent them out and told them to bring nothing with them. I wondered how many cold church floors they had to sleep on. I thought about the fact that there were hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t even have a hard church floor to sleep on in the same city where I was complaining about not having my warm hotel bed. Even though it was something so miniscule and seemingly unimportant, it gave me a window into what it means to sacrifice your comforts. There was no feel good reward of having helped someone by sleeping on the floor to ease the sore back and drowsy eyes. But there was an awareness that this is sometimes what it means to be a Christian. Sometimes we need to give up our comforts, sometimes we need to just go and do, and not worry about what we get in return.

Advertisements
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!

 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

So one of my favourite parts about travelling (other than all the stuff I have already said is my favourite) is the different types of transportation. I didn’t realize how different transportation in Canada is compared to the majority of the world. Just getting into a car and running to the grocery store is a blessing that I was unaware of. However, the different types of getting around are what make travelling such an adventure. From riding scooters through the mountains in India, to whipping through jungle in Cambodia in the back of a truck, getting places is always…interesting. Below I have assembled a list of my favourite ways that we got from point A to point B while we were travelling.

5. TAXI

Taxis are a tricky one. In terms of convenience and speed, they often are the best option. And I will say that riding in a big Yellow Cab in India is something that, if you go to India before these go extinct, is something you must do! There is nothing quite like the tattered leather/woven seats, the thick smell of incense, and small holes in the rusted out floor that allow you to see the asphalt race by below. Other countries like Thailand or Vietnam have really nice taxis for the most part and are very comfortable to ride in. However, in some places, like Central Asia, you just flag down a car and ask if they will take you to where you are going. All that stuff about not getting into a stranger’s vehicle that your parents said, it goes right out the window! While the plus side of taxis is that they are really easy and convenient, they often end up costing a lot of money and can be a hassle in some places.

4. TRAIN

This refers to long distance trains. This one was difficult to rank so low because I believe that everyone who visits India should take a trip on a long distance train. It is truly a surreal experience as you pass through small railside villages, and watch landscapes change as you move into new areas. You have the opportunity to meet new people, and try new food which is always a plus in my book. These trips are a great bucket list item, and they offer an unparalleled travel experience. However, if you choose the sleeper class you will stick to the plastic/leather bunk bed no matter what you do. I do not know what trains are like in other parts of the world, but the trains in India are definitely worth taking a trip on.

3. BUS

Oh buses. I will say this, I will never complain about riding a bus in Canada ever again! After doing a significant amount of commuting by bus in India, I have to say that I think I could be a contortionist, or a professional bull rider, with little to no training. Buses provide an up close and personal experience  with people that you rarely, if ever, get experience in other ways. The busy businessmen, or labourers, trying to get to and from work. The college student just trying to stay awake until they get to their stop. Or the mother with two small children who somehow manages to carry both children without falling off the bus, even though she isn’t holding on to anything. These are the types of people you will meet on buses. Because the bus is often very cheap, I’m talking like $0.10-0.20 depending on the distance, you meet a lot of the working class population. This provides an opportunity to really experience the country that you are visiting because it takes you out of your tourist bubble, and places you in the local community and culture in a different way.

2. TUK TUK/AUTO RICKSHAW

These are a staple mode of transport in Asia! Often cramped, and a little sketchy, these offer a transport experience that is always exciting, and different in some way. This was my favourite daily transport as a 20 minute route would cost me around 25 cents. Buzzing through traffic with someone you’ve never met pushed up against you, hanging halfway out of the cab, wondering how much longer you can hold on for, is an exhilarating experience to put it lightly. Whether you a weaving through the bustling streets of Kolkata, India, or whizzing through the through the countryside of Cambodia, these open air vehicles will make it an unforgettable ride!

P.S. If you have a stomach bug, these are very easy to get out of in “emergency” situations.

1. PERSONAL VEHICLE

While these pose greater risks, they offer an unlimited sense of freedom and independence! Riding through the mountains of southern India, or the jungles of Cambodia where some of the fondest memories I have of Asia. Sitting in the back of a truck singing songs with new friends, while winding through the confusing streets of Siem Reap, is an experience that I will never forget! With a personal vehicle you can go where you want to go and do what you want to without someone else’s schedule dictating your activities.  Riding motorized scooters or bikes is really popular,but make sure you know a little bit about them before you go, or you may end up cartwheeling through the busy streets of a mountain town like I did.

Transportation is one of the most iconic parts of travelling! I know for me it was one of my favourite parts of being overseas. It’s something we take for granted I think, and it is so interesting to see how other cultures solve the problem of getting from one place to the next. What are some of your favourite modes of transportation?