"For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel." Ezra 7:10
Our team of 10 arrived in India on January 10, exhausted after 40+ hours of travel on four flights across 10 time zones. Our mission: to teach five "big picture" Bible stories along with an interpretive method (asking our students to make observations about the text, find the main point of the passage, and respond in the obedience to the passage in specific and measurable ways), to pastors, lay leaders, youth leaders, and selected youth. We organized into four teaching teams, across two Indian states, and our students include Muslim background believers, women from a tribal group, youth from a nominal Christian background, and other people groups.
The Indian subcontinent is an amazing place. One is greeted by an beautiful tapestry of culture and diversity, a panoply of sights, sounds, and smells. With 1.2 billion people India also represents one of the great missiological challenges as it is the country with the largest number of unreached people groups (groups of people, with distinctly different cultures, that have few to no followers of Jesus Christ). India also contains spiritual fields that are ripe for harvest (John 4:35). We are partnering with a man, we'll call him PL, who has helped launched a church planting movement that has seen 25,000 churches planted in under 10 years (characteristics of a church planting movement include rapid, intentional multiplication, indigenous, lay leadership, and abundant prayer among other things). Due to the spontaneous growth of these churches we have been asked to come alongside PL and his leaders to train lay leaders who will train others who will train others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Our team has seen amazing results. Over the first two days our four teams taught close to 140 students across four separate locations. One group witnessed seven former Muslims respond to Jesus through spontaneous Baptism (Acts 2:38). Another group witnessed two baptisms. One former Muslim, after studying Mark 2:1-11 using the interpretive skills taught during the training, boldly declared that the main point of the passage is "since Jesus has the authority to forgive sins he must be God!" This is a bold, wonderful declaration for a former Muslim to make. One student, high school aged, said that after the training he finally felt equipped to study the Word of God. "For years I would listen to sermons not knowing that I have the ability to answer questions I have by searching Scripture. Now I have that ability."
Our team spent two months preparing, but we give credit to the work of God through the Holy Spirit for any success. Our team adopted Ezra 7:10 as our theme verse for this trip. In verse 9 we read that the good hand of God was with Ezra. Why? Because Ezra set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach it. Ezra had priestly credentials that gave him authority. He had a letter from the king of Persia himself that gave Ezra authority. But the good hand of God was with Ezra because he studied God's Word, obeyed it, and taught it to others. And the good hand of God is better than any authority gained from earthly powers.
Similarly, we are teaching these students to study God's Word, respond to it in obedience, and teach it to others. Our prayer is that these students would recognize that God's Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). We pray that our students would treasure the Bible, obey it, and faithfully teach what they have learned to others who will do likewise. A big picture prayer request is for these stories to be taught so often and to so many people that upon our return to India people will come up to us and try to teach the stories! Would you join us in praying for this bold vision?
Would you also pray specifically for the following requests?
That our teams would finish strong with the final day of training on Friday, Jan 17.
That nothing would hinder the students from learning to study God's Word.
For continued good health and restful night sleep for teachers and students alike.
For safe travel for one team has completed training already and will be going back to our hosts by train.
That we will respond in obedience to the things God has taught us on the trip.
That our students would value the Kingdom of God above all else (Matthew 13:44-46).
Many of our students come from backgrounds and cultures in which they will face persecution for following Jesus Christ. Please pray that as the persecution comes our students faith would be strengthened and God would be glorified (Acts 14:21-22).
Safe journeys back to Atlanta that starts on Saturday.
As you read this blog post, and pray, ask the Lord these questions:
How am I doing with my study of the Bible? Have I set my heart to study the law of the Lord like Ezra? If needed, ask God to give you a renewed love and joy for His Word.
How am I doing obeying the commands of Christ? Are there any sins of omission that I need to confess? If needed, ask God to increase your faith to follow Christ totally and completely; not like the people in Luke 9:57-62, but like the people in Luke 10:1-14.
How am I doing teaching others? If a parent how are you intentionally teaching your kids to love and study the Word? If needed, ask God to give you a renewed vision and focus for teaching your children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
Thank you for reading about, and praying for, all that the Lord is doing in India.