Let’s cut to the chase. I loved today.
After a breakfast of omelette, papaya and for the first time on this trip one of my favourites, masala dosa, we board the minibus for the trip to Punjab Bible College, which is host to our second week of teaching. My heart is warmed as we enter the gates for there on a plaque on the gatepost is Jesus’ gracious invitation, ‘Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’.
The beautifully manicured lawns and airy buildings impress.
A room full of smiling faces greets us, and each of us receive a colourful lei.
The director of the college leads in prayer for the survivors and families of the attack on All Saints church in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Sunday. It’s a sober reminder of the dangers of following Christ in this part of the world.
Please pray for the pastors, who in all likelihood will face strong opposition. I think of brave Satish in our discussion group last week, aged only 19 and about to plant a church. On the day we parted he seemed anxious. (Is it any wonder?) Pray that the chief Shepherd will encourage him through his Word, he will receive good support from his sending church, and he will faithfully proclaim the saving news.
We break for morning tea and Ian throws himself into the task of shaking as many hands as possible. Admirable energy, newbie Ian! I’m content to meet four or five folk - even then I muddle Sandy and Sunny, though their being brothers offers some excuse.
Pastor Matt gets everyone on board with his comical Indian moustache routine. After a compressed summary of salvation history and the principles of biblical interpretation (ask us sometime about train lines, arrows and wonky eyes), we get stuck into Old Testament 1. Today we have three sessions on Genesis. As usual, one member of the team presents the material, then we break off into small groups.
There is a very welcome heavy downpour in the afternoon, which cools everything down.
Our final discussion group covers God’s promises to Abraham and saving work through Joseph, so that by the end of Genesis, Abraham has many descendants - a promise fulfilled! It feels as though our group is ‘on board’. They seem to be excited about being here and what we are learning together. My new, young friend Sandy is hungry to understand the Bible and is asking lots of questions.
We have heard many ‘Hallelujah’s on this trip. It seems to be standard for the beginning of any meeting of God’s people, with a ‘Hallelujah’ by the leader returned at once by the congregation. Late in the day our discussion group reads Genesis 50:20 and Acts 4:24-28. A pattern emerges. The sovereign God turns wicked deeds to accomplish his saving purposes, ultimately at the cross. ‘Hallelujah’, I declare. The extraordinary volume of the reply stuns both co-leader Matt S. and myself. It does not seem in any way formulaic. It might include a note of relief that a long day’s teaching is now concluded. But in the main I think it really is a spontaneous shout of joy and praise to the amazing God who faithfully, sacrificially works to progress his promise of blessing to the nations.
There is still much teaching and learning to come. Nerida plays spoil-sport by telling us that based on the answers to the first test, the guys don’t understand sin. Hmmn, we can revise that one tomorrow!
As we head back to our hotel in Ludhiana in the dark, I barely notice the flooded roads and crawling traffic. I entirely miss the elephant! I am happy. We are doing useful work, which is being gratefully received. And I am learning much too. Hallelujah! The Lord be praised.
Steve Y, India Teaching Team 2013.