Connie and I were invited by the Sammy Tippit Ministries, the sponsoring organization, to participate in a pastors/Christian leaders conference in N. India.
The conference took place just outside of Lucknow, a city of 4 million people. We were there from Jan 6-16. On the first day of the conference 1800 plus participants appeared. They could only accommodate 1600, so the rest had to be turned away. The organizers said that this was a historic conference, a first of this size, for this area. Participants came from as far away as Nepal. It was amazing to see the sacrifice the attendees made to get there as well as the sleeping and eating arrangements while they were there.
It was evident that God made His appearance known as well. Sammy preached powerfully on the Lord’s Prayer. He shared his preaching time with me (Steve) as I spoke on the Supremacy of Christ in Scriptures and the exchanged life of Christ. Because of the logistical problems, with the great numbers of people, it was not possible to have special breakout sessions for the women. So Tex (Sammy’s wife) and Connie each shared twice with the entire group as well. They too addressed needs that were well received by both the men and the women. It took longer then anticipated to feed the attendees breakfast and lunch, so the meetings lasted from about 10:00 am to 1 pm and then again from 5 pm to 7:30 pm.
Organizers said that it is important to have large numbers of Christian leaders come together like this for encouragement. They need the encouragement that comes from hearing the Word of God, but they also need tosee that they are not alone in serving the Lord in a very dark and difficult land. Most of these Christian leaders have little or no training. They serve in house churches for the most part. Connie and I ministered in one ofthese house churches, which had 80 people, about half of them children, in it the last Sunday we were there. The house church movement is alive and well and thriving at this time in India. There are very few large churches in N. India. Organizers say that this part of India is largely neglected by Christians in the west. An estimated 60% of the population is Hindu. Another 20-25%, depending on who you are talking to, are Muslims. And the rest are various other religions including Christianity. Many of the Christians are persecuted because of this. Even the conference was held in a secure environment. At the conclusion of the conference it was difficult to leave because they rushed toward us and crushed around us, hugging us, wanting us to write a note of encouragement to them and to pray for them.
Experiencing that part of India was a reminder of how low a culture can go when it turns its back upon God and then their “foolish hearts are darkened” and “God gives them up” to every kind of wickedness. (Romans 1:18-32) To see it commonplace for man and animal to be living together is a bit of a cultural shock. To see the cattle meandering about the city streets and sidewalks was a reminder of a people who are aimless and purposeless in their own lives. Signs of idolatry and superstition are everywhere. Yet God has called many to go to that distant land as His servants, to reflect His image. Seeing the masses of people and then realizing that what we are doing is but a drop in the bucket could be discouraging if it was not for the realization that Jesus was able to take 5 loaves and 2 fish, and turn them into a meal for upwards of 20,000 men, women and children, and still have 12 baskets left over. That is our hope. We were so touched by His servants such as LeAnn, Myron and Jesus (a servant from Venezuela). It is evident that God has called them to serve Him in India. We were blessed to have some time with them and to see their passion for Christ and their passion for the people of India.
We encourage you to pray for India and especially for these choice servants of His. We want to thank you for your prayers and for your financial support which makes this kind of far reaching impact possible.
On a personal note, Connie and I both became sick towards the end of our trip, mine upper respiratory, and Connie’s intestinal. God was so gracious in giving us an extra day in Delhi before we boarded our plane for our 16 hour nonstop (and we were glad it didn’t stop somewhere) flight to Chicago. We are on the mend. Again we thank you for your prayers.
Our next big trip will be to Zambia in the first part of March. Organizers promise that 1,000 pastors and Christian leaders will be there for that conference. This is sponsored by and funded by Shepherds Support, Inc.. Please continue to pray with us now for God to do something great in their lives. In the meantime we are going to be ministering to pastors and churches throughout the greater San Antonio area. Keep fighting the good fight of faith.
Steve and Connie