Thank you for praying for me while I was South Asia. Our team needed the prayers and we definitely felt them. On this trip we decided to do two Gospel Festivals. One in central ******, which was very successful, and one in north *****. Most evangelists who hold meetings in this nation do them in south or central India where there are many believers. But the north is considered hard ground because there are few churches and Hinduism is strong.
The city of ****** is known as “The City of Temples” because at least forty-five Hindu temples are scattered throughout the city. A tourist brochure described it thus, “Innumerable temples and shrines with glittering shikhars (steeples) soaring into the sky, dot the city’s skyline, creating the ambience of a holy and peaceful city.”
In the weeks leading up to the Festival, it appeared there were no problems. We rented a tent, chartered buses to bring people from the villages, and hired a sound system and platform. Posters invited people to come receive a miracle from Jesus and local believers went door to door with flyers inviting people to the Festival.
But on the night we arrived in ******, a group of thirty BJP (radical Hindu political party) members invaded the Festival grounds. They knocked down our tent, marched around in circles, and chanted praises to their Hindu god (“Jai Ram! Hail Ram!”) for forty-five minutes. They told the pastor, “You can’t have a Christian meeting here. Who do you think you are? Are you Sonia Gandhi? (She is a Christian and the leader of the opposition party to the BJP).” In the evening, the radical Hindus visited the police station and asked them to arrest our team. They claimed that we were trying to convert people.
A group of Hindus stayed all day on the festival grounds. They refused to allow anyone to set the tent back up. They said if the meeting was held they would burn down the tent. We found out that a local BJP political leader paid a group of men to strong-arm us until we leave. The day the festival was supposed to begin, they called the tent company and told them to take their tent away. They forced the sound people to take away the sound system and the generator.
Our contact, the local pastor, asked the police to intervene but they just stood by and did nothing while the radical Hindus tore down our tent. The pastor of the church went to the local police station. She heard the clerk at the station talk about how the tent got knocked down. She asked, “How do you know about our tent?” He replied, “I was there helping knock it down.” So, even the clerk in the police station was acting against us. He was probably passing information on to the rioters.
The local church had received written permission from the police and local political leaders to have a Gospel festival. The pastor paid a fee to both of them in order to receive the permissions. But when the Hindus threatened to riot, the police declined to protect the meetings.
After a full day of pleading with the police, it appeared nothing could be done. The police refused to protect the meeting because of the threats of the Hindu radicals. The rioters turned back the buses from the villages that were headed to the festival grounds. The villagers were taken to three small local churches and given food to eat. There was a general sense of defeat because the meetings could not take place. All day long, the American team stayed hidden away in our hotel because we did not want the Hindus to know where we were.
But, a miracle happened. A local politician came to the church. He is the head of the BJP party in the city of ******** and his father is the mayor. Weeks before the event, the pastors had invited him to come attend the festival. He showed up at the festival grounds only to find that the tent had been knocked down. When he came to the church and discovered other members of his political party had instigated a riot, he apologized. He said, “I had nothing to do with this attack. I do not think it is right.”
He came to the hotel and visited our team. God made his heart soft toward us. He said, “The Hindus have their festivals and no one stops them. The Sikhs have meetings and no one bothers them. Why shouldn’t the Christians be allowed to have a meeting?” He offered to open a local community center for us to use. He personally guaranteed no one would bother us. He even offered to pay some of the expenses of the community center. So, we moved from a field on the edge of town to the center of the city. It was a true miracle.
The next day, the buses brought people to the community center. A total of 125 people came to hear about Jesus. For the local believers, this was a great miracle because they had never been allowed to host a public meeting before. Yet, we also heard that radical Hindus stood at the entrance to many villages and prevented three of our buses full of people from coming to the Festival. Local media came and put us on television for the nightly news. I was not able to speak because of all the scrutiny. An Indian co-evangelist shared the Gospel with the people.
Please continue to pray for the local believers. They need God’s protection. They are very bold to live behind enemy lines and share the love of Christ with people.
Going to the hard-to-reach places,
P.S. Your gift this month will help us preach the Gospel in Belize, Central America and the Buddhist nation of Burma. Thank you for your faithful giving! To give, click HERE.