On October 6th, at 6:20 pm, I will board a British Airways flight to London that will connect on to New Delhi. I’ll be in the air for about 18 hours. When I land I’ll be in a country where I’ve never been, among a people I’ve never met, speaking a language I do not know. I will be in country from Monday, October 7 to Saturday, October 19. Then I’ll hop on another plane, retrace my path through London once again, and return home to the family that I will by then desperately miss.
That’s 30 days from this day. Nervous energy is starting to build in my gut as the day approaches, particularly since there are a few things going on between now and then. For instance, I’m selling my house, finding another one and moving into it. My wife will take a little globe-trotting trip of her own in late September, arriving back in the states the day before I depart. Things are growing like crazy at our church, too, and managing all that doesn’t stop just so I can fly to India. And my wife and I are attending an Idea Camp to sort out some God-sized dreams. All this has left some people to ask whether or not we might be crazy. And when I say, “some people” I mean “myself.”
So why put ourselves through it? Why try to wedge it all in? Why India? Why now?
India is in Need of the Gospel
India is the second most populous country on earth, housing almost a sixth of the global population within its borders. Of the 1.2 billion inhabitants, less than 3% are Christians. Simultaneously, India continues to grow as a regional and global influencer. As one of the BRIC nations, it fosters a rapidly developing economy. Culturally, it is diverse and influential. In it’s northeast corner it borders Tibet, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan–all countries which are somewhat (or very) hostile toward Christianity.
India itself is not free from persecution. Many pastors are imprisoned, beaten, or even killed for speaking up for Jesus. A Gospel response is also needed in regards to social issues. In India alone, over 440 million people in India live on $1/day or less. The bottom line is that the people of India need to hear about Jesus and the church of India needs to be encouraged to know that other believers all over the world stand with them in support of their courageous faith.
In the region where I’ll be serving, about 88% of people have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ. I’m not okay with that. I want to help however I can.
Central India Christian Mission is Thriving
Getting to visit with, see the ministry of, and partner with Central India Christian Mission is a thrilling prospect. I could write a ton, because CICM is a ministry I have long admired. You’d do well to visit their website and see for yourself. Church planting, children’s ministry, disaster relief, and more–these are the efforts that Central India Christian Mission supports, and these are the things I want my life to be about. My church supports CICM regularly, and I can’t wait to bring home a report of what I see and experience with our brothers and sisters in India.
I am not kidding, this ministry is fascinating. Here are some quick figures to feature what God has done through CICM since it’s inception in 1982:
- Over 4,500 children have been sponsored
- More than 1100 churches have been planted
- 450 + Christian leaders have been trained in their training school
- 320,000 people have been baptized into Christ
- 60,000 patients are treated in their hospital every single year
It is incredible to think that our team will just get to chip in a little bit. I can’t wait.
Jesus is Worth It
I have said before that the preach/write/give thing is no tagline. It’s my life’s goal–to get people thinking about Jesus in one of these ways. I’m dipping into my own pocket to make this trip happen because it’s a no-brainer. More and more, my wife and I want to be givers. There are tons of needs locally that we should pay attention to. But our brothers and sisters and those unreached all over the world should not be completely off our radar. Especially among the persecuted church and the “least of these” Jesus refers to in Matthew 25, we should be active in our support and compassion. India has both the persecuted and the least of these. Jesus loves India.
When I start getting a little too nervous about landing in New Delhi in a month–wondering how much I’ll miss my kiddos, if I’ll get sick, what complications may arise, if I’ll preach the Gospel adequately, if we’ll face any danger–I remember that Jesus has never asked me (or you) to do anything He didn’t do Himself.
Forsaking all comfort, regardless of the cost, despite the obstacles, Jesus came to love and serve those who would pay little attention to, care minimally about, and not understand Him. Going to India is no sacrifice. It is barely an inconvenience in light of the good things God has done in my life.
I do appreciate your prayers, and look forward to sharing pictures and experiences with you while I am away and when i return, both on this blog and via my Facebook page. Prayer #1 has been answered–my trip is paid in full. Thanks to those who were willing to give.
Thanks for praying for the Benton’s as we ramp up to October 6th, and thanks for reading.