From: Su Min
Subject: (17 Jan) The Gospel According to India
Friday 17th January 1997
GREETINGSDearly Beloved, God is SO good to me! Hallelujah!!
GOSPELThe "Gospel" is the "Good news of the saving grace of Jesus" as told in the first 4 books of the NT:
"The Gospel According to India" is my attempt to show you how God has spoken to me though a short 10 day tourist visit to India:
- opening my heart to the saving grace of Jesus,
- opening my mind to the many many many blessings he has showered upon me,
- and opening my eyes to the millions upon millions of lost souls in India, waiting for someone to tell them of The Good News.
Our India trip, 5-15 Jan 97, was an offbeat birthday celebration for my wife Sing Yu. Along came my two nieces, Denise 24, studying Journalism in Ohio, and Andrea, 22, BuisAdd in Perth, and their mum Sing Lin, (SY's sister). You can see us nicely stringed across (SM, An, SY, De, SL) in front of the Taj Mahal in a JPG photo that Min Yu scanned and took the whole night slaving away with Adobe Photoshop to clean up: such is the pollution there! (actually there were some tourists who strayed into the camera field and so had to be scrubbed: oh, the joys of computerised graphics)
A more detailed report will be posted on a Website that Min Yu is constructing for me.
How does one summarise 4 cities and 11 days succinctly? With great difficulty! Gwalior, Jaipur, Delhi and Agra. Filled with monuments, temples, places, people, people, people.
India is like a faded flower whose past beauty can be guessed from the wrinkled petals.
India is like a gone to seed previous beauty queen some 30 years and 30 kg beyond her prime: some fine features can be seen behind the wrinkles and the flab.
India is like her architectural ruins: great design, intricate handwork, hints of past glory and the regal majesty of the maharajahs can be seen, inspite of the ravages of time, vandals, plunder, corrosion, neglect and corruption.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Yes, amongst the bad and the ugly shine the good, like gems in the bejewelled crown: like the semiprecious stones inlaid in marble: like the bright yellow rapeseed flowers in fields of green: like the brass water pots gleaming in the sunlight as ladies walk from the village well, each with a pot on her head.
The bad: the smog was bad: a dense haze of air pollution hung over Delhi and also over Agra: apparently not so much industrial as due to vehicular emissions: 5000 new ones added to Delhi's roads each month, and lots of old ones, taxis, lorries and motor cycles: much in a state of disrepair (and the roads too). The arid atmosphere clogs the lungs, reduces visibility to 2 km or less, and eats away at health: respiratory disease such as asthma and bronchitis are on the rise. Bad.
The ugly: avaricious greedy insatiable politicians: multiple reports in the daily papers of corruption scandals, bribes, etc. The man in the street has no love for politicians as a whole: "All big dacoits, robbers". The outstretched hand for a few rupees tips for the taxi man, hotel boy, waiter, pale in comparison when we look at the zillions of rupees that the big boys are raking in. Ugly.
But there is much good in India.
Perhaps the greatest treasure is the sincerity and warmth of friendship as you get to meet nice people in all walks of life. They do not have a stop watch in hand, counting the seconds with a "time is money" rat race attitude.
The person who served us the most was Ram Chandreek, our coach driver who drove us around Agra, then more than 240 km from Agra to Jaipur, round Jaipur and thence 220 km to Delhi. Town traffic was bad. Lorries, busses, cattle, camel carts (yes, big desert in Rajistan with many many camels, and not the tobacco variety!), jeeps, bullock carts, horse carts, human carts, motor cycles, trishaws scooters, bicycles, pigs, dogs, men women, children, beggars all scrambling hither tither. Narrow roads and potholes do not help. Inter-city travel is about as bad, though volume of traffic is lower, speed is higher. Great skill and concentration required. Ram did not disappoint us. Thank you Ram.
Ultimately we should measure life in terms of relationships: relationships to God and relationship to our fellow man. India did not disappoint. Warm friendly people. Good.
Another big plus for India is the food. Burgers, pizza, and chinese take-away may have crept in, but the native culinary heritage is so rich: with more than 70 different languages, each subgroup develops its own style. The Mogul invaders imprinted on the Hindu background their own culture, and with it their food. Rajistan has its own style, Kashmir its own. Pathan is different. Each unique. Each we liked.
Lassi: a milk yoghurt product: salted, plain or sweet. we liked ours sweet: mango, banana, were our favourites.
Pappadam: wheat crisps Breads galore: chappati and naan. Plain naan, onion naan, garlic naan, masala naan, naan any which way.
Meats: Tandoori chicken, grilled fish, murgh this and that: chicken, mutton: prawn: fish: And vegetables: Beans of various shapes, size and colours. (Legumes means gas, so caveat emptor).
Indian Tamater soup: spicy vegetable tomato soup: nice! Vegetable rice.
Better stop, else go on ad nauseum.....
THE PRODIGAL SON
The Prodigal Son formed the core of evening bedtime story that the five of us shared one night, and we were blessed to be able to link the three parables in Luke 15: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost boy, to the sinners with whom Jesus dined (Luke_15:2). Indeed the angels in heaven rejoice when we recognise the depth of sin to which we have descended, confess, repent and turn in our tracks and return to the Father. It so amazing to see how our Father anticipates our return, sees us while we are still a long way off, is filled with compassion for us, runs to us and hugs us and kisses us (Luke_15:20). What a loving God we serve!
India has a rich Christian heritage. It is said that Thomas, one of the original 12 disciples, came to India and spent the rest of his life there preaching. Certainly there is evidence of a Syriac church in South India, dating back to 400 AD, but the percentage of Christians in India is very low, perhaps less than 3%. Hindu form the large majority, and Muslim the large minority. Seikhs and Jains are some of the other minor minorities. Radicals and fulminent fundamentals exist, but most seem, to be superficial in their religion. Our Seikh guide was proud of his 5 K's (the bangle, the special underwear, the comb, the dagger and the long hair), but when probed deeper, did not have much grasps of the fundamentals of his religion: (I took the opportunity to say that all are sinners and condemned to die, but Jesus died for our sins and we are saved if we accept Him as Lord)
And so, my beloved, India calls: there are millions and millions of lost souls in India: 11 million in Delhi alone: there are many unchurched people, many unreached people, many people who have never heard of Jesus.
Can you believe in your heart that you can do something for at least one of them? What can you do? Much, I believe. Pray for them. Prayer is important. And beyond prayer? Something tangible?
I had the privilege of meeting Mr Ramesh Langde. Previously working with World Vision, Ramesh is now director of COI, a missions organisation that seeks to reach the unreached people by establishing health links, with Government co-operation. For example in the remote border areas near Tibet, Pakistan, teams of doctors and nurses will go for health surveys, and provide simple treatment to people who are so remote that they do not get any sort of medical help. In the evening they screen the Jesus film, and talk to the people: many have come forward to accept Jesus. Some have gone to Delhi for a two week bible course, so that they can go back and nurture the new believers.
Are you prepared to spend a week or two in India, spreading the good news? Doctors are welcome but non-medicals are also needed: you need not have full theological training: any one with a burden to reach the unreached is welcome.
MORE INFORMATIONFor more information on mission trips to India here are two addresses: "Ramesh Landge"
The Sowers Ministry, 154 Prince Edward Road 4/F, Kowloon, Hong Kong
NEXT ISSUEThe next Epistle to Cyberchurch will be the continuation of our study of Matthew.
We will look at the Transfiguration.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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