Greetings from Trivandrum, India. The Lord has been so kind and we are honored to be serving here. We have been so encouraged by the believers here, and I’ll try to pass along that encouragement to you.
I have the privilege of teaching Biblical Interpretation to seventeen eager students, from basically 9 AM to 4 PM, with breaks for chapel and lunch. I have been pleasantly surprised with their grasp of English—it is very good!—and if not for this Southerner’s accent the communication would be pretty smooth. The college is clearly preparing them well, and their knowledge of Scripture and Christian doctrine is very sound, which makes teaching both easy and joyful. Above all, their pure faith and sincere love for Christ have been refreshing; I am so grateful for the transforming, trans-ethnic gospel of Jesus Christ! Can you imagine a group of students who, with all genuineness, asks to take time to sing praises to the Lord in the middle of class? This is the group I am honored to teach. (Or should I say, be taught by?)
Yesterday afternoon I asked if they could each share a word about how they came to faith in Christ. I wish you could have been there to hear them share, because it was a soul-stirring time. Many come from regions of India, or other countries, where it is dangerous to profess faith in Christ. Everyone faces the challenge of living where their faith is in the extreme minority—less than 4% Christian in most cases, versus 86% Hindu or another religion. But their love for Christ and desire to proclaim the gospel are unmatched.
One student quoted 2 Tim 4:4–5 and said that he was once like those mentioned there, who didn’t rejected the truth of God and wandered after myths. His family was Hindu. But, he said, God delivered him. And now his desire is reflected by verse 5: be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Another student shared a family struggle. His mother insisted he go find a job instead of attending a Christian college. But he began seeking the Lord and reading the book of Matthew, and when he came upon Matt 6:33, he felt he had his answer: seek first the kingdom of God.
Another student (as is true of many here) had experienced several harrowing accidents. He had fallen off the roof of his house, and nearly died. He had fallen off one of the packed buses of people that are so common here, and again nearly died. And yet now he is here, in my class. He is broken over the lost among his people. And he plead, “Please pray for me. I want to proclaim the gospel. But I do not know when I will die.” His great fear is not death, but not having the ability to share the gospel with his countrymen.
There is more to share, but time and words fail. Today will we travel to a point on the Southern tip where we will see three oceans (Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea, I think) come together. We look forward to a little sight-seeing as we continue to get to know this culture. Thank you for your prayers, and for sending us. -michael