Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Most days we do something different, go somewhere else, or visit different people. Pondicherry was especially this way. Apart from the travel from auto rickshaw to bus to train wearing us down physically there are emotional ties to people and even places that take their toll. Regardless, God did amazing things to us and around us. Jesus sustained me and I actually loved the trip to Pondicherry.

There were some extremely difficult situation that we came across in the slums, small villages, post-tsunami communities and leper colonies. In the beloved people there is a great need physically, spiritually, and emotionally. As I walked into these places and situations I felt a certain inadequacy. "What do I have to offer? And to the families we do not visit, will a smile while leaving do anything?" But then my heart is reminded of the bases of my life, my salvation and this joy that follows-- It is all a gift; these things have all been given to me. And I trust, as with every gift, there is a gracious giver.

Once we met with a women who was blind and leprous. Her joy for Jesus was so strong her smile almost formed a pair of wings that carried her straight to God. Or maybe that is just how I felt to be there with her.  She told us that she asked God for a gift because she could not see the people she meets, and that God gifted her with an unfailing memory of their names. So she learned our names so she could always pray for us. She prays for all who visit her and the U.S.A. daily. We prayed with her outside her hut, meters away from the Bay of Bengal. As we were leaving our missionary friend said "She will see God before you and I." I believe that as well.
I have been surprised by how many Indians pray for America. I expected children to idolize America but not for many believers to see America as a place of significance regarding the Christian faith. Their faith is not placed in America itself, but they do hope the beliefs it was founded on hold fast and not backslide. Many here believe that the reason America has prospered is because of faithful and prayerful Christians. That was a new thought to me, but now I see that if this is true it isn't merely faithful and prayer Americans but Christians worldwide.

Another time we walked into a fishermen village, each house identically modeled, built after the 2008 tsunami. Suddenly, for reasons unknown to me, I began to cry and I said to God "I don't have any strength to go encourage people." We were then welcomed into a home. We sat down and sang songs of worship, most in the Tamil language. One of my friends shared a message from the Bible and an older woman shared the story of how she came to know Jesus as God. Her story was incredibly brave; once she had made the leap of faith she stood against the persecution of her family (this is very common in an Indian's testimony). Her husband and family were still practicing hinduism, and worshiped snakes. One day, a snake entered their house. Her family said "See! Our God has come to show itself true and be worshiped." The brave woman took up a stick and killed the snake! Her actions spoke for the sake of the Unseen God, the father of Jesus Christ. Soon her husband came to know Jesus personally.

Thank you, friends. I am very blessed by taking this time to write about this summer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Madurai & Chengalpattu

On June second we left Chennai, traveling south by train to Madurai. The great part was that we were both going out and not leaving home, simultaneously! We left with our family from Chennai, which was all the home we had. For Auntie, we were traveling back to her hometown, which brought out excitement and silliness.
Before we arrived I remember what I had learned previously about Madurai. I had heard it was known for its wonderful juxtaposition of new and old, modern and traditional. This proved to be true in my eyes. I also knew that we would be staying at a home for people with disabilities. So, because God has given me a love for folks with different abilities I was super excited about this leg of the trip. These expectations also were met.
We arrived at "Jimma's Cottage" and  met a 19 year old on his birthday-Caleb. He served us sweets, as all Indian birthdayers do, which is a tradition that I really like. The tradition makes all your friend's and family's birthdays the days you get served. Everyone's happy, more days of the year. Later we learned there is a different tradition for youngsters below the age of 10. For their birthdays, all the guests hand-feed them the cake, even foreigners get a chance. Everyone should get the chance to feed someone they don't know.

 The first evening our friend Ebenezer arrived and told us we had a program to plan in an hour. Thus a distinctive nature of the trip began. That night we led a program for nursing students at a Christian university. This was definitely a rare setting for our programs. We have led dozens now, which have mainly been in rural home settings. We sang songs, and learned songs in Tamil. I shared the testimony of my coming to know Jesus as the Christ, and my friend Aaron shared the word of God on "being a light".
The next morning I woke up with two boys staring at me. They weren't as shocked as I was. They were communicating through sign language, which would have been sweet to converse with them but it was nothing like American Sign Language. Of course, we formed our own "home sign" which was more conversational than merely "getting the point across". We ended up communicating more than average language-barrier relationships. More boys and young men with disabilities came to the house, one by one. There used to be young women as well but it just so happens that there are 14 man at this time. We played tons of cricket and hide & seek in the house, and just lived with them in a great home where they are loved and provided for. These boys all have pasts of parental abandonment of some kind.

The absolute best times were in the evenings when the boys would sit down in the living room for a devotional. A few boys would be rolling chapatees (like tortillas), while they would all sing songs in Tamil. I would clap my hands along with some them and maybe share a prayer after one of the older men would share a bible story. One night, Aaron and I prayed for each person individually. Only a couple of them could understand some of our prayers and that, in some way, made it special and powerful at the same time.
This happens all the time here, especially to us Americans. Last night, my two teammates were telling me how it is funny that when someone here is praying in Tamil or Hindi I will being sayings things under my breath, like "Please Lord" or "Yes God". We laughed together, because it is true, I don't know most of what they are praying. But for me and my teammates, it is the same as a situation where people are speaking a different language and then start laughing. Many of us outsiders will laugh along side them. Not because we understood what was funny, but because a happiness is awakened in us when someone else laughs. It is the same way with a prayer to Jesus Christ amongst believers. The content of the prayer is irrelevant. The truth that God is being praised is what is awesome.
Chengalpattu was amazing. We spent only a few nights there, but it was a full experience. We stayed with a missionary family in a small village where lepers and some family live. We spent time tutoring and playing with youngsters who came to our church just for a place to do their homework and hang out. We shared songs, testimonies, and God's word there.
We were engulfed in an awesome prayer walk through the village one night. Many believers came out and joined us and our missionary family. Prayer request were most often for physical healing. There was a lot of hope in this community. Many believers who are being really intentional with the world around them.

There is a ton more to share over this past 5 weeks, thanks for being patient, but for now I need some sleep. It have been so good and so challenging.

But as my friend Aaron remarked "If you are dealing with people you will be overwhelmed". I am overjoyed to say Aaron still knows it's worth it!

Much love in Christ,


Saturday, June 2, 2012


My teammates and I have lived this week in Chennai, with our host-family. In this household there are also Word for the World staff, their children, and other young men that were introduced to the family through a Bible study. It has been a blessing to get to know all of them! Some of the best times have been merely experiencing life with them, working in the office or around Chennai with them, and randomly breaking into song with them!

Things that have rocked my cradle:

  • On our way down a mountain in a 10 person SUV we swerved past overpack busloads, around corners you could not see, past monkeys being fed by Hindu worshipers, and behind a family of 6 riding a single motorcycle. The father drove with one child in front of him, two behind him, and then the mother, who sat on the back while holding a baby. The father of this family pulled the motorcycle off to the side of the road as we passed them on the opposite side of the road because an on coming car had taken the turn too widely. I looked at there faces and sensed this was nothing new for them. It was for me.
  • The common Indian prayer for "a sophisticated life". 
  • The shopping malls, where there are ice skating arenas filled with Indians whom I sense are trying their hardest not to be Indian.
I love the spicy food, the humid climate, the indian toilets, and how few showers I take with clean close to put on after. Some people struggle with these things, but my mother knows this is how I have always been. I do struggle with relating to my American team members. In fact, these relationships often seem more difficult then my relationships with the locals. We are remarkably similar, and all going through growing pains together. As we see each other struggle I think we see weaknesses in the others that reveal familiar weaknesses in ourselves. This is a good thing, and a difficult thing.

The organization we are with, started by the host-family we are with, genuinely lives out how our ministry life, family life, and personal life should not be separated. In my life, it has been way easier to show love and forgive people outside my family. It is a rut of sin to place more importance on your ministry (or work, social life, times when you are intentional, etc.) then the people closest to you. We have so much to learn from those relationships every day. As this soaks in, I realize my relationships between my team members is just as important to God as those with the locals.

We are leaving tonight on a train to Madurai. The whole Asir family and two young men from the bible study are coming with us! They will stay for a couple days, as we live in a home for people with disabilities. The Asir's will leave and we will be under the authority of a wonderful man we met named Ebenezer who is a missionary with Word For The World. I have heard we will also go to nursing homes while we are in Madurai. Then we will go to Puducherry for the following week. I am unsure on what ministry work is there, but we met the missionaries we will stay with at one of our conferences. Then we will take a train back to Chennai for one night, and fly to Mumbai the following morning. We will spend 20 days in Mumbai teaching in the early day and doing some street evangelism in the evenings. So I have no idea if we will be able to have internet until early July when we return to Chennai. But I am sure that this month will be an adventure and, most of all, that God is with us in it all!

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, letters, emails, support, and love.

Grace and peace to you,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Where to start?
Yes, that is where I will start.
Friendship is shaking my hand every moment and home is being placed beneath my feet. Even as a first day visitor, to a household that was filled with the chaos of logistics and departure for a 9 day trip we were going to take, I was still comfortable, welcomed, and served. But I have never felt welcomed or served as a guest is for the duration of a visit, but as a family member that will be sticking around. I feel this way because the habit of their kindness is timeless; they treat me as they treat themselves because the origin of their hospitality is Jesus. The household is a family ministry, which is kind of foreign to me. Everyone has their part in a house that welcomes new, non-biological family members. For instance, there are a couple young men who come to learn about the bible. They will often eat, play and sleep here as well. Their concept of Christian ministry does not have a wall that separates itself from family or personal life. The three are a trinity.

By this time (May 22nd) both of my teammates have arrived-- Matt and Aaron.  They are two studs from Tennessee that I am fond of already. We are similar in many ways, a lot like brothers with all our jokes, annoyances, games and love. Another example of this Christian family's welcoming of "new, non-biological family members" is us, these silly triplets from America. We will be based here (leaving and returning frequently) in Chennai, India, throughout the summer.

Tomorrow is the final day of the 9 day trip I mentioned above. 5 members of the Asir family, 2 friends in the ministry, and Matt & I, left Chennai the morning after we arrived. Which seemed to predict the nature of the trip. We will have to be very flexible on a trip that promises stretching of our desire for home to be "what is familiar". Easier said than done, seeing as this is a human desire and we are humans. We had a 4 hour car ride with the 9 of us to Yelagiri, a "hill station" they call it. I am not totally sure what that implies, but from my experience it was a community that rested in the nest of mountains. We were there for 4 days, which included a 3 day conference for many of our organization's sponsors. The organization that I am a part of this summer is called Word For The World. It was started 21 years ago by the family who is hosting Matt, Aaron & I-- the Asir family. The Asirs are natively Indian, living in the state of Tamil Nadu, and have responded to God's call to minister throughout India despite many hindrances. God's call was and is to share the gosple with people who are socially oppressed. Please look at their website:
The conference was filled with meeting people who love Jesus and are obeying his leading in their lives!
From Yelagiri we drove to the city of Coimbatore, a trip nearly double in duration by an awesome rain storm. In Coimbatore I finally felt the breathtaking force of the multitudes of people and the religious diversity of India. I read before I left that India is 80% practicing Hindu. And Hinduism is very diverse itself. The next biggest religion here is Islam, followed by Christianity, which accounts for about 2% of the population.

Currently, I am at a Christian retreat center that we are using to hold a Word For The World conference for mainly the southern region missionaries. A couple of the missionaries here we will be staying with later in the summer. It has been wonderful to develope those relationship and be an encouragement and be encouraged by brothers and sisters who trust in Jesus. Also, I have loved being in the city and among people who do not know Jesus. And a familiar challenge has arose during the beginnings of this summer: balancing team relationships with host-family relationships, relationships with our future hosts, and with the beloved people I meet each day.

There are times of convicting conversation with people and with my Lord Jesus and times of peaceful solitude and reflection. There are times to try new things like jackfruit and jellyfish fruit (my name for an odd palm fruit, pronounced something like "nahngu") and times to try enjoy old things like fried food and waiting. Times to serve and times to be served (although this can be a simultaneous miracle), and times to take up new opportunities but, more often, times to be taken up by new opportunities.

By God's great grace I am being taught. Also, by his doing, I am learning that obedience to God leads to trust in Jesus, and trust in Him leads to obedience. Trust that God will fulfill his promise in us to make us like Jesus and raise us from sin. But these things both come from a relationship with God that requires Christ to raise our hearts from the greatest sin-- unbelief-- and grace us with the belief and love for God that were  Christ's obedience and trust of God.

I love you all.
Abundant peace to you,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pre-trip Excitment

Hello All!
Three weeks from today I will, God willing, be leaving for India!
I thought I would put a small pre-trip post up for those of you who have accessed this blog  already in anticipation. Believe me, I'm excited too!
Most anxieties have past for now.
But the excitement definitely has not.
I continually see God moving things into my life in preparation, through things such as: people with huge hearts, conversations with followers of Jesus and people who don't believe, spontaneous challenges, books assigned for classes I was led to take, and opportunities on campus to be a leader-- learn, tutor, worship, befriend.
And teaching me to live well for Him in the midst of stress, mistakes, and growing pains.
It is plain to see I have been blessed.
Neither has God made it a secret that He values, adores, and pursues me every day.

I hope this page can be water for our relationship. I am sure it will help you know me better, and I pray you will respond as if in a balanced conversation.
Most of all, I hope you grow in relationship with God.

Much love in Christ,