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,



  1. So Wonderful to read about more of your experiences~* Love from home~!

  2. Anders,

    Sounds like you are having a wonderful and rewarding experience. Thank you for serving in Christ's name!!!


  3. Happy late birthday brother. I meant to write yesterday but didn't end up getting to it. I am hoping that your birthday was a blessing to others as you said is tradition there in India. Miss you man.