A New Name

"I'll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name..." Rev 2:17

The first day of ministry began early to beat the harsh heat of the midday sun. I told the Pastor it was a good thing I am from Texas where 100+ temperatures are not that uncommon. But even with a childhood spent outside drinking water from the hose and running through rotating sprinklers for fun, I was not sure what 104 degrees would be like here in the barren dusty villages of India.

After an hour on the main road we finally turned to journey another forty-five minutes "off the beaten path". The one lane road battered the car and its passengers as we negotiated through rocks, pot holes and patches of "no road" road!

There were little signs of humanity, more animals than people and no villages in site. In many ways it does look like Texas in the sweltering summer sun. Few trees and what little vegetation remains is browned by the relentless heat.

We finally made a sharp left down a pathway that would take us back to our destination. A young boy who had been standing at the turn chased behind our van and was able to keep up because we could go no faster than a mile an hour for fear of hitting a chicken, a dog, or a rut that would hold us like a troll expecting payment for passage.

More and more villagers emerged from their huts to welcome our expected arrival. As we stopped near the "church" we were already surrounded by children as well as some curious adults. Even before I asked the question during the program I knew - I was the first white person they had ever seen. The Pastors were laughing at the gazes saying "you are so white to them!"

The newly built church had no walls, but a thick thatched roof and mats to cover the floor for seating. It was filled to capacity (of the roof and the mats) with over 40 children and 25 adults.

While my appearance could have been enough of a "show" the program proved even more entertaining than they expected. The Pastor said "these tribal people have no entertainment like the city people - there are no TVs or radios or anything here to make them laugh this much.

Laughter changes people. Joy and delight bring down the strongholds of judgment (these are the poorest of the poor as the Pastor described them). It unites us by a sense of commonality, a sense of sameness and a sense of humanity.

The audience seated in the first "church" in the area truly "tasted" and saw the Lord is good.

After the tricks, the stories, the crafts, there was one more special event to take place.

Two mothers, new believers in Christ brought their babies forward to receive Christian names. Children are typically named after one of the 300 million deities worshiped and when their is a conversion they seek new names for themselves and their offspring. Something to identify them to the Living God.

The first mother held her squirming daughter as close as the child would let me get. I asked her what she wished for her future. She answered "to grow strong in faith". As I prayed asking God for a new name I said to the mother - "you should call her Esther. She was a Queen who saved her people. She came from humble beginnings but the Lord raised her up to the most important position". I then quoted the verse "for such a time as this". And encouraged the mother with God's hope.

The second young mother brought forth twin daughters barely 3 months old. The pastor asked her the same question but she was not quite sure how to answer this "stranger from a strange land".

I told her about the two most important sisters in the Bible - Leah and Rachel the mothers of God's nation of Israel. I assured her God had great and important things planned for these sisters as well.

In Revelation, the end of the letter to the church at Pergamum says "each one will receive a new name...". Today, under the thatched roof of the Lord's house, three baby girls got the first of their promised new name in Christ.

See Revelation 21:3-5

Pray for the Harvest!
Pray for the heat!
Pray for the gates of hell are coming down!

Sweating but smiling in His service

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