Each day of ministry has been just overcast enough to keep the unbearable heat tolerable, and there would be a little bit of sunshine throughout the day - but no rain.
That is, until yesterday. A cyclone hit the west coast of India on Tuesday and the bands of storm clouds reached finally reached the east coast (where we are). Huge thunder clouds surrounded us from every direction. My interpreters and teammates for the day kept watchful eyes on the threatening skies throughout our 1 1/2 hour drive to the village. "Rain coming! This will not be good." When a national utters a warning like that you know the odds are it will "not be good" it will in fact mostly likely be very very BAD!
The area of Nellore has already suffered severe flooding and more rain on muddy dirt roads makes for impassable places and potential stuck vehicles.
I offered optimism. "No, my ministry is Sunshine After Rain, you had rain last week - this week sunshine only." It was hard to sound believable as the sky grew darker. Miraculously, and thankfully we had a day without rain. But it did come with its share of "darkness."
The plan for the day was to have four village programs for children. November 14 is the holiday know as National Children's day, so all the schools were closed and children were already anticipating something special. They really couldn't picture what we were bringing - but their excitement level was at a fever pitch. Wild clapping, exuberant laughter and when it came time to make Gospel Bracelets or hand out balloons and chocolate, pandemonium.
The two young youth workers were just as excited to see something new as well. They were thanking me for showing them new ways to reach children. At the end of the day it didn't look favorable for the sunshine to last. Every few minutes a drop would fall from the sky. I would hold my hands upward (in a makeshift effort to abate the coming downpour). When we began to head toward the last village, my interpreter (Dennis) nervously laughed. "Sister, each time we have tried to have a program in this place it has rained. I don't know about this place. There are lots of demons there. The children are very mischievous. I think it will be hard."
Threatening weather and threatening people; this information did not make for an enthusiastic performer on the way out to the "way out."
It was difficult reaching the gathering. The roads were narrow and extremely muddy. At any moment it felt like our little mini-Cooper sized car would be swallowed in the mire. Dennis stopped the car to make sure we could get through. We were immediately surrounded by a group of hostile women banging on my window asking for what - I had no clue?
Dennis calmed them down, encouraged them to bring their children and they finally walked on. He explained to me, the last time visitors were here they left because the crowd became chaotic and threatening and so they didn't leave anything behind (food, rice, money, or chocolates) but hastily exited filled with fear.
All day as we negotiated through, towns, villages and what could perhaps be called "enclaves" of humanity, I kept noticing men clad in black shirts and mid-calf length skirting. I asked Dennis what this signified. He explained it was the time of year to worship a certain demonic god - and these darkly clad men were the followers. They were everywhere. They were unsettling. They were triggering my Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD).
I fought to quote scriptures, hold my spirit in check, etc, etc... However, the darker the night the more the men in black appeared. At the village, those same men surrounded us on all sides. Some were visibly drunk. An occasional skirmish would break out between the inebriated, but the pastors and lay workers would soon usher them on down the road away from our gathering. They heckled (I presume) what the interpreters were saying.
"Greater is He that is with me." 1 John 4:4
The village kids enjoyed the program and laughed, the women too, and some of the elderly men grinned from time to time. But always the leering looks of the enemy (dressed as men in black) caught my eye.
I made it through. No worse for the wear. I was NOT in danger. There were seven men with me which could have quickly provided protection and I hasten to add the Spirit and the Hosts were guarding me as well.
But this morning after a story night - it hit; the "PTSD." Fear washed over me. I am a person who faced the enemy and was attacked. I cried. I prayed. I called my therapist (and very best friend), and I called my comrade who had shared the event with me in Gokak.
I left this morning for another full day of ministry, praying for my Elisha answer:
"Alas my master, how shall we do? And he answered, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, "I pray to open his eyes that he may see." And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." 2 Kings 6:17
I know when I am weak - He is strong. Today, the strong arm of salvation and mercy was with me. One hundred more children and villagers heard the name of Jesus lifted up and the King of Kings glorified. I might not have "seen" the chariots of fire, but I have no doubt they were there. It is His promise!
My time here in Nellore has ended with over 1000 village children and adults being ministered to. Tomorrow morning I leave for a 4 hour drive back down to Chennai, a flight to Delhi, and there I will meet up with the team from East West. We will overnight in Delhi then catch a morning flight to Guwahati, and travel 5 hours to Gouapur the first stop for our Children's camp programs.
Pray for their rest on the long flight to India and for travel mercies on each step of our journey.
Praise God for the works He has accomplished here and the opportunities He has ahead.
Praise God for counting me worthy to suffer a vicious attack, protect me and allow me to press on for the upward high calling.
Praise God for He is worthy of all praise.
Smiling at the thought I have a "chariot" driver named Benhur!
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