Reflections from India – Part 3

It is encouraging to hear a people gathered and worshipping the Lord in their own tongue. But not everyone at the church in Orissa was singing joyfully. Some instead stared blankly, wondering who these guests sitting in front of them were. I knew that not everyone there was a perfect Christian full of bold faith, willing to profess Christ in the face of death. I didn’t know what the preacher was preaching, but it was powerful and forceful. Even if it was an excellent sermon, though, I know that there were those whose hearts weren’t fully open to hearing the gospel.

The anti-Christian violence was widespread, and I know it wasn’t only the strongest of believers that endured the persecution. People have moved out of the villages for fear of their lives. I heard of how some people in Orissa had backslidden in their faith. Some had broken down in the midst of intense persecution and pressure, reconverting to Hinduism to avoid being killed or tortured. I know there are many who have doubts, who struggle to understand God’s love and grace in the midst of untold suffering.

I prayed that this realization wouldn’t harden my heart to the suffering of God’s people in Orissa. Seeing the rustic poverty there didn’t hit me like the poverty in Tijuana did when I was in junior high school, when I saw abject poverty for the first time. But realizing the humanness of the Oriyan believers–that not everyone responds like a saint (indeed, how would I have responded?)–actually makes me pray harder, with brokenness, because it shows me how much of a spiritual battle this really is. But I know that God will prevail, and so I pray with confidence.

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