The students hastened back to hearth and home and to a reunion with their families and congregations, further strengthen I hope for the ministry before them. Saturday evening draws to a close here, the Sabbath fast approaches, but my work remains incomplete. One more task lies ahead tomorrow, the labor most near and dear to my heart. In the morning a driver will transport us into the depths of the slums on the east side of the city where a congregation of over 100 people expects to gather, including many unconverted souls. I can almost taste the privilege, though I cannot fully comprehend the Lord’s mercy in sending me as one poor beggar to tell other beggars where to find bread, even the manna of heaven. They have invited me to preach the unsearchable riches found in our crucified Savior, and frankly, my soul warms at the prospects. In many ways, we find here the priceless gem at the end of this portion of the journey. As delightful as it is to equip men to minister the Word, in pales in comparison to the joy of preaching to sinners yourself, eyeball to eyeball. If the Lord will lend strength to my voice, I would have the gospel ringing in the ears of every Hindu within ear shot.
They inform me that the small building includes a covered portion outside the walls with space large enough to accommodate those who meet. The description sounds like an open-air environment to me, and if so, then God has provided a familiar setting — a personal favorite. Remember that the Lord delighted in the company of outcast publicans and sinners throughout his earthly ministry, and his presence can still be found among them today. I am devoid of any experience with Indian slums, and I possess no mental images to draw upon. But I know well what it means to worship the living and true God.
So please join me in contemplating the scene for a brief moment.
What a profound lesson in contrasts. On the one hand we behold those who only know the dark side of this sin-cursed world, surrounded by filthy rubble, dilapidated buildings and the stench of poverty. No fine clothes and no cozy comforts exist in sight. They subsist without our addictions to sumptuous fare and luxuries. But tomorrow brings the Christian Sabbath to their believing thresholds, and when we pull back the veil of sight, what do we see now? From this clump of dirt, worship is offered in the eternal throne room of heaven. The King of glory enters the slums of India to inhabit the praises of his people and to proclaim a Word of grace, while unimaginable angelic beings robed in splendor gather in attendance at the public assembly. We are home, my friends! So very far from Greenville and so very near the place we love best. I must stop before the floods of emotion sweep me away and I lose all composure.
You habitually pray for preaching from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, and I am confident that you will not fail to petition the King for his blessing on the clarion blast of his gospel trumpet as it resounds on the east side of Ahmedabad tomorrow. As always, I owe you a great debt for your love.
Please pardon the abrupt change of topics, but I should conclude with some details about the next couple of days. From here we push off for the shores of Sri Lanka. We depart from the hotel at the close of the Lord’s Day, leaving at midnight for the airport. That means no sleep tomorrow night. Our flight leaves at around 4:00 a.m., and they require us to be there three and a half hours before departure. (Third-world airports bear no resemblance to GSP.) We fly 3+ hours in the exact opposite direction of Sri Lanka back to Dubai for our connecting flight. Then we retrace our path through the skies back out of the Middle East, over all of India and into Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, arriving in the mid-afternoon. Parthee plans to meet us at the airport and transport us six hours north to his home and our final destination. Please pray for our travel.
Consequently, you will hear neither post nor peep from me until sometime Tuesday at the earliest (our time), if we are spared. Despite the silence of the blog, you will be much in your pastor’s thoughts and prayers, especially as we unite at the throne over the Lord’s Day. May the Lord shower down spiritual blessings upon your souls in the preaching of his Word and in the fellowship of the saints. I will pray to that end.
“How lovely is they dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts, to me!
The tabernacles of thy grace
how pleasant, Lord, they be!”
(Psalm 84:1, metrical)
P.S. Two of the attached pictures were taken from the roof of the training center. Just like in the New Testament, Asia still makes extensive use of the top of all of their houses and buildings, including sleeping on the roof in the heat of summer. But, children, please note the contrast between the squalor on the Hindu side of the building and the relative attractiveness of the small Christian neighborhood on the other side of the building. Can you see the tangible impact of the gospel witness? Never take for granted the past influence of the Scriptures on the West. As America retreats from allegiance to Christ’s crown rights, physical degradation may accompany the more important spiritual impoverishment, just as roots give way to fruits. You cannot spurn Jesus without embracing barbarity.
Thank you for your persevering prayers.
Your devoted servant,
Pastor Rob McCurley