My recent trip to India was amazing with several new experiences and new opportunities for ministry and growing relationships. My first couple of days gave me an opportunity to acclimate to the new time zone (10.5 hour difference from Illinois) and to reconnect with a few of the people I met in 2017 when I stayed at the YMCA Hostel in Delhi. Our conversations were truly blessed. Tom Albin and I were able to get our game plan together for the two Christian Ashrams we would be helping to lead.
On the second full day in India, I had the opportunity to return to the airport to board an Indian airline called “SpiceJet” to travel to Jabalpur. I have flown in and out of the International Terminal on United Airlines on three occasions, but this was my first venture in taking a domestic airline in India. Tom and I were quite impressed with the new turbo prop Bombardier Q400 and the flight from Delhi to Jabalpur. When we arrived to Jabalpur, we went straight to Leonard Theological College where we would be leading a weekend Christian Ashram for the faculty and students.
The Leonard Theological College campus was an amazing example of community living as there are homes and living quarters for faculty, married students, and single students. The Principal of the school, Rev. Dr. Naveen Rao has become a great friend in India and in the past four years has taken this theological institution from the brinks of bankruptcy and decay to a thriving, spirit-filled institution. The majority of our times of teaching were in Gandhi Hall, a space where Mahatma Gandhi spoke in 1934. This space was unusable, falling in on itself when Brother Rao took over the Principal’s position. He made this space and the chapel the priority for restoration as places for worship and community engagement.
After our arrival on Thursday, we met with the faculty for a time of introduction and prayer. During the meeting, Tom and I learned that the student–led prayer cell had been, for several weeks, planning a healing service for Friday morning’s chapel. We learned there had never been a healing service at Leonard Theological College and that the students had approached the faculty about participating with the students in this healing service. The service was an amazing and powerful expression of the Holy Spirit and the humility and hunger of the students and faculty. The faculty served as the leaders of the time of anointing and prayer. As the students came to the altar, the faculty would anoint them and pray for them. As most of the students had been anointed, I witnessed a beautiful expression of community and trust as faculty moved from the place of anointing to asking their colleagues to anoint them and pray for them.
As Tom got up to offer the benediction, he invited the faculty to kneel at the altars and asked the students to gather around the faculty to pray for them. The willingness of the faculty to have the students pray for them was once again a powerful expression of the spiritual growth happening at Leonard Theological College. After most everyone left from the chapel, Tom and I were asked to meet with the student-led Prayer Cell. They told us how they had been fasting in preparation for this special service. They wanted Tom and I to pray with them as they prepared to head to lunch to break the fast. I was moved in my spirit as I considered the spiritual fervor of these students who truly were seeking the Lord for healing. They were unselfish in their fasting and prayed for healing of soul, mind, body, spirit, and relationship to be experienced in their community. I am encouraged for the future of the Church in India with these young leaders entering into ministry inside and outside the local church.
The three days of Christian Ashram were amazing and we heard reports of people recommitting their lives to Christ and surrendering themselves to God’s will for their lives. The fervor, desire, and strength of each of the students and faculty stirred my spirit and caused me to want to partner with this school in the future to help them continue their work as preparers and senders of ministry leaders in India and around the world.