Last month, I shared with you about our ministry opportunity at Leonard Theological College. After we departed from Jabalpur, we headed to Delhi and then on to Sat Tal. The trip from Delhi to Sat Tal was my first opportunity to ride the train in India. We were seated in a car that served a meal and had spacious seating, so I did not get the full experience of riding in the more often seen jam-packed train cars. As we were heading to Sat Tal, Tom shared with me that there was a man he wanted me to meet. His name is Rudy (name is changed for this man’s safety). Rudy is a goldsmith who responded to God’s call upon his life to share Jesus Christ with people in small and rural villages in the Himalayan Mountain foothills of northeast India. Rudy has several house churches where he leads worship each week. Tom had made contact with another of our friends to set up a time for me to meet Rudy and travel with him to some of the house churches.
On Friday, October 5, Rudy arrived around lunchtime to eat with us at Sat Tal and then for he and I to travel to some of the house churches. When we came out of the dining hall, I saw our mode of transportation would be a sport motorcycle. I put my backpack on my back and Rudy and I loaded up for an adventure. I did not know where we were going, how long it would take to get there, or enough Hindi to communicate well with Rudy. We mounted the motorcycle and began our 45-minute journey to get to the first house church. As we were riding up and down the foothills on curvy roads, Rudy would look back to me and say, “Are you ok?” (this was one of few phrases he knew in English). We turned off the main road onto a rutted dirt road that at one point caused me to have to bail off the bike because we got stuck and started to fall to the side.
We got to our first stop and walked down a path to a group of three houses. We were warmly greeted and the family put down a carpet in the main room of the house where Rudy and I joined with some of the people for singing and prayer. One of the young daughters (about 9-11 years old) suffers with a neurological issue that doctors are treating. I prayed a special prayer for her during our stay. I was able to get a picture of this young family, and they gave me walnuts and oranges as a gift. As Rudy and I were walking back up the path, he stopped abruptly in front of me and put out his arms. He said, “Black snake. Cobra.” I never saw it, but I believe him!
We left this house church and headed to another location where there were two houses close together. Both families are Christian believers and we spent time with them praying and singing. One of the families is in the midst of a dispute with the government who is stating they do not have the proper paperwork to prove they own the property and home in which they live. The accusation of them squatting on this land seems to be tied closely to their decision to become Christians. I prayed that the truth would come to light and this harassment and persecution would be overcome through the power of Jesus Christ. As we left this house church, they gave Rudy a small watermelon.
Then we traveled to the final house church we would visit. This group of houses was peppered down a long, winding, steep path that took us from the road above to a stream down below. As we were walking down the path, I was constantly reminded that I would have to traverse this path going back up to the roadway. As we stopped at a couple of the houses on our way down, we found there were several people who were not at home or were visiting at another home. We ended up at the edge of a stream that was a little over ankle deep. Rudy signaled to me that we would have to cross the stream to get to a house where there were people home to visit. I lifted up the hem of my pants and we walked across the stream. The local youth were watchful as I crossed the stream. We got to the other side and met with a family that had several girls ranging in age from 7 years old to later teens or early twenties. At this house, we met on a mat in the front yard. We prayed together, and as I started praying the girls began to giggle. I thanked God for laughter and began to laugh myself. It was a deeply moving time to spend with them. At this house, the family gave Rudy some corn they had recently harvested. We crossed the stream and headed back up the mountain. I will admit Rudy and I had to stop on more than one occasion to gather our breath, while the young lady who was with us and some little boys ran circles around us!
This experience was a very moving experience and I continue to pray for Rudy and his ministry. He has a deep heart for people to come to know Jesus and to find freedom in Christ’s love and grace. Rudy left the assurance of a good paycheck in his home state in India to enter into this ministry. The places he is going, no churches are presently sending people to be in ministry. His calling and his obedience are a testimony to living out Jesus’ call “to take up your cross daily and follow me.” I will continue to stay in touch with Rudy in the coming months and look forward to traveling with him again when I return to India in the Fall of 2019. There is a risk for me to go with him because of some militant Hindus who do not want the Gospel to be shared. I trust the Lord will continue to protect Rudy and when I return to protect me as we encourage these Christians and encourage them to share Christ with others. Please pray for Rudy as he continues to seek the Lord’s direction for his life and for his financial needs to be met. He has a wife and baby.