Written on July 13, 2019 in Vuyyuru, Andhra Pradesh, India
The Moth Monster
Beginning around midnight last night, I wrote yesterday’s blog post for nearly two hours. It was around 2:15 AM before I posted it and shut down for the night. Dwight went to sleep right when I started writing. We shut out the lights and had the fan and A/C unit running on high.
I spent the first hour writing with my back propped up against the wall. When that position become tiresome, I rolled over to my stomach and continued writing. All of the sudden, I feel something large brush up against my ear with a heavy flutter.
I hit the side of my head as hard as I could and I’m pretty sure I got whatever it was. But, again, after 5 seconds, it hits me again.
At this point, I can’t hear out of my right ear and I’m starting to get really nervous about what’s flying around me.
It brushed against the side of my head again and I jump back, grab my phone and look for a moth the size of a dinner plate swooping around me.
But there wasn’t anything to be found. All I see is a curtain, swaying with the breeze from the fan, above my pillow.
The Cat Burglar
I finish writing the post and settle into bed. I’ve set the A/C to a warmer temperature (it was freezing in the room) and grabbed my blanket. I laid in bed but was having a hard time falling asleep, given the 6 hours of naps I took yesterday.
So, I stared into the darkness waiting to drift off. But then I began to hear a rustling, coming from the doorway. It sounded like someone was outside our room looking for something in a pantry. I dismissed it at first but then thought, “who would be looking for something in the pantry at 2:30 AM?”
The sound continued and wasn’t changing. It was as though there was something nosing it’s way through a bag, looking for something to eat. Then the rest of the thoughts came:
“What if there’s some animal that’s come in looking for food?”
“Is the bedroom door locked?”
“What’s the closest thing I can grab to defend myself?”
So, my fear got the better of me and I went to the door. I grabbed the latch and tried to quietly move it to the locked position. I didn’t want whatever was on the other side of the door to hear me. But, unfortunately, I cannot get the lock to engage and the position of the rustling has change. It was behind me.
So, I looked around and found the source of the consistent commotion: a makeshift trash at I had hung on the bedpost, directly under the fan.
Here’s what I’ve come to learn:
Excessive napping is the source of wild nighttime imaginations. And ceiling fans are the puppet masters that animate everything in the room.
Don’t take naps on international trips.
After getting six solid hours of sleep, I woke up to breakfast. We had Indian pancakes with chutney. They also served a variant of french toast that was more savory than what we’re used to in the States. It was delicious.
With every meal, the serve us tea. We would call it “Chai tea” back home but here in India, they find this title confusing. Here, “Chai” means tea. So, when we say “Chai tea” they hear “tea tea”. It's prepared in a special way. First, they boil water and add powdered spices to it. They let it boil together for 10-15 minutes, then add milk and sugar. They bring it back to a boil for another 10-15 minutes and then serve it at 211°. It will burn your tongue in a heartbeat but it’s worth it.
Church Planter Training
We left around 9:15 to go to a training for church planters. There was a group of about 50 church planters who graduated from the program today. They take these pastors through a seven-week process to equip them with theological and leadership training. We had the opportunity to share with them on this final day.
These leaders were from all over. They did not fit inside the small church we were teaching in. Many gathered outside and listened through the doorways and windows.
Dwight started the morning off with a session about church movements and what they have in common. Jake and Sammie shared their testimonies. I followed them with a message reminding them of the core of our faith: love God and love people.
We then had morning tea and enjoyed more homemade chai and cookies. ☕️
Dwight continued on with a session on making disciples and encouraging them to take 3-5 people under their wing and explore scripture together. He used the acronym SOAP to communicate it (obviously SOAP didn’t translate but the principles did).
- Scripture. Read a passage together.
- Observation. Share what you notice about the scripture.
- Application. Apply what you learn to your life.
- Pray. Pray for each other when you come together.
It's easy, simple, and powerful.
We broke for lunch and enjoyed rice and chicken. I don’t know what they do to their chicken here but it tastes 1000x better than chicken back home. It came with a “yogurt”. It was more akin to salty hot milk with white and green onions in it. It took the edge off the spiciness of the rice and chicken.
We continued teaching on into the afternoon. Dwight preached his classic message about the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus’s command to his disciples. Jesus told them to feed the crowd. When they came up virtually empty-handed, he performed a miracle in their hands to feed the entire crowd. This is the frustrating and fulfilling call of being a leader in the church:
“You must do what you cannot do with what you do not have for the rest of your life.” - Dwight Nash
This is where God can move and perform incredible miracles.
I followed him with a teaching on how to prepare and deliver a sermon well. The spoken word has been the primary way the gospel has been shared since Jesus time. We must do it with excellence and intentionality if we are to see the lost come to know Jesus. There were three things I wanted them to remember:
- Motivation. We must be aware of our heart as we prepare and preach. It should never be used to serve our own interests. It should always equip the church to do the work that God has called them to.
- Method. We should have a process for preparing our minds and outlines ahead of preaching. I encouraged them to pray, read the passage in context, ask questions, and identify one thing we want them to do with it.
- Message. We should deliver with excellence. The main thing is to connect and communicate one thing with clarity. I shared with them a sermon outline from Andy Stanley.
We then opened our Bibles to Mark 1:16-20 and we all wrote a sermon using the process above.
Finally, Pastor Meesala preached a final message and prayed a commissioning over these church planters. We were able to capture pictures of 34 pastors and their families. Pray for these leaders and the work they will do.
We headed home and rested for an hour. I took the opportunity to get ahead of some picture editing while the rest of the team napped (I’m not falling into that trap again).
We then left for the orphanage.
It was started in 2001 after Pastor Meesala felt a call to take in five children. Over time, that number grew to 34. At present, they have 15 boys in their care and we spent the evening with them. Jake shared the story of David and Goliath with them and we all had an opportunity to impart some greetings.
After this, we took a tour of the orphanage. It was built and opened in 2011, despite having 21 neighbors take the ministry to court in an effort to oppose it. Before we went to the orphanage, we stopped by a property that will one day house a larger building. Currently, they can only have 15-20 boys. With a new facility, their goal is to have 25 boys and 25 girls, with space for a school. They began construction but there have been delays due to a lack of funding.
We spent the remainder of our time with them playing games. We played Simon Says, which is extremely interesting with a language barrier. We moved on to a push-up challenge (they won). Then they taught us one of their games. It was similar to Red Rover. You would send one of your teammates over and the goal was to touch a player on the other team, then retreat past midfield. The other team would try to apprehend that person before they made it back across the line. It was tag, on a field, that involved some tackling. It’s a great game that probably wouldn’t be approved in the USA.
We’ll be attending a church tomorrow morning and I have the opportunity to preach to this congregation. Afterwards, we’ll go to the beach at the Bay of Bengal. I’ve been promised that they are going to teach me how to play cricket while we are there. Then we’ll return to Vijayawada and do some shopping in the evening. On Monday, we’ll be driving through the jungle to Kurnool to do ministry there through Thursday. Tune in tomorrow for more updates!
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