Word for Word 2/21/18

Mission trip to India ... In the photo above, Pastor Steve Oden prays for healing and visits with a family. Robin Oden, pictured below, prays for the leader of a slum village. Submitted photos.

My wife and I have just returned from a mission trip to India. Just as India is half a world away, so their culture is just as different. It’s a place of the 5:30 a.m. Islamic call to prayer, cattle roaming the streets amidst heavy traffic, people everywhere, traffic (and the steering wheel) on the wrong side of the road,  roosters crowing all night long, 85 degree temperatures by 10 a.m. (and it’s their winter), Hindu priests walking and chanting through the neighborhoods receiving offerings of rice in their headdresses, no road signs, and if there are any, no one pays attention to them anyway (they are just “road decorations”), stench from the open sewers running along the sides of streets and homes,  this is India! As I said several times upon arrival, “We’re not in Kansas anymore!”

But, the people, though mostly poor, are very warm and gracious. Since we were there over the New Year’s holiday, we were able to greet everyone with a smile and a “Happy New Year,” and their faces would light up and they would want to shake your hand and take a “selfie” with you! Our pictures are on many phones in India! Many spoke some English. Sandy and Luther Meier of Missionary Ventures, (Sandy Hagen formerly of Waterville) have traveled the world over in their missionary work. They told us that of all the places they’ve been, India is the place where the people still live the most  like they lived in Jesus’ time. Although, thankfully, we stayed in a very modern home with Pastor Dany and his family and three orphans.

When it comes to the family or body of Christ, it doesn’t matter what the differences are. We are one in Christ, in His Spirit, and that common faith brings a connection and unity that crosses all barriers. There is nothing else on this earth that compares to this unifying work of the Holy Spirit in His people. We instantly felt this kindred Spirit with the Indian believers. We made many endearing relationships while there. 

And people are people, no matter when they live, where they live or how they live. We are all born with a common, terminal, spiritual disease. The Bible teaches us that we all, no matter what the circumstances, are born sinners. The punishment of that sin is everlasting death or hell, which is separation from God’s presence, because God is a holy God.  But God, while we were yet God haters, sacrificed His Son Jesus to die   in our place (on a cross) to take the punishment for our sins. We are then taught that if we repent of those sins, confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe with all of our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved. He who calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved (from this deadly, sin disease and accompanying punishment) and given the gift of  eternal life. So, the people of India, as well as the people of Allamakee County, all need to hear and respond to the same gospel message and Savior. God’s love is universal, and Jesus, His Son, is truly the Savior of all.

We had the joy and privilege of ministering in Pastor Dany’s home church of 500  (mostly former Hindus and Muslims) there in Vijayawada and in the smaller, sister churches in 12 surrounding villages. We taught the Word of God, gave testimonies, and prayed for hundreds of people for healing and whatever needs they had. We saw many people healed. We did several prayer walks through the neighborhoods, city,  countryside and even on a mountain! We shared at a pastor’s conference in a very remote, outlying village. We were able to train leaders to then, in turn, go back and teach and train their church people, which can then impact a nation. We also  helped to serve a neighborhood “Love Feast” on New Year’s Day inside the home church to over 900 people, street people, orphans, Hindus, Muslims, etc. This Love Feast was to reach out to all neighbors with the love of Jesus. Our church, New Life Christian Church, was also able to help finance the redigging of a well for a village. The well water  was bad and the contaminated water was making the people sick and deformed. This well “of living water” will be a blessing in Christ’s Name to the entire village as well as the surrounding area.

Pastor Dany, the pastor of the home church and where we stayed, had a tragic explosion in his home a year ago November that left his body over 40% burned. His story of this event and his miraculous visitation and healing has been put into a book. Andy Hayner and his wife Tina, the other two with us on the trip, wrote Dany’s story down in a book and Robin edited it. The book was completed while we were in India and can now be purchased on Amazon.com. The name of the book is Through the Fire by Meka Dany.  It’s an incredible read; we’d encourage everyone to get it and then share it. This story will greatly encourage and inspire anyone and everyone, especially those going through a great trial. Andy also took video footage of our entire trip. He has posted 10 minute vlogs online on his Youtube channel. You can share our experiences  by going to Youtube, typing Andy Hayner in the search bar, and then finding the Vlog selections of India numbers 10-18, 20 and 21. Enjoy “going to India” with us from the comfort of your own home to see what great things God is doing around the world!

Pastor Steve and Robin Oden
New Life Christian Church


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