Visitors to India often find that the religious culture and practices of this overcrowded subcontinent are a feast for, or assault on, the senses. The pungent aroma of burning incense fills the markets. Conch-shell horns and tinkling brass bells rings out from the shadows of smoke-filled temples. Posters of many-armed gods riding on tigers splash across pitted cement walls. Soured milk and mustard oil smear the broken tiles of roadside shrines while rats skitter away with offerings of sweet pastries and chunks of fruit. Holy men called sadhus carry tridents and walk barefoot down sidewalks in their bright-orange loincloths and black dreadlocks, their faces smeared with colored pastes. In every shop, office, home and hut, shrines filled with idols hang prominently on walls. All of this hyper materialism and idolatry is an outpouring of the Indian peoples deep desire to see God.
On a recent sunny Sabbath afternoon, I preached on a hillside not far from Darjeeling. My audience was a mix of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists. I spoke about John chapter 20 when Mary met the risen Christ. The substance of my message went something like this:
When I first came to India, I visited one of the largest Hindu temples in Darjeeling. Just below the main temple is a small cave filled with idols and images of Hindu gods. Later, I visited a Buddhist monastery where I saw another cave that contained a golden image of Buddha. If you travel to the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia, you can visit the tomb where the Prophet Muhammad is buried.
However, if you were to travel to Israel and find the cave-tomb where Jesus was buried, you would find it empty. True Christianity is different from all other world religions because Christians dont find God in a cave. He is alive, and He dwells with us wherever we are. And we dont trust what we see, because were often blind to the truth. Mary didnt know who Jesus was because she saw Him, but because she recognized His voice when He said her name.
As I spoke, I could sense the Holy Spirit was moving. After the sermon, a blind man named Nicholas told me how much the message had encouraged him.
Weve come to India to help people understand they dont need idols because God is with them and is speaking to them every day. That what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).
We are in the States this month visiting our family, friends and supporters. Its only through your financial support and prayers that we are able to reach the Gorkha people of India for Christ. Please prayerfully consider pledging your support to help us return to India and continue our ministry.