My trip to India this year was amazing once again. I was hoping and praying that the trip wasn’t going to continue like it started out. My GPS kept “re-routing” me through Atlanta to “avoid traffic” and “save time” and I almost missed my flight. It turned into a blessing, however, when everyone was seated on the plane and I looked to my left to see three empty seats. Being able to stretch out and lay down made the 14 hour flight more palatable.
I arrived in Hyderabad at 3:30am on Friday to the smiling face of my beloved brother and host, Pastor Suresh Kumar. Soon we met up with the rest of my welcoming party, (Suresh’s wife Swathi, his daughter Prince, his sister Nimmy, Swathi’s brother Survesh and Suresh’s nephew Stalin). It was so great to see all of them again. We made the three and a half (3.5) hour trek from Hyderabad to Khamam by car. We rested for a while and then went to the homestead to see the rest of the family. I am always blessed to see them. They always make me feel like I am part of the family.
The next day we hit the ground running, driving over five hours to another district to visit Paraklesis Ministries partner Pastor Devadanam Perika so I could preach at a pastor’s conference he had arranged. We were late getting there because it was much further than we expected, but the conference was great and we had the opportunity to minister to many of God’s faithful servants. After the conference we dedicated a new building for Pastor Perika’s church. The building was given to them by their government so they are not allowed to use it for religious purposes, but it is still a significant blessing. They will use it for the orphaned children they care for, who have great need of it. Traveling back to Khamam in the late evening, there was so much traffic on the sub par backwoods roads that we didn’t get back to the city until 1:30am. It was a long and exhausting day, but we are blessed to have been a part of it.
Sunday I was honored to preach at the Kumar’s church and pray for many people. After the service, I spent some time talking and catching up with people I’ve come to know during past trips. It was a wonderful day of fellowship and rest.
Monday morning I went with Suresh to run a few errands. Later we visited a small church in town and got to preach there. Then in the evening we attended the life celebration service for Mighty, who is my brother Pandu’s baby girl. In their culture it is tradition to celebrate when a child reaches six (6) months of age. The celebration is marked by the baby eating their first solid food, usually a pulverized sweetened rice mixture, from the hands of each family member. I not only got to preach at this celebration, but was honored and humbled to be included as a family member in feeding little Mighty some of her first solid food.
Tuesday was a long day of ministry. We started off early and traveled to another district with Prakashim, who is Swathi’s father and a pastor here in this forest region. We preached and ministered in 4 different churches Prakashim is associated with, and then went to a field and blessed a local pastor’s crop. By the time we returned to Khamam, it was 2:30am. Very tiring, but what an incredible day of ministry and watching God work!
Wednesday and Thursday we traveled to several homes and were able to meet people and pray for their needs. We also preached in two different churches. At each church we laid hands on people and prayed for them, and we saw God work in many lives. Some times we did not see the results of our prayer immediately, but later on the people reported back to us that they saw God’s hand when they arrived home after the service.
Friday we preached at another church and then just hung out with the family. That evening I began to come down with a deep cough. Saturday I was having a hard time controlling the cough, and I slept until they came to my hotel room to pick me up for dinner. They insisted on taking me to see a doctor, who gave me several prescriptions, and we went on our way. Not knowing what I was given or what the doctor said, I was a little nervous about the situation. I texted Bridget (The Church at Asheville’s resident physician) and went over everything with her. She was able to calm me down, saying the doctor had been thorough with what he had given me.
By Sunday I felt horrible but I powered through, preaching at two different churches in town. Suresh canceled the meetings that were scheduled for Monday so I could rest, but by evening I had developed a fever.
I spent all day Tuesday in my hotel room, and mostly in bed, with this fever. The family called about 7:00 so I could be ready for them to pick me up for dinner. I told them that I was just not able. They immediately came to the hotel. After a short while Devamoney (Mummy) came over and laid hands on me and prayed for my healing. As she prayed, I could feel the Power of God come into my body and begin to heal me. By 9:30 that evening my fever had broken, and by the next morning, my symptoms were gone. Praise Jesus!
Wednesday and Thursday we went to several homes and met and prayed with different people, and in the evenings I spent time with the family. On Friday we saw as many people as we could before we had to make the long drive back to the airport. My flight was scheduled to depart at 3:40 in the morning on Saturday.
I was blessed with an empty seat between me and the next person on both flights coming home. Believe me, when you have been crammed into an airplane with people right next to you for 14 hours at a stretch, even once, you really appreciate a little extra room. We touched down in Atlanta late Friday, and I drove home from the airport Saturday morning. It’s about a four hour trip from the airport to my home, so I didn’t want to risk driving that far after being without sleep for a day and a half.
Overall it was an amazing trip. Thank you Jesus for allowing me to serve you in this way. I feel like the servants you send me to bless me much more than I bless them. And who knows, maybe they feel the same way. I hope so. Being an encouragement and a strength to each other builds the Body of Christ. And we need that support from one another to do what the Lord asks of us, whatever that may be.