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Blessings in India

November 18, 2016
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Where do I begin? How do I put into words the blessings and memories of India in any meaningful way that will convey its lasting spiritual significance on the attendees?  There were so many precious moments and teaching opportunities that will be cherished for a lifetime. While the motivation for attending the conference in India was to teach and preach about leadership in a workplace environment for the benefit of others, the lessons of leadership came back in my direction many times over because of the sweet spirit of the Christians there. In other words, I was the one being taught and convicted about true servant leadership. In the First Annual Good News 360 Leadership Conference we had a tremendous diversity of believers heralding from many walks of life. There were those who came from villages, full-time ministry, tent-making ministry, farmers, university students, engineers, government officials, nonprofits, and others who are committed to living a nomadic existence going from village to village proclaiming the sacred gospel message of Christ and living by faith. Their individual stories and callings are all very special and unique. It was demonstrably apparent that the tie that binds their Christian love is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. They make it evident in practicing true servant leadership in everything they do and say.  

Their humility and deference to others and to those in authority hits one like a ton of bricks. They espouse others before themselves, living the embodiment of sacrifice and selfless love that puts the needs of others before their own. The Christians in India exude a natural self-expression (God given) of humility and servant leadership that overpowers you when you are around them. It is part of their makeup and who they are as humble Christian believers serving a risen Savior. The extension of love, concern, and heartfelt appreciation for others permeated every aspect of the conference.  The conference had as its central focus the theme of servant leadership. I am pleased to say that everyone that I met from the group of four hundred participants strongly exhibited this Godly characteristic, including the leadership team and regional coordinators. Our comfort and well-being was foremost on their mind. I can’t express enough thanks and gratitude for their watch care over us during our stay. 

And while our hosts were exemplary in the way they practiced servant leadership by serving us and each other, we also got a real glimpse of the desperate spiritual needs of the country of India which has a population of more than a billion people. The need is overwhelming. India is made up of approximately 79% Hindu, 15% Muslim, 2.7% Christians, with the remaining religious factions making up the difference. It is a country that is filled with the hustle and bustle of everyday life and living, with people constantly on-the-go and in perpetual motion. While in the beautiful city of Hyderabad we got to see some amazing things. We stopped in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood and got within close proximity of a local mosque and watched as they had their “call to prayer.” We visited a local shopping area where vendors were peddling their wares and security was tight. We also experienced what I will call “extreme” cab riding, which is nothing out of the ordinary for the citizens of the country. There was a 10 minute shouting match between the cab driver and another vehicle after a small collision (very typical). After some lengthy haggling, the cabby deposited a small sum of money into the hand of the “victim” that was proportional to the offense and we were once again on our way. It was one of several incidents we experienced while on the roads in Hyderabad. If anyone ever has the pleasure of hailing a cab in one of the metropolitan cities of India, you are in for a real treat!  The experience is something that you will not soon forget.  

My final lasting impression of India was reserved especially for me. It occurred when boarding a plane traveling from Hyderabad to Mumbai on my way home (traveling alone). God had a teaching moment for me. While waiting to board the plane, I tried to catch a little nap while waiting to board. The first time I awoke, I noticed a large framed man in his thirties staring at me from a few rows across the way. He didn’t seem particularly happy to see me. His big dark eyes were quite ominous looking. As a matter of fact, the first time that we locked eyes I felt like I was looking at something very evil. I decided to bounce my eyes and focus on something else and promptly fell back to sleep. When I woke up again, the same thing happened. This man seemed like he was trying to stare a hole right through me. I decided right then that I wouldn’t look his way again so as not provoke him. About fifteen minutes later, we started to board the plane. I sat down at my window seat about three quarters of the way down on the left side of the large jumbo-jet as it slowly filled up. Guess who sat down right next to me? Yup, it was the gentlemen in the airport who couldn’t keep his eyes off of me. I must confess, I wasn’t too excited about this “chance” encounter. My instincts were right on target. This radicalized Muslim proceeded to take out his computer device and blast anti-American propaganda and death to the infidels as loud as the computer would allow. He then proceeded to another site on his computer where they talked about the blessings of 9/11 and of the slaughter of innocent civilians. Well, it was a moment of truth and one that I will not soon forget. I decided not to antagonize the man. I simply turned my head to the window, closed my eyes, and prayed. Very shortly thereafter, a couple of other Indian men approached and told my “new friend” that he was in their seat. The radicalized Muslim then proceeded to get up and move to his assigned seat. Yes, you got it! The Muslim purposefully sought me out for intimidation purposes. He sought me out to tell me that he didn’t want me in his country again. Satan was telling me never to come back to the country of India. All of these thoughts and more were swirling through me head as my “new friend” went back to his seat. After all of the joy and blessing of the leadership conference, was this going to be my lasting impression of India? Lord, why did you send a radicalized Muslim to try to intimidate me eight thousand miles away from home while traveling alone? What are you trying to show and teach me?

As I sat there contemplating what had just happened, the thoughts about resting and trusting in my Savior starting pouring forth with numerous verses coming to mind. However, the story was not quite over. Once my “new friend” departed and the rightful owner of the seat sat down, I began to focus on the blessings of God and the spiritual significance of the situation. It just so happened that the second Indian who sat next to me was a born again believer in Christ Jesus! What an opportunity we had over the next half hour to share with one another about God’s providence, protection, and divine intervention.

We are in a spiritual warfare in high places. There are spiritual forces of evil, destruction, and death on the one hand. On the other, there are spiritual forces of goodness, love, and light. God was telling me that I will undoubtedly encounter evil forces from time to time in my short ambassadorship here on earth. He was also reminding me that He is sufficient. In the end, God wins the victory. He binds Satan for one thousand years and subsequently casts him into the lake of fire. The enemy has no chance when going up against God; encroaching His power; and fighting the eternal and everlasting power of the Holy Spirit. God was also reminding me through this situation that the forces of good will always prevail. I am simply to take refuge in the shadow of His wings and call upon Him in times of trouble. Praise God for the wonderful and successful trip to India. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The people of India are a blessing and I hope to return soon!  My lasting impression of India is a great one! It is a country where Christians abound with servant leaders’ hearts and where the need to proclaim Christ to unbelievers is everywhere!          


Comments

Jerry Knoblet December 5, 2016 @ 4:58PM
Michael,

I am with you, brother. I can see it happening. I think you handled it perfect.

Jerry Knoblet

Bill Horner III November 22, 2016 @ 5:00PM
Michael, thanks for your testimony and your commitment and willingness to go to India! I know you were a huge blessing to Billy and the brothers and sisters there...

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