India is a far away place.
Any way you look at it, India is really far, far away.
Many readers would compliantly agree with the reality of this statement…India being far, far away.
Yet most would not begin to understand just how far India really is. One can watch on television documentaries or read books about India, but unless you have actually visited there and had the opportunity to immerse yourself into the culture, you can really not understand just how far India really is.
Sure India is a couple-three long flights from the ITMI base in Arizona.
Long as in 4+ hours to Chicago, then 9+ to Frankfurt, Germany, and finally 10+ to Chennai, India. Not included were the layovers at each airport and the 2 mechanically disabled United Airlines planes that realistically added an additional 24 hours to the already long transit to India.
But if the travel details were all that anyone considered in their understanding about how far away India is, the surface of understanding would have hardly been scratched in relation to how far India is in all the other considerations of life.
Many would agree that the food and dress of India is different, far different than what we Westerners or Americans are used to.
Some, including this writer, enjoy the unique and foreign myriad of spices and curries that explode on your taste buds in each right-hand-utensilless-fed mouthful.
Yet this culinary uniqueness still doesn’t come close to helping one understand just how far India really is from what we know and accept.
Almost 1.3+ billion people, over 4 times the population of the US, squeezed into a land mass that is less than a 1/3 of what we call the United States of America, would clearly be enough of a mitigating reality to get us thinking in the right direction of India’s actual distant from what we know.
Add to that a caste system which unabashedly allows and promotes a system to segregate people into social groups that nurtures every day, real-life intense persecution and discrimination of those that are not in your caste.
Many women in India live a hopeless existence in a system that devalues them as human beings.
Visualize a place, an excessively hot, sticky, humid place with 1.3 billion people crammed together who are empowered by generations upon generations’ permissions to judge and even openly oppress those around you who don’t happen to be like you.
An American who was raised in the “…you can be all you want to be…” or “…you deserve it so go get it…” culture can’t begin to comprehend the distance of being born in a culture with overtly and continually oppressed parents, grandparents, neighbors and strangers.
The numbness at best, and the deep hurt and hopelessness at worse, is a daily and nightly constant companion that washes over the masses. This judgmental spirit invades all segments of society, even the inner sanctums of the homes and churches.
Add to India's distance, two centuries-old religions that are built on works, fear and oppression, one having over 300 million “gods” that all need to be worshiped and sacrificed to, the other being hijacked by demonic purveyors of “accept or die” evangelism, and you peel back another layer of just how far India is from what we know and value.
Last month ITMI sent a team to India to visit, encourage and train our church planting, salt and light partners Paul and Molly [last name undisclosed for security]. ITMI commits to provide on-sight visits, over-sight and accountability for our donor partners and encourage-ment and focused support for our national partners.
Paul asked Steve to come and teach and share the S.A.L.T. discipleship material to the many undertrained and over oppressed pastors who try and build churches in this intense and overcharged culture of judgment and persecution.
Steve asked two ITMI Board members, Erik Thompson and Jon Dekkers, to come along and to see Paul and Molly’s ministry close up and to see how it is impacting this mass of people for Christ and God’s Kingdom. Erik and Jon, two strong and passionate believers, brought and taught their unique life and business experiences and perspectives that greatly impacted everyone who heard them speak.
The fourth member of our team was Bob Dunn, a 40 year minister to youth and youth leaders, who also has developed some unique and targeted Experiential Learning exercises that drive home Biblical truths in unique and easily internalized ways.
Paul and Molly are loving India to the Truth - and giving hope that was lost.
Paul and Molly demonstrate a faithfulness and diligence, even to the point of being driven. Their prayer and fasting drives them to see the masses of India as individuals who wander around each moment of each day with little hope and even less peace.
Paul and Molly are seeking each and every day to shorten the distance that their part of India suffers under, the goal is not to socially or culturally shorten the distance to what we know, but to spiritually shorten the distance from the darkness that permeates this very, very religious society to what God, the true God has always desired and wanted for lost and confused souls.
Paul and Molly want this -and all little girls - to know a different life and hope than their mothers have.
Paul and Molly are driven to shower the hope and peace that can and will erase the pain and hurt seen on the faces and in the hollow eyes of abused widows and street orphans.
They want to teach what real family looks like so that husbands will actually love their wives, and wives will actually honor their husbands and children will stop being internally broken from the lack of care, love and compassion.
From Steve's time in Paul and Molly's city, observing and ministering from morning to late nights, his belief is that there are few people groups that Paul and Molly are not ministering to in their ministry reach.
Girls from disadvantaged areas meet nightly with Paul and Molly's team members who tutor and value them when few others do.
Harvest Bible Chapel India (HBCI) is Paul's 2 year old church plant. The cramped rented second story industrial rooms that are called HBCI have become a daily magnet for the 450+ current church members.
There is always some group meeting there for prayer, planning or participation in "life" with other young and old believers who can't get enough of this refreshing life-giving truth that Paul and Molly have modeled to all who are willing to look up from their downtrodden existence.
Paul invests in the women of his church after their Friday morning prayer time.
After Friday morning prayer time, an HBCI saint cares for the little ones.
From a large and ever growing street boys sports ministry, to a home for girls , to creating hope and a new life in the many widows attracted to this belief system of love and acceptance, to aggressively infecting other pastors with real Biblical truth and not blind and oppressive legalisms, Paul and Molly spend very little time looking back, and very much time pressing forward, on "...to the mark for the prize of the high call-ing of God in Christ Jesus.”
The home of Paul and Molly's Ashraya Daughters.
ITMI Director, Steve Evers, with Paul and Molly's Ashraya Daughters.
Paul's brother, Xavier, leads a thriving sports ministry for youth in the slums of India.
Paul training pastors with real Biblical truth to avoid blind and oppressive legalisms from their culture.
If you ever had a heart tugged toward making an impact on India, we have seen it in Paul and Molly’s city.
If there is ever any question on where your involvement could and would be genuinely effective, we have seen it in India.
If you want to have your fingerprints on the eternal work of shortening the distance -bringing people to God, we have seen the opportunity in Paul and Molly’s corner of the world.
If there is a question about where God is working, just visit Paul and Molly's ministry in India and see firsthand that God very much has His hand on this special couple.
Molly prays with an HBCI woman.
In the coming ITM Monthly we want to share some more really personal and precious ways that Paul and Molly are impacting lives in their ministry circles. ITMI is excited to see what can and will happen as we all come together and support with our offerings the work of God in India.
May we be faithful to uphold the "arms" of Paul and Molly as they carry the heavy load.
About the Author
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.