I woke up Sunday morning in Hyderabad, India (located in the southeastern part of that country)—ready to preach in the church (Centenary Baptist Church)—to news headlines about the terrible flooding, deaths, and evacuations all around us because of the torrential rains—the worst in many years. We found out that officials were evacuating homes around the hotel we are staying in. Power outages now seem to be more frequent.
Our taxi was caught in a traffic jam, so our local contact had to arrange another vehicle for us to get to the church on time.
Because of the flooding and resulting traffic problems, and because many of the people who attend the church use public transportation, we wondered if people would still be able to get to church Sunday morning. Well, not quite as many as normal got to the morning service—but those who did trickled in over a one-and-a-half hour period!
The service (normally attended by around 2,500 people) started at 9.30 a.m.—at that time there were about 10 people in the auditorium! The pastor started anyway, and while the service continued, people gradually came in. By 11:00 as I got up to speak, the auditorium was fairly full—and people kept coming in while I spoke!
The service went for nearly three hours! I was told to speak for at least an hour. While I spoke, no one looked at their watches, no one seemed to be worried about getting out for lunch (then again, most probably could not afford to buy lunch in this part of India)—they stayed right till the end! That puts many American churches to shame!
I spoke in the Telugu-language service, so I had a translator. Dr. Crandall of our staff spoke Sunday evening for the English service.
At the morning service, the pastor explained to the congregation the impact the AiG conference had over the previous two days—he and other church leaders could not stop telling the people about the new things they learned—and how important this topic is.
At the end of the service, the pastor told the congregation that because of the AiG conference "this is the beginning of a new chapter for Centenary Baptist Church." He told his people that the church needed to be defenders of the faith—and that the creation/evolution/millions of years topics were issues in India that the church had not dealt with. When he then came to sit down beside me on the platform, he said "we want to start Bible studies on Genesis—will you be able to help us with materials?"
From what I heard, this conference will have a similar impact on the 152 churches represented there.
India is a country of over 1 billion people with around 2.5% Christians. Christianity is growing—and the church leaders I spoke to said the messages they heard this weekend are vital for the growth of Christianity in India. They want resources like books and DVDs! The harvest is so plentiful, and the laborers few.
By the time you read this, we should (hopefully—for flooding rains are expected for another 24 hours) be on the way home. I've included some photographs from Sunday:
- The auditorium at about 11:00 a.m. as I began to speak
- The main translator for the conference and me
- Four of us who traveled to India together with the two translators and the pastor of the church—the pastor is to the left of me
- Of those who don't use public transport, many use motorcyles! These are some of the motorcycles parked outside the church Sunday morning
Petting Zoo a Real HitThe new Petting Zoo at the Creation Museum has been a real hit! I have included three photographs taken by AiG's photographer as a family enjoyed some of the unique animals.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,