India Mission Trip / Follow-up Reports
(See photo gallery at the end of the article.)
"I know the questions that you are asking, because they are the same questions that I once asked my parents when I was younger because I saw the falseness of Sikhism."
"I hated to leave India so soon. God has put a passion in my heart for the people there."
"At lunch, Gurmeet told us that he never had people love him like we had in the past two days, and that he was really thankful to have friends like us come into his life."
"Sajan prayed to receive Christ."
"... the main thing that I saw and could not get over was the lostness of the people."
After reading what God did in India, click the link below to see a photo gallery of the trip to India.
Well this trip was a blast -- a huge blessing. One day, Anna, Joel, Ashlyn, and I went out evangelizing together after breakfast and met with Gurmeet, a very nice young man Anna and Joel had met the previous night. As he took us to a Hindu temple in Punjab, he was sharing with us all about his religion and his philosophy on life in general. The more we talked about his faith, the more we would shared our faith and worldview with him. Back near the hotel, we all went to a garden and spent about three hours talking more in detail with Gurmeet, and eventually shared exactly what we believe and how it relates and contrasts to Sikhism. He got to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time.
It was so encouraging for each of us to share what we believe, and Gurmeet knew that we truly did care for him and we were not just trying to preach what we believe and then move on to the next person. He knew that this was really tied into our everyday life and he wanted to know more and more. We explained all about sin and how a sinful nature separates us from God. We shared several Bible stories and explaining them in detail. Gurmeet was starting to understand all that we were trying to share with him, and I could tell God was working in his heart.
After sharing more stories from our past and some analogies to help him better understand, we all went to lunch. At lunch, Gurmeet told us that he never had people love him like we had in the past two days, and that he was really thankful to have friends like us come into his life. He told us that he would not forget us. I was so thrilled to hear all that he was telling us and how he was responding to the Gospel.
We all went back to the hotel, where I got a Bible I had bought before the trip. I gave it to Gurmeet because he wanted to know more. We all signed it. I knew that the Holy Spirit could follow up on the seed that we had planted by Gurmeet reading the Bible. Hopefully, one day he will realize that he needs a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. On our way back to the States, Gurmeet sent Anna a message and told her that he had been reading the Bible each day and that he loved it and that it reminded him of us. I was so excited that God could use us in such a way to have a big impact on a man and to end up by leaving the Word of God in his hands, the greatest gift of all, the Gospel.
I learned that it is a lot more effective to evangelize if you build a relationship first. Way to often I just preach what I believe and then move to the next one if they are not interested in what I have to say. God has shown me how to evangelize more effectively now. I am so thankful that I was apart of this India mission trip. I am praying that Gurmeet will fall in love with the Word of God and that the Holy Spirit will convict his heart. I ask all who read this will pray the same. This will be an eternal decision for this man, and my heart burns for the lost to be found.
Speaking to many people before the trip to Punjab, I was told how dirty India is. I got so much negativity. But when I arrived in Punjab, though I saw the filthiness and the poverty, the main thing that I saw and could not get over was the lostness of the people.
While at the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holy shrine, I watched as a father got on his knees and laid his newborn babe down before their Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism's 'holy' book, which they worship as a god. To think of how that young babe may not ever hear the gospel. The Sikh people are searching for the way; but we as Christians know the way, and the way is Jesus, who said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14.6).
We encountered a girl who was reared in the UK; but her parents had moved back to Punjab, and she was visiting the Golden Temple. We asked her about Sikhism, and explained that we were studying about the religion. Noting some of Sikhism's self-contradictions, we mentioned that the gurus say in their Guru Granth Sahib that they know of the way to their Nirvana (heaven), but that even they themselves cannot get there. So I asked the girl that, if someone told her they knew the way to a hidden treasure, but that they did not know how to get there themselves, would she want to follow that person. She looked at me and said she would not want to follow someone like that. She made the connection and finally told me, "Ashlyn I know the questions that you are asking, because they are the same questions that I once asked my parents when I was younger because I saw the falseness of Sikhism."
"Well, what did your parents say?" I asked.
"They did not even have answers for me," she said. "They just told me that I had to do what Sikhism said and to not ask questions about it or doubt it."
I then shared a full presentation of the Gospel. She asked a lot of questions, and I could see that she was once again questioning what she claimed to believe. Though I did not leave knowing that my new friend was saved, I do pray that God will bring others into her life who will show her the way: Jesus.
I hated to leave India so soon. God has put a passion in my heart for the people there. I hope one day I will be able to see if God uses that passion for my future work with a people group on the mission field. But for now, my prayer is that I will go wherever God wants, and do whatever He wants me to do. I am now just waiting for Him to reveal His will for my life for missions.
It was sometime before noon that Lauren Deering, Rachel Wilson, Macie Perry and I walked in to the quaint, homey shoe shop of Hardeep. Our group was exploring the community, trying to get to know the people of Amritsar, learning about their religious beliefs, and eventually reaching out to witness to them. When we found ourselves browsing the shops in the small, bazaar-like mall. That's where we met Hardeep. He was joyful and eager to serve, allowing the girls in our group to try on any shoe to their liking, as any shopkeeper would; and it was there when we started having a good laugh that we engaged in a beautiful conversation.
We learned many of Hardeep's beliefs in his worldview of Sikhism: where one goes when they die, how one achieves salvation. He seemed to have a great understanding of what we were asking even though on some accounts there was a language barrier; however, each question was answered to the best of his ability. The answers to nearly every question we asked related to the Sikh belief that only good works made one clean of their sins, and that we all shared the same God -- "God is One." Every bit of information we gained from this storekeeper was very useful in our studies.
The next day we asked Anna Ballejos to join our conversation with Hardeep. For the first hour or so we asked questions and sought a better understanding of the Sikh culture and religion. That's when we had the opening to witness to Hardeep. Anna read a passage from the book of John and shared the Gospel with him. Each of us poured into the conversation at some point the beliefs of Christianity, and he accepted them openly. Hardeep truly enjoyed learning about Christianity, but he never decided to claim Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
Faculty Sponsor Adam Harwood, Ph.D.
Since our time in India, John* has been traveling throughout Punjab with Christian pastors from several Asian countries. They are meeting to discuss strategies for reaching the 25 million Sikhs with the Gospel.
John also met Sajan, who goes by the name of Sam. He is the young man with whom John and I previously had shared the Gospel. John, a 60-year old pastor from Singapore, and two other believers -- all of whom speak Punjabi -- met with Sajan for two hours, presenting the message of the Gospel from Creation to the Cross. Sajan understood clearly what they were saying, and Sajan prayed to receive Christ.
He then invited the men to come to his home and tell his family the same story. John said this sounded like an episode straight out of the book of Acts. The men were unable to visit his family that day, but Pastor Raji has promised to visit Sajan in his home and share Christ with his entire family. Other Punjabi-speaking believers were able to spend two hours with Sajan the next day to help disciple him in his new walk with Christ.
We don't always get to see immediate results of our work of spreading Gospel seeds. Not only did God provide this opportunity to see a conversion as a result of efforts, we also see how God gathered believers from other countries who could cross language barriers that John nor I could cross in order to deliver the message of Christ.
Please breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to God for this new believer and also strength for John and his family. Pressures at home nearly caused him to return to his family when we left. But John recognized that it's usually when things get really difficult that God is about to show His power in someone's life. That's spiritual warfare.
John will serve a few more days with those pastors from Punjab and other countries, who have gathered to brainstorm and strategize plans and materials for reaching the Sikhs throughout the world. Please pray that God would bless the efforts of John and those working with him so that their strategic planning and concerted efforts will result in many Sikhs coming to know Jesus as the answer to all of their questions.
*John is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of an evangelical worker.
India Photo Gallery (click to open)
Photojournalism by Macie Perry and Ashlyn Williams.