I'm blogging from the house of our friends Sylvie and Soumya in Hyderabad, where we arrived this morning after spending the night in the sleeper car of the train from Rajahmundry. We had to be at the station in the evening to catch our train, so I was unable to blog last night. Only a day and a half left! Our flight out of Hyderabad and back to the States leaves at 6:45 on Thursday morning. That leaves us with only today and all of tomorrow! I just can't believe this journey is over so soon!
Yesterday was our final day with the Rajahmundry boys, and I think we made the most of it. We spent almost the entire day at Angel Home praying, playing and saying goodbye. After lunch, while the boys were still at school, Ingrid and I took the time to pray over the interior of and grounds around Angel Home, asking for God's protection and blessings over the work that Solomon and Bethania are doing in His name in Rajahmundry. When this work was done, we greeted the boys as they returned home from school at 4:00.
After an intense two games of Kabaddi and some storytelling from Ingrid, we went out and brought the boys ice cream. They were pretty happy about this; ice cream is a rare treat for them!
On top of the ice cream, I also prepared some campfire popcorn that I had brought from the US. Everyone enjoyed it, including me! Oh popcorn... I miss it so. Only two more days!
We spent our last hour with the boys dancing and singing. I gave a short, farewell Bible lesson from Philippians 1:3-11, and then we prayed:
We took the time to pray for all the boys individually. It was exhausting, exhilarating and humbling; I doubt that Ingrid and I are capable of giving back to these boys even half of the love that we receive from them. Thankfully God more than makes up for our insufficiency, and as we prayed His love and blessings upon these children it was as if I could feel them being filled, like the feeling you get when you touch the outside of a jar as water rushes inside; vibrations of the Holy Spirit within and without!
We also prayed for the Bethania staff, and this is where God really stepped up and did some powerful things. Two of the women who serve as housemaids at Angel Home, Ramana and Lakshmi, are firmly rooted in their Hindu faith. Yet they came not just for a single helping of prayer, but for two! We repeatedly prayed the name of Jesus Christ over them, asking Him to make Himself known to them in ways that they could not imagine, to call them out of their idolatry with His love, to plant the root of faith in their hearts and let it grow. Please join us in praying daily for these two women. Pray that they would find the Truth and hold fast to love and grace of their Savior, that they might "forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead, pressing on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!" (Philippians 3:13-4)
To conclude this final blog post, let me write out the farewell verse that we shared with the Bethania Kids. As I mentioned before, this passage is found in Philippians 1:3-11.
"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
"And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God!"
Thank you all for your prayers and support over the last six weeks. In praying for us and encouraging us, you have indeed been our partners in the gospel. As we say goodbye to our friends in India, we look forward to again being reunited with our friends and families back home the United States. In the meantime we "yearn for you all (both at home and in India) with the affection of Christ Jesus" such as we can with hearts deficient in love, yet saved and sanctified for the work of Christ. As our love is never enough, we pray that "your love may abound more and more," and that it would be love filled with "knowledge and all discernment;" not simply a mindless, flattering, selfish love, but a love that is like the love of Christ, knowing all and yet loving all, all the same. We also pray for the fruit of the body of Christ in America and India, that fruit would be produced and produced abundantly for the harvest of the kingdom.
And lastly, all glory and praise be to the God of our salvation who has blessed our journey thus far, and in whom we trust to bring us safely home.