Sunday. St Patrick’s day and my birthday. When we planned this trip and we realised that it would coincide with my birthday I thought what a place full of wonder to end my 40th year in. My lovely sons where less than enamoured by the fact that I wouldn’t be celebrating my birthday with them, even strongly suggesting that I couldn’t come. I’m here. I won that one.
Today was the day we travelled to India for. The opening of the church building in Jankapurim that Vineyard Church Dungannon, our fantastic church, financed. I woke this morning excited, looking forward to seeing it. 5 years ago when we dreamed of Leaving a Legacy for our children and our town we also committed to giving away 10% of the money raised in that campaign to this church and their building project in Jankapurim, Lucknow, India.
We drove through the slum and pulled up in the middle of it. We walked around the corner and there it was. In the middle of the slum this immaculate 2-storey building squeezed between its neighbours, with bright white walls and an ornate red metal door. It was love at first sight for me. Pastor Selphi introduced us to his church as he showed us around the building. We all gathered outside and then Pastor Selphi dedicated the building, Stephen prayed and the people began to sing and worship right out in the street. That’s a memory right there.
Jason and I cut the ribbon with Pastor Selphi and then as we walked in everyone followed us singing in worship as we walked up the stairs to the first floor where the church service was about to begin. The sound of their voices spilling into the streets. I had the Delirious song “Open up the doors and let the music play let the streets resound with singing,” playing in my head. This was my favourite part of the day so far.
This church LOVES to worship. With only an Indian drum and 2 tambouines you should hear and feel their worship. I couldn’t understand a word of it, but I could feel and sense it. Full of life, and energy and directed straight to God. It filled my heart, and I imagine brought God great delight.
This church also loves to pray they prayed for lots of people and I had the privilege of praying for their women leaders. After Jason’s message we had ministry time and we had the opportunity and priciledge to pray for many of the people. And after we’d finished they presented me with a birthday cake. I was very chuffed.
In the past few days we have got to know Pastor Selphi and his team more and just being around them you get to see their hearts for the people in the Jankapurim slum. What makes my heart glad is that our church’s support has now provided them with a base, right smack in the middle of were people live and go about their lives. A place where they have planned to do women’s meetings and have a sewing school. A place where they can train pastors. We haven’t provided a church, they are the church, an ecclesia already here that just needed help in having a home.
I know that I know that they will love their community with the love of Jesus, they will continue to extend mercy and help to the poor and needy right on their doorstep.
Tonight as I get ready to celebrate my birthday with Jason and our 2 dear friends Stephen & Carol, the reality of being miles away from home is hitting. I may have insisted with my boys that I was still coming to India regardless of whether it was over my birthday or not, but maybe they knew their mum better than she knows herself because truth is I miss my beautiful sons. I miss being loved and cared for by them today. I miss my birthday hugs and kisses. I miss the special attention from them that I get on my birthday. I hope they store it all up for me.
Maybe I’ll have a second birthday on Friday.