Pastor Jay Wolf led a mission trip to India last month. Andy Birchfield from our firm was among the group from First Baptist Church that made the trip. On April 1st, the team of seven men from Montgomery traveled 8,000 miles to India to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ in a region where less than 1% of the population professes to be Christians. Andy says this trip proved to be one of the most extraordinary experiences of his life.
Upon their arrival in Delhi, the team was met by Pastor Nazir Masih. As a young man growing up in a Sikh family in the Punjab province of Northwest India, Nazir was exposed to the Gospel through a tract left by a visiting missionary. Nazir accepted God’s free gift of salvation through the death of Jesus and committed his life in service to the Lord. In 1978, he started the First Baptist Church of Chandigarh. Since then Nazir has planted 370 churches with an aggregate membership of 80,000 people. In addition, he started a private school that now has 1300 students. It is Nazir’s vision that through this Christian school, which emphasizes not only discipleship and Biblical education but academic excellence, a new generation of Christian leaders will be equipped to be used by the Lord to usher in a spiritual awakening which will transform the country of India, the second most populous country in the world.
Nazir continues to support and mentor the pastors of the 370 churches he planted. During this 12-day visit, Andy says they offered encouragement, support and instruction to many of the pastors of these growing churches. The team visited the villages of these local churches, shared their testimony and proclaimed to them that God loves them and powerfully demonstrated His love on the Cross. As Americans walking through the village, the team drew immediate attention. In many places visited by the team Westerners are rarely seen. Their status as Americans prompted crowds to gather, and as a result, multitudes heard the Gospel proclaimed. On one evening as the group shared with the people of a village, they witnessed about 100 people step out of darkness into light, and out of death into eternal life. Throughout their visit the team witnessed the power of the gospel to transform lives. What a remarkable experience!
Andy says that India is a country of stark contrasts. He says wealth is juxtaposed with abject poverty. The team observed roads congested with automobiles, motorcycles carrying a family of five, big trucks, buses, rickshaws, ox carts and herds of water buffalo. But, according to Andy, most poignant was the contrast of hopelessness and despair of those trapped in the empty religions of the region compared to the hope and joy of those who are experiencing an intimate, personal relationship with our Creator through His son Jesus. Andy made this observation:
During this amazing adventure with the Lord, I was reminded as never before that this world is not our home if we have placed our trust in Christ and that we can experience joy and contentment no matter what circumstance we may find ourselves in. It was a humbling reminder of how utterly blessed we are here in America, and I was challenged yet again to use the benefits and opportunities the Lord provides for His glory.
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