A Day in Delhi

•July 29, 2008 • 7 Comments

We have arrived in New Delhi after a long 25 hour train ride which we discovered that some Indian men have some extreme snoring issues.  Anyways we were so pumped to find out that the spiritual climate here is not as oppressive as calcutta its great.  we woke up without doubts and fears being thrown at us from the start and throughout the day there was an amazing peace that led to an extreme joy.  Anyways we will be going to japur for a couple of days of ministry and then over to agra to see the taj mahal and then back up to delhi for some orphanage and leper colony work.  Then we will meet with a few contacts we have made during our stay in Calcutta and check out their ministry and outreach to the people of this country.  sorry but I only have a little time for an update right now so excuse my brevity. we love you guys lots and keep them prayers comin’!

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Point of No Return

•July 23, 2008 • 3 Comments

Last night as I was laying down in bed, I was bombarded with memories from my teenage years, having one thought after another about the people I knew and the places I went. I remembered all of the things that defined my life in high school: friends, drama, soccer, music, hormones, feelings of ecstasy, feelings of depression, life dreams, etc. I was reminded of the person I’d been and the people I knew. I loved that person, and I loved those people. It was great. Part of me even wants it all back. I mean, I had it all made; all planned out. I could picture my great family driving from our nice big house in our fancy new car to a weekend getaway after finishing the week at my well-paying job. I wanted it all, and you know what? I could’ve had it. I was working on the right kind of degree, had the right kind of skills, and nothing could stop me from pursuing my dream.

As I was soaking in this sweet nostalgia, dwelling on the life I once had and the life I could have had, I heard a voice say, “If you really want this all back, you can have it.” It was the same voice that was telling the Israelites about the Promised Land: “You can have the prosperity, the milk and honey, the riches and the comfort.” But we find that there’s a catch. The voice continues, “but if you choose that way, I can’t go with you.” And that is the voice that I heard. You see, God is not fair. He gives us a choice that we don’t deserve to make. He says, “Fine. If you want the fame, the fortune, the great food and drink, the life you’ve always dreamed of, I’ll give it to you, because I love you, and I want to fulfill the desires of your heart. But I promise you, there’s something better if you choose instead to follow me. By no means is it easier, more comfortable, or rewarding in any sense of the world’s definition. In fact, it will be a life of hardship and suffering, trials and tribulations, but from My point of view, that is where you can find real life in Me. And for everything you give up in this life, I’ll bless you out the wazoo in the next one, the eternal one. ” Wow. It’s pretty ridiculous that I still have a hard time making the choice. But I’ve really started to embrace this whole “living for eternity” thing. 70 years compared to eternity…why is it still such a hard decision to make? I look back at the last week of my life though, the last year for that matter, and I know that I’ve reached the point of no return. I’ve been so genuinely transformed by Christ that, in essence, I don’t even have a choice. The life that I’ve found merely on my knees and in the Word, here in the middle of a dying city that’s probably 10,000 miles away from the nearest Arby’s, far surpasses the treasures of this world. I must be willing to trust the God that makes these promises. When you’re in Gethsemane with the blood seeping out of your pores from the weight of the world, it just doesn’t seem worth it. But if you wait, O, if you wait, there is a great victory to be won. And that victory is life in the Spirit, and that is truly life to the fullest. This is the kind of life that Jesus describes when He says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The Greek word for life in the original manuscripts of the Bible is zoe. Let me tell you what this word means: “the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate; of the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God; life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put there trust in Christ.” And the root of this word is zao meaning, “to enjoy real life; to have true life worthy of the name; active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God; living water; to be in full vigor, to be fresh, strong, efficient, active, and powerful.” Well shoot, I suppose that makes it a little easier to decide. But really, can we bring ourselves to make this decision that looks not for earthly rewards but moves forward with heavenly ambition?

Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit afraid. In fact, I’m scared to death. Often I doubt my willingness to obey, having fears of living a life of faith that is completely unpredictable, and most of all, the idea of sharing with Christ in His sufferings. Paul tells us that we should see this as a privilege! To suffer for the Name is easier said than done, but I’m gonna give it a shot. All of this being said, I’ll be staying in Calcutta for at least a year and a half and thus will not be coming home this fall….just kidding. Sorry if that freaked you out, mom. I can’t wait to bring all of my experiences back home to everyone. I know the life that awaits me there may look different, but it can still be zoe.

Enough mumbo jumbo. Let me tell you guys what we’re up to. Three and half more days in Calcutta until we take the 27 hour train ride to New Delhi. There we will be meeting our friends Caleb and Wilson, who are AIM alumni working with an organization called “61,” working in their orphanage and leper colony. We’ve almost been acquainted with a great man named Amos here at our little abode. He and his wife are missionaries in New Delhi from Pennsylvania. He’s invited us to stay with him a little while, and we can’t wait. (He said his wife loves to spoil missionaries with great American food!) And there’s the possibility of pancakes in the morning…There’s also a missionary family from First Pres in Boulder (the Klakalaks..sp?) that we’ll probably share a bit of time with. So after a quick trip to the Taj Mahal somewhere in our 10 day stay in New Delhi, we’ll be taking our last train down to Mumbai and spending about a day in a hotel there just to make sure we don’t miss our flight. So that’s the plan for now. I am loving this place more and more, but truly waiting in expectation to return home to all of you. Keep it real. May the Lord bring us all to the point of no return.

-Ben

hope

•July 21, 2008 • 3 Comments

I find myself humming the words to “It Is Well With My Soul” a lot this past week, which has been pretty intense. It talks about how much hurt can happen inside and yet there is still peace because there is something greater to come. I have realized I need more memorized scripture about hope in pain and darkness, because I need more promises to declare over this city and the ministry we are doing, that all hope is not lost. I cried myself to sleep last night and only prayed to not feel so broken for this lost world. I am most broken for the church that knows truth, but does not want to reach out and embrace it. But there is new hope this morning as the four of us meet together again at 6am for an hour of prayer. We know that we were worth it to Jesus, and He is worth it to us to come here and bind up his hurting people.

The team apologizes for not many recent blog posts, but so much has happened while in Calcutta that has kept us busy. Sara and I took a week off from teaching at the primary school in the slums during the day, and the English classes we all take turns teaching to adults at night to work in Mother Teresa’s disabled children’s home, Daya Dan. Let me be the first to let you know about one of our inside jokes from this experience, because mission trips to third world countries mean having some of the most ridiculous and painfully awkward situations a person could ever find themselves in, and they make for so many great inside jokes. Sara and I took another bus that comfortably fits around 40 people, but that had at least 60 people to the place where the nuns we are living with told us Daya Dan was. As we ripped our sweaty bodies away from the mosh pit of Indian men when we got off the bus at our stop, we asked where Daya Dan was and got many people to help us find our way for an hour through this maze of Calcutta streets. Soon we were exhausted and asked one last person if they knew where to go to DAYA DAN and they exclaimed that we were already there… CHINA TOWN! I guess Sara and I need to work on our Indian accents. As we looked around, we realized why the entire street was full of staring Chinese people. We gave up ministry for that day and just laughed. So there is a little nugget of daily life in India.

We have all been grown so much in our time here. I have had a lot of selfish pride town down that I didn’t realize I had, and learned more about serving in humility than ever before. I guess I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I started fearing NOT having the Holy Spirit in me because of the convictions, protection, and counsel. Before there was some fear of how much power and responsibility came with being led by the spirit in this dark place, but God is truly the only thing keeping us safe here. Thank you all for your continued prayer partnership with us… CO-mission.

I can honestly say that this culture feels more like home than my own culture sometimes. There are certain things however that I don’t think I will ever grow used to; like being a head taller than the majority of the men, or seeing at least 50 men a day publicly urinating in suits and ties along the side of most roads. We see a lot of people shooting up heroin on street corners, many prostitutes with their children at the crowded train stations playing in the tracks where they often get hit, and taxis full of idols. I find myself praying a lot when we take taxis, that the fat man in the shrine on the dashboard will just have his stupid little head pop right off.

When Sara and I finally made it to Daya Dan, we sat and rocked disabled children back and forth, praying over them and messaging their mangled bodies. There were about 80 there, just lying on the floor in various parts of the building, waiting for someone to pick them up and love them. I am getting used to the nuns yelling at me, because the work that they do here day in and day out is incredible. It is really cool to work in these homes because we meet people from all over the world who volunteer, and a large number are not Christian. We used to joke in Kenya about an African baptism being when the babies would pee on us… I have received several “Indian baptisms” … Diarrhea… So now I have been baptized on three continents… so far.

Yesterday, Ryan and I took a bus to the home for the dying “Kalighat” where he worked on the men’s side, and I worked on the women’s side. He and Ben had been before, but my first time there was a crazy afternoon of learning how to put in catheters…yep… Afterward, we took the metro subway to meet an American friend who lives here to have a worship and prayer night for the city. After a week of getting pretty tired, my hope was renewed at knowing that our work is not in vain. That someday one King will be over all. I cannot believe the relationships that have been made here, especially with the sisters and brothers we live with and the pastors and translators we work with. We only have 5 more days here, then New Dehli here we come!

-Christiana HOPE Croll

Bollywood, Here We Come!

•July 14, 2008 • 12 Comments

So we put together a little film for everybody to give you all a slightly better idea of what life is like here in India. If you’re hoping to see cute little babies and the more poverty-esque side of life here, then you’re out of luck. This is because we make it a point not to bring our cameras into ministry. It makes us seem too much like tourists and that’s just not what we’re here to do. So all of the footage you see is either from when we were traveling or one of our off-days, with the exception of the one day the girls took some film with the school children. We’ll make a more complete video after we get back, and maybe then there will be some footage of the ministry. We hope you enjoy it and please continue to pray for us. Making it over the half-way point of the trip feels like a big step in what God is leading us toward. May this little video be a tribute to all of our friends and family back home. Enjoy!

Christmas In July

•July 10, 2008 • 3 Comments

Man oh man. So good to be back you guys. We’ve missed you all so much. And it’s been far too long. Our apologies. Not quite sure where to start. Howzabout with an explanation for the title of this post…

So I asked my mother about 2 weeks ago to send us a care package with a bunch of goodies that you just can’t find here in good ol’ India. And she did. So day after day, night after night, we went to the office to see if our package had arrived. Nothin. We’d almost given up hope. But lo and behold, today the postman showed up and took Ryan to the post office to pick up our long-awaited parcel. So here’s to you, mom and dad. Never in my life have fruit snacks and peanut butter (and a sorely needed tooth brush) been such a blessing. Opening the box was truly like Christmas. In July. So there you have it. We are as happy as can be. And for all the people who have sent or are planning on sending something our way, thank you thank you thank you. And if anyone else is in the mood, let us know and we’ll give you the address 🙂

So I was on the train earlier today, and as usual, was surrounded by hoards of sweaty men with no room to move. One guy was gettin all-up-ons me, but I just tried to ignore it. After I got off the train, I reached into my pocket, and our phone was flat out gone. I got sucka’d. I commend whichever man it was that managed to pull a cell phone out of my jeans without catching my attention. That takes mad skill. But all is not lost (well, figuratively speaking). We’re gonna have some mad prayer session to get this phone back. God wants to partake in even the smallest aspects of our lives, so we’re gonna see what happens. And if you’re feeling a bit wild and adventurous in your prayer life as well, we’d love for you to pray for this. I mean, it’d be a pretty killer testimony. Anyways, for now, don’t try to call us. If you do, you’d better have a Bengali dictionary handy and a great Indian accent. This guy’s a pro.

So we’re pretty much done working with OM in the schools and what not, and are transitioning into two and a half more weeks of working with the Mother Teresa homes for the dying, destitute, handicapped, etc. Ryan and I spent Tuesday working at the Nabo Jibon home, which is for young teenage boys who are mentally and physically disabled, along with some older men. What do you do there, you ask? Love people. That’s all you can do. Love them and pray for them. They don’t really speak, so the time there consists mostly of muscle massages, helping out at meals, having kids lead you around the campus or hang from your every part of your body, and pretending to understand an old man’s life story after humbly giving him a thorough butt-massage (that’s Jesus foo). So, that covers the love part. The second part is prayer. And this is why: I see the beauty and charity in what these homes do and the wonderful love that people must have to be a part of it, but I can’t find it within me to believe that Jesus would ever create a home for dying people to come to…and die. I don’t want to go back and visit the children I did only to find the body sores as rampant as they were last time. I want to see the lame walking, not taking medication. Jesus came to bring life-life to the fullest. I want to see Him glorified through their restoration. For us to say that that is beyond us (rather, beyond Him) is blasphemous. Please pray that the Lord will give us the boldness of faith to bring healing to the sick and dying. I know I don’t have it yet. Watching the drool run down someone’s face as they scream and squirm inside their prison of a body makes it seem hopeless, but it is the very nature of our Savior to do more than feel emotion for them. Whenever we read that Jesus had compassion, he was moved to operate in the supernatural. He not only came down to their level, but brought them up to a new one. As Bill Johnson has said, “In the Old Testament, touch the leper, and you become unclean. In the New Testament, touch the leper, and he becomes clean.” I can’t help but think that Jesus is disappointed when we have the opportunity to bring deliverance and shy away from it. In no way do I mean to speak less of the work these homes do. And I don’t mean to offend. In one sense though, perhaps I do. Maybe it’s time for us to expect more. Maybe it’s time to unleash God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven”. So please, please pray. Pray with boldness. Approach the throne with confidence. We need your prayers to make our own effective. We’re a team here!

Also, we’re officially leaving Calcutta on July 27th to work with our friends from AIM in New Delhi for 10-14 days. We’ll be working with an orphanage run by the organization “61” and a leper colony near by. We can’t wait! Well I think this post will suffice for now, and again, we miss you all so much, and appreciate your prayers more than you could imagine. ‘Til next time…

Spiritual Growth at Home

•July 8, 2008 • Leave a Comment

As I hear from so many family & friends who are following this blog, we so often discuss what a spiritual adventure Team India ’08 is having this summer. Another issue that comes up in our discussions is how this blog and the ability to follow our team has not only created an increase in awareness and burden to pray regularly & specifically for Sara, Christiana, Ben & Ryan as they minister but also how their adventure has been increasing our own faith and spiritual growth back here at home. So as I pray for our team, please know that I am also praying for all of you as beloved readers … that our team’s faith and your faith would be increased and that the blessings of the Lord would be upon our team and upon you.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” ~ Luke 5:17

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26

Much love, Sherrie

rickshaw ride, anyone??

•July 3, 2008 • 4 Comments

Calcutta. It’s a crazy place. But I love how the beauty of the Lord shines so much brighter in a place where there is such thick darkness and oppression. I would have to say that I have seen this beauty most in the children here. The first time I ever saw Indian children pray was at the tiny school house where we were teaching Sunday school, and I was blown away. All 50 children had their eyes closed tightly; hands clenched close to their heart, and were praying passionately and loudly to their Heavenly Father. You could tangibly feel the power in the room. It is the most amazing/ strange experience when you can look into the eyes of a small child and see a mature Holy Spirit moving and working inside them. That is our God! Their simple devotion and purity of faith has challenged me beyond belief.

Ryan and I went prayer walking yesterday, and I have to say it was the most peace I have felt since we arrived here. We walked around the streets of the slum, praying and talking to some of the children, and then we went to some of the believer’s houses. With each family we prayed with, it was as if the Holy Spirit was so eager to move, that all we needed to do was be there. The words of our prayers did not matter. The Holy Spirit just wanted our willingness and obedience to be vessels of its power. It was truly beautiful. God does not need us. We are nothing. But when he does chose to use us to pray healing over a sick child or a man dying of tuberculosis, it is overwhelmingly humbling.

One of the other things that the Lord has really been impressing on my heart is the importance of our roles as intercessors for this place. As I was reading through Exodus the other day, I came across the story of Moses interceding for the Hebrews. The Lord wanted to wipe them out because of their disobedience, but Moses’ petition caused the Lord to relent and withhold his anger. The people were so used to their bondage that they could not understand the freedom that God was offering them. One man’s pure and humble intercession saved an entire rebellious nation. I truly believe that in a place like this intercession is the jumping off point for breakthrough, and effective prayers come from identifying with the people and always striving to have our hearts in a worshipful position toward the Lord. I want the Lord to use us to break boxes of idolatry when it comes to religion and culture. I want these people to taste and see the freedom found in Jesus.

I want to thank all of you again for blanketing us in your prayers and encouraging words. Rest assured that we feel them and that they are being used for the advancement of the kingdom! Our God is living and victorious, even in this place. Blessings and all my love to all of you!!

-Sara