September 2nd, 2008
Dear Prayer Team,
We have recently sent off several emergency bulletins to acquaint you with the situation in the places where our teams are going to minister. I have read many reports, some from newspapers, but also many from my contacts in India. I just got off a Skype conversation over the computer with the pastor in West Bengal. (He could see me smile, but I couldn't see him laugh. Among other things, I think he wanted to know if he could translate my English!)
People are wondering whether we should still go. Not a few are warning us to be careful. Each team member, meanwhile, is totally absorbed in message preparation. The southern team does not specifically know who they will speak to or how many times. I try to tell them that they will never know until they are back. That is the way these trips are. Keng and I just found out that we are responsible for teaching a large group of believers all day on Sunday!
The Lord has been good! I was talking to a new friend not too long ago. I was sharing with him that some of the difficult parts of these trips are crossing cultures, demand on health, preparing and delivering many messages. The other testing part is raising more than $10,000 for most of these trips including this one.
Each trip is a struggle of trust. I have learned to trust the Lord, but cannot just run off to these meetings. Each one must be of the Lord, otherwise …. When I mentioned that we needed to see the Lord raise more than $10,000 in 3 weeks time, he dropped his jaw. I told him the Lord would do it, but it usually is at the last moment.
Well God did it again! Praise to Him and thanks to many of you. Let me share how He did it so as to further train us all. When I spoke to my friend, at the beginning of the month, we only had a few hundred dollars. The first donation is always special! By August 22nd, we still only had but 6%. But in the last ten days, we have heard of 100% provision (not all in hand but coming). Praise the Lord! Here is another 'waiting on the Lord' story. If there is extra, we are considering giving some to the special needs of the flood or persecuted believers.
"This is the worst flood in fifty years." India has horrible floods every year. When I read this, I couldn't believe it. It must be bad. Keng and I have been driven through the flooding of a typhoon which killed more than a thousand.
President K.P. Yohannan said of the Christian persecution, "I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime." This was not just the killing of a missionary couple as in 1999. This is an attempt to exterminate the Christians. Strangely, it continues on in Orissa.
So how does this affect our trips? Pastor J in West Bengal had some communication with some pastor friends who had fled to the jungles. They then joined their families in the government camps. He says 7,000 are in the camps though I have read up to 15,000. And yet, so far, the burning of churches has largely been contained in Orissa. There is a little news of other things happening, but they are minor. Things should be fine as of now because we are flying to districts that are not as of now having serious problems. We (the northern team) will try to communicate ahead of time before going to make sure things are okay for them and for us.
Meanwhile, Pastor J has been busy these last days trying to help families who are affected by the floods. The only way these heavy waters should affect our trip is to keep a few pastors from the farthest north regions from coming because the only road was destroyed. But many are still planning to come. They are really looking forward to the pastors' seminar.
The most heart wrenching news for me was when I heard about pastors from places that Keng and I visited or have trained pastors being affected (Koraput). Some of those men above (last year) are now either in the jungle or in a camp. The sisters on the right were at a Bible college in a city that had a lot of burning.
Interesting, that one pastor said the largest growth of Christians was this past year in Orissa. It seems like it is going to increase much more. The blood of the martyrs is like seed being spread over the ground in Orissa. The Lord does not allow these things to take place without His greater purpose being fulfilled. God wants the church there to grow even faster.
Paul, on behalf of the two teams,
Rev. Paul J. Bucknell
Biblical Foundations for Freedom