Kim's Story India 2015
There was team building that happened for 6 weeks prior to departure. Each week we met, discussed details, prayed and one day a week we fasted. Turns out our chosen fasting day coincided (with the time-difference) to the morning that the staff/leadership in Dehradun were fasting!)
We flew BHM to ATL to Amsterdam to Delhi…it was a long, long day… or two, or was it three?
We arrived in Delhi at 1:30 AM Delhi time and were greeted by a driver from our hotel (after we found him), and a blast of hot-fired air…yes, muggy and hot in the middle of the night! We got to our hotel easily enough, on the left side of the road, in two little cars and got checked.
The hotel took care of our luggage, and brought us water and juice and a basket of fruit and snacks and was very hospitable and welcoming, as most eastern culture is. I think we all slept like logs that night, happy to be stretched out flat!
For breakfast there was a rooftop café, with indoor and outdoor seating. And delicious coffee and honey pancakes and eggs “fried two sides.” We found out later they had a banana milkshake after which Donnie’s life will never be the same!
I needed to buy a scarf before arriving in Dehradun, so we ventured out in the tuk-tuks and went shopping. Then we went to catch our train north to Dehradun.
Train station was interesting. I didn’t consider that we would be hefting our 50-65 lb bags up 90 stairs and across several tracks and back down again to get to track 11 where our train was, in the 100+ temps, major smog, wearing backpacks and jeans. There was more than a little exertion involved there!
So we milled around the platform waiting until it seemed appropriate to board. Our seats were scattered between two train cars, and we figured out how to store our suitcases on the overhead rack and settled into our seats…window for me and my camera! For the 6 hour train ride north to Dehradun.
Throughout the journey young men came through selling water, lunches, soup, tea. I ended up buying a little pizza, because I couldn’t figure out how to ask for anything else and I wasn’t up for hot tea or hot tomato soup after being in the heat all day. The pizza was fire roasted and had a delicious smoky flavor!
There was one moment about 4 hours into the journey when nearly everyone in my car got up, herded their children and gathered belongings and filed off the train…in about 4 minutes flat. The train didn’t stop long. I knew we had not been on the train long enough to be at our stop, but it was a figure-it-out-quick cultural moment. We stayed aboard. Correctly. The next time this happened about 5.25 hours into the journey, we made the decision to disembark. Turns out we were correct, it was the stop for Dehradun. But it was the end of the line anyway, so everyone was getting off! Ha!
Sunny, pastor of Dehradun Vineyard and Leader of the India-US partnership met us himself at the train station, after we turned down about 200 taxi offers. We just stood still and let him find us, based on a couple of facebook photos and the fact that we were 4 shining beacons of alabaster skin standing around together looking a wee bit out of place.
It was great to see a smiling sunny face at 10:30 PM in a new place. We smashed all our way-too-big suitcases into his really nice 4x4 SUV and made our way to a delightful hotel he had recommended called Madhuban. Hotel Madhuban turns out to be THE happenin’ place in Dehradun. There was a wedding or party of some sort going on nearly every night we were there. We had a beautiful display of lights and free music until midnight beginning even that first night. It was so beautiful that I completely missed the lights shining from the foothills of the Himalayas until the mountains greeted me the next morning. Oh and how majestic they are! None of us could get enough of staring at them.
Saturday morning fairly early—believe me I was awake anyway—it was time to get ready for the Worship Workshop with the Dehradun worship team and small group worship leaders. I had no idea where they were at musically or spiritually, basically just walking in blind.
As I walked in, the first thing I noticed was there was NO PIANO. I had been practicing and choosing songs to share based on piano for over a month. About 1 week prior to leaving Bubba had a word of knowledge that he saw me on guitar and singing. So in obedience (slight) to that word, I did cut my nails and practiced once on my guitar before leaving Birmingham. I had only played guitar once or twice in the previous three years.
Donnie came with me& he really helped ease conversation lulls, and later gave clarity and furthered a few of my points. A few people trickled in and I got to meet them individually. Two 11 year olds came, Chris and Sam, and oh what a treat they are! They both write music and Sam plays drums for the church on Sunday mornings, they both lead in small groups via guitar, very talented kids! Then a man walked in the door whom I just knew was the worship leader. He was. He carried a strong anointing and leadership mantle, and I knew I wasn’t going to be teaching them anything new at all!
So we all worshipped a bit together and then I asked about their involvement and instruments etc, and then shared about my history in worship & leading. I talked about leading worship out of the overflow, being leaders and the Lord calling us to a higher standard. I asked how they are feeding their spirit, and then shared my process.
After a coffee break, we went into workshop mode. I modeled spontaneous worship out of the scripture with the guitar, by choosing the Lord’s Prayer and teaching them how to use various parts that the Lord illuminates to go to war, marrying worship, warfare, and scripture for intercession. It took a bit for anyone to sing out, and finally I had us all sing at once, singing our own songs out of the scripture. We ended up doing 3 different passages with three different sets of cord progressions, and I think they enjoyed it by the end of that hour. I did have to turn the guitar over to the worship leader though, because my fingers were raw. Turns out, he is actually a recording artist for his day job, so my playing was probably distracting him from worship anyway. His playing was amazing!
We all ate the first of many lunches and other meals together and chatted as we got to know one another. (Paul & Tom were brought in for this lunch).
Saturday Night Equip
That evening after our Worship Workshop, all the leadership and a big chunk of the congregation came out to Equip. Another teaching & workshop style event. We had a great time of worship in English and Hindi—that’s an experience! Trying to read along in the transliteration in time with the music and worship at the same time.
When it was our turn after Sunny’s gracious introduction, Donnie started us off by talking about the Father’s love and how everything has to come out of our understanding, rest, and identity in the Father’s love. The anointing for receiving that love was definitely in the room!
Then Tom brought the parable of the seed and various soils. Then I began to teach Hearing from God in prophecy in its briefest form. Funnily enough, God didn’t have me major on the “what not to do’s” in prophesying over someone, but just how we hear from God for someone else and for ourselves, and how we get to be the “pizza box” that God uses to deliver His goodness to others. Again, God was working in identity and our relationship to Him.
Then I had them practice prophesying and I chose someone in the room (they didn’t know who until afterward) for the congregation to ask God for a word of encouragement for or scripture or picture. About 15 brave souls of the 75-85 people in the room shared what God had showed them. Then I told them who it was and we ministered to him in prayer and more prophetic words in the front of the congregation. Then the man had a chance to tell about what the words meant to him and even strange words/pictures that didn’t seem to fit, he was able to tell how they were correct.
They enjoyed it so much, that we did it again and split the room in half, one side heard for one person and the other side heard for someone else. Then we ministered to them separately. The second time, people were much more willing to share what they had seen!
Oh, and did I mention, this was all done with a Hindi interpreter. From Donnie, Tom and I sharing to the prophetic pictures from the congregation! Everything was stated twice, so it did take twice as long. But on the upside, the translation time, gave me time to think between each phrase/sentence I wanted to share/teach and I was able to teach without notes for the first time in my life! J Yay Jesus!
We all had dinner together outside after the Equip session and fellowshipped for another hour before we were driven back to our hotel.
Sunday Mornings in Dehradun Vineyard Fellowship
Sunday morning we met in a hotel’s lower level meeting room and rocked it out Vineyard Style! Except for the use of an interpreter it was very much like Vineyard home in the main service. We sang a couple of songs we recognized and then we also got to sing in Hindi. The words in transliteration were on the screen so we could sing along…if we were fast readers.
They began with reading a scripture to set the tone, and it really helped with settling people down to be ready for worship instead of jumping right in with a song and giving people a "one-song warm up" time. Of course people were late, it is Vineyard.
The children were in three groups and each of the men on the team took an age group. For Paul this was like every other Sunday, except, because they met in a hotel room, there was bed-jumping going on and of course the Hindi translation. For Donnie and Tom is was more than quite-a-stretch, it was a first! But they were exactly where they were supposed to be. In Tom’s youth group, he told them briefly how to pray for each other, paired them off and had them pray. One former-Hindu teen girl’s arm was 100% healed when her partner prayed for her the first time. Then she came up to Tom who directed her to her regular youth leader Laura and wanted to ask Jesus to come into her heart!
In Donnie’s group of age 7-12 year olds, they sat in an elevator-boarding lobby area on one of the hotel floors. It was the morning after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and those children all spent their Sunday school time praying for the people who were trapped to be released and to be healed and to have angelic visitations!
Monday’s Day “off”
On Monday Sunny took the four of us into the Himalayas and introduced us to his mountains. We climbed just to 7500 feet—certainly half again as high as I’d ever been before! And it was just magnificent. The views, the fellowship, the flora and fauna, the temperatures all were so refreshing. I took about 700 photos that day. All that and we didn’t even get to see the “Greater Himalayas” with their snow peaks because of the cloud cover. So we decided it calls for a return visit! This day definitely goes down as a favorite in life. Our eyes were filled with the glory of God!
If only we did small groups the way they do small groups! Nearly everyone in the fellowship is involved in a small group. They plan their lives around what happens at church, they don’t plan their lives and then try to fit in a church function. It is all about the community of believers and inviting others into that community.
We got to visit all their small groups. They started with worship, and I guess normally they would have a short time of teaching and some prayer and then everyone ate together a meal everyone contributed parts of. While we were there though, whether all four of us, or in pairs as we split up on Wed and Thurs nights, we lead ministry time immediately after worship. We invited others to participate and most of the time they did, gathering around sick friends or relatives.
Five of the home groups saw miracle after miracle of healed backs, shoulders, arms, ears, tummies. We prayed for a lot of intestinal ailments and arthritis and gout, and got down to roots of bitterness and taught on forgiveness right there as we prayed. The people were so generous to allow themselves to be vulnerable in front of their friends in order to gain freedom. And freedom they gained!
There was a lot more relationship building and healings that happened in the small groups than there is room for here, but it wasn’t just us involved in the healings, the congregation got up and ministered too.
Ministry: “Yeah, that just happened!”
We got a chance to minister to several couples in a four-on-two setting either in homes or the church rec room built in Pastor Sunny’s backyard. All of us with different ministry styles and freedom models that we normally work from were able to minister effectively together.
We got to minister to pastors in encouragement and pray for the things they are praying for in their ministry, like staff members, interns, and facilities, but also personal things. Especially refreshing.
We also were ministered to every time the Lord came. Obviously some parts of the ministry times took more effort or work in partnering with the Lord and sometimes waiting was part of the hard work. More often though, pressing in to pray again for the same need several times and being willing to look like a fool if God didn’t step in and do something, was the hard part.
The thing was, everyone who asked for prayer got it. And every person we prayed for—except one—received a measure of or a complete healing or freedom. The people of Dehradun Vineyard were so kind and generous in their thoughts toward us, that we had a hard time convincing them that back at home we were just ordinary people. From their perspective, I understand the head-shaking! God really showed up and showed off powerfully; we were just the vessel because we said “yes, we’ll go.”
Intercession on Friday Morning
It was this moment when everything changed. We had been in town nearly a week at this point and it was no longer “us” and “them.” We entered into intercession and worship together as equals, with give and take and scripture and song and declarations for the city and the congregation, and we contended for the future of this region in the kingdom of God for two hours or more.
Something changed then, it finally felt like partnership is supposed to feel. We were able to partner with the Dehradun Vineyard in the vision God has given them to accomplish, not as outsiders coming in to educate them how to do this Vineyard thing “rightly” but as brothers and sisters together. It was a beautiful thing!
The 2ND Saturday Night Equip
Tom took the lead on this teaching and ministry modeling time. He was teaching on healing and taking healing as evangelism into the marketplace. Well, one guy couldn’t wait and mid-teaching jumped up from the back and said, "I just can’t wait; my back needs healing NOW!” So Tom demonstrated what he was teaching with ease, as if it was an everyday occurrence to be interrupted from the back row. Just so you know, the guy later said he had never done anything like that before, and it took great faith for him to step out!
And he was healed after about 4 different people in succession prayed for him in front of the congregation. But what we found out later was that one of the ladies had heard from the Lord that she was supposed to pray for his back BEFORE he told anyone he was in pain. And SHE was being poked in the back by a younger lady who KNEW the older lady was supposed to pray for the guy!! Words of knowledge all over the congregation!
Pictured above is Tom telling Dorothy what to say when she prayed over the man who was about to be healed. Because we were teaching a new way to pray with authority. Not saying “God, will you heal this person?” but “sickness leave in Jesus’ name.” Based on the scripture that we are told to heal the sick, not ask God to do the work. The woman you can see facing the camera in the background is one of our translators. And also pictured below is when we got stuck in the healing process and needed to do some deliverance. Tom said, “Donnie, come on up and teach them what’s going on.” And so he did, simple as pie, the deliverance occurred and the pain went away. The lady in this photo is another of our translators; we went through two or three that night! J
Sunday after service we had a short trip back up to Mount Zion Retreat Center to take in the views once more and say our goodbyes. Then it was back to the train station for the ride back to Delhi. I’m not sure what the difference in this train trip south and our trip north was, but every 45 minutes on this trip they came by with meals—full meals and snack meals, even ice cream, all for free! It apparently came with our tickets. Tom and I shared a row for this segment of the trip and we were both just stuffed with our eyeballs spinning in our heads, not even wanting to eat breakfast the next morning.
We had an interesting encounter at the train station. We had hired porters to carry our luggage on the steps this time, and once we got down there was a bit of a discrepancy in the price (which was posted as the legal price for porters per bag). The guys on the team were trying to make them come around to the proper price when I walked up and was filled in. They had been trying to demand more than 2.5 times the posted rate, but they were adamant about their price even when we told them they could take the proper amount or leave it.
Then a pair of older ladies wearing crosses (which the guys told me about later, I didn’t see them) came over to us and began demanding justice for us, both in Hindi and in English! Even using the word justice! It was fantastic! We ended up paying them nice a tip on top of the legal amount and got outta there! We returned by taxi to our honey-pancakes hotel in Delhi for the night.
Mukesh’s Children in Delhi Slum Schools
On our last team day, we rented a taxi for the day, drove across part of Delhi, found Mukesh and his wife Ruby, also Vineyard pastors, and they took us to two of their slum schools and we took them to a nice lunch and prayed for them and their staff.
But we also got to pray for and interact with their children. We exchanged songs, and I taught them the chorus of God’s Not Dead (He’s surely alive, he’s living on the inside and roaring like a lion.) with the motions--which they grasped quickly even in a second or third language. Paul shared the story about Jesus calling the little children unto him and praying for them.
Then we prayed…and God showed up! They opened their arms to receive a gift from God, and He filled their little hearts. Such peace rested on them, and most of them manifested God’s presences through deep breathing, shaking, fluttering eyelids or nearing falling over…which might have happened had the room not been so packed with children. This room was so full that all the children could not stand up from sitting on the floor at one time, they had to take turns.
At the second school, the English barrier was a little more awkward. But we plowed right through, and God’s peace settled on this group just as thoroughly. There were about 8-10 kids (of 30ish) who had some hacking coughs. We stretched over other kids to lay our hand on them and heal them. No one was coughing when we left! And none of them spoke English, so they had no idea what we were praying…probably never did find out, But they experienced the healing power of the Living God.
And so did we. We were high after that experience and are looking for ways we can partner with Mukesh in the future to bring teams to minister to the children and staff there in Delhi.
Wrap up and heading home
We had a few extra hours before the guys had to catch a taxi for the 25-35 minute ride back to the airport for their flight home, so we started our debrief there in my new hotel room, which had a little sitting area. It turned into a beautiful time of more freedom for each of us and we began shuffling through and processing all the memories of what God did in us and through us.
Then they were gone. I stayed over in Delhi for another week—because of a visa issue for another country—and did a lot of writing and prep work for an Israel Basics Conference I will be teaching in the fall. And slept. I slept almost every afternoon after such an action packed 12 days of travel and ministry!
On May 12th I headed back to Birmingham and ended up being bumped up to first class, not once, but TWICE in the journey, Once on the long haul from Delhi to Amsterdam, and again from Atlanta to B’ham. The flight in between was an overloaded 747, with exactly one empty seat on board…it was immediately to my left. What a huge blessing to be able to spread out on all those flights home. I reunited with my family and hit the ground running on Wednesday morning to catch up on 3 weeks away.
The funny things I Didn't expect
Brown outs and random power outages. Everything requiring electricity just stops, but if it doesn’t require electric, then no one pays it any attention and it is like it is not even happening.
Electric switch panels that control everything in the room from one location: 10 switches in one place, unlabeled.
Ceiling fans everywhere. Yay!
No air conditioning, because even if a room had it available it was only 108 in May, and real summer was coming, they would save the a/c for summertime.
A 5 gal bucket and a dipper in every hotel bathroom for bucket showers to conserve water.
“Everything’s better with honey” Everyone’s new favorite phrase
Salted lemonade and salted banana chips
Salted yogurt, sweet too, but salted?
Another favorite phrase, “If that was all we came for, it was worth it!” and we got to keep saying it over and over. What a fruitful trip!
One Year Post-Trip Observations
Over a year later our team still carries an undeniable bond. Each of us carries such a love for our Vineyard brothers and sisters in India and Indian culture and food. Each of has seen growth in our personal discipleship and our relationship with Jesus. We are still functioning at a higher level of faith than “before India.” Each of us long to return for another visit, and Donnie has already fulfilled that desire. Tom’s smile above says it all.