Final Day in India
We are so thankful for your prayers for us throughout our seven weeks in India. It was an unforgettable journey—we learned so much and we felt sustained, protected, and blessed. As we return to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, our hearts are full. I (Lisa) will offer a summary of our last four weeks since our previous letter, but first a few general reflections. Apologies for the length! Please do not post or share this. The photo above is from a gathering of IFES graduates (and their families) in Bhopal. It is always great to be together with IFES staff and alumni; we feel immediate close kinship with them! More photos on our website.
We enjoyed our time in this bustling city very much. Rich had begun teaching a leadership class weekly via Zoom for a seminary there; he taught it daily the week we were there. Lisa taught an Advanced Homiletics seminar each day. We also both preached for their chapel and had many long talks with faculty and students. They were thoughtful and sharp. Their residential model for both students and faculty creates a strong and nurturing community. Students work for 45 minutes each weekday afternoon as part of how they pay for their education. This work time is sometimes followed by a lively cricket match, with students and faculty joining in! We left very impressed with the vision and mission of this school, and aware that their aging buildings need replacement.
We won’t mention the name of the city to which we traveled next, and sadly not share photos, because we worked there with a ministry that can meet with resistance from the government and from its community. A good friend from the US has been serving this very poor area, working primarily with women who now follow Jesus but remain culturally Muslim or Hindu. He and an Indian leader on the ground there have trained these women to be essentially social workers. They walk even poorer women through processes like getting birth certificates, so they can access government funds they had not been aware of. They also offer literacy classes and create small lending groups that fund micro-enterprises for themselves and their husbands; this has lifted them, if not out of poverty, up to a level where they are keeping their kids in school longer, accessing cleaner water, and feeling great pride in their work.
Along with poverty alleviation efforts, these women have been learning to retell Bible stories to their families and neighbors. Rich has been leading them through his biblical leadership materials via Zoom for nearly two years, and they have become very dear to him (which seemed quite mutual) so it was a huge joy for him and for them to finally meet. For three days, about thirty of them sat on a concrete floor with a thin rug (we joined them as our knees allowed), while we worked together through several more narrative passages of Scripture, with Lisa offering a workshop on storytelling skills. As each session ended, they took several moments to share eagerly how the stories connected with their lives. It was remarkable what they clued into in Scripture and how different their points of connection were from the typical ones we might expect in a Western context.
In Bangalore, we were frankly grateful for a little less intense pace, so we could catch up on grading for Malaysia classes and other details. We are primarily there at the invitation of a dear friend, Tim Shah, who is doing important work to bolster religious freedom globally. We’re taught several sessions at Southern Asia Bible College and preached and taught in a few other settings. We were delighted to spend time with Tim and his wife, Becky, and her parents, Vinay and Colleen Samuel, who have been serving Bangalore, India, and the global church in innovative and courageous ways for decades.
Our final week proved the most challenging for me. Our host began a Bible College just last year with a vision to educate pastors who may not even have completed high school. Its first class is just 20 or so students. The final day, each one shared his or her testimony with us. Some were quite harrowing, such as drug addiction at age 10. The challenge of the week for me was the long car rides to rural areas on three different days to train pastors there. The windy roads and potholes exacerbated the low-level tummy troubles I’ve had the whole journey. Still, we were so impressed with the vision of this young school.
Back to Kuala Lumpur! Tomorrow, August 18, we will return to KL, just in time for “Induction Day” for the new class of students at SPTC, with courses beginning the next week. We are looking forward to being there, and we feel hopeful that a long-term visa solution is in the works.
Whew! If you read to the end, thank you for your interest! If you jumped to here, we get it.
Prayer Requests as we return to KL:
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Rich and Lisa Lamb