(NOTE: If you are unable to view the videos in this post, click HERE. And please remember to pray today for Jonathan, our Global Disciple-Making Pastor, who was originally scheduled to be on this trip with us, but is having brain surgery today instead. You can follow updates concerning him HERE.)

Today was our last full day in India. Tomorrow we will do miscellaneous things with various ministry partners and then late in the evening, Lord willing, we will board a plane headed for home. I’ll include some thoughts on video tomorrow, but this will presumably be the last update from this trip regarding our ministry partnerships in India. And of all our days here, this one may be the most difficult to process.

But we’ll start light. Tonight, we had an opportunity to travel into Old Delhi on bicycle rickshaws for dinner. Words really can’t describe Delhi traffic, or Indian driving in general, but when you get on the road riding on the back of a bicycle, things get all the more exciting. I thought you’d appreciate Heather’s perspective…


Our dinner in Old Delhi capped off a full day with our brothers and sisters at Cooperative Outreach of India. By God’s grace, years ago He connected us with Ramesh Landge, who oversees this ministry that networks churches and resources all over north India for the spread of the gospel. Cooperative Outreach of India (COI) is involved in a multiplicity of ministries to churches, men, women, and children, and they have been a wonderful partner for our faith family over the last few years, including this last year in the Radical Experiment.

Last year, in light of your sacrificial giving, we were able to partner together with COI on two church leadership training projects. The essence of both of these projects was to intentionally equip church members and leaders to engage new areas and new people groups with the gospel. For example, one of the projects provided training for 30 church planters to engage 30 new areas of India with the gospel (covering 150 to 180 villages). The other training project focused on leadership development within existing churches for the purpose of raising up new leaders who will fuel church multiplication, particularly amongst house churches in relatively unreached areas.

Today, we had the opportunity to visit with three of the pastors (and their churches) who have been involved in this training, and we were incredibly encouraged. One pastor, Naresh, has seen a small group meeting in a home grow to groups now gathering in 12 different homes. Almost all of the people now meeting in homes have come to Christ from Hindu backgrounds. “The harvest is plentiful,” Naresh said. And thankfully, he and other laborers are working hard in the harvest field, day in and day out, to share and show the gospel in areas of desperate need. Watch this video of a house church meeting. See how they are packing in closely for worship, prayer, and study of the Word. As you watch, picture this multiplied across numerous homes as a result of the training we have partnered together to provide this last year…

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21361678]

Amidst the beauty of scenes like the above, it is still hard not to be overwhelmed regarding the needs that are still unmet. The pastors we spent time with today are working in very difficult areas, filled with massive spiritual and physical need. More specifically, they are working in urban Indian slums. A quick video is entirely insufficient to capture the scenes we were in today, so I’ll try to picture it in words. Imagine stepping out of a car, and as you do, you immediately dodge human feces on the ground with your foot. As the smell of trash, waste, and sewage immediately fills your nostrils, you begin to walk down narrow alleyways lined with worn-down rooms on each side of you. Each family of about 6 members has a 12.5 ft. x 12.5 ft. room to live in. There are 80,000 such homes in this particular slum. And those with the 12.5 ft. x 12.5 ft. room are the fortunate ones. Others are squatters, living right next to this slum area in small tents. Still others haven’t made it into the squatter village, and so entire families simply sleep, eat, and live on the side of the road. This is the community where these pastors are working and where we are partnering to spread the gospel.

The women and children in these villages feel the effect of poverty the most. Amidst the living conditions described above, many of the men resort to drinking and drugs, which often leads to spousal and child abuse in various forms. Many women are subsequently left alone to care for themselves and their children amidst impoverished conditions. This is where COI has worked intentionally through local churches to not only help deliver men from addictive behavior and sin, but also to help equip women to care for themselves, their families, and their communities. At one point today, we gathered with a group of women in one particular slum. Our partners at COI asked us to share the gospel with these women and to encourage them not to give up hope, to persevere, and to trust in Christ. I shared from Mark 4-5 with these Hindu women about Jesus’ power as the one true God above all gods. I told them about Jesus’ authority over nature, demons, disease, and death, urging them to trust in Christ, who loves them, cares for them, and desires for them to trust in Him. After I shared, Callie and Heather once again were asked to sing, and they did. I know I’ve already shown one clip over the last week of them singing, but this was another poignant moment worth mentioning (and observing). Before they began, Callie explained the meaning of the song they were about to sing, telling these women that God loves each of them, cares for each of them, and desires to save them in Christ. As you watch this video, I would like to ask you to do something. Pray for every face you see. Though you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell because of the setting where we are gathered in the video, each of these women is living in an extremely impoverished urban slum. Some of them are being abused, and almost all of them have someone sick in their homes. Some of them have come to Christ, and many of them are exploring the gospel for the first time. So as you see each of their faces, pray for each of their souls. Pray that the Lord, in His grace, would draw them to Himself. Pray for their children—that they would live to grow up and love Christ. Pray for their husbands—that God would open their eyes to their sin, idolatry, and immorality, and to the mercy that is found in Christ alone. And pray for the churches in slums like these—that God would, by His Spirit, empower them to make disciples and multiply churches amidst the massive urban areas of India.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21362355]

I am so grateful for our ministry partnership with Cooperative Outreach of India. Pastors, church planters, church leaders, and church members are being trained to engage some of the most difficult areas of India (I’ve focused above on their work in New Delhi, since that is where we have been on this trip, but we have partnered together with COI in areas all over north India). Thank you for your sacrificial giving that is making this possible.

Which leads to a final thought, one that may summarize this entire trip and the entire point for the brothers and sisters who make up The Church at Brook Hills. Faith family, over these last few days it has been nothing less than awe-inspiring to see the effects of God’s grace through you in Birmingham on the demonstration and declaration of the gospel in India. Over 1,000 mother/child units with access to food, medical care, and most importantly the gospel. Over 100 wells built through local Indian churches to provide over 30,000 people access to clean water. Two million people who now have access to the New Testament in audio form, and 7 million others with access to Bible stories for the first time in their language. Literally hundreds of villages engaged with the gospel through Indian church planters, and literally thousands of Indian brothers and sisters trained to make disciples and multiply churches in some of the most spiritually and physically desolate places on the planet. When one realizes all that we have had the opportunity to be a part of in one short year as a church in the Radical Experiment (and all of this in addition to the other ways we are working in Birmingham, East Lake, Gate City, and around the world), one conclusion is clear: It is worth it. It is worth it to let go of comfortable programs. It is worth it to let go of easy conveniences. It is worth it to let go of budget resources. It is worth it to let go of anything and everything we can in order to spread the gospel and glory of Christ amidst urgent spiritual and physical need in the world.

So let’s go further. Let’s not stop. Let’s make this the beginning, not the end, of sacrificial giving of our time, our resources, our lives, and our church. There’s still 6,000 people groups who haven’t heard the gospel. There’s still masses of our brothers and sisters who don’t have food and water. The need may seem overwhelming, but know this: because of your giving last year, there’s more people groups reached with the gospel than there were this time last year, and there’s brothers and sisters who are living in their communities who used to be dying there. Church at Brook Hills, may this last year truly be the start of a new normal among a people who are radically giving everything we have and everything we are to make disciples and multiply churches from Birmingham to every tribe, tongue, and people group on the planet for the glory of our great God.

I’ll close with one last video glimpse of India. This diverse and complicated mission field includes literally millions of Hindu gods facilitated by countless Hindu priests, millions of Muslims filling multitudes of mosques, and many other religious traditions, from Buddhism to Jainism to Sikhism. This last video is from one of the many temples that dot the Indian religious landscape. It is a Sikh temple, dedicated to promote Sikh scriptures and practice. As you enter this temple and as you watch people bow and listen to them sing, pray earnestly that God will open the eyes of men and women in all nations to see the light, truth, and love of Christ as Savior, Lord, and King. And pray that God will open the hearts of Christians in the church to sacrifice our lives and churches to give and go to them.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21362168]