Nov 13

No money? No problem!

This past week in a surprise move on the evening of Tuesday, Nov 8, the Indian government announced that the 500 and 1000 rupee notes (worth about $7.50 and $15, respectively) would no longer legal tender after midnight that night. These were the two highest notes in Indian currency. This move rendered at least 80% of the money in circulation no longer valid.

The public has until Dec. 30 to deposit the old notes into bank accounts. One can also exchange them (up to a max of 4000 per day – about $60) for the new 500 and 2000 rupee bills. The purpose of this action was render counterfeit 500 and 1000 notes worthless overnight and force those who have undeclared (i.e. untaxed) stockpiles of cash to deposit them and be taxed on them.

part of the long line at a local ATM

part of the long line at a local ATM

Indian society runs mainly on cash. This demonetization has resulted in long lines at banks and ATMs, as people try to get in to deposit and exchange money or get money from ATMs. In a nation of almost 1.3 billion, there are only about 200,000 ATMs, at least half of which are still not working, because they have not been reprogrammed to dispense the new 2000 rupee notes or with the 20002500*/day limit (about $38). The ATMs that are working quickly run out of cash. This has left most people without any usable money which means they cannot buy food or even bus tickets. This has resulted in anger, scuffles, and even a couple of deaths. You can read about the situation herehere, and this one has some good pictures.

This has created problems here for our brothers and sisters as well. For example, pastors are left with no money to buy transportation so they have been unable to come to monthly training meetings, or even food from the local market.

Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink because our heavenly Father knows that we need these things and will provide for us (Matthew 6:23-32). Jesus tells us:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

We often chase after the things of this world, as that is our day-to-day life. Putting Jesus’ words into practice is difficult when one’s cupboard and pocketbook is bare, but remember God has provided something far more important than earthly food: He has given us free forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with Him through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He gives us free access to His kingdom by giving us His perfect righteousness in the place of our sinfulness.

We are poor before God. We have nothing with which to buy the forgiveness of our sins. We have nothing to offer God. But Jesus has taken care of that!

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV)

We are now rich toward God with the perfect obedience and righteousness of Jesus that is credited (deposited) in our account. Because God has given us His own Son, we can be confident He will give us everything else we need in this life:

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32 ESV)

So God calls us to believe and receive this salvation He has given us in Jesus for free:

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. (Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)

* On Nov. 14 the ATM withdrawal limit was raised from 2000 to 2500 rupees per day.

Jul 29

The gift of faith

The mission helpers returned back to the US this past Monday night.

It was a busy two weeks! We split into two teams. I and 4 others stayed with the CLCI and visited 9 congregations. We did a VBS program for the children at each congregation that covered seven major events from the beginning of time to the end of time: Creation, Corruption (the fall into sin), Catastrophe (the world-wide flood brought on by man’s sin), Confusion (the tower of Babel, another result of man’s sin), Christ, Cross (the suffering and death of Jesus to pay for our sins and reconcile us to God), and Consummation (the return of Christ Jesus at the end of time). We shared this message of man’s sin and the salvation God provided through His Son Jesus’ death and resurrection to over 500 children (it is hard to get an accurate count when they are all sitting in a group and squirming a bit).

Jyothi reports that the pastors and members “were greatly encouraged spiritually by this wonderful trip” and “all the Sunday school teachers responded very positively and some of the new Sunday school teachers said that they have never seen anything like this before.”

Faith necklaces

Faith necklaces

At the end of the lessons we distributed some gifts to the children: New Testaments and a Bible workbook in Telugu, some stickers, a pen/pencil box and a pen, some candy and a balloon.  But by far the most popular item was a necklace with cubes forming a cross which reads “FAITH”. Everyone wanted one, including the adults.








God tells us through the Apostle Paul:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus’ payment for our sins – our salvation – is received by faith. The forgiveness of sins and our faith are both the gift of God. None of it comes from ourselves.

Pray that the children and adults who heard the message we shared will appreciate the gift of faith and salvation God has given them and may the necklace we gave them remind them of this great gift!


May 28

Aliens and Strangers

I really like India! When I first arrived, I felt like I was home. Since my arrival, however, a number of things have dampened that feeling.

When you check into a hotel, you have to fill out a form giving your passport information, date you arrived in India, purpose of your visit, and other personal information. The hotel also is required to make a copy of your passport and visa. This information is submitted to government/police so they are aware of your movements. At one hotel, a policeman came by on the last day of our stay to enquire about our exact purpose and to get a letter detailing our itinerary.

As I am obviously not of Indian descent, I am frequently asked “Why are you here?” This question must be wisely and discreetly answered to avoid any problems (Matthew 10:16-18).

There are more and more news reports of persecution and violence against Christians in India. If native Christians are facing such things, what can I expect as a foreigner without (many) legal rights? None of the Christians in our affiliated churches have experience such violence so far. Please pray that this will continue to be true.

All these things add up to make me feel less “at home” and less welcome. But is that a bad thing?

Neither India nor the US is really my home:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20-21

We are really foreigners in this world. We should not get too comfortable or feel too at home here. We were created for a far better and eternal home with God.

Let us be like the “heroes of faith” in Hebrews 11:12-15 and seek the kingdom God has prepared for us:

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Through Jesus’ death to pay for our sins and His resurrection from the dead, we now have an eternal inheritance that can never fade away:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you… 1 Peter 1:3-4

Feb 26

Extreme Culture Shock

Culture Shock is something one can experience when visiting a foreign country. Often there are different expectations, different ways of communicating, different ways of doing things, different levels of comfort, and different levels cleanliness and hygiene. These differences can lead to feelings of unease, discomfort, even anxiety and frustration.

When driving on the dusty, bouncy, dirt roads of India, I miss the clean, paved roadways of the States. When my feet are devoured by mosquitos and gnats and I worry about malaria, chikungunya, and dengue fever, I begin to think that the mosquitos of Minnesota really weren’t that bad.

But the occasional and minor discomforts I may experience here do not compare to what our Lord and Savior Jesus experienced. Think of what He did! Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8

Although Jesus was God, He left the glory of heaven to become flesh and dwell among us in this dirty, smelly, sin-corrupted world. We cannot even begin to understand how great Jesus’ humiliation was. We cannot comprehend the difference between heaven and here. Talk about culture shock!

But Jesus not only left the comforts of heaven to live here among us sinful people, but He humbled Himself to the point of experiencing something completely foreign to the eternal Son of God: death. And He suffered an ignominious death as a common criminal on a cross.

Jesus did this all for you and for me. He came to live the perfect life of obedience to God the Father than none of us have lived, and He took all of our failures to keep God’s law — all our sins — upon Himself when He died on the cross. By His death and resurrection from the dead, Jesus has taken away your sins and reconciled you to God, so that you have an eternal home in heaven and His perfect life here on earth is credited to your account.

This is why Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Rejoice in the salvation that Jesus has accomplished for you at such great cost and suffering.