Posted by: janpierce | December 5, 2009

Oh, God of Those People Across the River!

I just finished reading a biography of Bill and Joyce Scott, who finished 50 years of missionary work in the part of Andhra Pradesh that we visit most often. Their first assignment in the fifties was at the Indian Mission School in Peddipalli which we have visited and where we provide a small scholarship for graduates. The Scotts are well-known in American Baptist circles, and after 50 years on the field have many stories to tell of the power of God as it is demonstrated in India. This book was written in 1999 so they have now been serving in India for 60 years. Their main work has been in Bible distribution, training of evangelists, childrens summer Bible clubs and in teaching adult literacy. They learned early on to live in the same circumstances as the people if they were to gain credibility and respect. They also treated the people with respect; selling Bibles and Christian literature at very low prices rather than giving the valuble materials away to be recycled with the trash, and always building self-sufficiency into their training and leadership programs. Bill talks a lot about having to come to grips with the power of the enemy and the amazing demonstrations of God’s power in that country. Here is one of the stories he tells about how God has shown Himself strong to those seeking Him.
There was a tribal group called the Yanadis. They were untouchables receiving Christ and the Hindu people across the river from them had heard that there was a new god over there. The Hindus in this area were very anti-Christian. One day a young woman became seriously ill and asked her husband to pray to all the gods they knew for her healing. Nothing happened. As she continued to become more dangerously ill she finally begged her husband to pray to that god over there across the river and see what would happen. Desperate, the husband agreed and said, “Oh God, that God, God of those people across the river. Heal my wife if you’re a true God.” Instantly the wife came out of their home and was well. They called over the river to ask the name of this new god. “His name is Jesus” came the reply. From that incident a new church was formed in a very anti-Christian village.
Even conservative Christians in India recognize the evil powers that overcome people in some of the festivals and gatherings of Hindu and animist people. Trances, self-mutilation, vomiting blood, and other gross things happen in these ceremonies. The power of these gods is real and it is interesting to me that in such settings our loving God will show Himself mighty. Why do these things happen in less scientific places and are not as prevalent in America? Do you wonder about that? Could it be that we would see more miracles if we identified the evils within our own culture and named them? If God was willing to show Himself to a couple who didn’t even know His name, won’t He respond to the needs we see all around us in America? Addictions, hopelessness, meaninglessness? What do you think?

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