I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a culture so unique and robust and full and anomalous all at the same time. It is brimming with movement everywhere you look. The roads, for example, have clearly marked lanes that no one actually uses. Instead, cars, motorbikes, pedestrians and herds of cows make their own way in whatever way they choose. Why they even have traffic lights is beyond me. I can’t say that I saw anyone ever acknowledge one during the eight days that we were there. I just sat in the back seat of different taxis listening to the steady blare of horns, my eyes wide and heart beating fast.
The irony in some parts of India’s cities is that even though it is teeming with life it is also pungent with the aroma of death. I could feel it in the air. For everywhere you look, on every street corner you pass there is a station for idol-worship set up to accommodate Hindu devotees. Here, in the west, it is hard for us to imagine such a stark illustration of idolatry but in India it is conspicuous. Our idols are theoretical and abstract. Theirs are tangible and actual. And just like Starbucks coffee shops dot street corners here in the U.S., make-shift temples that look more like carnival-themed enclosures welcome on-the-go worshippers.
This photo is a little blurred but here is one of the temples I passed by one night on our way back to the hotel.
We saw men, women and their children walk in to give their offerings and ask for atonement for their failings. They’re goal is to appease the 3,000 plus gods that fall underneath the umbrella of Hinduism in order to deflect their wrath and garner their protection. This work consumes their time and energy. It’s exhausting really. Appeasing the gods. So, they’ve made it convenient – like a fast-food restaurant, always available and ubiquitous.
So today, I ask you to pray for church’s like Hyderabad Baptist Church. For 47 years, this pastor and his wife have been reaching out, spreading the gospel and standing firm as a beacon of light in the midst of the permeating darkness of deeply rooted idol worship.
I had the privilege to speak here and it was refreshing to see their building thronging with believers who, despite the heat and standing room only evening service, hung on every word of the One True God. Comfort and convenience was not their main priority. The darkness is too blatant and stark for cute Christianity in India. Too much opposition for that.
And I was blessed by their passion.
I’m praying for our brothers and sisters all across this country. Will you join me today?