11 posts categorized “India”

April 14, 2014

Old Wrapping Paper Launches Mission Movement in India

Ancient Israel comprised 12 tribes camping around the tabernacle. In the same way, Christianity has always contained various camps, tribes and denominations, often closely related and working together for the Kingdom. One of the fastest-growing in early America was the Freewill Baptists of New England, started when New Hampshire’s Benjamin Randall was converted in 1770. Freewill Baptists aggressively pursued evangelism and education in Northeast America and were among the loudest voices against slavery.

The extension of the movement overseas was ignited by a handful of old wrapping paper.

The General Baptists of England had sent Amos Sutton to India in 1830 as a missionary doctor. The load was too great, and his American wife, worried about his health, suggested he write to Freewill Baptists, appealing for help. Sutton immediately penned a long letter ending with, “Come, then, my American brethren, come over and help us.” On This Day

Unfortunately, Sutton had no address for the Freewill Baptists, so his letter rested in his desk many months. One day he received a package and, opening it, saw a fragile item wrapped in discarded newspaper. The paper proved more valuable than the gift, for it was the Morningstar, publication of the Freewill Baptists. Dr. Sutton immediately posted his letter to the listed address. The Freewill Baptist Foreign Mission Society was soon established, and Sutton made a dramatic visit to New Hampshire. Pale and emaciated, he told 3,000 assembled Christians, “As I arise to speak, I seem to see the millions in India with bended knees and tearful eyes, saying, ‘Sir, plead our cause—plead it effectually!’” He did, returning to India with 21 workers. Many of them died, others suffered greatly, but still more followed. And on April 14, 1839 the first small Freewill Baptist chapel in India was dedicated to Christ to accommodate the new converts.

“Could the friends of missions have witnessed our little assembly quietly seated on their mats, listening to the Word of eternal life with serious attention,” wrote a missionary, “they would have rejoiced with us, and would have praised the name of that God who had here made room for us.”

The person that mailed the gift to Dr. Sutton may have never known the impact of the discarded paper that he wrapped it in. Yet in God’s sovereignty that “trash” led to souls being won in India. Has God ever used something unique or something the world would see as rubbish to guide you or assist you in finding His will? Please share your story in the comments to this post.

Story excerpted from “On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes” by Robert J. Morgan. Disclosure: VOM is part of the Amazon Associates program. If you click on the links in this post and purchase the book from Amazon, VOM will receive a very small percentage of your purchase as a referral fee.


April 10, 2014

Christians Concerned as India Elections Open

Christians in India are fearful that the country's general elections, which begin this week, may lead to a rise in persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. About 815 million people are expected to cast ballots in the elections, which take place in several phases ending May 12. Results are expected to be announced May 16.

Opinion polls suggest a victory for the opposition National Democratic Alliance, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, is currently chief minister of Gujarat. He was widely criticized for failing to prevent the massacre of more than 2,000 Muslims in his state in 2002. Modi, 63, has been denied a visa to enter the United States for more than 10 years. In-map

Most incidents of mass violence against Christians have taken place in states under the rule of the BJP. Rev Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, says Modi's rise has led to 'fear and insecurity' among Christians. 'The perception… is that the scale of persecution of Christians will increase,' he says.

While Modi is seen by many—especially those outside India—as a radical Hindu nationalist and a human rights abuser, he is seen by many in India as a capable leader who has improved the economy in Gujarat and brought 24-hour electricity to its people.

“He is seen as having been a very competent, even successful chief minister in Gujurat with the one major exception of the 2002 riots,” Dr. Robert Hathaway, director of the Asia program at The Wilson Center, told NBCNews.com. “The economy there has grown remarkably well and he is regarded as the atypical Indian politician in the sense that he is not surrounded by allegations of corruption or enriching himself personally.”

Christians in India are requesting prayer for their nation as the elections go forward. Pray Christians will find strength and security in Christ as this process moves forward. Pray also for God’s will in the election process.

Learn more about the nation of India and persecution there.

Sources: Release International (VOM’s sister mission in the UK), NBCNews.com


March 27, 2014

INDIA: Christ Is Preached

One of our VOM contacts in India recently shared an inspiring story of a young woman that lives her life for Jesus in spite of her many trials.

A 30-year-old widow, Vani is the sole provider for her family. While I’m not sure when Vani lost her husband, imagine the grief that a young mother must face with such loss. As a daily laborer, it is now up to her to provide shelter and food, clothing, as well as school fees for her 7-year-old daughter. Not an easy task, but she presses forward and finds her strength in Jesus.

Vani is a strong woman who is a faithful member of her church. She regularly travels with Rekha, 50, who is the pastor’s wife, and Mala, 34, who is a widow with two children, ages 12 and 14. Can you envision the sorts of conversations that they must have along the way? Together, they routinely go out to other villages where they meet with people who need to know about Jesus. They distribute gospel tracts, and actively seek opportunities to share God’s love with those they meet.

In early February, as Vani was on her way home from church, she found just such an opportunity when she noticed a young teenage girl at the bus stop. As they made introductions, she came to learn that Kusuma was a 15-year-old girl who was very depressed and sad about her home situation. She faced a lot of problems with her parents and her relatives.  

DSC_7709
Following her recent release from prison, Vani is pictured with her 7-year-old daughter.

Vani shared the gospel with her, and Kusuma was very intrigued. As evening came, Kusuma decided to go to Vani’s house. The next morning, she still wasn’t ready to return to her parents’ home, so Vani invited her to attend church with her. There, she introduced the girl to Rekha and Mala, who also took interest in helping the girl and shared stories of Jesus with her before she went back to her home.

When Kusuma returned home, one can imagine how upset her parents must have been. Although Vani, Rekha, and Mala had cared for their daughter, it must have seemed suspicious. The parents told others about what happened, and soon they along with a group of radical Hindus filed a false complaint with police, stating that the women were kidnapping children and forcing them to convert to Christianity.

On March 2, police arrested Vani and took her to jail. Rekha and Mala managed to escape immediate arrest, but authorities were still looking for them as they wanted to charge all three with kidnapping and forced conversions. Vani’s 7-year-old daughter was left in the care of church workers.

While many people may have been discouraged, Vani saw it as a new opportunity to preach Christ. When we first learned of this, VOM was arranging to help with legal fees, including bail for Vani and anticipatory bail for Rekha and Mala.

Yesterday, we learned something even more exciting. She had been released after spending 15 days in jail, but it gets better. Vani tells us that she “did not lose her faith in the Lord” and used the time to continue to pray and share the gospel with those around her.

When the jailer saw the changes in the habits and activities of these women, Vani was encouraged to share the gospel and pray for nearly 70 ladies. In the 15 days that she was locked up for “forcing” a 15-year-old to convert, 14 of the women that Vani shared the gospel message with made decisions to follow Jesus.

Vani’s story reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 1: 12-13, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.”

Vani has told us that she is interested in continuing prison ministry and reaching out to these women. Although Kusuma’s parents and other radical Hindus wanted her locked away for her “crime” of preaching Christ, even the jailer noticed a distinct difference about Vani. It was the jailer who encouraged Vani to pray for the women and share her faith. As a result, the things that have happened to Vani have actually turned out for the advancing of the gospel, so that there are now 14 more sisters in Christ.

“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.


March 10, 2014

Endurance in India

Endurance in India

Christians in India have been suffering from a variety of trials. In recent months, numerous Christians have faced legal action for practicing their faith. Some have been beaten and others killed as a result of their faith in Christ.

I am reminded of James 1:2–4, which says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

While the Indian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, there are six states which have laws against “forced conversions.” Often, these types of laws are specifically used to target Christians.

In one local church where many have come to Christ, there are three men and two women that are very active in evangelizing to those around them. They are subsistence farmers and they work hard to feed their families. Udhaykumar and Meenakshi have two toddlers, a boy and girl, and they reach out to other families. Basavaraju and his wife, Rathna, as well as Yogesh are all local evangelists who share the gospel with others, pass out gospel tracts and hold prayer services in their homes. They do this on a daily basis and as a result of their faithfulness and patience, many are coming to Christ.

Radical Hindus in the area have taken notice and become upset. On Feb. 4, after the group complained to police because the three families were spreading Christianity and converting people, local police filed charges and began searching for the evangelists to arrest them. As a result, they have had to go into hiding while they wait for bail to be set. A lawyer is helping the three families and has gone to local authorities to try to bring action against those who accused the evangelists but had no proof.

Not long ago in another part of India, Pastor Philip was at a house where Christians had met for worship services. Radicals became angered and attacked the Christians, causing injury to the pastor, six men, three women, and a 7-year-old girl. Police were called and although the injured were taken to the hospital, charges were still filed against the Christians. The radical group also threatened the Christians by telling them that they would burn the house and kill the people there if caught worshipping God again.

By all recent accounts, they have not given up. They continue to have faith in Jesus Christ and know that what they are doing matters. These brothers and sisters are living testimonies of what it means to “fall into various trials” and still count it all joy and continue their work.

“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.


December 6, 2013

FOXE Voices: Thomas (ca. AD 70)

With the exception of Peter and Paul, we have more information on the subsequent life of Thomas than on any of the other apostles. Most of the material comes from tradition. For a disciple with a doubtful reputation, he certainly left behind a variety of regions that name him among the founders of their ancient traditions of faith.

The account in John’s Gospel gives us the most glimpses of Thomas, but they come within the last few weeks of Jesus’ ministry. Apparently his character traits became more obvious under the growing pressure of opposition. Keenly aware of the danger waiting for Jesus in Jerusalem, Thomas voiced the outlook that must have been on all their minds when he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16). Perhaps more clearly than the other disciples, Thomas thought that if their hopes of a kingdom with Jesus as the leader fell through, death would result. Jesus’ frequent references to His death may have confused some of the disciples, but it seems to have unsettled Thomas.

Our next glimpse of Thomas comes during the Last Supper when he reacts to Jesus’ comforting words about His Father’s house. Thomas reveals that his heart is indeed troubled when he blurts out, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). We can be grateful for Thomas’s boldness, for it allowed Jesus to make one of His clearest claims about His role as Lord and Savior: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Thomas’s third outburst came the evening of Resurrection Sunday (or very early on Monday). Jesus had appeared to ten of the disciples on Sunday evening, with Thomas as the only absentee. Perhaps he was reacting differently than the rest of the disciples to the news that Jesus had arisen. They gathered, but Thomas stayed away. When informed of Jesus’ visit, Thomas responded with daring doubts:

The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

A week later, that dare was met. Jesus appeared before all of them, and Thomas’s doubts vaporized as he declared, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Jesus used the occasion to make another crucial point about the nature of faith: “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). FOXE_Thomas

The passion Jesus awakened in His disciples drove them out to bless thousands who would not have the privilege of seeing, but would believe the testimony of those gladly willing to lay down their lives for their convictions. Once Thomas left Jerusalem, there’s no evidence that he ever returned. He left his doubts behind. He headed for the ends of the earth. He undoubtedly found that Jesus was true to His promise of companionship to the end.

Thomas traveled north and east from Israel, passing through Babylon and Persia and making an impact for the gospel as far as the southern regions of India. Long-standing traditions about his journeys far beyond the boundaries of Roman control remain even today. Many of the places and kings associated with Thomas that were thought to be merely legendary have been confirmed by independent historical and archeological studies. Undeniably, developed civilizations lay beyond the horizon to the east, and Jesus’ words, “to the ends of the earth,” must have constantly echoed in the apostles’ minds. The trade routes he would have used have existed for thousands of years. Portuguese mariners and explorers in the sixteenth century reported evidence of Thomas’s ministry, including a sizeable band of believers known as the St. Thomas Christians. The fact that Thomas has been so uniquely connected with India among the apostles makes a strong case for his ministry there.

Various versions of Thomas’s martyrdom agree that he ran afoul of the Hindu priests who envied his successes and rejected his message. Thomas was speared to death. The location of his toFOXE2_Covermb can still be visited in Mylapore (Meliapore), India.

This is just one of the stories told in VOM’s new book FOXE: Voices of the Martyrs (Second Edition). CLICK HERE to order your copy.


July 31, 2013

Do Christians Ever Really Retire?

What’s your plan for your life after you hit 65 or 70? Do you anticipate finally being able to relax, live off your 401k and play golf all day long? In my 20s, I’d never given much thought to that period of my life until I discussed it with a friend one day. She told me she didn’t think Christians had a right to “retire,” at least in the sense that we tend to think of it, where we live lives of leisure on the money we’ve saved up.

When I considered it, I realized I had two great examples of Christians who did exactly the opposite. When my grandfather retired from the Florida IRS in the 80s, he and my grandmother bought an RV, and then proceeded to travel all over the US and the world, spending several months at a time donating their time and skills to various mission organizations, all funded by his retirement plan.

Another couple from my church did something similar. When he retired from the police force, they began a second career as missionaries with Operation Mobilization. They didn’t need to fund raise for their income, because they were self-funded, again, by his retirement plan.

Dr_samuel_web
Some of our VOM partners have done similar things with their lives. Dr. Thomas Samuel spent years as a pioneer missionary and church planter in India. But as he entered what should have been the twilight of his years of ministry, he prayed a new prayer. He said, “Lord, give me a vision for my life that will inflict the most damage on the kingdom of Satan while I still have breath here on this earth.”

God’s answer was to give Dr. Samuel a vision to prayerfully place 1,000 Bibles in every district in India. It was a daunting task in a nation that has over 600 districts. But Dr. Samuel followed through, and he has now distributed 40,000 Bibles in some of the most hostile and unreached areas of India.

Recently, though, it looked like his work might be prematurely finished. At age 78, his doctor told him he only had three months to live unless he had bypass surgery on his heart. But in spite of the concern of his doctor and his family, Dr. Samuel did not go through with the surgery.

“I bypassed my bypass,” said Dr. Samuel, “and used the money for my surgery to buy more Bibles for the unreached areas of India… just to spite the devil!”

It’s been five years since Dr. Samuel bypassed his bypass, and at 83, he’s still going strong for the Lord, and he has become a strategic partner for VOM’s Bible distribution efforts in north India, an area very hostile to Christians.

So what’s your plan for your retirement years? Will it be golf and travel, or will you also ask God to give you a vision to inflict damage on the kingdom of Satan?


Dory P. has worked with VOM for six years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband and two-year-old son, they share five passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.


July 11, 2013

Saul to Paul: Gowda [repost]

Saul to Paul: From Persecutor to Christ Follower shares the story of seven men who once tried to destroy the Bride of Christ, but ultimately succumbed to the power of the Holy Spirit. One of those men is Pastor Gowda, a former radical Hindu in India who today passionately serves Christ and His church. Here is a portion of his story, when he decided to read his mother's Bible.

"Where is it?" Gowda asked.Saul to Paul - cover

His mother rolled over, rubbing her eyes.

"Go away," she said. "It's midnight."

She cringed, afraid he would hit her again. But something seemed changed, she thought, though she couldn't be sure.

"Where is it?" he repeated.

"Where is what?" she asked, stalling for time. How do I escape? She thought. How do I get away if he becomes violent again?

"Where is the book?" he asked calmly.

She shook her head involuntarily. She would never let him have it. She couldn't let him destroy it.

"Please, mama," he said quietly. "I won't hurt it and I promise I won't hurt you anymore. I just want to see it. I want to read it. To see if what you said is true"

Still she hesitated.

"I will not damage it," he said. "You are telling me that Jesus is God who sacrificed His life, so just let me go through it."

She got up and grabbed it from a secret hiding place. She placed it in his hands. His hands were covered with bruises; his arms had large welts from his many needle marks. His face was drawn, and his eyes bloodshot. This man was not her son, she thought. But he could be soon.

Gowda took the book and climbed up onto the roof of the house. By the light of the moon he read the Gospel of John. He saw the words again: Sin. Forgiveness. Love. Jesus Christ. He read all night without stopping. It was as if he was in a trance.

Gowda thought about all the terrible things he had done. "God is living," his mother had told him. "Jesus died for your sins."

Suddenly, Gowda put the book down and stared at the cross on its cover. He somehow felt unworthy, unclean. He knew he shouldn't touch it. But he couldn't help himself. He searched in vain for all the things the [radical Hindu] RSS camp had taught him about Christ. He tried to find the part where Jesus forced people to convert. He looked for the country Jesus came from, to see if Jesus was really a foreign God. But Jesus didn't come from America. He was born in Israel—but He had a virgin birth. And then he read it—the verse that made all the difference. It was the phrase that clicked, that unleashed in him a powerful desire for the Lord. He knew before he finished reading it that it was the truth.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)

Hope. Belief was the only price. And another one…

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (John 5:24)

Hope. Forgiveness was available. Jesus could wash away all Gowda's sin and suffering.

Order your copy of Saul to Paul and read the rest of Gowda's incredible story, and how God transformed him from a persecutor into a pastor.


April 3, 2013

INDIA: The Strange Experience of Boldness

"I enquired about the possession of the Christian spirit and the reply came… that it was the Holy Spirit. Well, at any cost I didn't want to be robbed of this new life and hence started learning Christianity." Thus began the journey of Reverend Chander Mani Khanna from high-caste Hindu devotee to dedicated Christian pastor who was arrested for baptizing Muslim converts.

Pastor Khanna converted to Christianity at 22 years old in 1969. He later became a minister in the Church of North India, an Anglican denomination, and was assigned to serve at the All Saints Church in India's Kashmir region. While most of India is Hindu majority, because of its proximity to Pakistan, most people in Kashmir are Muslim and Muslims in India make up the world's third largest Muslim community. The region is governed unofficially by Islamic courts. In-map

Lately Islamists have been stirring up trouble for the few hundred Christians in Kashmir. Churches are surrounded by Muslim trouble-makers during worship services. Young believers are constantly watched and threatened. Islamists also circulate hate literature with a racial undertone against Christians. The media also participates in this bias, portraying an image of Christians as people who use women, alcohol and swine blood (deeply offensive to Muslims) in their religious practices.

As the leader of a mainline church, Rev. Khanna was well-known in the community. He was involved in community-wide reconciliation events between Muslims and Christians. In 2011, several Muslim young men began attending the church and asked Khanna to baptize them. He warned them there would be no financial incentive or other benefit for conversion, but they insisted. Khanna baptized the seven men, in a public event that someone filmed and eventually posted on YouTube. Word began to spread that the pastor was converting Muslims through allurement.

Khanna was summoned to appear before the Grand Mufti, an Islamic religious leader with no formal legal authority but with great influence in the region. Khanna was arrested Nov. 19 and police searched his home for further evidence of conversion by allurement. The youths who were baptized continued to assert that they were not given anything to convert, but local newspapers ran reports citing anonymous police sources that said they were financially rewarded. "You would hang your head in shame at what was written about his family," said a VOM partner.

Khanna spent 40 days in prison. "I had the strange experience of boldness and believed the Lord had given me a job, and I did it with grace," said Khanna. He was released on bail on Dec. 1 and expelled from Kashmir. His case was eventually halted Feb. 16 when investigators could not supply enough evidence.

Though he was not eventually convicted, the ordeal took a toll on Khanna's church position and his family. His wife, deeply disillusioned at the lack of support from the church, got sick. Denominational leadership subtly communicated that they felt Khanna should not have baptized the converts from Islam.

When he retired Jan. 16, he was let go without a pension. VOM's partner in India, who had been assisting Khanna with legal representation after lawyers in Kashmir refused to represent him, offered Khanna a job at their office in Bangalore. These days, Khanna spends his time speaking on behalf of persecuted Christians in churches around India. The new job is a great encouragement to him and he has new confidence. His wife's health is improving. He said, "I am not bothered by what happened to me, but I glorify the Lord."


February 18, 2013

Saul to Paul: Gowda

This month VOM released a new book, Saul to Paul: From Persecutor to Christ Follower, which shares the story of seven men who once tried to destroy the Bride of Christ, but ultimately succumbed to the power of the Holy Spirit. One of those men is Pastor Gowda, a former radical Hindu in India who today passionately serves Christ and His church. Here is a portion of his story, when he decided to read his mother's Bible.

"Where is it?" Gowda asked. Saul to Paul - cover

His mother rolled over, rubbing her eyes.

"Go away," she said. "It's midnight."

She cringed, afraid he would hit her again. But something seemed changed, she thought, though she couldn't be sure.

"Where is it?" he repeated.

"Where is what?" she asked, stalling for time. How do I escape? She thought. How do I get away if he becomes violent again?

"Where is the book?" he asked calmly.

She shook her head involuntarily. She would never let him have it. She couldn't let him destroy it.

"Please, mama," he said quietly. "I won't hurt it and I promise I won't hurt you anymore. I just want to see it. I want to read it. To see if what you said is true"

Still she hesitated.

"I will not damage it," he said. "You are telling me that Jesus is God who sacrificed His life, so just let me go through it."

She got up and grabbed it from a secret hiding place. She placed it in his hands. His hands were covered with bruises; his arms had large welts from his many needle marks. His face was drawn, and his eyes bloodshot. This man was not her son, she thought. But he could be soon.

Gowda took the book and climbed up onto the roof of the house. By the light of the moon he read the Gospel of John. He saw the words again: Sin. Forgiveness. Love. Jesus Christ. He read all night without stopping. It was as if he was in a trance.

Gowda thought about all the terrible things he had done. "God is living," his mother had told him. "Jesus died for your sins."

Suddenly, Gowda put the book down and stared at the cross on its cover. He somehow felt unworthy, unclean. He knew he shouldn't touch it. But he couldn't help himself. He searched in vain for all the things the [radical Hindu] RSS camp had taught him about Christ. He tried to find the part where Jesus forced people to convert. He looked for the country Jesus came from, to see if Jesus was really a foreign God. But Jesus didn't come from America. He was born in Israel—but He had a virgin birth. And then he read it—the verse that made all the difference. It was the phrase that clicked, that unleashed in him a powerful desire for the Lord. He knew before he finished reading it that it was the truth.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)

Hope. Belief was the only price. And another one…

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (John 5:24)

Hope. Forgiveness was available. Jesus could wash away all Gowda's sin and suffering.

Order your copy of Saul to Paul and read the rest of Gowda's incredible story, and how God transformed him from a persecutor into a pastor.


January 24, 2013

DEVOTIONAL: God is a fortress

"He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken" (Psalm 62:6).

Do you ever feel assaulted by life? Life is difficult. As human beings, we all experience physical challenges, emotional upsets financial tests and deep spiritual questions. Others willingly suffer persecution because of their readiness to take risks for Jesus. I have met many sisters and brothers who report that their hope is secure in Christ alone and that they experience spiritual security, exceptional peace and lasting significance He offers to those who fully trust in Him.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to India to meet with persecuted members of our "extended family." In Bangalore, I met a man who had almost all of his teeth knocked out in a vicious attack. In spite of intense personal suffering, he continues to boldly serve in an influential ministry. His wife shared that even though she is sometimes scared when he travels to minister in dangerous places, she is learning to trust in God. In Psalm 62, David was learning how to trust as well. He refers to God as his "fortress" twice, as a "rock" three times and as his "refuge." Clearly, David believed that God would be there for him in the midst of the assaults he faced.

Elephant Gate
A part of the "Elephant Gate" at Agra Fortress in India.

I was reminded of this Psalm when our team visited Agra Fortress, a few hours south of Delhi. It was overwhelming to walk through the massive "elephant gate." To get to the heart of this amazing fortress, you must cross two moats. When the fortress was built, the outer moat was filled with water; the inner moat was filled with tigers. As you cross a giant drawbridge, you encounter an inner gateway called Hathi Pol, the "Elephant Gate." This gate was specifically engineered to defend against attackers using elephants to crush the gates of a fort during a siege. The drawbridge, slight ascent, and 90-degree turn between the outer and inner gates made the entrance impregnable by preventing the elephants from gathering enough speed to crush the gates.

David is remembered as a warrior, but he is also remembered for the deep intimacy he shared with our Father, as reflected in so many Psalms. One of the essential elements of this deep intimacy was his absolute reliance and rest in the Lord. David felt free to go to the Father, to openly share his most personal struggles, to process his pain and to receive healing and hope from his "fortress" God, Who is able to withstand any assault. Agra_Fortress 

Martin Luther expressed this shared hope beautifully in one of the Church's most beloved hymns, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." Throughout Christian history, millions of other followers have run to God to find spiritual security, exceptional peace and lasting significance. "Resting" in Him is like placing your soul in an impregnable fortress, so place your trust in Him alone today!

Dr. Jason Peters serves in VOM's International Ministries department, traveling frequently to meet with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. He lived overseas for five years and has ministered in 28 countries as diverse as Cuba, Nepal, Iraq and Indonesia. He and his wife, Kimberly, along with their five children, count it a great honor to serve with the persecuted church.