I suspect that the mention of holding evening Crusades causes rather negative responses to rise in some. The name has all manner of connotations given the history of Christianity and the negative militancy that gallops to the forefront at its mention. But in this part of the world, as in many, it does not have that meaning at all. Rather it’s an opportunity for followers of Jesus to gather to be encouraged and declare their faith and share the love of Jesus. In the West we can even be awkward about declaring the supremacy of Jesus as Lord lest we offend others. We’d rather dumb God’s revelation in Jesus down to one of many options than be so bold as to speak his words…. That He is the one true God… and if you have seen me you have seen the Father… no-one comes to the Father except through me…. I and the Father are One….. do not be ashamed to speak of me…. I am the way, the truth and the life…
I believe we can take offense because of the way some of these truths may have been communicated… in a rude, loud, obnoxious triumphalism that fails to love and respect those who don’t embrace or acknowledge Jesus. That’s only because they have no revelation of his goodness and kindness… of the freedom he brings and the healing that he releases on earth as in heaven, It’s why Jesus drew so many to himself in a culture where the religious leaders hated him for his manifestation of healing signs and wonders, his love of the common person, and his declaration that oppressive legalistic religion is offensive to God.
It’s only those who don’t know the passionate love of Jesus and his transforming power that lobby for pluralism and try to juggle multiple faiths as equally true. They are not all the same and they have huge impacts on their followers; usually evoking fear and heavy burdens of ritual and sacrifice. All this to say that these evening Crusades are held out of the great love and concern for those who are captive in the Hindu cycles of faith and reincarnation. Their gods are statues and idols on every street, their voices are broadcast from temples throughout the land, and their people do not know freedom, or the hope that the love of God in Jesus brings. Reincarnation is a philosophy that imprisons the individual on a treadmill of fate and the unknown with death merely leading to another incarnation, and then another.
When we noted that the Crusade last night seemed to contain many believers…(about 800) Rau explained that the loud broadcast system is the way they reach the audience in the village who will not come into the arena. That audience is the large Hindu population within earshot…, and they are the ones who our words are reaching out to – inviting them into a relationship with the love and hope of Jesus who sets them free from the treadmill. Imagine hearing for the first time that God loves you and has provided all that is required for you to know his affirmation now… and that there is a place for you in heaven and only one death.
I was requested to speak for an hour last night and after talking about the love of God revealed in Jesus yesterday I spoke tonight about the character and power of God that Jesus revealed on earth as he lived and shared his life. If we know his character we can trust him when circumstances are tough. I threw a bucket in the air to demonstrate the power of gravity…. everything on earth falls down… and everything from God raises up and redeems… in Jesus.
When I invited people forward for prayer at the end we had a crushing crowd all jostling for an opportunity. The four of us each prayed with a pastor alongside and some form of interpretation; and then could only bless what God was doing and speak words in faith for the healing they were requesting. From our point of view it was overwhelming and rushed…. but we trust that God will faithfully use what we could accomplish given the circumstances. And we also believe for the ministry of words carried beyond the confines of the arena – that some might hear and discover new hope.