The Colours of India – Reflections on my first visit to India – Part 8
“Nicky – hold on!” exclaimed my travelling companions as we bounced our way through remote villages along dusty roads in a tuk tuk, and then I felt someone’s hand grabbing hold of my arm for my safety.
Why I should have thought that the photos I was endeavouring to take hanging out of a weaving Tuk Tuk would be in focus, I have no idea. It must have been an overestimated view of my photographic expertise! I wanted to capture every sight which we were happily passing by and remember everything about those special moments.
It’s no secret that Indians love bright, happy colours. Streets display an array of multicoloured buildings and shops which sell equally colourful merchandise. Together with the Indian people who wear clothes with the most vivid colours, all this offers the perfect subject matter.
One moment I spotted in particular from the moving Tuk Tuk, was that of a silver-coloured pot on a woman’s head. The water it held spilled over the hard, dirt road, which reflected the colours from the people of the village who gathered to collect water from the well.
And yet paradoxically, amongst the colour, we were passing by dirt, dust, dung, and dilapidated buildings. The heat, humidity, and hopelessness which was visibly worn by people was oppressive and in no way beautiful. This country was grabbing my soul and breaking my heart at the same time.
I wanted to capture sights such as these, together with the emotions I was feeling and the atmosphere I was experiencing. Instead, all I achieved with my acrobatics was dust in my eyes, in my mouth and up my nostrils – oh yes, and out of focus photographs.
Through all these sights and sounds the Lord was lifting my eyes to look beyond the horizon of the world I knew to other worlds that are not so very far away.
That evening was spent in the town of Taki which overlooked the Ichamati river. Ichamati river is a trans-boundary river which flows through India and Bangladesh and also forms the boundary between the two countries.
Sunrise over Bangladesh
From the balcony of my hotel room, in the early morning hours of the following morning, I was mesmerized by the play of colours in the skies and how the rising sun reflected a pinkish beauty on the waters.
Observing the captivating sight of the ever-changing mood and colour of the river-water, the sun was rising over Bangladesh to the call to morning prayer and the sounds of many praying together to start this day. And I silently prayed with them, thankful for the day ahead which would see us worshipping with brothers and sisters in a house church deep in the countryside.
A village house church
Being driven by Taxi through giant potholes and past piles of trash and a few cows, we parked on the side of the road. We were to begin the 25-minute trek to meet the people of one of our partner’s many house churches.
In soaring temperatures, we passed paddy fields and villages which seemed peaceful, calm, quiet and full of greenery. A place where one could breathe fresh air.
The beauty of theses villages can be described by the way villagers happily live in the small huts or homes made of clay or mud. Big open areas with trees at the front and often vegetable gardens at the back.
A village welcome
We weren’t sure what to expect on our arrival. To our surprise, over 90 children and adults were seated on the ground underneath a canopy. Engaging smiles from some and a look of intrigue from others. A young girl welcomed us by placing a gorgeous, sweet smelling lei of hand strung flowers around our necks.
All the ladies looked so beautiful with very blingy jewellery, thick, dark, glossy hair and wearing stunning, colourful saris. We were surrounded by dancing colours vivid and bright. These colours glowed in the faces of the people who lit up their surroundings with the love of Jesus shining beneath their fluttering scarves.
The worship was passionate. But the thing that struck me the most was the overwhelming evidence demonstrating that God is doing something remarkable in the world. In a country where only 2.3% of the population is Christian, I learned that there are no boundaries to His love and that nothing can stop His arms from reaching us.
My friends and I found ourselves being encouraged to join some of the ladies in a dance, which we clumsily did, to the amusement of all! We were then each invited to stand and give a short talk before being given the privilege of praying for anyone who needed God’s gracious touch in their lives.
Lesson from a ten rupee note
A small, woman walked towards me indicating that she was in pain. I prayed for God, who knew all about her and loved her, to minister into her life. She bowed her head with her eyes shut. She listened to my prayer although not understanding a word, and together we said, “Amen!” Prayer has the ability to transcend all language barriers, allowing God to reach the deepest need.
“You take”, she said … “from God for you!”
With a beaming smile, the fingers of this woman reached for my hand and pressed into my palm a folded piece of paper. “You take,” she said, “from God for you”. She was clearly giving me something that was very precious to her.
I smiled at her and looked at the crumpled paper. As I unfolded it, I noticed it was a ten rupee note – which is equivalent to 11 pence in the UK. This was a fortune to the giver and was probably all this woman had to feed her family with for the rest of the week. I was humbled and moved and turned to our partner who was standing next to me to ask him what I should do. He urged me to take it as she was giving it to me out of gratitude to the Lord and love for me.
I promised the Lord that each time I looked at this ten rupee note I would pray for this woman, remember her self-sacrificial giving to His work, and tell this story whenever I had the opportunity to do so.
We rounded off our Fellowship together with a delicious meal. Walking away from these beautiful people I reflected on their love, kindness, and hospitality which inspired me to be more like them, because in them I saw the character of Jesus.
All one in God’s family
I was able to see how the family of God can be one. No matter the culture or the language barrier, we share the same love for Jesus and a desire to follow the same truths. The word of God unites us, and it brings joy to my heart to know that my church family is bigger than my home church. It is amazing to see a little glimpse of heaven when different cultures come together to celebrate Jesus.
I invite you to join me in my prayer for India. That this nation, so united in its love of colour and divided in religion, will one day recognize and surrender to the beauty, grace, and power of the resurrected Christ.
Reflections on my first visit to India – Part 9 appearing soon.