I cannot get into blogger to see where I left off. I can only access the create post page
The internet access here is sketchy and for some reason when I hit punctuation keys right now they are not working
I have been trying to post offline so the following is from yesterday--I am so tired I don't remember what day it is or where I have been the last two days...
Our second presenter was a young church planter, Pastor Jeyakaran of Powerhouse Church. He and his team are planting a church in a Call Center. Call centers have exploded in Chennai. There are 150k young people between the ages of 18-30 working in Call Centers in Chennai. They get paid a lot of money. 400 of the Fortune 500 companies have set up offices in India. Many US companies have outsourced to India. What the church planting team has discovered it that the Call Center jobs are high stress and are causing a high degree of burnout. The Powerhouse church is located in a facility that has 30k working within a 2 mile radius. The is a new people group in India. The church does a lot of bridge building events and has their main worship gathering on Sunday evenings. The Call Center employees work all night as most of their calls come from the States.
Next our host for the day, Tim with YWAM told us briefly about 'why 'Sparky’s. Pretty much our entire group was so jet lagged he decided to keep his talk brief. We went down an sure enough, Sparky’s is like a US diner. It reminded me of walking into a Hard Rock. We ordered dinner and while dinner was being prepared we went to a gift shop a couple of doors away that Tim and his team also run. We got some souvenirs at a very low rate. After dinner I rode back to our hotel in an auto-rickshaw with Bert from Holland and Ray Bakkke. The three of us crowded in and were on our way. The term I have learned for traffic in India is “healthy chaos”.
Visiting the two churches and the two temples were interesting. I was more interested in observing the people in each than I was so much in the history of them. In all four places the worshippers I observed seemed very devout. I sense a very deep spirituality here. Our host with us for the day, Lawrence was adept in Indian history, especially the ancient hindu religion. He also was an expert on what is known as Dravidian (first nations people of India) St. Thomas Christianity. His ability to interpret in the temples a knowledge of the Triune God and also the way that Thomas taught the native people about Jesus reminded me of the way St. Patrick taught the people in Ireland.
The Theosophical Society was a very interesting place. As we walked through the (I think they told us 300 acres) compound it felt like we were in a national park. I had moments when I could picture the Beatles sitting on one of the benches high on hashish writing Yellow Submarine. My thought about the Society was that even though they are after unity and equality of the brotherhood of humanity I couldn’t help but notice as we walked into the complex and outside their gate were beggars starving on the corner. I also did not like the answer to caste that I heard. They are missing freedom. In my opinion it seems that in their effort to be free it is missing much. As a follower of Christ I know of the freedom His way offers. I left this place thinking these are good people that want unity and freedom but there is a piece missing. I felt the subtle or not so subtle worship of knowledge.
Sparky’s, and the gift shop were great models of doing ministry in an urban setting. There is a story to the business development of the two businesses. All profits from both businesses go to seventeen different charities. Many of the gifts in the gift shop (Coco’s) are hand made by different artists working with the poor. Very innovative. Sparky’s reminded me of a present day, Potters House which is in Washington D.C. The restaurant is a third place. Most of the staff are non-Christians.
I love that Ray takes cities and uses them as laboratories for the students. Going and seeing the temples and churches had me thinking about the different ways of interpreting the story of Jesus in my own city. Lawrence told us he has become a hindu to win the hindus. This is a profound statement. Many innovative Jesus followers here see that one can become a hindu follower of Christ. The earliest followers of Jesus in Chennai were the Dravidian followers of Christ. They began to see Christ in all their traditions. Lawrence told us over and over again not to view the work here through our western lens or we would not be able to grasp it. He kept reminding us you have to look at the context. I think many of us at home are trying to learn our context. That the traditional church we were handed might not be telling the story of Jesus our listeners can understand. We need to be re-evaluating the story we live in and tell if we want to see people choose to follow the way of Jesus. The International Justice Mission reminded me that it is necessary to focus. They focus on one aspect of justice. In our context I think we need to continually remind ourselves of our mission at the same time we need to be evaluating if we are communicating through words and actions the story of Jesus.