India: Scene Seven — Varanasi revisited

3 11 2011

Varanasi revisited

_______ was born into a devout Hindu family. She served the gods along with her sister and family. But her sister dealt with an overwhelming despair. One day her sister stood before their gods and in some kind of ritual she asked the gods if she should live or die. They answered: she should die. She wrote a note to her family explaining, and then she committed suicide.

_________ was devastated and angry. She vowed never to serve the gods from that day forward.

One day a missionary couple came into her world. They were hired to help her learn English, and the way they did this was to have her practice her English using the Bible. She read and memorized scripture. They only stayed for one year in India; it is almost like they were sent there just for her.

Following this came many years of asking questions and walking through a process of coming to understand and to embrace Jesus as “the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

She got married and joined a HUGE (45,000) and vibrant church in Southern India where she lived a very clean, safe, wonderful life with her husband.

One day she was praying with her husband and she had a vivid vision of a city by the name of “Varanasi.” She hadn’t even heard of Varanasi. First, because she is from southern India, which is like being from another world; second because Varanasi goes by different names she didn’t recognize it.

After a while, they felt God was calling them to pack up their things, their family, and move to Varanasi to plant a church there. They went to their pastor to ask for his blessing. In that church they set personal goals every year, which included commitments you were making in different areas of your life (including people you would lead to the Lord).

The pastor asked if they had met these goals yet, and they admitted they hadn’t. So he said to go and meet these goals and when they had, to come back and see him.

Within an impossibly short time, all the goals were met! So they went back to the pastor and to their surprise he said that he really felt they should not go.

They returned dejected and confused and continued to pray. After quite a bit of time (a year I think) they felt such urgency to go that they went back to the pastor and said that even without his blessing, they had to go; that it was more important for them to obey God than him. He said, “now I know that God is really calling you, because you feel such an urgency and you are willing to obey no matter what.” He blessed them and sent them.

They were so unprepared for what met them in Varanasi. They left a clean and comfortable life for the very, very difficult, exceedingly dark and dirty, broken city of Varanasi. They got off the train station and were shocked by what met them. Oh…this Varanasi, the birthplace of Hinduism with thousands of years of demonic dominion!

They began to reach the Muslim community there, and there seemed to be open doors, but everyone they reached returned to what they were being saved from and the doors were literally closed to them. It was hard work, several years of hard work and prayer with little to show for. Late at night they would bundle up their children and travel the perimeter of the city and pray and pray and finally…breakthroughs (I should add, they were at the medical compound to pray and fast for three days for Varanasi).

Healings led to conversions which led to house churches being planted in this city. Now all their work is in coaching new church leaders as they are starting to spread across the city.

There is no way to really describe their conviction for this city. At the end she said, “We believe that Varanasi is the key to reaching India. We believe that when the strongholds of Varanasi will fall, India will come to Christ and it will create a movement that the world has never seen. When India will come to Christ, the Gospel will spread to all nations and reach the world!”

Ah, I wish I could have captured their passion to bring it home in a bottle!

Ok, I cried again over all of this, so tired of crying; it is exhausting experiencing all of these emotions. But, pretty hard for me to be poised when I see the church in this setting. I love what Jesus has chosen to do through His Bride. We are so helpless, so hapless, so inadequate, so lacking…yet he puts people in places and asks them to just be willing; to just be faithful; to stand firm even in Varanasi and know that the labour is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

I am praying for Varanasi and for this couple and their children. The ground is hard, hard, hard here. We also heard stories of people working for Christ here who have been so spiritually attacked they have left with psychological disorders and serious marriage breakdowns. The myriad of demons won’t release the city without a fight.

When I walked back into that ridiculous city I saw that place through a new and more hopeful lens. I thought, “If Christ is for us, who can stand against us?” Even Varanasi will bow.

— Teresa Klassen

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One response

3 12 2012
Mo

Oh, thank you for this story! As I said in a prior comment, I have only seen Varanasi in videos. The physical and spiritual poverty there is overwhelming and makes me want to weep. In desperation, I was Googling to see if there was anyone doing Christian missionary work there. That is how I came to your blog.

This story gives me hope. I knew God could not possibly abandon such a needy place, but until now I had not been able to find any information about anyone doing Christian ministry there. I can fully understand why it’s such a difficult place. You can see and even feel the spiritual oppression, even just viewing videos. I don’t know that I’d have the emotional/spiritual strength to actually go there. It’s too much.

Again, thank you!

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