Tag Archives: India

Highlights From India

2 Sep

Please take a moment to watch this video I made with some of the highlights from my time here in India. As my journey in India comes to a close, I will be sad to say goodbye to the friends I have made here and to this place I have come to love, but I can’t wait to again reunite with my friends and family back home. I will return to Kona, Hawaii after our debrief in Singapore in mid-September, and then visit my family and friends in Southern California for a few weeks before returning back to the missions base in Kona to work with the Sex + Money Project. Sex + Money is an upcoming documentary exposing the horrors of sexual slavery in the United States. It is my greatest honor to be a part of such an important project. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.

All my love,

Erika

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The Spirit Realm

13 Aug

My friend Kailyn and I chose to go prayer walking in downtown Vellore today. We intended to bathe the chaotic city with the peace of the Holy Spirit, leaving lasting fruits for all to see the glory of God. We prayed for several of the city’s homeless, trusting entirely on the Lord to communicate directly to their hearts as we were stuck without a translator. As always, the Lord is faithful, and we could truly see his hand touching the hearts of the men and women we interacted with. As we continued about our day, winding through the bustling city, we noticed a Hindu temple at the end of a long dirt road. We decided to enter it and pray over it. I approached the building with confidence. It’s just a building, I thought. The bold colors scream loudly in the face of all that pass by this busy dirt road, mocking them. The carved figures proudly flaunt their fresh flower necklaces, made in adoration by dedicated hands, hands that barely made enough money to feed their families. How dare these powerless carvings rob their worshippers of what little they have, offering nothing in return but social acceptance. A wave of disgust washed over me. I slipped off my sandals and passed under the threshold of the Hindu temple, stepping over the colorful paintings on the concrete floor. The thick scent of incense filled my nostrils, nearly knocking me over. My body barely had time to enter this shrine of wickedness before I felt it… Death. Death as thick as a wool blanket covered my eyes and though I looked around I could see nothing else. Blackness and decay poisoned my lungs with every breath I took. My spirit felt as though someone had tied a 100 pound weight to it… Heavy. Then the spirit of fear slithered down my spine, leaving my every hair standing on edge. I looked behind me, feeling the looming presence of someone unwelcome over my shoulder. I didn’t see him, but I felt him, his evil grin widening as he opened his hands, slipping his long, filthy fingers around my throat. My heart raced, and as quickly as I entered, I was gone, nothing but a tiny flicker of light, extinguished momentarily by the thick darkness of Satan himself. But the power of death is nothing compared to the power within me. As I breathed the uncontaminated air of the outside world, the Lord mercifully poured His clarity over my mind, again reminding me that the same power that conquered the grave lives in me. He placed His confidence in my heart and I prayed loudly from the doorway of the temple, proclaiming life and confidence and truth over this evil place. I asked the Lord to rain down clarity, to detangle the web of lies woven beyond the painted gate. I begged for revelation. I cried for salvation. Intercession took a new shape as I literally stood in the gap between the spirits of life and death, and though some of the people reading this will say I’ve lost it entirely, I couldn’t be more excited. Day by day the Lord is widening my vision to a whole new world, a world unseen and unnoticed by most of the people here on earth. And though the spiritual realm is largely ignored, often laughed at, it doesn’t make it any less real. I’ve felt it and I’ve seen it firsthand. We’re in a war here, my friends. I exhort you to join the winning side.

Meet Christina adul Jessica

22 Jul

Her beautiful brown eyes captivated me from the second I first saw her. She stared at me and smiled, believing from the depths of her tiny heart that I was special. Her face shone with radiance glowing from her chocolate brown skin. I watched her as our team sang and she clapped along enthusiastically. I saw the wheels of her mind turning in awe as I shared the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, and when our program was finally finished we were drawn to each other as if by magnetic force. I grabbed her tiny hands as we began to dance to the music. I spun her around and her tattered dress twirled with the motion. She clung to me, squeezing my hand tightly, believing that I offered her something more. Instinctively I took my bright pink scarf off and wrapped it around her bony shoulders. Her eyes lit up and her stature became taller, her heightened confidence on display. Purpose, identity, and value enveloped her in iridescent pink. She raced off to show her friends, skipping proudly across the dirt path in front of the orphanage. I smiled and my throat tightened as I watched her spirit fly. Her name is Christina adul Jessica, quite the regal name for an orphan, but I believe it is well deserved. Despite her poverty she has a rich inheritance. She is a daughter of the Most High King, a princess in His eternal Kingdom. The pink scarf was nothing more than an outward symbol of her inner royalty, buried deep under her 7 years of experience in a world defined by caste. I watched the beautiful moment unfolding before my eyes. For just a minute there was no brahmin and no dalit, no rich and no poor. She was just Christina adul Jessica, a beloved daughter of God. I prayed for her, my heart bursting with pride as I saw her eyes tightly shut, her brow furrowed, and her hands clasped tightly together. “Stotrum, stotrum, stotrum,” she repeated as I prayed, praising the Lord in her native  tongue. As I was about to leave, she hurriedly removed the scarf, bunching it up in her tiny hands and extending it back towards me. “No,” I said, “It’s yours.” She didn’t dare to believe me, so she asked Charles, the orphanage director. He looked at me and I nodded my head. He smiled and told her again that it was a gift, hers to keep. She ran to me and jumped into my arms, hugging me tightly. Was this the first gift she had ever received? My heart broke for her and the floodgates struggled to keep the tears from falling down my cheeks. She deserves so much more than this, so much more than just a pink scarf. There will be a day, I thought. Her Father has so much for her, more than I could ever give. Until then, I’ll pray for the orphaned princess and her pink scarf.

Meet Sudipriya

14 Jul

One of my favorite things that we have had the opportunity to do since being here in India is to visit the girls’ orphanage run by our amazing ministry contact, Pastor Daniel, and his wife, Joyce. The orphanage is two stories above the church, just around the corner from our home. Our team of twelve showed up around 5:30 PM on Friday night, very excited to meet these wonderful girls. They were shy at first, so we performed our recently-learned Hawaiian dance, the pate pate. Ripples of laughter cursed through the crowd of girls as we publicly humiliated ourselves. Anything to make the kids laugh, right? We played a few rounds of “Red Light, Green Light” and “Simon Says” before busting out our trusty cameras. Photos are quite the hit in India. The kids love posing and looking at the LCD screen to see their picture. I hit it off instantly with 13-year-old Sudipriya. I could tell by the way she walked across the room that she was a dancer. She just had an extra swing in her step. So I asked her to dance for me. Embarrassed, she covered her face, giggled, and said, “No, no. Not a dancer.” I could tell she was just being modest, so I smiled and begged her to dance for me. Eventually she relented.

As she danced, the atmosphere changed. The drab orphanage was transformed into a royal ballroom and the air was full of life. As she breathed it in, the most beautiful smile spread across her face, dimpling her young, round cheeks. Her orange skirt ballooned as I twirled her around and around. With each twirl more and more cares were cast off her young shoulders, leaving her free to embrace her youth. She showed me several different traditional Indian dances, performed with the ease of an expert. She’s definitely a natural. My body awkwardly tried to copy hers, bobbing my head and moving my hands in tiny circles. She laughed as I tripped over my feet. I was so entranced with her smile that I barely noticed my own.

Though I’m sure I brought immeasurable joy to her young heart, my youth was being restored as well. I laughed, not a care in the world hindering me. I danced, unashamed and unafraid. Eventually our time there came to a close. I was dripping with sweat from all my dancing and the clock showed half past eleven. I hugged my new friend goodbye and she clung to my body. I promised her I would come back soon. I honestly couldn’t wait to see her again.

As I walked home I reflected on the father heart of God. What a generous Daddy to give both of His daughters such an incredible night. Whoever said being a Christian is boring needs to get out and serve more. I’ve never had so much fun in my life!

Touching the Lepers

11 Jul

Today I visited a leper colony, and my heart was absolutely crushed by the pain I witnessed there. Human beings, people just like you and me, hobbled around on crutches with fingers, toes, legs, and arms missing, eaten away by disease. I looked into eyes clouded by blindness and I hugged skin with open sores covered by makeshift bandages. My stomach churned and my eyes burned with tears as I saw the tiny bodies of the elderly and disabled huddled in lumps of brown flesh on their doorsteps, their bones sticking out in all directions. They all looked so hungry. Hungry for food, hungry for affection, and hungry for an answer I couldn’t give. I’m not a doctor. I felt so helpless. Their mouths moved to form words I couldn’t understand, their desperate pleas for help falling flat on my white, western ears. Even if I knew what they were asking for, I had nothing to give them. I had no medicine, no bandages, and no food.

So I did the only thing I knew to do… I prayed. I prayed the most desperate prayer I have ever prayed in my life on behalf of a person I had just met and already loved. I begged for the Lord to reveal His character, His mercy and compassion and unending love through healing. I prayed that Jesus would extend His hand and touch the wounds of His children. I prayed against disease, I prayed against sickness. I proclaimed the victory of Jesus Christ at Calvary over these frail bodies. I prayed until my throat went dry and my voice became hoarse. But every time I opened my eyes the sores were still there, the eyes were still sad. So I prayed again and again and again, and though I will never understand why the Lord doesn’t heal people immediately every time we ask, I know He heals them. I know He comforts them. I know His character remains the same, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. He keeps His marriage vow to His bride. We just have to keep ours. We must press on in faith, unshaken, believing for things unseen.

I know that this is where some people begin to discredit the sovereignty of the Lord. Some people say that God does not care, that if bad things happen to good people, God must not love us. Some people believe that miracles are dead, that the Lord’s power has ceased. And if this is you, all I can tell you is that I’ll pray twice for you tonight.

This witnessing of sadness beyond compare has not shaken my faith one bit. In fact, it has strengthened it. After we walked around the leper colony, praying for the people, we headed back to the front and held a church service. My heart soared as I watched dozens of near-crippled lepers move their decaying bodies to the front to attend the service. I watched in awe as they sang and clapped their stumpy hands together. As I stood up to preach, I felt utterly speechless. What could I say to these people? Their dedication to the Lord far surpassed mine. The faith of these people is as unmoveable as Mount Everest, their commitment unwavering. These are followers of Jesus. I managed, by the grace of God, to deliver a sermon that made them smile and we took some photos. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so evident there, as if the Lord gave them a double portion to numb their pain. I know I will see healing there. So I pray, and I wait in expectation for the miracles are on the horizon.

Keep the faith,

Erika

Baptizing Anjelah

10 Jul

In my short time here I have already had the great pleasure of baptizing someone in the name of Jesus Christ. Her name is Anjelah. She speaks Tamil, the language most prominent in the area we live in, and though I understood very little of what she was saying through the language barrier, she will forever have a piece of my heart. From what I understood she was raised a Hindu, and has worshipped idols and other gods all of her life. But our God is faithful and relentless in His pursuit of our hearts. She finally allowed Him to capture her, and she is now passionately following in His ways, walking in righteousness and living in the power of the Holy Spirit. Her mind is so open, not constricted by the “little Jesus of America.” Her faith is strong, unshakeable through any storm life throws at her. Honestly, I felt unqualified to baptize her. I felt as though she should be baptizing me. The moment was so surreal as I stepped into the cold water, fully clothed in my traditional punjabis. I tried to keep my footing as I proceeded down the mossy stairs into the small cement pool. Along with Pastor Daniel, I placed my hands on her hands and back and prayed. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The words fell from my lips and my spirit soared. I felt the excitement of Heaven as the angels shouted and danced in great joy over the eternal covenant this woman was making. After we had dried off, I prayed for her, anointing her head with oil. She was so grateful, hugging my body and grasping my hands tightly. In the short time I was with her, I learned so much. My faith will never be the same. My definition of Jesus is ever-changing, ever-expanding. My eyes and my mind have been further opened to the awesomeness of His great power. I came to India to teach the people about Jesus. I’m the one that’s learning.

You said…

30 Jun

You said, Ask and you will receive

Whatever you need

You said, Pray and I’ll hear from heaven

And I’ll heal your land

You said Your glory will fill the earth

Like water the sea

You said, Lift up your eyes

The harvest is here, the kingdom is near

You said, Ask and I’ll give the nations to you

O Lord, that’s the cry of my heart

Distant shores and the islands will see

Your light, as it rises on us

You said Your glory will fill the earth

Like water the sea

You said, Lift up your eyes

The harvest is here, the kingdom is near

You said, Ask and I’ll give the nations to you

O Lord, that’s the cry of my heart

Distant shores and the islands will see

Your light, as it rises on us

O Lord, I ask for the nations

-Hillsong United

This incredible song has been running through my head since we sang it at our Monday morning community worship service here at YWAM Kona. These words truly are the cry of my heart as I leave for India. I am all packed and ready to go. I leave tomorrow at 4:30 AM, and I have never felt so sure of anything in my life. This is what I was created for. Stay tuned, it’s going to be quite the adventure as I ride the waves of His wild, unbridled love all the way to Dharmapuri.

All my love,
Erika