by Jordan West
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMNews) – A team of students and staff members from Truett-McConnell College returned from a two week mission trip to Jaipur, India, May 30. While abroad, the team shared the Good News of the gospel and gave the people of India hope in a singular, personal God.
Dr. H. Edward Pruitt, Truett-McConnell College’s Associate Professor of Missions and Evangelism, planned the trip around the Biblical concept of sowing the seed of the gospel. “The Bible makes it clear that the gospel falls on different types of soil,” Pruitt said. “Often we think of evangelism in terms of sowing the seed, watering, and harvesting. Yet, we know that the farmer does not simply throw out seed without first preparing the soil to receive it.”
Pruitt continued, “Many times we take mission trips to places where the fields have been well prepared, have had abundant seed sewn, and have been well watered. We often go in and reap the fruit of the labors of those gone before us. However, there are times that we send mission teams to places to prepare the field for abundant seed sowing. India is one such place.”
The fourteen-member team shared three common goals: engage the culture, make new friends, and share the gospel. India is a country plagued with Hindu beliefs and members of the mission team experienced the impacts of Hinduism as they met the people of India. TMC senior, Stevi Williams described the experience by saying: “The opportunities in sharing Christ were great, but also quite challenging in helping others who are focused on the mindset of Hinduism.”
Recalling a specific experience, Williams shared: “Though it may have been difficult to help people to genuinely understand, one encounter became an eye-opening experience for a man named Arun. Several team members and I went through the mall and stopped by a shop where we encountered a salesman. At first, Shane, a fellow-team member, began the conversation by asking about Indian culture and Christmas, which soon became the story of the gospel. We were able to share many truths with him and how salvation is not gained by works, but his opinions were still the main focus of why he believed and followed Hinduism.”
“To him, everything was relevant,” Williams said. “However, when we began to talk about families, his eyes were opened. He had always believed a person is who they are because of their parents; for example, you are Hindu because your parents are. When I personally explained that Christianity is not bestowed upon by family, but rather it was a choice one had to make, he was speechless for a moment because he had never thought of religion as being a choice. Though he never made a decision for Christ, He is one step closer.”
Students were reminded through this experience of the important work of planting gospel seeds into the lives of the Hindus whom they encountered.
Mission team member, Wren Yandell cited what it was like to visit a Hindu temple. “There were alters of various Deities, all of which were being bowed to, kissed, and touched.” This truly affected the hearts of the team, Yandell shared. “As a Christian it breaks your heart to see individuals going through these routines of idolatry,” he continued. “I was approached by an individual who asked me and others in our group to sit with him. He educated us on the statues and wall sculptures within the temple. During this conversation I was able to ask what he thought about Jesus Christ, completely unaware that one of the Hindus present was a priest for the temple. He was listening to our entire conversation and didn’t mention his social status until the conversation was coming to a close. These men were hard and calloused in their beliefs but they were willing to listen about Jesus Christ.”
A call to minister
The team left Jaipur knowing the gospel was shared everywhere they visited. Melanie Beeman, a TMC sophomore, shared how the trip changed and affected her relationship with Christ. “I am a very soft-spoken person, so it is usually difficult for me to speak up and lead a conversation, especially with a stranger. I think the Lord used this trip to stretch me and to teach me how to be more intentional and active in my meeting and talking with people.”
Daniel Walker, a third-year student at Truett McConnell, explained that a missionary from the International Mission Board (IMB) assisted the team so their presentation of the gospel would be most effective.
“He gave us SD cards that contained the Jesus movie in Hindi, several lessons about the Bible, and a full Hindi Bible,” Walker said. “We used these SD cards over the next two weeks to overcome the language barrier and proclaim the gospel.”
The team was able to make great use of these useful materials. “We went to restaurants, malls, markets, parks, homes and Rajasthan University to meet and share with people who would listen, Walker added. “We added those who seemed interested in the gospel to our Facebook accounts, and we continue to communicate with them. Although our main focus on the trip was sharing the gospel to everyone who would listen, we also were able to provide the poor with food, drinks, and blankets.”
Though the team has just returned, students and staff are prepared to go back to India as they know more work needs to be done in Jaipur. Beeman expressed her excitement for the Lord to call her back, saying, “If the Lord leads the way for me to go to India again, I am excited and ready.”
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