Today we literally broke some chains. (And for once that is, literally, a correct use of the word literally)
Sam left early to go and visit the magisterial Bishop of Madras in his palatial cathedral residence.
For the rest of us the morning was spent in the hotel typing up the details of the hundred or so children interviewed yesterday and sorting out the pictures to the correct spec.
At midday we went to the church to join the Friday prayer and fasting meeting. Initially 6 and eventually 60 people, mostly women turned up at Kevins church to pray with an extraordinary passion and to testify about previous answers.
Squatting cross legged on the concrete floor individuals would pray at 100mph for 8 minutes at a time until an amen was heard - just about the only word we understood in the whole session other than 'stodrum' which means 'praisethelord' - then Kevin would start a song, accompanied by talented ladys on the bongos and tamboruine.
After an hour or so or enthusiastic prayer and, in my case, 20 shifts of position and numb buttocks, it was our turn. Catherine spoke about how when Paul adn Silas prayed in prison everyoe's chains, not just their own, were broken. Queue Rachel with the 30foot long paper chain we had all (but mostly Buffy) helped to tape toghther. As the women put their hands onto the long chain everyone cried to God for their own presonal nrelease fron bondages that we can only imagine and as at nod from Kevin the symbol ws duly torn apart and finely shredded by the 20 or so kids who were also there.
15 minutes of indivdual blessing and prayers followed at which Sam arrived back and announced that the Bishop had taken him off ot a wedding and despite Sam being the only un-robed official present (or should that be non-robed? Certainly not de-frocked, mind...) got him to bless and preach to the 5 couples being wed. In 20 years time as children are looking at their parents wedding pictures they will ask with awed voice 'umma, who is that white man in the stipped shirt and combat trousers standing next to those men in dresses?'. Church, eh?
In the afternoon we finished off interviewing the remaining 10 children, filmed some of them with the team, interrogated the combat trousered one on camera and had some special time with Kevin and Deborah.
The more we hear about life as a Dalit the more shocking and ridiculous the whole situation is to western ears. It seems almost impossible to beleiev that such predjudice can exist in a Nation that possits itself as a democracy.
day 5 photos
Suryapet Day 2 - Friday
Hugo remarked that our day started with "The Full Indian" (as opposed to the Full English) breakfast - wonderful food, but with that tinge of "I really shouldn't have eaten that much!" We met with Samson & Grace and discussed some key questions; during this we proposed an "orphan program" vs. the current "orphanage" -- it seems to us that this could be scaleable over time into a program that could support 1000's of children (compared to the current 100), and a suitable transition plan could be developed based on fostering. Please pray for Samson and Grace as they consider this, and it's impact -- it will be a very big change, a "paradigm shift", and one where they will definitely move between inspiration and fear (many times).
The afternoon was a visit to a 2nd village church and the dedication of a new building. It was a powerful time of expressing that the people are the living church, and we coined a new phrase: "the pastorhood of all believers". Please pray for this new church of 50+ members... that they could step into serving their community as a much more powerful voice that simply trying to gather everyone on a Sunday.
As is cutomary on a Friday evening, we went for a curry... but I bet it won't taste as good again for a long time, and the atmosphere sitting outside on a warm evening was electric (snow this weekend in the UK eh?)
So, to Saturday... up at 4am; maybe being drowsy was necessary for the "spicy road", renamed "vindaloo"... WOW -- saw more close shaves in one drive than I want to again, and two *horrible* accidents.
So the team are back together again in Chennai, planning for 3 services tomorrow in the Dalit church with Kevin and Deborah. Pray for discernment and inspiration to bring the right word that can be used by the Spirit in a powerful way, one that's simple enough to be captured across a different culture (and through Kevin's translation).