India February 2017
Not long after I had met Diwas, my husband, Hans knew, earlier than any of us, that we would be in need of PLT.
After being married for a year and working together in India, we understood that he had been right. We went on to plan for PLT, but we didn´t know how to be able to go through with it without enough teachers or sufficient economic resources and without enough space to house the students.
However, the past two years in India we have time and time again experienced how God most often waits for us to take a step in faith before He shows us His solution...so in the end we decided to book and advertise the first session of PLT in Siliguri.
I think we considered it a way to get the course started as a test. We had by no means imagined not even a little of what we were about to experience. In mysterious way we not only got my father, Per-Magnus Börefelt from Sweden, with us but also four skilled Indian teachers. In addition to that, in the evenings we had guest pastors and evangelists from other work in Siliguri. The economics for the first session was sorted the days before we started and as for space....well, where there´s a will...
When we have our staff meetings, we are on an average 18 people, but since many have other jobs as well, we couldn´t count on full attendance. They took time off from their work and came in full force, so we were 29 participants, 12 of them being women. Teachers and staff together were 40 people, who were to spend days as well as nights on a small space and share two toikets. We had arranged for other housing for the men at a church nearby, but after two nights only, they moved in with the rest of us. After all, the floor in our little "teaching room" was free during the night.
I don´t know if it was because of the mosquitos or if they found it hard to leave the fellowship in the evenings. However, ”being forced to” living together like this, really brought us closer together and several of us said that it made them feel like one big family.
Except for a few children who came with their parents, the youngest participant turned 16 during this time and the oldest one was about 70. Samden, the one who was 16, wonderfully led us into the presence of the Lord in our worship and Joshua asked all the questions that nobody else dare to ask during the teaching sessions. Some of the pastors had been around right from the start of Friebdship Ministry some 7 years ago, while others joined during the past year. A few of the younger ones have had a good education and some of the older ones are illiterate. Now, however these distinctions are fading out and there´s no longer old or young, beginner or experienced, teacher or student, man or woman ( we studied among other things Galatians :) ) A fantastic unity and warmth were born, and I don´t think that would have been possible with years of monthly gatherings.
God was there right from the start as we planned the curriculum and the lessons, things that can be especially difficult for the first tome andHe was present in our talks on the teaching. However, we were also aware of the activities of the evil one. The first day we had no electricity and thus also no water (which very seldom happens during the winter season). We had a tough start with quick changes and dirty toilets. The following day the mother of one of our evangelists died after being ill for a long time, so Diwas and some of the participants suddenly had to go up into the mountains for a whole day to conduct a fuberak service. But all the commotion was forgotten as our teachers gave a pedagogical and systematical teaching, and we began to see how the Holy Spirit really had prepared the many different teachers, so that each day had a supernatural main theme of what God wanted to tell us.
The Bible teaching was first class but there wasn´t just theory. With the help of God and His guidance we as well as the students had two weeks of teaching that was immediately appilcable. For instance, God led the teaching in a way that Indians could learn from other Indians that they just as richly equipped as Westerners to work, to provide for their families, their churches and other missionaries, and that all kinds of work, including collecting garbage and driving taxies, are good and a way to honour God. From Genesis we learned how God commands the man to work, from the introduction to the life of Paul what it means to be a tent maker and have an obligation to share the gospel no matter how we get financial support and from Thessalonians to work for our livelihood and not to get involved with those believers who refused to work.
In the same manner we were taught through the guidance of the Spirit the importance of working in teams from the father-in-law of Moses in the desert all the way to Paul´s co-workers in the first churches, we were taught of the Law of the OT and the freedom from it in the letters (NT), the principle of tithing coupled with the principle the worker being entitled to his wages. We were taught that God uses women in the OT and female leadership in the NT and many other things. We learned all this through the loving and gentle guidance from God.
We also dealt with many difficult aspects of the culture and the situation in this part of the world that are so close to the one in the NT and just like then the churches are new and inexperienced. Here we often face the very same problems that Paul addresses. The teaching of the NT doesn´t call for complicated explanations but can be applied in a very straightforward manner. For instance, the part describing that the man (and not the woman like it so often is in India) is to leave his father and mother, if we still are called ”to multiply and fill the earth”, if it is allowed to eat pork or a more difficult issue on meat offered to the idols, the question of covering your head when you pray, the woman´s position in the church – all these questions were dealt with and became clearer.
On our last evening we had a worship service with great gratitude. All the teachers were there and also many family members and church members to our participants. We ordained one of our women co-workers to be a pastor and we did it with many tears of gratitude and restoration. The participants thanked the teachers with speeches and gifts but the teachers expressed just as much gratitude to the students. We wondered if they had understood that this was just the conclusion of one 8th of the training? But that is part of the culture, you don´t say thank you that often but when you say it, you do it properly. We were especially touched by one of the participants as he expressed his deepest thanks to his wife who had stayed at home, fasting and praying and taking care of their children of 7, 4 and 1 to make it possible for him to take part in the training.
On the last day they sent each other, two by two, back to their fields and it was a holy moment with many hugs and tears.
We got many thank you speeches and evaluations like these:
"Now I understood that I really didn´t know anything about the Bible before!" one of our youth pastors said with the the typical humility of a true Nepalese.
"Before I undesrtood the covers of the Bible, now it is like I can understand the inside as well!" another of our pastors said.
"I used to read and understand mostly the New Testament, but now I understand that the Old Testament is like a shadow of the NT, and we can understand teh NT a lot better when we understand the OT", someone else said.
Many others said that they now understand more about the correlation between the OT and the NT. In some churches the used to be some confusion about how to apply the Bible to their lives. For instance, in a somewhat older church they wouldn´t allow a family with a newborn child to come to the services for some time, since they were considered unclean.
We have already noticed results from the training given to the pastors and evangelists. They seem to have received nwe zeal and inspiration to go on working. They go to new villages, already teaching others what they themselves have just learned and they visit their fellow students.
What happened during two weeks with the help of some 10 people´s teaching and approximately 40 lessons, would have been impossible to achieve for many years even if we had had all the knowledge. PLT was the greatest gift we could hve received for our and the Lord´s work.
Now we can look forward to between 3 and 4 years of these wonderful sessions, but with a renewed faith in God we no longer spent as much time as we did before wondering how we will get all the resources needed for the next session – who would not want to be part of this? Now we wonder "what are we going to do when these 3-4 years are over?" "This cannot end" said our 31 year old teacher, who took us from Genesis all the way to Deuteronomy.
I am sitting at home feeling somewhat more ready to share the impressions from the training, after having had time to digest it all for a few weeks while Diwas, who has recovered from a long lasting cold, is away with one of the evangelists on most dangerous roads his been driving the jeep so far. They are viviting a village in Nepal, where thay are in the process of planting a new church after a 20 year old girl won her husband for Jesus and he was baptized last Saturday. It is a village in a large area, where there are no electricity, no roads and no gospel. I can hear Dwas´voice unusually clearly on the phone and he says that he can see the town Mirik in India high up on a mountain on the other side of the river, so how far can it acually be? Next time, maybe we can get there on foot like our co-workers do, it seems to be safer that way....
May God bless you richly.....from us the most thankful of all!Diwas & Anna Sara Lama