Just returned from our third trip to India. Previously we have been in Southern India, but this time we traveled across Northern India. Realized on the trip that we have been to every major city in India between our trips.
We arrived in Calcutta (Kolkata) after 24 grueling travel hours from Minnesota. One layover in London. Also in London we met up with the rest of our team from various cities across the US. Total, there was a team of 12 of us.
Primarily our work consisted of experiencing and serving Calcutta Mercy Ministries, which included Mercy Hospital in downtown Calcutta. This work was started by Mark & Huldah Buntain and is continued by Huldah Buntain, Jim and Bonnie Buntain Long and their capable staff. Their work consists in part of 700 church plants and 100 schools across India. They have several hospitals and mobile clinics which provide free care to 100,000 poor people each year. Their work branches out into blind schools, clinics for children with cleft palets and much more. They have dozens of stations for feeding programs that work strategically across the city of Calcutta and throughout the country that feed tens of thousands of hungry people each day. Their are many books written of their work, just search amazon.com under "Mark and Huldah Buntain." One especially good one I read throughout the trip is "The Compassionate Touch" by one of our board members, Doug Wead. Also, they are constantly needing financial help and volunteers. To help, visit buntain.org and while there, sign up for their email updates.
We had the amazing honor and privilege of serving this work and the people of India, experiencing Calcutta, which is unique and touching in itself. Our team had the opportunity to speak a dozen and a half times at churches, Bible colleges, schools and other programs. We were able to encourage & challenge over 4,000 people during our time. Several people testified to being physically healed and we ministered deliverance to one young lady.
Some other highlights of the trip were:
-Traveling with our good friends from Worldwide Collide, based out of Washington DC, Roger and Lisa Coles. Each service they led in worship and song. They are some of the best musicians and worship leaders we have ever heard.
-Enjoying India with an incredible team of people from across the US, and especially my mom and younger brother.
-Giving 150 blind students beanie babies from a donor in the USA.
-An impromptu concert, requested by interested Indian people who saw Roger & Lisa's guitars, on our 8 hour train ride to the state of Jarkhand.
-The incredible dances of students at the Mark Buntain Memorial school in Ranchi.
-My brother Tim's concert for 1,400 students in Ranchi.
-Being translated in 2 more languages (making our total count 5): Bengali and Hindi.
-The incredible servanthood and humility and work ethic of so many pastors in India.
-A special visit from our friend, Pastor and Bible college President of 2 Bible Colleges and now the District Superintendant of another state, Timothy. He is also one of the best crusade organizers we know - he has organized crusades that have reached a total of over 1/2 million people. (He also requested we share regular articles with his district newsletter to the 2,200 pastors under his care - what a privilege).
-Seeing the quite impossible size of the work Mark & Huldah Buntain have built in one lifetime. What an inspiration.
-Spending quality time with Huldah Buntain, and also her assistant and consultant Amitabh Singh.
-Meeting one of our board members, Sujo John's past youth pastor, David Luke.
-Seeing and being deeply impacted by the sights, sounds, smells and great needs of the slums of Calcutta.
-Getting sick (okay, maybe not a highlight in itself) and being cared for at Mercy Hospital. Couldn't help but egotistically think that God may have even thought of me in my pitiful sickness years earlier when he inspired Mark & Huldah Buntain to build that hospital haven for the broken of Calcutta.
-Visiting Mother Theresa's order. Seeing pictures and quotes from her life and journey after God's calling. In flower petals on her tomb it was written: "Love until it hurts." Wow.
-Ending our trip with a tour of the Taj Mahal, one of the 7 wonders of the world.
-Getting our entire team (9 of 12 on the way there, 11 of 12 on the way home) bumped to first class for free for one leg of the trip (10 hour flights each). Gave us extra rest and strength.