We began another glorious day in India by heading out to Hatta. The morning drive was... interesting, because of an intense fog, a one lane road & tons of cattle, bikes & pedestrians everywhere. Welcome to India! When we arrived at Hatta, we were welcomed by our dear friend Bugagee, who announced "the darkness of this region is being overtaken by the Light." He also compared himself to a bulldozer, Mark as the engine to it and Hillside as its fuel. He made sure we knew that everyone attending had made a pledge to worship only ONE God and it was his goal for this movement to spread throughout India. He believes that Hatta, being in the center of India, is the heart of India- and will spread the love of God throughout India. What a proclamation!
However, the most touching moment was Bugagee thanking us for keeping him in our hearts. He looked at us with such humility and quietly said "If I cannot have a place in your hearts, please let me have a place at your feet." How humbling to have such a spiritual warrior asking for the pleasure of taking the dust from our shoes.
The children were amazing and so well behaved. We clowned around, made them laugh and shared the story "You are Special." Their faces reflected the hope of their hearts... that God loves them as much as He does anyone else.
After the movie, Bugagee brought out flat bread and coffee to our team. I was so surprised when he broke the bread and motioned for me to open my mouth. My second thoughts to accept were chased away by the warmth and love Bugagee pours in every direction. As I ate the bread, he began to dance and asked me to return the favor. When I fed him the bread, he began to dance and laugh even more. He did this with every team member, celebrating the "breaking of bread" with us.
Bugagee is at least 80 years old, but he doesn't really know for sure. He leads about 55,000 people in several districts as a spiritual leader. But it isn't himself he is asking thousands to worship- he is telling them all about the ONE God. There is no mistake that he loves the Lord, because God's joy is ever present. We believe this village has so much to offer in spreading the gospel in India, and also believe it is the next village we are to adopt and support. So get ready Hillside! There are about 175 beautiful, eager children who want to learn more about God! WE have a chance to be a part of this beautiful emancipation from a long legacy of religious bondage and caste abuse.
Before we left, Bugagee, some of his closest elders and leaders led us in worship. It was unforgettable. I looked up to heaven, the fog had broken and my heart soared with joy, agreeing with their worship and exuberance. He blessed us, said a prayer over our group and shared the church's immense appreciation for all Hillside is doing to support. It is humbling, because this beautiful, 80-something year old gentleman has put me to shame with his faith, wisdom, joy and commitment.
The church was surrounded by a wheat field, just like it is surrounded by a field of lost souls... so we hope you enjoy seeing Bugagee in the midst of God's harvest. This church is making an impact in a very dark place and we are so grateful for the chance to witness how they shine the Light. Jaijmasihki! (Praise the Lord) - With Love from India, Judy.