Well this is the final instalment from Kolkata. We catch a 10.00am flight in the morning which means getting up at 6.00. It's now 11.40pm so please forgive me if I'm brief!
William Carey, the father of modern missions, came to Kolkata from very humble beginnings in Northamptonshire. He arrived in 1793 and his impact has been huge. It was my privilege today to speak at the church he founded. Admittedly I had to eat humble pie before doing so and ask Ben for one of his Strepsils (let the reader understand). I felt led encourage the congregation that the same power that empowered Carey, the same purpose that he was called to and the same plan that he worked to are all ours today. He famously said, in a sermon he preached before he left England, that 'We should attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.' He lived that, and he saw that. Many people, like our friend Benjamin, are attempting great things in the evagelisation of this 'spiritual' nation - the noise from the idol festivals this week has been deafening. I do feel slightly guilty that I didn't suggest to Ben and Mark that they might need ear plugs. But I'm pleased to report that mine have worked very well indeed.
Benjamin is seeing great things and it's been a privilege to share with him, although again I could have done with a little more notice than him asking me at breakfast this morning if I would 'bring a word of encouragement' at his church immediately after speaking at Carey Baptist! I can work on a short time of preparation but no preparation does make it a little tricky.
Others are attempting great things in relation to setting the captives free and at our third church service of the day, which is nearly as many as Dave will have done back at St Ts, we witnessed three young people being baptised. What was particularly moving was that all of the Mahima girls were at the service and so we got to meet them, chat with them a little, and discover that one of them wants to get baptised at the next baptism service. I asked her 'Is that because you love The Lord Jesus? 'Oh, yes!' she replied enthusiastically nodding.
These girls looked just like any other Indian teenagers, in fact far better than many we have seen. Cleaner, brighter and somehow radiating a warmth that is inexplicable, other than the fact that these are Smita's girls. Mahima means 'glory'. It felt glorious.
And how best to award such commitment to seeing these girls redeemed, restored and renewed? By the giving of the second greatest gift of all, of course. See you in Norwich.