(The following is an excerpt from Louisa Ditto's journal on a trip to India she and her husband Dale took in 2012. The trip also included their son Daniel, their nephew Chappy and Daniel's friend Connor.)
Praise the Lord!
This was the greeting we got all over India. Somehow said by these people it seems more genuine than the way it often sounds when I hear it at home.
We have had so many experiences; it will take some time to process what we have witnessed. A few days ago we were driving home from a gathering of pastors who minister in villages all over India. They shared with us some of the stories of how God works in their ministries. We heard of dramatic healings, casting out of demons, and H***us turning from idols to the one true God. All miracles, but as they tell, their main concern is pointing to God's way with people.
They wanted to pray for our country and specifically asked for prayer points. As we gave them some, they prayed in their own language after each point. I was struck by the passion for our country and wondered if I had such passion to pray for my own country as they did. Anyway it made me think that some day in heaven I will hear them speak in their tongue and understand what they say.
On the way home a group of men dressed in white stopped the traffic and put a firecracker on the road . We then noticed a group of men with a chair on their shoulders . The chair was decorated in green, yellow and pink and there was an old man on the chair. We noticed he looked a little strange, and then it dawned on us that he was dead.....this is a H***u funeral procession. He had been dead only hours, and they were taking him to the cremation ground. There the closest male relative will light the fire as they all stand around him and watch his body burn.
The next day we drove two hours to the Gospel Friends campus called Living Hope. Ghuna Kumar is the evangellist and visionary of this place of redemption. The three young guys were a little overwhelmed by the greeting. Lined up about 50 yards to our left were school children in bright yellow and green uniforms double clapping in unison. To the right were older Bible college students and nursing school students. They welcomed us loudly, and we were all a little overwhelmed. Dale and I know the Indian people just express gratitude for our visit with no inhibitions, but the guys were quieted by this greeting.
We were then taken to a quiet place where six women in colorful saris served us refreshments, again a bit overwhelming, but it is their humble way. Ghuna told us some stories about the orphans who are there. One girl was born in a cement pipe and then abandoned, and another watched her father set fire to her mother then himself and then she was on the streets until brought here. One girl was sold into human trafficking, but one of Ghuna's evangelists told Ghuna about it. Ghuna said, "What are you waiting for? Buy her back, man!" He paid them more for her than they had spent, so they gave her to him for $10.....how can you respond to that except with tears?
We already love this place of redemption. Some of the Indian men took the boys to jump into an open well and swim with them. Then they played cricket, volleyball and soccer. I could see they were falling in love with these people.
There were a group of orphan girls following me around touching my hair, face, hands, arms.....is it because I am so pale or do they just love the thought that someone from far away...from the treasured America.....loves them? That's all I can do for I feel so shallow compared to the depth of these beautiful people.
Six o'clock is the time of prayer. The whole campus came together and sat in the dirt, heads bowed in reverent silence. They prayed for 15 minutes. Ghuna then asked each of us to share. The guys are troupers and Dan shared what he has learned that when things seem to go wrong, God knows and has a different plan, Connor shared his journey to trust God....that it is often a hard choice. Chappy shared the importance of self respect and respect for each other...such a great truth for these people. Then my moment of dread came and I shared. By God's grace I wasn't terrified!
After the meal I went to the kitchen to thank the women who served us. They were in the Indian squat position eating the Indian way with their fingers and terrified that I caught them. What to do? I tried the Indian squat and fell! They laughed, and all is well!
Then we were off to an assembly where we heard stories and songs and watched dances. One dance had four women dancing with a plate of flowers. They danced to loud peppy music and threw flowers from the plates into our faces! Dance and throw, dance and throw! So funny! The guys were embarrassed but loving it, too!
Next we heard stories from 31 men and women who came to the Bible College from Myanmar. They traveled eight days through the forest crossing the border at great risk. They took a series of buses, and a week later they arrived at the school. They will go back to their country....they know the risk. They had beautiful faces of deep joy.
We heard story after story from people all over India who have counted the cost and with great joy and no reservations, they have forsaken all to follow Christ. When it was time to leave, I was horrified to be asked to share with them again. What could I possibly say to people of such depth? I realized they will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven....I will be serving them. So I told them that, and the tears I had been holding back flowed freely.....I have been baptized again....redeemed afresh.
Because He Lives, Louisa