After Jesus’ resurrection, when He walked with those two disciples on the WAY to Emmaus, Luke tells us that ‘beginning with Moses….he explained to them everything that was said in all the scriptures about himself.’
When I visited the Alliance Project in Lucknow in 2014 I had intended to emulate this but only got as far as the Red Sea so, for my trip in October 2015, decided to focus on the Exodus. There was plenty of material for us to think about – food, drink, guidance, warfare, the law, the tabernacle, covenant – all basic necessities for an emerging nation and emerging church. It was an exciting time together as we explored the narrative to find out more about Jesus the WAY and the WAY for us today in the fast emerging church in Uttar Pradesh.
It was a great support having Steve Smith teaching alongside me on this my seventh teaching trip to Lucknow. Part of his role was helping the students to work in groups to summarise in clear statements the story-line of each book in the Old Testament. They really enjoyed doing this work and the final document (written in Hindi) is something they can be rightly proud of and will be useful in their home churches.
In one class Steve and I recounted the events of the Passover when the Israelites painted their doorways with the blood of the sacrificial lambs (Exodus 12). As the story unfolded the parallels between the Jewish Passover ceremony (the Seder) and the Last Supper with Jesus and his disciples became obvious. We closed with a simple celebration of the Lord’s Supper breaking bread and drinking wine. The WAY for the Israelites in Egypt, the WAY for Jesus and his disciples and our own WAY with Christ are profoundly linked and form a deep bond between us all and Christ.
We were encouraged that 39 people joined us for the 3-week course with five of them being women. Most students were in their 20s and 30s and, in the last five years, had become Christians from a Hindu background. Many came from churches in rural areas with only a dozen-or-so Christians while others were from larger churches of hundreds in the towns of Uttar Pradesh. It wasn’t unusual for them to have travelled 200-300 miles so they could be with us. We had farmers, carpenters, labourers, shopkeepers, teachers, students, a business man who sells food snacks, a door to door salesman and a cook who works in a hotel.
Persecution of Christians in this part of the world continues to be a problem. One of our students was telling us how, on Christmas Day last year, his church was attacked by a gang of political activists and police. They threw out and destroyed their musical instruments and equipment and all the worshippers ran away. Now they worship in smaller house groups and the church is growing! I am told this kind of thing happened to many churches but the church continues to grow. Evil spirits are also an issue and we had one female student who kept falling down whenever we prayed or worshipped. We prayed for her a number of times and it appeared that whatever it was that was disturbing her had gone as we prayed in the name of Christ. It was amazing to see the transformation in this young woman as she began to enjoy class and was at peace – from a result of 1½ in the first test she got 23 in the second!
It is a privilege to be involved in this vital and strategic work: training trainers who will go out to further extend the Kingdom of God in this vast and largely untouched area of the world which is yet to discover Christ – the WAY the truth and the life.
Article by: Richard Burningham (retired vicar who has taught at the Alliance Project in Lucknow each year since 2008)