The day before we moved in to “Ebenezer”, Tony discovered a little chapel right next door. We could see it from our roof. On the same property was an orphanage with about thirty children. He went across to meet the family who were running it. They were lovely and said we could use the chapel for our Sunday meetings. They were also happy for the kids to join us.
The chapel could seat about eighty people. It hadn’t been used for years so we got in and cleaned it up. There was also a lovely outdoor space, which we could use for the children.
We had some idea of who would come. The Bartons, Diane, Shaji, Jason, the Hawthornes, Lizzy, the Bhutia family and some international students we had been meeting with at Woodstock School. They were all going to invite others to come. We were also expecting some children and staff from the orphanage. Everyone was excited for our first official Sunday meeting.
The chapel was almost full. The kids sat on the floor in the front and most of the chairs were occupied. One of the things we were passionate about was wild, uninhibited worship. That was new to the church in Mussoorie. We got the kids up to dance and most of the adults joined in happily. Sonam had helped to translate some songs into Hindi. Fini’s songs, “This is the day of jubilee,” and “Oh give thanks” in Hindi, were instant hits. Tony started his series on Nehemiah to inspire us to start building together.
After the meeting we all went next door to our house for lunch. Our little kitchen was packed to capacity and there were people everywhere. We were in our element.
Something that Gerald Coated said really stuck with us. Accountability gives birth to credibility, which gives birth to visibility. We knew the dangers of becoming visible too quickly and we knew that we needed to build credibility in that community. We asked God how we could be accountable and He said, “Serve.”
We decided that our doors would be open to anyone. Hospitality was going to be a big part of our lives and our house was going to be filled with people. When we asked God how we were going to do it, He said, “Watch what I’m doing and join me.” So we started to watch. Whoever came to us, we loved, without holding back. If God was working in their lives, we blessed what He was doing and He seemed to do more. People came off the street, ate with us and met Jesus.
We kept watching. God kept bringing people who needed a caring community. We could see how important our children were in all of it. Their hearts and arms were wide open to everyone God brought our way.
Lives started to change in front of our eyes. Love caused the most downtrodden to blossom and live again. It was amazing to watch.