By the end of that year (1995) things really started hotting up. There were protests all over Uttar Pradesh. Many felt the state should be divided in two. Some felt it shouldn’t. There were so many “bandhs” in Mussoorie it was hard to know when the shops were closed and when they would be open again.
It was October and we had a team from South Africa with us. Bruce Richter, Wally Gersmeier and Ralph Cawood were among them. We had planned an outreach at the Naaz Bar. For some reason, we went ahead and had our meeting even though there was a bandh on. We did some “silly” things in our enthusiasm and zeal.
I stayed home with the kids during the first evening meeting. Everyone was worshipping like there was no tomorrow. There was nothing unusual about that. The hall was packed. Right in the middle of the worship a lady guru walked in with a group of her men devotees. She was heavily made up and was obviously the boss. Her men started pulling some of the coolie labourers out of their chairs and pushing them outside. There was a lot of shouting going on. Bruce’s old bouncer instincts almost got the better of him, but he remained calm. Tony was leading the worship time and felt that everyone should raise their voices and give a loud shout. It got louder and louder and there was a lot of clapping and cheering. When the leader of the group saw we weren’t intimidated, he looked around and joined in the clapping. The evening was intense but it ended well.
They told us we were not to meet on Sunday. We knew then, the protests weren’t political but religious. The men let us know they had handed pamphlets out to the community telling them to meet outside the Naaz Bar. They were going to drive the foreigners out of Mussoorie. T
They were leaving after the service anyway so that wasn’t a problem. There were all kinds of threats. After lots of prayer and discussion with our local leaders as well as the visiting team, we agreed we should go ahead with the meeting. We felt if we gave in to intimidation once, it would be the beginning of the end of the community. We had to win that one.
The staff and students of Woodstock were called together for a meeting on Saturday afternoon. They were told they were no longer allowed to attend Community of Nations Church (CNC). It was banned and out of bounds. The principal felt we had put their lives in danger by staying open during a bandh. Doctor Barton and other teachers said they were ready to hand in their resignation. They loved the church and did not appreciate being told they couldn’t be part of it. The students felt the same way and got permission from their parents to keep attending when things settled down.
We all felt a bit nervous getting ready for church the next day. I wondered if I should stay at home with the children in case things got ugly. Tony wasn’t sure what was going to take place.
The bazaar was really quiet and all the shops were closed. We arrived at the venue excited but uncertain. We were ready for anything. The hall was full. No one had stayed at home. No one wanted to miss out on the action. Our young ACTS students were energised by the attack the night before and felt it was the best thing that could have happened to us.
The meeting went on as usual. The worship was loud and wild. A few people gathered outside. The group leader was there, fiddling with a few pamphlets and looking very sheepish. He was standing at the entrance, so people shook his hand as they walked in. He became our welcomer. He kept looking up and down the bazaar for more people to join him. No one came.