Thursday, January 23, 2020

Change in Plans...

Unfortunately, upon arrival at the airport in Chennai a couple of days ago, my ten-year Visa was revoked and I was denied entrance to India. After several hours of being detained by India immigration I was deported on the first flight out at 3am and then spent several hours in Sri Lanka trying to locate my baggage and arranging flights home. I'm now safely in London waiting for a flight to Dallas and then home. If all goes as planned, I should be home late Thursday night. 

So briefly, here's what happened. When I handed my passport to the immigration officer at the airport in Chennai, he scanned it, looked at his computer screen, and immediately began jotting down notes. He didn't ask me any questions, he simply asked me to wait there as he took my passport and his notes and walked over to the main immigration office. A few minutes later he and another officer escorted me to the immigration office. They began to ask me questions, to which I gave the typical vague answers. They then called the head immigration office in New Delhi for more information about my visa. A seemingly higher-ranking officer then came over and began a much more specific and pointed line of questioning. From the more specific questions I was asked, it appears that a report must have been filed concerning my last visit to India. During that visit a Police Intelligence officer came to my hotel and questioned me and the pastor I was working with about our activities. The immigration officers in Chennai knew the name of the pastor, the city where I had been questioned, and the acronym of the church body I had been working with. The immigration officers made another phone call, conferenced a bit among themselves, and then informed me that my visa had been revoked, I was denied entrance in to India, and I was being deported immediately. They wouldn't give me any reasons or details. I asked for a photocopy of the documents they had printed out so I could take them to the embassy in the U.S. but they refused to answer any of my questions. They simply told me that I was being deported and I was not to return to India again unless the Indian embassy in the U.S. issued me a new visa. They refused to give me any other information. 

All in all, I'm no worse for the wear, just a bit tired and very frustrated and disappointed that I wasn't able to return to India to proclaim the Good News among my brothers and sisters in Christ and to those who are trapped in the darkness of unbelief in India. I'm also very sad and discouraged that I may never be able to return to India to see and work with my dear brothers and sisters in Christ again. I've been traveling to and working in India on an almost annual basis since 1997. I remember the first time I went to India thinking it was a once in a lifetime thing. And now, having lost count of how many visits I've made, it's hard to accept that I might never be able to set foot in India again. I do hope, and pray, and plan, that the Lord will provide a new visa that will allow me to return at some point. And thankfully, like all things in life, we'll leave this in the hands of our gracious Lord and Savior, knowing and trusting by faith, that His ways and thoughts and love and plans are, much higher than mine!

Pastor David R. was able to get in and is safe as he is now busy carrying out the visiting, teaching, and preaching schedule we had planned. He'll need to scramble a bit to come up with more lessons to teach because he will now need to fill my teaching time slots. So he'll have double duty for the next few weeks. Of course, the Lord will provide! I'm confident that our Savior will keep him safe and bless the truths of His saving word that Pastor David will proclaim. Please pray for Pastor David and his work among the pastors and leaders in India and at the Joint Asia Pastoral Conferencenext week!

Please pray for all Christians in India and especially for all the unbelievers as the Pro-Hindu Nationalist majority (BJP) government continues to pass and further enforce laws intended to eliminate the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! 

It is so good to know by faith, that Jehovah, the one true God, is ultimately in charge of all of this and His love for us is great...great enough to lay down His life for all sinners, that we might have forgiveness, salvation, and an eternal home in Heaven!

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done...

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:31–32 

There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

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