Feb 25 2013
On the Chair Next to You

Each Sunday morning, Kumar sits on a folding chair, waiting for the rock band to start up, and the preacher to give a seeker-sensitve sermon. The chairs are partly filled, in a school gymnasium, just outside Washington, D.C.

He's a small man, from Chennai, India, and here, in the rows for the audience, he's part of someone's Big Vision. Like many others, the church start-up has a visionary, who hopes it becomes the next Big Thing, even hoping to buy 40 acres in suburban D.C. (Anyone got a half-bil for that?)

And Kumar, who's 36, drives each day to his office job at Sun Microsystems, where he spends a lot of time checking urgent email from very far away.

Friday night, I walked with Kumar, and our mutual friend, Woody, to a crowded Whole Foods Market in Alexandria. I made a salad about four times bigger than his, but when we got back to the hotel room, it took him a couple hours to finish. I kept asking questions. He kept answering.

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Kumar was on a crowded bus in Chennai, India. He heard God's voice. "Unmistakeably," he says. I heard God say, twice, 'Seek Me.' That was it. Twice."

Just "Seek Me"?

"Just 'Seek Me'. And I knew it was God, but which God? I was Hindu. Was it Vishnu? Calli...? No idea. I just knew it was God. Somehow, I knew it. Unmistakeable."

And Kumar isn't the gullible type. He has multiple advanced degrees in Aero Engineering and Physics, for starters, from the M.I.T.-equivalent in India.

He studied and researched, but just wasn't satisfied that it was one of his familiar gods, and eventually found a friend with a Bible -- a "good luck charm" -- and traded a textbook for it. He started reading, got confused, but eventually was pointed to Jesus.

He became a Jesus-follower.

Costly decision.

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His parents weren't happy. They scheduled an arranged marriage. Kumar met his wife-to-be on Friday, told her and his parents on Saturday about his Jesus decision, and got married on Sunday. "They thought it would blow over," he says. It didn't.

Six months later, there was an intervention. Her family, his family, neighbors, friends -- 150 people strong -- all telling him to repudiate his faith. He refused.

His parents, fearing for their reputation, said he should leave the area immediately. They would tell everyone that he was dead.

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Kumar took a job in the states. He drove to a big church building. "I didn't know what else to do," he says. "Nice cars everywhere. I liked that."

He walked in, and was taken aback. "It was a fancy church, and everyone was a black person, and they were quite animated. They were walking on their chairs around the room. I was confused, but they were happy.

"They had a testimony time, and I like microphones, so I got up and told them, 'I am so happy about Jesus! I do not want a Mercedes or a BMW! I want to go back to India to tell people about Jesus!' Everyone applauded me! I was the center of attention! But I had just lied! I did not want to go back. Actually, I did want to be rich. I did want a Mercedes."

But some brothers took him to a room and prayed with him, that his return to India would happen. "I did not want to go back to India..."

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A few years later, he went back to India. Kumar took his vacation from Sun, and headed over... with no plan. He just went door-to-door, and told people about Jesus.

The first day, 45 people decided to become Jesus-followers. How'd THAT happen?

"I don't know. I just went door to door, and neighbors would introduce me to others, and I was amazed."

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Kumar still takes his vacations, two weeks a year, and heads to India. But things have grown. From those first 45, and from his trips over the past seven years...

More than 100,000 conversions. 139 communities. More than 100 pastors. Model orphanages for children suffering from AIDS Schools for Dalit children, the lowest-of-the-low in India. Shelters for little girls, now rescued from prostitution. Food. Medicine. Jesus.

They want to name projects after Kumar. He does not allow them. He spends hours every day, after work, praying and communicating and wondering what the next move is. He doesn't raise financial support. Not his style.

"God always provides. Children are dying in a project, because all we have is rice for them, and not much. Woody gave us some money for a down-payment on four acres with hundreds of coconut trees, and then several families who know us each called me, unaware of what we were doing. 'God woke us up last night, and we can't get you off our mind. Here's five thousand dollars...here's a thousand dollars...we got the forty-thousand we needed to buy the land. I am always amazed."

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"Kumar...I don't get it. We made a quantum leap in your story. 45 people decide to follow Jesus, and now more than 100 thousand. Wha...? How...?"

We sit at our table in our hotel room, and Kumar starts laughing. I laugh, too! -- and then, I realize, he's not laughing. He's crying, and he can't speak.

"So many have died..."

Who has died?

"So many of our pastors, so many of our people..."

I look at Woody, who knows the stories, and he bites his lip and nods.

"They are beaten to death, they are killed, because they are talking about Jesus. It happens all the time in India, but the country is very concerned about image, very concerned about foreign investment, they pretend it doesn't happen.

"They are the reason this growth has happened. Their blood. I ask God, 'Why do you let this happen to these people who love you?' They have nothing. Our pastors are not paid. There is no money. But I realized, God is releasing them, at last. They have nothing, they are beaten, they are hungry, they live on the ground, in the streets, and God finally releases them to go home."

Pause. And I can't talk, either.

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Woody, who met Kumar at that seeker-sensitive church in suburban D.C., says I should let Kumar eat his salad. He's right. It's getting late.

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If you're reading this on a weekday, Kumar is sitting in a little room at Sun and doing his job, and answering far-flung emails while he prays. And on Sundays, he sits on a folding chair in a high school gym, and hears about the church's big plans. It will be costly, but just think what could happen, with a new building!

He admits he wonders sometimes...

"They have now added us to their missions budget. They give $1,000 per year. I guess I am happy for that, but..." and his voice trails.

But...the church has other priorities, and a Big Vision for another affluent suburb that, need we remind, needs Jesus, too.

 

Comments (19) -

2/26/2013 11:38:11 AM
Karen United States
Karen
This article made me smile- glorious Jesus Christ is alive and so is the forward moving body of Christ in all of it's different functions.  God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts and He alone truly has the "Big Picture".

Here is a prayer teaching that could be of some help to Kumar.  God's richest blessings.

paulawhite.tv/.../effective-prayer-teachingpt1

2/26/2013 1:32:35 PM
Francisco Velazquez United States
Francisco Velazquez
I am speechless...
2/26/2013 5:48:27 PM
Penny United States
Penny
That was incredible. I got chills reading this.
2/26/2013 9:38:29 PM
Aaron United States
Aaron
Very good article, Brant. Keep writing.

Aaron
2/26/2013 10:04:35 PM
Shannon Hooper United States
Shannon Hooper
Brant, What a wonderful example of being a selfless disciple for Christ. Thank you for sharing your stories and blogs! You are such an encouragement to our family through your show on Air 1 and your blogs.  My son struggles with Aspergers and you have really been a God send to us by sharing your experiences and demonstrating that what makes us different can be a gift.  
2/26/2013 10:41:02 PM
Charise United States
Charise
This is so powerful. May it stir us to action. To follow after Jesus with the same perseverance and life in Christ! And may we be willing and do so to let go of the riches of this American way and let God use it for His glory and kingdom purposes!
2/27/2013 4:26:24 AM
Kate Canada
Kate
I feel exactly the same way about the people who sleep outside all year round in my city, where it regularly gets to 20 below zero Fahrenheit.  

You should write a book, Brant.
2/27/2013 1:58:53 PM
Andrew United States
Andrew
Amazing! All I can do is praise God!
2/27/2013 5:46:04 PM
Deborah United States
Deborah
Brant, Is there a way to see what "Kumar" has been up to since this was written?  I think I remember reading it on Kamp Krusty a while back.  Thanks for any info.  
2/28/2013 10:25:57 AM
Debi Canada
Debi
As someone of Indian descent, I find this story beautiful but also shocking. There is a huge Christian population in India, but I had no idea there were places where people were being persecuted for their faith. This brought tears to my eyes. One person CAN make a difference. And he's helping girls out of prostitution! God bless you, Kumar.
3/3/2013 3:25:55 AM
Karen United States
Karen
"Prize Wisdom highly and exalt her, and she will exalt and promote you; she will bring you to honor when you embrace her."
Prov. 4:8

www.davidjeremiah.org/.../television_player.aspx
3/7/2013 11:47:48 AM
Karen United States
Karen
"-shake it off and let's take a ride-"
"Let The Sparks Fly" TFK at GCU
http://youtu.be/Z9yqwYCARTY

Christians can get distracted if we get offended about another believer's path or how God has/has not yet blessed them.  I was watching Joy in the Morning, www.joyministriesonline.org/.../...f-contents.html
and she was talking about shaking off offense so you don't get distracted and you stay tuned to the Holy Spirit's personalized/customized teaching/leading for you.  Her reference to the snakes in Acts 28 is very powerful: www.biblegateway.com/.../

We are also told to be wise and make sure that whoever we listen to/align with clearly states that Jesus is their Lord as per 1 Corinthians 12:3 and 1 John 4.  Having participated in many weddings, it's like having one or more people in the bridal party having issues with envy, jealousy, lust etc. and the Holy Spirit just won't allow that to interfere with the wedding feast planned for Jesus.

My previous Pastor, Jason Anderson, used to say, "stay in your own lane".  This reminds me of 2 Peter 2, and Acts 9:1-6 which are very important messages . . . if you can keep from being offended by them.

"When the scoffer is punished, the fool gets a lesson in being wise; but men of [godly] Wisdom and good sense learn by being instructed." Proverbs 21:11

"I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, " Philippians 3:13


3/7/2013 9:47:10 PM
Karen United States
Karen
"I will be true to you, my wife.  Then you will know the Lord.  “On that day I will answer your prayers,” declares the Lord.  “I will speak to the sky, it will speak to the earth "
Hosea 2:20-21

"The Coldest Heart"
http://youtu.be/aJjcVchNCdQ

"Now who is there to hurt you if you are zealous followers of that which is good?"
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Peter+3&version=AMP

3/8/2013 6:01:57 AM
Karen United States
Karen
“That is why I’m going to win her back.
I will lead her into the desert.
I will speak tenderly to her.
I will give her vineyards there.
I will make the valley of Achor [Disaster] a door of hope.
Then she will respond as she did when she was  young,as she did when she came out of Egypt.
“On that day she will call me her husband,” declares the Lord. “She will no longer call me her master." Hosea 2:14-16

"Piece Of My Heart"
http://youtu.be/qPseJvXVVfo

"Enjoy Jesus' Supply And Delight His Heart"
www.itbn.org/.../Z4cHN4OTrbGUQ6WoPLg_slrRXxVRC8RK

"Family"
http://youtu.be/JVG4vPPHu7c
3/10/2013 7:20:49 AM
Karen United States
Karen
"A Conversation With The Sky (Kitchen Session)"
Abandon Kansas
http://youtu.be/p6_lZl6O3z0

"The water saw you, O God. The water saw you and shook.  Even the depths of the sea trembled. The clouds poured out water.  The sky thundered.   Even your arrows flashed in every direction.   The sound of your thunder rumbled in the sky.    Streaks of lightning lit up the world."
Psalm 77
www.biblegateway.com/.../

Intended for the sons of God:
http://vimeo.com/61295548

www.biblegateway.com/.../
3/20/2013 5:43:35 PM
Michelle United States
Michelle
thanks for writing this, Brant.  It makes me ashamed to think how I selfishly guard my vacations and limit God in how I believe that He can work to save other people.  i wonder if my faith is really that real to me if I'm not burning to tell people everywhere that God can save them from a lifetime of regret and chasing the wind.  i'm still trying to figure out how to share the good news as a normal working non-ministry employed person without being a pushy proselytizer...I don't know.
3/22/2013 5:27:50 PM
Aspie United States
Aspie
Fiction or non?  I read it as a condemnation of our ridiculous self centered dead "churches" in America.  
4/4/2013 10:38:30 AM
Kendra United States
Kendra
Brant,

This story made me smile and brought tears to my eyes all at the same time. It's amazing what just a little bit of God can do in someone's life and how powerful a message it can be to other. But not only that, it got me thinking again. This last year I have felt so oppressed in the world. We can't speak of Jesus for fear of being ganged up on by everyone else. The beatings that he talk about happen not just in unusable, but in our very hometowns. This is extrememly depressing to me and it has been a struggle to want to stay faithful to the Lord and keep speaking of his love. It feels like Satan is winning most of the time these days, so I pray that Jesus will come back for us soon...
4/15/2013 1:52:12 PM
Elizabeth United States
Elizabeth
Wow
Comments are closed