2014 Delhi – Daniel Kim

Operation Hammer

“Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” -Jeremiah 23:29

The 2014 winter missions season at New Philadelphia Church began like any other with announcements going out and applications completed. It was a bit rushed and things were a bit hectic, but in every way it was just like any other missions season. This was my fourth missions trip with New Philly and seventh overall, so while I was wary of complacency, I knew the routine. Two weeks into training we were informed of the team assignments. I was happy especially to be with Pastor Paul Yoo (who will be leading the Sydney church plant) and Sam Khil (one of my closest friends in Seoul). We were all assigned to Team Manipur. Sam shared with us that he received Jeremiah 23:29 while praying for our trip. It was a powerful word but little did I know how prophetic it would be.

Manipur is known to be a politically unstable region on the northeastern border of India, which itself is a nation with a hostile spiritual environment. However, we were informed that there had been much breakthrough since the previous three New Philly mission trips. Manipur in particular had been experiencing a period of stability and growth. In my mind, I was expecting just another missions trip: powerful, witnessing physical healing and spiritual manifestations. Of course I was praying for more than that, but I think I had settled on a perception of missions that was more akin to an ambassadorial visit, with the purpose of encouraging and strengthening, rather than a military incursion to enemy territory. Then with only two days to departure, the team received some shocking news from Pastor Letlal, our local contact through Native Partners for World Mission (NPWM) in Delhi. Due to opposition towards the team from conservative pastors in Manipur, in addition to increasing tension due to anti-Manipuri violence in Delhi, we were advised not travel to Manipur for this trip. For the first time in New Philly Missions history, the team’s main schedule had to be changed on the eve of our departure. The door to Manipur had seemingly been shut by a combination of a hyper-conservative religious spirit (that is, trusting in religion and traditions as opposed to the Spirit of God) and a spirit of fear and violence in the capital. It was a rude awakening, reminding us all that this was not a game.

The schedule was altered so that the majority of our time would be spent at Grace Home orphanage, followed by three days with Kuki Worship Service in Delhi, along with two days visiting Mt Carmel Christian School. Grace Home cares for orphans and underprivileged children from all over India and is led by Pastor John Prakash Kalathil, another NPWM pastor in Delhi. The Kuki are an ethnic group from Manipur, and the main Kuki church in Delhi is pastored by Pastor Letlal. God had shut the door for us to minister directly in Manipur. Instead, He wanted us to empower the Manipuri diaspora in Delhi. These are ones who are the best educated and work in key areas of influence. By sowing into this community we were doing greater things not only for Manipur and also across India.

But before the team ministered to the Kuki people, we began our trip at Grace Home. It was such a sweet time. Despite the spiritual opposition we faced, I could barely tell that we were on a mission in northern India- one of the most hostile spiritual regions in Asia if not the world. Spending time with the children and staff of Grace Home was like spending time with angels in Heaven. Truly, Grace Home is an oasis in the spiritual wilderness of Delhi, and a piece of heaven on earth. Although we kept contending for Pastor Letlal as he visited Manipur to speak with the opposing pastors, any potential for fear or tension in the team due to the situation was diffused by the pure love of the children and the joy carried by the team members. Our team debriefs would descend into sheer foolishness at times and I would wonder whether we were taking things seriously enough. But looking back I believe that this time helped the team walk onto the battlefield later in the trip with the joy of the Lord truly as our strength.

Having spent the whole week at Grace Home, Friday night was the beginning of our ministry to the Kuki youths. Immediately there was a shift in the spiritual climate that manifested in the physical world. In light of increasing racially targeted violence in Delhi (including a student who had been beaten to death), Manipuris and other Northeast Indians were holding protests all across the nation. As a result, there was a much smaller turnout to our weekend ministries, and the prayer meeting scheduled for Friday afternoon was cancelled. We later found out that this same weekend, a young Manipuri woman was sexually assaulted near the worship centre, which only inflamed the situation. News of this event drew even more people away from Saturday night’s service, and instead towards the street protests. In addition to this, the team found out that two government workers had been kidnapped in Manipur- from the same hotel we had booked for the team, during the same time that we would have been there. Pastor Marcus shared that he had never experienced so much external opposition and spiritual warfare on a trip before, and it shook me. I had to face the reality that we were on the open battlefields of India. Yes, the victory has been won through the Cross but the enemy’s strongholds must still be torn down.

During the Friday evening service, the team felt a heaviness over the people. At the debrief, our team member Jisu shared her frustration at the lifeless worship of the young people, who were clapping during ‘I Exalt Thee.’ “Why were they clapping? It’s a slow song!” It was that same religious spirit which had blocked us from entering Manipur. Pastor Paul shared a vision that an intercessor had shared with him. That person had seen large silver doors, which represented the religious spirit in Manipur, and these doors were opening. This vision encouraged me and reminded me of Jeremiah 23:29, the verse that my teammate Sam shared at the beginning of missions season. Our team was carrying the hammer, the Word of God, which would open the doors for His Spirit to enter the Kuki youths.

Pastor Paul preached with fire at the Kuki children’s revival service on Saturday afternoon and also at the Senior High School assembly on Tuesday morning. At the children’s service, as Pastor Paul rebuked the religious spirit, and I could sense a change in the atmosphere. This paved the way for Pastor Marcus to release the fire of the Holy Spirit later that evening at the young adults revival meeting. Through VBS, praise, skits, and preaching the Word of God, the team hammered at the religious spirit, breaking it down into pieces. Many young people experienced the tangible presence of God for the first time in their lives. One young man, whom I counselled in the small groups following Pastor Paul’s message, was at the point of doubting his salvation due to his struggles with sin. But by the end of the evening, his countenance had changed and he looked at full peace, having experienced God’s presence through the Holy Spirit. Another powerful breakthrough came at an altar call for full time ministry as young people, particularly young women, came forward to dedicate their lives to Kingdom work. Later we found out that the father of one young lady who came forward ended up storming out of the room. It was clear that our ministry was confronting the religious spirit head on, but that more importantly God was powerfully equipping His saints for the battle.

Looking back, I know I have witnessed greater visible signs and wonders and outpourings of the Holy Spirit on other trips, but I have never seen such an outpouring of joy and gratitude from the receiving congregation as I did at Kuki Worship Service Delhi. After meeting only two or three times, tears were pouring out of the eyes of the Kuki youth as they said their goodbyes. The teachers and lay pastors of the youth ministry shared how they themselves were filled with a greater vision for Manipur- how they were empowered and experienced greater freedom in worship. Such was the significance of the breakthrough against the religious spirit, and the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit.

On a personal level, this was also a significant trip for me in deepening my relationship with God and in understanding the call to ministry that God has placed on my life. Walking with the Lord is an adventure. It is fun and exciting, but we are also called to mature in our character and deepen in our faith. Through this trip, I feel that God was teaching me the gravity of this call to ministry, showing me what is at stake. The religious spirit is real, and satan’s tactics are real. But the Holy Spirit is greater and Word of God is the hammer that breaks even the hardest rocks into pieces.

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