This is the story of a twenty-two years old student, traveller and deacon from South Germany who had already visited India two years before. This time, his studies took him to Vadodara in Gujarat for an internship.
Travel Adventures in Gujarat
I was very happy to hear that there will be a Divine Service in Vadodara with the Apostle Michael Naik on Sunday the 24th of January. That morning, I woke up early and took an auto-rickshaw to the address the Apostle gave me. A man on the street tried to help me to find the house of Priest Santosh but in vain. After half an hour of wandering around I finally saw the priest with his young son waving his hands towards me. He warmly welcomed me and introduced me to his family. I was very happy to be in his home and to receive some chapati and chai. Everyone was excited for the arrival of the Apostle and his wife. I also learnt that there would be five guests who were going to be sealed during the Divine Service.
I was amazed how all the people gave so much effort to make it to this place to celebrate and to listen to God’s word and I could feel the unity as we gathered all in the small room not knowing each other before. It was a pleasure to feel this bond between my brothers and sisters also in a country which is far away from my home.
Divine Service with a Surprise
The Divine Service was based on the motto for the year 2016: “Victory with Jesus Christ”. In unity and communion with God’s son we are able to achieve our goals and to face challenges that life brings with it. The Apostle then suddenly asked me to speak some words to the congregation. I was shocked and surprised. I still wore my normal shirt and trousers and I was barefoot as well. But then it turned out fine as I could see how welcoming the members were. I spoke in English and the priest Vipin translated into Hindi. Afterwards the five people were sealed.
We were such a small congregation in this room but I had to think about the words of Jesus: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18, 20). Furthermore the Apostle used the example of a saree to explain the importance of a single Divine Service: “One Divine Service is like a string of a saree to reach the goal as a Christian.” Therefore the saree symbolises the eternal communion with Jesus Christ as he comes back on earth.
After the Divine Service we all gathered in the living room with the family of priest Santosh. They served us very tasty food and we had a big lunch together.
Sister Vijaya, the wife of the Apostle, explained the sealed ones about the importance of the three sacraments in Hindi. All I could understand were the words “passport”, “visa” and “air ticket”. So I asked her what she was talking about. She responded that I had to arrange my passport, the air ticket and the visa to enter India. She says it is a comparison to our faith. We need all of the three sacraments to be able to go to our Heavenly Home.
The day with the Apostle ended by sharing a last round of chai together with his wife and priest Vipin. I am very thankful and happy that I could spend some time with my brothers and sisters in India.
Praise the Lord!