Verinder looked nervous as we walked into church. So was I. It took a lot of work and prayer to get him to come at all.
He gazed in awe at the size of the building.
“Do Christian churches not all have staining glassy windows?”
“We aren’t a traditional church like you’ve seen. Tradition’s okay if it’s not in God’s way.”
A beaming usher shook our hands and would have dragged the poor guy up to the front row, but I gently declined. We sat closer to the door – just in case.
The worship began. To my dismay, they decided to go a bit “retro”, bringing out all the old choruses for the dear old saints’ benefit. Verinder’s brown eyes opened wide at some of the words on the screen:
Are you washed in the Blood? …..I’m under the Blood….. Blood-bought.
“What is it this? Do you have sacrifice of baby sheep? I am confusinged. Is He man or lamb slained? Why is He cross? Must wash in blood to make him not cross? Do you having blood-bank here….?”
I explained as best I could. Some analogies are hard for anyone, especially one of his culture and language to understand. Worse in a noisy auditorium. I don’t know how successful I was.
“Hallelujah, saints! Anointed singin’! What a glorious sacrifice we offered up to the Throne …..!”
It was Brother Harold in full flight! I cringed inside.
“…We have an UNCtion from the Lord..!”
Verinder was drinking in everything with childlike wonder on his face. He leaned over and loudly whispered questions.
“Is Lord he give free meal today?”
A choking sound came from the teenager next to me. It was hard work explaining it in simple English. Some of it, I realized, was incomprehensible to me as well.
“… Brethren, we must CRUcify the flesh!” Bro. Harold was really warming up now. “We must DIE to self, and the lusts of the flesh…!”
An excited whisper in my ear: “I understanding! Not luncheon, it is Aussie barbecue, yes? And speaking person believe in reincarnation. Good karma!”
“…You must jump in the river!”
“We go to swimming today also? Sea is closer.”
I just shook my head despairingly. I’d explain it all later - if I could.
“ … be FILLED with the Spirit! Come and be set on fire…”
Verinder looked worried. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he'd fled for his life.
“It’s okay! Just another manner of speaking.”
“… Come out from the world – be ye separate…!”
“We are travel into space?”
“..then go into all the world ….!”
Oh brother! The expression on poor Verinder’s face was too much for our neighbour, who developed a strange coughing fit, and hurried outside.
We finally made it to the altar call.
“Have you been saved?”
“Ah! If you jumping in the river, and you drowning. Yes?”
“Yes! I think I was beetle in my past life. Bad Karma!”
I choked. The words “repent” and “salvation” went over his head, but he brightened at the word “redemption”, showing me his watch he had once pawned. Maybe something might get through.
At last! Sister Janey came and began a chorus that never failed to move me. I relaxed.
More importantly, Verinder felt the presence of God too. A big smile came on his face, and he swayed to the music. He began to weep.
“Why is it I am feel so wonderful and feeling so terrible? It is like I am inside so werry dirty.”
“It’s just God touching your heart. D’you want to get clean?”
I took him down to the front.
Bros. Harold and Rick laid hands on him applying their customary “Holy Ghost Massage.”
“Hold on, brother, hold on!” Harold exhorted, shaking him so vigorously, he had to hold on to him or fall.
Rick exhorted with equal fervour: “Let go, brother, let go!”
Obediently, Verinder let go, lost his balance and fell to the floor. The two elders explained that he was “slain in the Spirit” and “under the power.”
“But I am not be dying, sir, and I am sober.”
I explained a few things to Rick.
“A Hindu background, huh? You gotta get delivered, son!”
“By mail? Where you send me?”
To conclude, he did get saved. Really fired up too.
He approached me a week later, his white teeth flashing, saying:
“Brother! I got the Wictory!”
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