Bola shrugs his shoulders and throws his head back, drinking from the neck hole of the skulls. We do our best 'that was normal' face and continue making small talk.
I am leaning against a cement pillar, shoulder-to-shoulder with Bola, a Hindu "wise man." Our team and his friends sit in a small circle on the walkway. Bola is a believer that his skull idols will bring him fulfillment in life. The day before, we met Bola, and we got to pray for healing in Jesus' name for the burns on his body caused by a kitchen fire.
Bola pours a mystery drink into the skulls in his lap.
“You want to try?” says Bola, offering us a real human skull like it was a McFlurry.
“No, thank you, I think we'll pass this time.”
Bola shrugs his shoulders and throws his head back, drinking from the neck hole of the skulls. We do our best "that was normal" face and continue making small talk.
Give us the words, Holy Spirit. We have nothing to give him but Jesus.
The Spirit then gives me the courage to open up my Bible from my backpack and flip to Romans 3.
“Bola, may I read out of a holy book to you? This is called the Bible.”
His curiosity is piqued, and he shows me his own holy book about a god named Krishna. Three minutes later I have walked him through the Romans Road.
"And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Do you understand? The only way to freedom and abundant life and eternal life is through Jesus Christ.”
I close my Bible and wait for his response.
“My power: Baba,” he said, pointing to his two skulls. “Your power: Jesus.”
“Do you know the story of Jesus, Bola?” asks my teammate Rosie.
“Yes, Jesus: god. Baba: god. Ganga: god. You: god,” he replies.
His friends speak up, and in broken English, they try to explain to us their polytheism. They have all rejected the Gospel now, explaining to us that everyone has their own god and their own way to Nirvana (paradise).
In Varanasi, this is the typical response we have had from Hindus to whom we have proclaimed the Gospel. And almost everyone has said they love Jesus Christ, but in reality, they just add Him to their list of 330 million other gods.
We talk some more and then exchange farewells. As we continue to walk down the riverside to tell others of our hope, I look back and see Bola talking to others, who have stopped to inquire about his skulls. He has so many friends. People are simply drawn to Bola. His wardrobe may seem intimidating, but each time I see him, he is laughing, playing music, and entertaining those around him. My heart is sorrowful though, knowing how lost he is without Christ.
Save him, Lord! Why is everyone's heart so closed here?
It would be easy to believe like a Hindu, to believe that humanity is allowed to believe what suits us because we’re all destined for Paradise eventually. I want to believe there is no such place as Hell. But that's not the truth.
God is after Bola. He just doesn't understand it yet. When you have lived in darkness for so long, you don't understand the Light.
The truth is everyone screwed up. We make mistakes daily, and we can't live up to God's glory. We must pay the price for our sin and that price is eternity in anguish, away from the presence of God and others. But the Good News of the Gospel is God's Son, Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life and payed for our punishment by dying on the cross and rising again three days later. He took our place. Eternal, abundant life is offered to all those who turn from their sin and believe in salvation through Jesus alone. Why would God offer us this precious gift? Because God loves us. God loves YOU so much and wants you to find true fulfillment in Him. He desires to have that loving father-child relationship with you. He desires that you stop seeking fulfillment apart from Him.
God is after Bola. He just doesn't understand it yet. When you have lived in darkness for so long, you don't understand the Light. Bola’s heart desires to worship a real God, so he made that idol, calling it "Baba." Do you know what Baba means in many languages including Hindi? It means "father." He named his idol father. Bola has the same heart I do, the same heart you do. A heart that longs to be loved by our Heavenly Father.
Father, please continue sending Christ followers to Bola. Become his true Baba. Invade his life and his heart. Make him a Paul to those who walk the Ganga riverside.
The soil is very hard here in Varanasi, but with God anything is possible. I beg you to pray for more laborers to come to this harvest. May God smash the lie of Hinduism with a force so strong it never returns. May Varanasi become the Christ-follower capital of India and the most loving city of the Christian faith.
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. -Habakkuk 2:14