Sunday, January 31, 2010


And there it is. The trip is over.

Twenty hours flying, not counting a layover in the Hong Kong airport, and I’ve left behind me that fascinating place, India, on the other side of the world in another hemisphere. A real place with real people, not just the fictional dream of my novel created out of research and history books.

Am I changed forever? Oh yes. Was it a God-ordained adventure? A hundred times, yes. But I’m home now and will try to share the experience with you over the next few months.

I knew it was a different world from all I’d ever known as soon as we disembarked the jet in the Chennai airport two weeks ago. Yet, I knew this land. I recognized it from all I’d read and written about. This warm, humid place with Hindu gods of multiple arms and legs set along the airport walkway was the same place our European and British forefathers had also set foot when they first disembarked from wooden sailing ships hundreds of years ago. India is a land of great natural wealth. Yet over all lies a layer of sooty grime and lack of maintenance.

But soon we were through the airport’s glass doors, no longer separated from the real India—her people—and best of all meeting the people of the India Bible Camp Ministry.

Outside the airport, at the same moment that I met Emery, Antony’s wife—-and Jerald who will come into this story often--I was also met by the deafening clamber of India’s traffic. It was almost 2 in the morning and still the horns of cars, buses, 3-wheeled auto rickshaws and motor scooters, bleated and blared like an unending squadron of honking geese. I lifted my nose to gather the scents and smells and laughed to myself. There was also a faint trace of tangy vegetation—perhaps from the nearby coconut palm trees—but that fragrance was covered up by the more invading stench of diesel exhaust from hundreds of vehicles roaring past. I stood there with a face-splitting grin. I couldn’t believe it. I was in India.

Before leaving home I’d asked my prayer supporters to pray that I would encounter God in India. The Lord answered that prayer as soon as I stepped out of the airport. However it took me a day or two to recognize His answer.

Antony the leader of IBCM had already left the airport with the first half of our 11 person team from Canada and was settling them in a hotel about a kilometre away. So the first person I met was his wife, Emery. The smile on her lips matched the honest friendliness in her laughing brown eyes. Though a stranger to her, she made me feel truly welcome.

And then I met Jerald. This 40-year-old Indian man has been with Antony and the IBCM team much longer than Emery. Jerald has known Antony since they were both children. But I’m saving Jerald’s fascinating and inspiring story for the book. All I’ll tell you now is that Jerald is a walking sermon on what being a follower of Jesus is all about.

Jerald, a married man with 2 young children, has the small slender frame of a teenage boy. He stands at about 5 feet, several inches shorter than me. He has the dark delicate features of people from Tamil Nadu and his deep brown eyes convey the wisdom of one who has experienced pain and deprivation. But his wide flashing smile shows that past pain has long been healed. Inside of Jerald beats one of the warmest hearts for Christ and for others that I have ever met.

Shortly after grasping my hand to shake it, Jerald whisked away my luggage and that of Hilary, Judy, as well as Greg and Oonaugh Wood to take our suitcases over the broken and uneven sidewalks to the waiting vans. Like Oonaugh says, Jerald moves with the quickness of a mosquito, but every movement is engineered to take care of or to help another person. He doesn’t drive a vehicle like our other helpers did. For the next 12 days I found myself under the gentle care of Jerald. Speaking in his rapid Tamil language and few English words, he became our personal shepherd. He watched each and every step we took, that we wouldn’t stub our toe, or trip on uneven ground or a stair as we got out of a vehicle. Jerald was always there with his arms outstretched to protect and guide us through crowds. Yet who were we to this small-framed man? What had we ever done to deserve such tender protection?

The second part of my prayer request, that I encounter the Lord in India, was that He change me to be the servant He wants me to be. Other than Christ giving up His life on the cross there is no better human example than that of my friend, Jerald. I need to pay careful attention to the memory of 12 days in his company. He doesn’t strive for a place of prominence in the team he works with. Others preach or sing. Others are responsible for adminstration. Others drive the team on their visits to the 15 districts of Tamil Nadu each and every month. But Jerald is happy in his role of simply taking care of other people, of giving of himself. And when our visiting team has gone back to Canada Jerald returns to his work of maintaining the IBCM offices and doing whatever task he is given to further the ministry.

That first night, with Jerald’s assistance I made it over the uneven sidewalks and potholes to the vans waiting to take us to our hotel. The litter and rubble along the side of the street became easy to ignore in the presence of such shining selflessness.

To see the beauty of India all I had to do was lift my gaze from the streets, to the sultry breeze moving the coconut palms and tamarind trees, then let my vision settle on the face of one of India's Christians.

Jerald’s face was the first place I encountered God in India.

Colossians 3: 1,2,3 "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

Jerald and Justin, one of our awesome drivers, and myself, the first night in India.

Friday, January 22, 2010


The trip is so fast-paced I have hardly any time but here is something I've learned.

We were taking a real Indian train trip that was to last 6 hours from Chennai to Trichy. Antony and Ray's plan was to reserve seats for us together so we could talk together, and that Antony could share some stories of the ministry with us. Good plan.

However, the train was 45 minutes late. That was fine, but our seats were mysteriously reserved---at least that what the Indian passengers said---for others. So we were scattered over this very crowded train and with no way to get those valuable insights from Antony.

But I'm learning that often God will open a door, and first thing I do is visualize exactly what that should look like. However, God's ideas of what will actually happen are so different.

I need to learn to trust the Lord no matter what. Even if it looks like my idea of the vision doesn't look at all like what's happening.

No time to edit this. Just hope you get the drift of what this trip is like for me. I know God brought me here to write this story. But getting that story is proving harder than I anticipated.

Hope you'll pray for that for me. An Indian pastor and his wife gave our team gifts for coming to there church to see their children's program. The plaque I received had the verse on it, "God will complete His purposes for me."

I just need to obey and accept what He allows or doesn't allow.

Blessings on all.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Official Prayer letter for Jan. 2010—Christine Lindsay--God’s roaming reporter to India.

Well, I’m off. Flew out yesterday the 16th from Vancouver. Won’t be home until the 28th. A fast trip certainly, but one I pray will enable me to capture the story of the Indian pastors and the children of Tamil Nadu. I’m humbled to be given such a joyful task.

Here is the itinerary for the first week:

Saturday January 16 Fly out of Vancouver Airport 1:50 pm
Sunday January 17 Short stopover in Hong Kong
Monday Jan 18 Arrive in Chennai at 1:35 am (early morning)
Train/Chennai to Trichy. Leaves at 12:30, arrives 6:00 pm
Check into hotel
Tuesday Jan 19 Pastors meeting, tour Trichy, temple, Camp Follow Up
Wednesday Jan 20 shopping , sightseeing river dam and various churches and
Follow up program in Budalur

Thursday Jan 21 Tanjore Pastors meeting, Big temple sightseeing,
travel to Thiruvarur

Friday Jan 22 Thiruvarur Pastors mtg, Travel to east coast
Saturday Jan 23 East Coast and drive back to Kumbakonam


Allowing me to get sick 1 whole week before flying. This way I had a good dose of antibiotics, stopping the respiratory and ear infection before it really got going. So I’m good. All the preparations are done. I’m ready. Like Baloo the bear said in Disney’s Jungle Book, “I'm gone, man, solid gone!!!” I’m pretty sure that phrase is not in Kipling’s novel of Indian folklore.

Again I say ‘thank you’ to those who are praying and encouraging me, for all those helps like—sewing cotton skirts, to sending financial support, to shopping for me. You break my heart with joy.

I want to briefly leave you with a story about the youth in India that inspired me. In spring of 2007 Pastor Antony felt the Lord wanted him to challenge the youth at a large rally. (I’ll be seeing such rallies while I’m in India.) Keep in mind the youth in India can be someone in their teens up to an unmarried 30-year-old. Antony asked them to think of 3 souls who did not know Jesus Christ as Saviour. He inspired them to see these friends saved and baptized by Christmas. Each young person wrote down on a piece of paper who they would lead to the Lord, and gave that paper to their individual pastors . . . By October and November over 5000 people were baptised. Half of those were baptised in the local churches, the other half in various swimming pools, tanks, and rivers by the local pastors. I was told that it was not unusual during those months to see 2 or 3 pastors baptising people in the same river at the same time.

Amazing numbers . . . but then . . . 8 million babies are born in India each year. There's so much more work to do for their youth . . . and ours.


That love and friendship blossom between the people of India and our visiting team.

That the Holy Spirit be my interpreter, enabling me to understand the interviewees, and that the stories the Lord wants in this book be conveyed to me.

That our team remains well and safe travelling. The traffic and trains in India are scary.

That I ‘see’ no snakes. I have a significant snake phobia.

And most of all, that I encounter the Lord through all of this, and remain close to Him—that He change me to be the servant He wants me to be.

I'm reading the biography of Amy Carmichael on my travels to India. Like me, Amy was born in Northern Ireland. Between the years 1895 and 1951 she served as a missionary to the south of India (many of the same places I'll be visiting).

"If any man’s work abide?
I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. The blinding flash had come and gone; the ordinary was all about us. We went on. I said nothing . . . but knew something had happened that had changed life’s values. Nothing could ever matter again but the things that were eternal."--Amy Carmicheal

If you would like to support me financially for the following six months to complete the task of writing this book, you may send the funds to:
Children's Camps International,
300 - 571 Main Street,
Winkler, Manitoba R6W 1G3 CANADA

They will send you an official charitable tax receipt if you make the cheque payable to Children’s Camps International. Just slip a little note into the envelope to say that the funds are designated for Christine Schmidtke.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I suppose I should start a countdown as of today—6 more sleeps and I’m on the plane flying to the other side of the world to start the ‘dream writing assignment of a lifetime’.

Only God could tie up my desire to write with my fascination with India. It’s the fulfillment of my heart’s desire. Yet at the same time I find the Lord is intentionally breaking my heart.

In our church we often sing that popular song put out by Hillsong 'Break my heart for what breaks Yours'. Each time I sing that song I really try to mean it, hoping the words coming out of my mouth are a prayer. The Lord is answering that prayer, but I believe He is just starting to show me what breaks His heart.

While preparing for this trip and writing assignment I am transcribing various stories from interviews from the staff at Children’s Camps International into a rough outline for the book. While doing that I’ve often had to wipe the tears away. What Christians in other parts of the world have to contend with puts me as a North American Christian to shame. There are Christians in the Middle East, Korea, Nepal, and many other places in the world who are dying for their faith. And there are others who live in abject poverty.

One of those stories that will go into the book is of young Pastor Antony and two other pastors sitting Indian style on the concrete floor of their small church in Budalur. These 3 men would spend hours, days, weeks, years, fasting and praying the Lord would show them how to reach the youth of India for Christ.

At one time they came up with the idea of writing letters to 50 world-wide organizations asking for funding to help them make their vision a reality. In order to save a penny on the stamps for each letter they planned to take the letters by bicycle to another village about 6 kilometres away and mail them from there. On the way to that other village the chain on their bicycle broke. The money they had hoped to save on the letters was lost on buying a new chain. In addition, those 50 letters to world organization brought no help whatsoever. Undaunted, they kept on praying.

And Heaven heard, because they were praying for matters that lie closest to God’s heart—the salvation of His children. These Indian pastors had the message that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but they needed resources in order to gain the interest of their children. They needed people to share certain skills with them on how to reach the minds of their youth.

The Lord took their desire, their ideas and spun it into a ministry that none of them could ever have envisioned. God sent Antony Samy from the south of India on a circuitous route to the small, obscure hamlet of Winkler, Manitoba, Canada. We’re not talking New York or Denver Colorado. Winkler has a population of about 10,000. Small potatoes. Ordinary people.

I can almost hear Nathanael and Philip talking about Jesus, and Nathanael saying, “Nazareth? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” And Philip says (probably with a knowing grin), “Come and see.”

Or a few years ago one could ask, "Can any good thing come out of a tiny village in India called Budalur or a children's camp in an obscure place as Winkler, Manitoba?"

Yet through that meeting of people in the summer of 2003, a meeting of east and western culture, of the southern hemisphere meeting the northern, God brought about something that would meet the needs of what was on His heart. India Bible Camp Ministry and Children’s Camps International were born.

That was more than 7 years ago. Since then God has empowered those Indian pastors through the ministry of children’s camps to bring thousands of young souls to Christ. Those young campers have then gone home to tell their Hindu families of what they are learning about the true and living God.

In listening to their stories I’m overwhelmed with the desire to tell their story so that thousands more of Indian, Cambodian, Nepalese and so many others will come to Christ. Then an image of a young North American face comes into my mind, and my heart breaks again.

It was over the Christmas holidays. I had some young guests. Each time these young guests stay at our home we would take them to church with us, in the hope that they’d hear the truth about Christ and believe in Him. Year after year when they were little they’d come willingly. But this past year they’ve reached their teens, and I started to see a difference in them. Good differences in many ways. They’re learning to become individuals. But along with their growing up has come an aversion to the Christian faith. Like all North American children they are more interested in expensive electronic games, clothing and gadgets.

On Sunday morning as my family was ready to go to church, the young girl who was visiting us dilly-dallied so much, we were going to be late. She was dressed, but came into the kitchen and said that she hadn’t eaten yet.

Sadness squeezed at my heart. I sensed in my spirit she had procrastinated on purpose. I asked her, “Do you want to go to church with us?”

She looked at me with wide eyes, a small tight mouth and shook her head, no.

That sadness gripped my heart tighter. What should I do? Manipulate her? Cajole her? Quickly make her breakfast then rush her off to church? But I felt in my spirit that was not the way to win her heart for Christ. Like the pastors in India I needed another way to reach my young houseguest.

We left our young girl at home that Sunday, our hearts heavy . . . and yet hopeful. Perhaps in the weeks and months ahead if I open up my heart to God’s inspiration He’ll show me how to capture the interest of this young North American youth.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Was it only five weeks ago I felt God’s call to go to India? By saying yes to something I thought I would never say yes to, have I been altered already, never to be the same? Life can change so quickly, for good . . . and bad. In this case, it’s so nice to be sharing something good.

I'm in awe of the many answered prayers already, and have so much to praise God for.

My travel inoculations and flu shots are complete. I received those combined shots two days before Christmas in both arms. Boy, did my arms hurt! I felt tired, my bones seemed to ache, but the Lord helped me do all the things a mom has to do at Christmas. All I can say is; that when it comes to cooking the holiday turkeys in our house, it’s a good thing David and I are a team.

The plane tickets have been purchased. The portion of the CCI team that I will travel with leaves Vancouver January 16 on Cathay Pacific. There will be a short lay-over in Hong Kong on the 17th, then arriving in Chennai, India on the 18th.

I have been humbled and amazed at the support coming in. I cannot say thank you enough. All in all, more than half of what I need for the trip, God has already provided. And one of my mother's friends has sewn several cotton skirts for me to wear in India--a hard thing to find in the stores at this time of year.

But as Christmas eased into the New Year I began to panic. Time was running out. In typical British-European fashion I had my checklist laid out. I needed to learn how to use Skype—a computer program that enables you to see and talk to people all over the world. I needed to know how to record interviews on Skype and also in person on a hand-held recorder. I wanted to make sure that the leadership at CCI and Antony in India would have everything set up for interviews, interpreters, etc. etc. etc. I wanted to have a rough outline of the book completed and interview questions prepared BEFORE I arrived in India.

On the last day of December that panic grew--only 15 days and I would be leaving for India.

I hadn't even got on the plane, and already I was a steam engine quickly running out of steam. In my mind I felt like one of the British-run trains from my novel that is set in Indian during the days of the British Raj. I was chuffing and stopping miles short of the station.

Sure I'd been praying. I'm serious about my devotional time with God every day. But on the morning of December 31--with so much to do, my checklist waiting--I felt the Lord say, Not today, child. Come away for a while. Spend the day with me.

Every once in a while I do something right. I listened to that still small voice and spent the day quietly, just me, my Bible and the Lord. It was exhausting. We talked over so much. I cried and prayed for my loved ones, the ministry I was committed to, the task, people who need to be saved in India and all over the world. And then I wept some more. By the close of the day I was too tired for the New Years get-to-gether one of our church friends was putting on. I came home early from that gathering and went to bed at my normal time.

The next morning a new energy filled me on awakening. On New Years Day I received the answer to 2 prayers. I learned how to use the hand-held recorder, and was able to successfully record a skype conversation with a cousin in Ontario. I'm now filled with assurance the Lord will see to each and every detail not only for this trip, but for the writing task as well.

But something else happened during my prayer time. The Lord never calls us to prayer and then leaves us. He lingers close by, very close. Towards the end of our conversation it seemed that He brought into my mind something special, something in a language only my heart would understand. When each of us come to God and open our hearts to Him, He speaks to us in ways that are unique. In my case He works through the way He created me--an artistic person who sees life through metaphors and scenes. He speaks to my husband in different ways--practical ways like an engineer understands.

My fictional story Unveiled is set in India, circa 1919. And in my prayer time, behind my closed eyelids, the Lord Jesus reminded me of my favorite scene from my own novel.

It is the death scene. A very famous massacre has just taken place in Northern India. My character Miriam--an Indian Christian--watches across the bagh (a dusty field) where so many Indian people are dying. With a bullet in her chest, Miriam’s body is shutting down. Her eyesight is fading . . . .

From the novel Unveiled--

“Miriam opened her eyes and saw a man walking toward her from the far side of the bagh. A soldier? He was not dressed in khaki or like a British civilian, but robed like any man of the east in clean flowing white, the sun flashing behind his head. He walked among the bodies and those clinging to life. He touched many with his hands, his face heavy with sorrow. He stopped, and his searching gaze found her. He smiled and then she understood that sense of love and joy she had felt earlier. A fresh cooling breeze entered the bagh and rose petals danced a wild, joyful dervish upon it. He beckoned to her with his open hands––hands that bore scars of their own.”

And that was when I wept some more. Only God would know what that scene means in its totality to me as the author. He was asking me to die completely to myself. That as He held out His hand to my fictional character, He was holding His hand out to me. Come with me, child. I will show you the work I have for you to do.

I thought I had died to myself. I thought I had bent my knee at the foot of the cross and given up my own ambitions and plans. I thought I had taken up the cross to follow Christ. But since saying yes to something I never thought I would say yes to, I felt the Lord saying there is more to surrender. He is asking me to empty myself of ALL. How much will I give up to follow Him?

Am I being altered in a way that is deeper than my deepest dreams? Is He using my own metaphors to teach me? Or is it the other way around? Were those metaphors that developed during the writing of my fictional novel, the beginnings of the vision He wanted me to have?

I don't know all the answers. All I know is I am in awe of what God is doing. So I thank you for your prayers. I can feel the touch of your petitions on my very soul. But I still need you to pray, so here are my needs:

That I don’t become overwhelmed with all the necessary preparations.

That I am properly prepared with all the right questions for the interviews.

That my technology works.

That the other interviews will be set up in India to capture the story, and that an interpreter be provided, and conversation will flow easily.

But most of all that I encounter the Lord--and become the servant He wants me to become.

Psalm 23: 1-3
'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the path of righteousness for His name sake.'

Romans 12:1-2
'Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Note: The quoted portion from the novel Unveiled is not for use other than with the permission of the author, Christine Lindsay. Perhaps the Lord has use of that novel, even yet. Blessings on you.