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They Said It Was Impossible! But God Had Other Plans

I was not particularly excited to go back to India.

Over the years, I have filmed all over the world, and by far the most problematic place to film has been India. My crew has consistently gotten sick there, it’s VERY dirty, very hard to get around, and usually very hot.

While making Holy Ghost, I knew I had to go to some of the major religions of the world and, in a sense, introduce them to the Holy Spirit and just kind of see what happens. That’s what I felt I heard from God, so that’s what I was going to do.

While doing research, I discovered a city called Varanasi, which was actually the birthplace of two major world religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. Obviously, this was my spot. But what was I supposed to film there?

As I prayed about it, I felt like the Lord was telling me to take a musician friend of mine, Jake Hamilton, down to the banks of the Ganges river and just have him start playing worship music.

No preaching, just worship. I had a sense the Spirit would know what to do at that point!

When we finally flew into Varanasi, we were picked up by some local Christian leaders in the area. I had already written them what I wanted to do, but on our drive to our hotel the main leader tried to talk me out of it.

“So what are you wanting to do tomorrow?” he asked me.

“Well, I think we’re just going to go down to the Ganges and play some worship and just kind of see what happens.”

He shook his head slowly, weighing his words.

“I know you want to do this, but this is impossible. Let me take you out into the countryside, then you can do whatever you wish.”

“But that’s not what the Lord told me to do. We’re supposed to go into the heart of Hinduism.”

The leader tried to explain to me how suicidal this was.

“You do not understand. Varanasi is where the most radical of radicals live, and you are asking to go into the heart of radical Hinduism. As soon as they find out you are Christians, bad things will happen.”

“Like what,” I asked.

“Well, best case is they beat you up and throw your equipment in the Ganges. Worst case is they kill you, chop you up, and throw your body parts in the Ganges.”

Hmm. God didn’t mention that.

“Well,” I tried to stay measured as I responded, wondering if I was making a huge mistake, “God told me to go to the Ganges, so I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re supposed to do. If He told us to go, He’ll keep us safe.”

The leader grunted and we drove on in silence the rest of the way.

The next day we arrived at the Ganges and Jake started to play. We met a man down there named Ramesh, who immediately took a shining to Jake and even wound up carrying his guitar case for him throughout the day.

God did amazing things that day, and we stayed quite safe. The whole time, Ramesh never left our side. That evening, I discovered that Ramesh was kind of a big deal in the area. He was the head priest at one of the major monkey god temples, which probably explained why most everyone left us alone as long as he was with us.

After a day of God moving, Ramesh was fully enjoying his time with us. I made him promise to join us the next day as well.

At 4 am the next morning, I was awoken with a strong impression from God. I heard it clearly: “I want you to film in the temple, and Ramesh is the key.” I told God that was pretty impossible, but I would ask. Then I went back to sleep.

When we arrived at the heart of Varanasi in the morning, Ramesh was there, smiling, waiting for us. I figured now was as good a time as any, and I approached him, put my arm around him, and just went for it.

“Hey Ramesh, do you think we could film inside your temple?”

He looked at me for a moment. What I had just asked was a big time no-no in this area. But he barely hesitated.

“Yes.”

“Really? We can bring the big cameras in and everything?”

“Yes.”

“Wow, thanks Ramesh!”

And just like that, God had opened up the impossible to us.

We filmed some things in the area, then started following Ramesh as he led us to his temple. He had pointed out where his monkey god temple was earlier in the day, so when we started walking away from it I sidled up next to him to ask where we were going. He told me he was taking me to his other temple.

Which one was that?

Shiva’s temple.

And just like that, the whole thing just got a LOT more interesting.

In Hinduism, there are over 3 million gods, and most of them are lower level types. But there are 3 in particular that make up the upper echelon, and Shiva is one of them. Beyond that, the Ganges is considered sacred because it flows from Shiva’s hair, and here we were about to film in the heart of Hinduism, at one of Shiva’s temples on the banks of Shiva’s river. It doesn’t get any more impossible than this.

So we arrived at the temple, and Jake started to play Amazing Grace on the steps.

Everyone was staring at us, shooting daggers at us, but there was Ramesh, fully engrossed and clapping along. By the end, he even joined with Jake in singing a bit! It was insane. I could go on and on about the other things that happened that day—walking through the streets worshipping God and no one touching us, filming inside the Shiva temple, and even venturing into the holy of holies, which is completely off limits to non-Hindus (and especially Christians) and filming what I saw (this alone should have gotten me killed)—but my focus here is how God did the impossible.

Before we ever flew to India, I was talking to another Christian leader who works in Varanasi about what we wanted to do. She thought I was a bit naive in my desire to film where I wanted to film, and she even went so far to tell me beforehand that just being able to worship on the steps in front of any temple in Varanasi would be an impossibility of impossibilities. There was no way that was going to happen. Yet here it was the very first thing God made happen on an extraordinary day.

When I look back on it, this whole thing happened for one simple reason. I simply said yes when He asked me to do something.

Others came along and said it was impossible, or dangerous, or whatever, but I could only hold firm to the fact that God said so, and therefore we were going to do what He said.

Faith is a funny thing sometimes. We often think of faith as a state of mind, but in reality, it is simply trust. When the whole world thinks you’re crazy, are you going to trust that God is who He says He is? Are you going to trust Him completely? The answer to that question will decide just how extraordinary your day will become.

This Story is From:

Holy Ghost. You can watch this story as it unfolded because captured it on film. See this and more stories in the full movie available now.

2 Comments

  • jr

    Have you thought about filming in Mecca and proclaiming the trinity there? That has got to be your next mission.

  • Phil Burnard

    Today was the first time I had seen the varanasi part of the doco... I am in awe of how God protected and used you. I have been involved with a mission organisation in India and there have been scary stories of persecution.. But I have seen how the message of Jesus - that God loves all even the dalit brings freedom.

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