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From Hate to Healing: The Story of Lundan and Eliphan Gomango, IET missionary in India

IMG_4749Lundan lived deep within the forest, in the village of Kharbana just outside of a highly populated coal mining town. Lundan lived with hate in his heart and he lived with a painful skin disease. “My skin had grown as thick and rough as that of a water buffalo,” said Lundan, “It had become rough and I was itching. I needed to go to the doctor to get some pain relief.” He spent all of his meager savings on the best hospitals in the state. He saw doctor after doctor, but found no relief from his painful condition. He even went to the local tribal magicians looking to relieve his pain. They offered animal sacrifices and chants, but Lundan could not find any relief.

His pain continued, and so did his hate. He began to direct his hate towards Gomango, a Christian missionary from a nearby town. Gomango was no stranger the Kharbana village. He had scaled the mountainous area of his homeland and descended into the forest looking for villages where the name of Jesus had not been heard. Kharbana, Lundan’s village, was once such a place where the Gospel of Jesus had not been preached, at least, not until Gomango arrived. When he first entered Kharbana, the villagers looked at him with great suspicion. They questioned who this outsider was and why he was talking about a new religion. Suspicion turned to anger as Gomango challenged the village to turn away from their alcoholism and turn in faith to Jesus.

Lundan’s anger had turned into hate. He loved the locally-brewed alcohol in the village. He did not like the presence of this outsider. He did not like him talking against their alcohol and talking about this unknown God, Jesus. Lundan’s heart was hard and filled with hate. He devised a plan. He would sharpen his arrows and prepare his bow and kill Gomango the next time he came to the village. Lundan thought, “Surely no one will find out if I kill this one man in the forest so far from his home.”

On his next visit to the village, Gomango showed up unannounced. Lundan did not have time to position himself in a place to carry out his plan to kill him. Instead he had to look at him face-to-face in the presence of others in the village. Gomango called out to Lundan calling him “Uncle.” He said, “Uncle, you should pray to Jesus.” Gomango knew of Lundan’s painful skin condition. He knew Lundan longed for some relief from the pain. Indeed Lundan was making plans to visit another doctor in a nearby town. He left the village with words of Gomango repeating in his head “Pray to Jesus…pray to Jesus…pray to Jesus.”

As he continued his trek to see the doctor, Lundan began to speak the words, “In Jesus’ name.” He did not know how to pray to Jesus, so he just continued to say, “In Jesus’ name…in Jesus’ name…in Jesus’ name.” He continued repeating these words as he entered the clinic to see the doctor. After the doctor examined him, he gave Lundan the same sad news he heard from all the other doctors—nothing could be done. Lundan asked the doctor if he could give him a shot with some kind of medicine. He was confident Jesus would heal him. With an uncertain smile, the doctor gave him the shot. As Lundan made the long walk back home he continue saying, and at times shouting, “In Jesus’ name…in Jesus’ name.” He made it home safely and went to bed trusting Jesus to heal him.

The next morning, he woke up without pain. He stepped out into the sun completely healed of his skin condition. At that moment he put his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He began to tell others what Jesus had done for him and his entire household began to believe in Jesus too. The story of Lundan’s healing spread throughout the village and now there is a group of 70 believers who gather together to worship Jesus. Lundan plays the village drum during their times of worship. He says with a smile, “These hands that rose to kill the missionary will now only worship the living God.” Gomango’s faithfulness to reach this unreached village with the Gospel of Jesus Christ combined with the wonderful grace of God has combined to see the birth of a new church where Lundan and others can discover the goodness of God.

Indian Evangelical Team (IET) is a multi-dimensional Christ centered ministry, whose primary call is to share the love of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard His name and disciple them to be devoted followers of Jesus Christ. To learn more about IET or to f how you can support the work of the gospel in India go to www.getmissions.org

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Ministry

 

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Violence in India (Mumbai)

Terrorists have attacked two hotels in South India. They were looking for people with US and British passports, apparently some kind of violent ploy to strike fear through India due to her recent associations with the West. Pray for India. And pray for those from the US and the UK who travel to India.

Watch more here:

From the International Hearld Tribune:

Indian commandos rescued hostages Thursday and continued to mount standoffs against heavily armed militants who a day earlier had swept into Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, in a shocking series of coordinated and bloody attacks.

The gunmen, firing automatic weapons and throwing hand grenades, attacked at least two luxury hotels, the city’s largest train station, a Jewish center, a movie theater and even a hospital.

The Mumbai police said Thursday afternoon that the attacks had killed at least 101 people and wounded at least 314.

Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen in scale, coordination and execution. The attackers moved against their targets after arriving at the Nariman Point district on boats.

It was not clear on Thursday evening how many militants were involved in the attacks, which began around 9:30 Wednesday night. Nor was it known how many hostages were still being held.

Indian officials said the police had killed six attackers and captured nine.

A group unknown to global terrorism experts claimed responsibility for the attacks in e-mails to Indian media outlets. Analysts believed the group, calling itself the Deccan Mujahedeen, had no apparent link to Al Qaeda.

“It’s even unclear whether it’s a real group or not,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism scholar and professor at Georgetown University in Washington. He added that the style of the attacks, particularly since they were staged without suicide bombers, was “not exactly Al Qaeda’s modus operandi.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a televised address that the attackers probably had “external linkages” – the first official indication that the authorities were likely to blame outsiders.

The attackers struck at least seven targets in Mumbai, including a number of high-profile sites that offered little in the way of security.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/27/asia/mumbai.php

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2008 in Life

 

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Books & Praying for India

My book Shape Shifters arrived last week and so I have been busy finishing up the newly redesigned www.derekvreeland.com (thanks Dave-O!) in order to promote the book.

I have had to transition from author to salesman, which is no fun. When you self-publish, you are your own marketing department. I like the creative side to writing and publishing, but I don’t care much for the sales and marketing side. I feel a bit like a infomerical salesman when I am talking to people like the book. Oh well. All I can do is cast the vision for the book and hopefully it will sell itself. You can order copies from www.derekvreeland.com and amazon.com.

So if you read this blog, congratulations you have just joined my marketing department. Buy a copy of the book and then tell your friends.

I will be holding two book signings in October:
>>>Friday, October 3 at Word of Life Church in St. Joesph, Missouri &
>>>Thursday, October 9 at the Asbury Seminary Bookstore in Wilmore, Kentucky

Other speaking engagements and/or book signings will be posted on my website.

I have been reading J.P. Moreland’s Kingdom Triangle, an integrated approach to the Christian life integrating a Christian intellect, transformed soul, and the Spirit’s power. I have worked through his critques of naturalism (philosophical materialism) and postmodernism. So far, JPM is right on. I am interested to read his take on spiritual transformation, (which if you haven’t heard is the them of my book!).

One final thought….pray for India. Persecution in the Indian state of Orissa (and other states) is at an all time high. The Indian government and the world community seems to be turning a deaf ear to oppression of Christians in India. Christians make up about 2% of the congregation and yet they are being attacked, and homes & churches are being burned by Hindu radicals. They need our prayers for justice. An Indian-born member of our church told me that the local police are calling these church (and home) burnings “petty theft.” They claim that buglers are breaking in to steal from them and then burning their homes.

Here is a email I received from P.G. Vargis:

Respected brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Greetings in the sweet name of our Savior who said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

The nation of India is perplexed. The Church of God, irrespective of denominational difference, is attacked by the state governments, police, anti Christians – the enemies of the Cross. The national government, that is supposed to protect us, is a silent spectator. The enemy is determined to destroy us and wipe out the Church. One of their leaders boldly said after visiting Orissa that ‘Christianity was birthed and flourished with the death of Jesus Christ. But now it will die in India with the death of our swami.’

The effects of the violence in Orissa:

ð 14 of 30 districts affected

ð In 14 districts of Orissa, 300 villages attacked and Christians are reeling in pain

ð Over 4,000 houses destroyed

ð Over 50,000 people affected

ð Over 40,000 people are hiding in forests

ð Over 12,000 are in Government refugee camps. A further 1,000 in private camps.

ð 5 people missing

ð 45 confirmed dead

ð 10 Pastors/Priests/Nuns seriously injured

ð Over 18,000 men & women injured (most in the forests)

ð At least 56 churches attacked, and still counting

ð 4 Schools and colleges attacked

The violence spread to Karnataka and MP. Now even Kerala has been attacked.

What should we do?

Will this happen in other pockets too? What the church should do?

Let us pray for the heads of churches, Para churches, missions and heads of social work to come together and make stategies.

Facts speak.

But is any one hearing? How can they hear when they are filled with hatred?

Let us pray for those who are attacking us.

Let us pray for those who are suffering.

PG Vargis

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2008 in Life, Theology

 

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Reading and Listening in 2008

So it is the second week of 2008 and I have yet to post a blog in this new year. Shame, shame… So here is a few snapshots of the last few weeks.

Reading
I have been working through NT Wright’s Simply Christian. I don’t know how simple this would be for people that do not have a philosophical, historical, and religious background. I listened to a lecture Wright gave as part of the Veritas Forum where he gave the impression that Simply Christian is somewhat of a primer for those who want to explore the Christian faith, somewhat of a contemporary Mere Christianity. (Note the similarity in the titles.) It is a primer of sorts, but only for the educated. I wouldn’t put this book in the hands of someone outside of the Faith who wanted to explore what Christians believe unless they had a background in philosophy and world history. With that said, I like Wright’s style a great deal. I have this irrational dislike for British authors, but I like Wright a great deal. He has a great poetic style to his writing. He is full of great metaphors. I particularly like his metaphor of searching for God through the classical arguments for the existence of God (ontological, teleological, etc.). Wright says it is like looking for the sun with a flashlight. He doesn’t spend enough time building on this great image of looking for God is like staring at the sun. It has great references back to Plato (see The Allegory of the Cave). The “echo of voices” is also a wonderful way of reflected on humanity’s common desire to pursue transcendence, spirituality, God. I have already added a second Wright book to my Amazon Wish List. So we will see. Maybe he will redeem my view of British writers.

Listening
Dylan, Dylan and more Dylan….
I added three albums to my growing Dylan collection. MTV Unplugged (1994),
Live 1975
, Oh Mercy (1989). I am thirteen months into my Dylan journey. I now have 14 albums. Dylan has released 44 in total, so I am not even half way through the journey! There is too much here to discuss, but a recently verse from Dylan has really stood out to me. It is from Desolation Row. DR was originally recorded on Highway 61 Revisited(1965), but for whatever reason I missed the song. I have really connected with it on this 1994 MTV Unplugged album. Here is the verse:

Now Ophelia, she’s ‘neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid

To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Poor Ophelia. Her sin isn’t immorality or drunkenness. Her sin is lifelessness. She worships the idol of consumerism. Her work is her religion. She can see hope in God’s promise (Noah’s rainbow), but she remains lifeless because instead of turning to God…she spends her time on desolation row.

In the News
On Christmas Eve riots broke out in Orissa in North India. Radical Hindus formed mobs that turned violent, destroying churches, Christian homes, and shops owned by Christians. It is some of the worst violence towards Christians in India in recent history. [Read more here]

IET has a strong presence in Orissa and a number of IET believers were affected. Here are the stats we received from IET:

  • 15 IET churches were damaged/burned (over 200 total)
  • 100 IET believers are missing (more than 300 total)
  • About 200 homes of IET believers have been burned (more than 1200 total)
  • About 5 IET believers were killed (total dead unknown)
  • More than 100 believers were seriously injured
  • One motorbike and 10 bicycles of IET missionaries were burned
  • More than 100 believers were seriously injured
  • Thousands of people are staying in hiding in fear for their lives

We are receiving a special offering this Sunday at Cornerstone Church for Orissa. IET is preparing relief kits with blankets, food, and clothes for Christians in need. For more information on IET’s relief efforts go to www.ietmissions.blogspot.com.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2008 in Ministry, Theology

 

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Divorce, T.S. Eliot & a great story about India

This week a well-known pastor couple has called it quits. They are a pastor couple in that they “co-pastor” their church, one of the largest churches in the US.

They are calling it quits. They are not quitting the ministry; they are quitting their marriage. Both will apparently stay in the ministry. One of them will continue leading a media-empire and the other will lead the church from what I can tell. I do not want to be judgmental. I do not what to name them. I do not know these people. I have caught them on Christian television from time to time and I have seen their faces in Christian magazines, but I do not know anything about their lives, the marriage, their spiritual life. I do not know much of their preaching emphasis, but it appears to be in the “God-wants-you-wealthy/success-in-life” media-saturated vein. And now they are getting a divorce. What the heck?!?

This news has got me wondering…

How will the Pentecostal/charismatic community respond?

Does this look like the Church that we read about in the New Testament?

Is marriage sacred anymore?

Would I choose ministry of my marriage?

Do I love my wife like Christ loves the church or do I love the church like Christ loves my wife?

When will the media-driven, success-in-life, get-rich-with-God’s-help message lose it grip on American Christians?

When will they (we) start reading the verses in the Bible that we don’t have underlined or in a “promise book” or on a refrigerator magnet? (Verses like “Life doesn’t exists in the abundance of possessions.”

I haven’t had much time to blog this week, because I am getting ready for three sermons this weekend. I am preaching two at a youth retreat in Florida on Friday night and Saturday and I am preaching my regular Sunday morning service at home. Not complaints…I love it, but it has kept me busy.

I was reading some of the works of T.S. Eliot this week. Eliot was an American-born poet who later became a British citizen (a “subject”). He was friends with noted agnostic Bertrand Russell, but did not follow Russell in a denial of the Christian faith. Eliot came to Christ in 1927 and remained an Anglican until his death in 1965.

I read his poem Ash Wednesday which is a wonderful reflection on repentance. One line in the opening paragraph was particularly thought-provoking for me.

Why should I mourn the vanished power of the usual reign?

The “usual reign,” the reign of self, the reign of conscious control….should we get upset when its power has yielded to Another? Why should I feel internal turmoil when I feel the hands of providence leading me down an unknown path? God is leading me by the Holy Spirit down a path of servant hood and self-sacrifice. I am no longer leading. I am being lead, by Hands of another. They are good hands, strong hands, trustworthy hands.

I was thinking of that line when I got the following email from a member of our church. It tells the story of Dr. Charles McCoy who saw the power of the usual reign vanish. He was ready for retirment from the ministry in the US, when God opened up a new ministry for McCoy as a missionary in India. What a moving story. Here it is:

THE REAL MCCOY
Let me tell you a very “humorous” story. It’s about a seventy-two-year-old Baptist preacher named Charles McCoy. McCoy was pastoring a Baptist church in Oyster Bay, New York, when at age seventy-two he was mandated by his denomination to retire. A lifelong bachelor, he had cared for his mother for as long as she lived. In his spare time he had earned seven university degrees, including two Ph.D.’s—one from Dartmouth, the other from Columbia. But now, at age seventy-two, he was being forced to retire from the ministry.

He was depressed. “I just lay on my bed thinking that my life’s over, and I haven’t really done anything yet. I’ve been pastor of this church for so many years and nobody really wants me much—what have I done for Christ? I’ve spent an awful lot of time working for degrees, but what does that count for? I haven’t won very many to the Lord.”

A week later he met a Christian pastor from India, and on impulse asked him to preach in his church. After the service the Indian brother asked him matter-of-factly to return the favor. Since he had preached for McCoy, would McCoy come to India and preach for him? McCoy told him that he was going to have to retire and move to a home for the elderly down in Florida. But the Indian insisted, informing McCoy that where he came from, people respected a man when his hair turns white. Would he come?

McCoy thought and prayed about it and decided he would. The members of his church were aghast. Dire predictions were made. The young chairman of his board of deacons summed up the attitude of the congregation when he asked, “What if you die in India?” I love McCoy’s answer. He told him he reckoned “it’s just as close to heaven from there as it is from here.” He sold most of his belongings, put what was left in a trunk, and booked a one-way passage to India—his first trip ever out of the United States!

When he arrived in Bombay, he discovered to his horror that his trunk was lost. All he had were the clothes on his back, his wallet, his passport, and the address of missionaries in Bombay he had clipped from a missionary magazine when he left. He asked for directions, got on a streetcar and headed for their house. When he got there, he discovered that while he was on the streetcar his wallet and passport had been stolen! He went to the missionaries who welcomed him in, but who told him the man who had invited him to come to India was still in the U.S.A. and would probably remain there indefinitely.

What was he going to do now? they wanted to know. Unperturbed, McCoy told them he had come to preach and that he would try to make an appointment with the mayor of Bombay. They warned him that the mayor was very busy and important and that in all the years they had been missionaries there, they had never succeeded in getting an appointment with him. Nevertheless, McCoy set out for the mayor’s office the next day—and he got in! When the mayor saw McCoy’s business card, listing all his degrees, he reasoned that McCoy must not be merely a Christian pastor, but someone much more important. Not only did he get an appointment, but the mayor held a tea in his honor, attended by all of the big officials in Bombay! Old Dr. McCoy was able to preach to these leaders for half an hour. Among them was the director of India’s West Point, the National Defense Academy at Poona. He was so impressed at what he heard that he invited McCoy to preach there.

Thus was launched, at age seventy-two, a brand new, sixteen-year ministry for Dr. Charles McCoy. Until he died at age eighty-eight, this dauntless old man circled the globe preaching the gospel. There is a church in Calcutta today because of {94} his preaching and a thriving band of Christians in Hong Kong because of his faithful ministry. He never had more than enough money than to get him to the next place he was to go. He died one afternoon at a hotel in Calcutta, resting for a meeting he was to preach at that evening. He had indeed found himself as close to heaven there as he would have been at his church in Oyster Bay, New York, or in a retirement home in Florida. It was incongruous—an old man, waiting to die at age seventy-two, leaving everything he had ever known and preaching around the world. That’s funny! But funnier still was the surprise of God’s grace, completing the incongruity of this old man. May we all know this quality of humor in our lives as we wait!

Taken from “Keep on Laughing, Genesis 18”
a sermon by Ben Patterson (www.directionjournal.org/article/?639#6)

Adapted from Franklin Graham, with Jeanette Lockerbie, Bob Pierce, This One Thing I Do (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1983), pp. 115-21.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2007 in Ministry

 

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Vacation and P.G. Vargis Week Two

I am posting today from Panama City Beach (PCB). We are staying at a nice condo on the far end of the strip, away from all of the crazies. It is funny. When I told people that we were vacationing at PCB, their noses wrinkled and they said, “Why would you want to go to PCB!?!” It is nice though. We like it here. We know all the good places to eat and we know our way around. Honestly, I don’t really care as long as I have a good book to read and cold Diet Coke. On this trip I am reading:

Restless Pilgrim: The Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan

Life Together by Bonehoffer

The Trinity by Fr. Joseph Girzone

Last week, I was with P.G. Vargis in Botkins, Ohio (Only Believe Ministries) and my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri (Word of Life Church). I spent two weeks (off and on) with PG and it was a rewarding experience for me. I had met with him in India a few times and email with him a few times a year. He has prayed for me and my family over the years. I have loved him from a distance and prayed for him often. During these last two weeks, I can say that I know him. He has a deep passion and love for Jesus and Jesus’ mission. He loves Jesus in a real authentic way. He isn’t pretentious or other-wordly. He is grounded, funny and a warm-hearted soul.

His passion for reaching India seems to ooze out of all that he does and says. The motto of IET – reaching the unreached at any cost – is not a cleaver catch phrase. It is the single motivating passion of his life. He has given his life, his family, his money (or the money that is given to him…he doesn’t keep much for himself), for the sake of the gospel. Even at 65 (?) he is still giving everything for the gospel in India. He even resigned as president of IET so that he could travel and speak on behalf of the group and work in some of the hardest areas of India. I love him and his passion. I consider myself fortunate to be invited into the IET family.

Ok enough blogging for know…I need to get back to vacation….

Yesterday, I preached a message entitled Eat This Book on the art of spiritual reading. I invited my congregation to take God with them on vacation and take The Book too. I told them that I was going to bring The Book with me. This morning I was eating The Book in the valley of vision (Isaiah 22) .

Chewing…eating…meditating on God’s judgment on the pride of the pompous. The Book is making my humble. I need to be rescued…more today than yesterday. Not that I have sinned more today, but because I am more aware of my own fallen-ness. My own pride. My own lust. My own sin. I need his saving grace.

Saving Grace
Bob Dylan
Saved (1980)

If You find it in Your heart, can I be forgiven?
Guess I owe You some kind of apology.
I’ve escaped death so many times, I know I’m only living
By the saving grace that’s over me.

By this time I’d-a thought I would be sleeping
In a pine box for all eternity.
My faith keeps me alive, but I still be weeping
For the saving grace that’s over me.

Well, the death of life, then come the resurrection,
Wherever I am welcome is where I’ll be.
I put all my confidence in Him, my sole protection
Is the saving grace that’s over me.

Well, the devil’s shining light, it can be most blinding,
But to search for love, that ain’t no more than vanity.
As I look around this world all that I’m finding
Is the saving grace that’s over me.

The wicked know no peace and you just can’t fake it,
There’s only one road and it leads to Calvary.
It gets discouraging at times, but I know I’ll make it
By the saving grace that’s over me.

Copyright © 1980 Special Rider Music

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2007 in Ministry

 

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New books & P.G. Week One

I had a good day today. I got back home yesterday from travels with P.G. and Lily Vargis (see below). Today, Jenni, the boys and I spent the day in Columbus, Georgia. Jenni had a shower to go to and the boys and I played at Burger King and Hollywood Connection. I also hit three book stores (Lifeway, B&N and Books-a-Million). And yes, new books was the reason that this was a good day…the books and the fact that I got to spend it with the family. I added the following books to my library:

Confessions of A Reformission Rev. by Mark Driscoll

The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen

The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians by Gordon Fee

God’s Greater Glory by Bruce Ware

Traveling with P.G. this week was rewarding. We were in two churches and we had time to talk about India and the ministry. The two sermons that P.G. preached were based out of the same text and they had the same points but different feels. The first one was passionate but light-hearted. The second one was equally passionate but heaver. It left the pastor — and others — in tears. You cannot helped but to be moved to pray for, give into and go to India to join those that are giving their all for the sake of the gospel. In the first 150 days of 2007, there were 125 recorded attacks on Christians by non-Christians in India. They need our prayers.

We will be in Botkins, OH and St. Joseph, MO next week. Pray for P.G. and Lily. Pray for India. Pray for IET. I will blog more about our travels next week.

Here is P.G. and Lily in the Houston airport enjoying a little Starbucks.
Lilly: tall black tea (hot)
P.G.: tall regular coffee, cream, no sugar
Derek (not pictured): tall Carmel Macchiato

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2007 in Ministry

 

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