This particular trip to India was a different experience than my last. It differed in several aspects: 1) I was a leader of the team and 2) Our ministry was slightly different. Through this trip, through my team, and through these differences, God taught me some eye-opening lessons and reminders.
First of all, God taught me that He is ever present in physical ways on this earth. During our stay in India, we encountered a lot of darkness. By “darkness” I don’t mean a physical absence of light. I’m referring to a lack of the knowledge of our Savior. One of our ministries was to visit a home that differed from any of the other homes that we visited. Because it was run by the staff, we were not able to openly share the message to the children. Going into this ministry day, we had some fears and anxieties of what we were able to share, how direct or indirect we should be with the Message, etc. We didn’t know what to expect. We prayed that God would allow opportunities to be opened and the hearts of the staff to be opened; and God showed mercy on the heart of the head caregiver and allowed us to share more than we expected. In that moment, I was reminded that even in the darkest of places and the darkest of people, God works. Even walking through the streets of India, we could see the majority of people who believed in “gods” by the marks on their foreheads. These marks represented their attendance to the temple that morning. Even in the midst of this and in the midst of public statue worship in view, God’s presence was stronger in the ministry of our organization and in the lives of the people that we interacted with. We were able to befriend our bus driver for the trip, Veejay “Bhaiya” (which means older brother in Hindi). It turned out that He and his family were believers and followers of Him. We received an opportunity to go to his family’s home and pray over them and particularly pray for one of his family members that was paralyzed on her left arm. I reflected on the fact that they are the ultimate minorities in their country, yet they believe in God and not the other “gods” that so many people around them sing about. It’s only through the saving work of Jesus in their lives that they can stand firm and strong in the midst of all the unbelief around them.
Secondly, God revealed to me was the idea that He wants to have a personal relationship with me. He is constantly in pursuit of my heart. That is absolutely crazy to me! One huge occurrence that made my heart realize this was in seeing the statues in the middle of the streets and seeing large lines of hundreds of people waiting to see the statue and offer alms to them. What absurdity it is to have to wait in line for possibly hours to see a statue that has no life and cares nothing for you? Our God does not require you to wait to meet with Him or to talk to Him. We as believers have access to Him anytime, anywhere. And more so, He pursues us! God wants our hearts and wants to have a personal loving relationship with us! That is the most amazing revelation that hit me every time walking around in India. Praise God!
Thirdly, I learned how important it is for me to leave my comfort zone and allow God to use me for His Kingdom work. It was very revealing to me how much I don't know and need to learn. I was not as prepared as I should have been for this trip, especially being thrust into a leadership role that I was not expecting, but my lack of preparedness helped me to see more clearly my dependence on Jesus to fill my mouth and heart with His words as I converse with people and the children. God can use you in spite of your inadequacies and inhibitions. Being back from India, I’ve become a person who knows for a fact that I fall short of talent, skill and ability as a leader, but it reminds me to lean on Him every day and know that I can’t get through a day without depending on Him. When I lead a team, I have to lean on Him to lead them every day.
This trip has helped me see how personal our God is, how grateful I am to be found in the light of Him and not roaming around in darkness without the saving knowledge of Him. I want to live knowing that He pursues me, and in turn that I may pursue Him with the utmost fervor, with all that I have. He is a very real God, and He wants us to reach out for Him, to “feel our way toward him and find him” because he is not far from us.
24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[a] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. [Acts 17:24-27]