How I got to India
It’s Monday morning and as I look out from our Hyderabad rooftop I can see the busy streets below. The scooters and bicycles are competing with the auto rickshaws and making room for trucks and buses that demand submission. Again I hear that startled comment that floats up from my sub-conscious, “You really live here! This is not just a visit, you live here!” That thought comes to me at random times as though attempting to convince me of something I don’t quite believe. After 3 years of reminding, I still don’t quite “get it “. As I survey the street scenes that are a common site, but still unfamiliar, the question comes to mind, “How did I get here?”
It’s My Wife’s Fault (“Yeah, right!” Adam) It all started with prayer (most good things do). I’m just a ‘good old country boy’ from South Carolina who never had any desire to leave the ‘meat and potatoes’ culture I grew up in. When Kathleen came out of an extended season of prayer with a strong burden for North India, I knew God had given us a prayer assignment and nothing more. I put up a big map of India in our bedroom and we began to pray, I thought that was enough.
Sometimes, us ‘country boys’ are a little slow, so it took me awhile to get the message. We prayed for 2 years over North India, and the burden in Kathleen’s heart grew so great she almost ran away from home. Seeing the depth of what God had put in her, I knew we needed to get God’s direction for our next step. So we took a few weeks to fast and pray, asking God if we should go to India. The South Carolina side of me was having a hard time hearing the “Go” word, so finally I asked God, if we were to go, where would we start. Well, He must have liked that question, cause the answer was immediate. He very clearly told me which city we were to move to, and even showed it to me on the map, ’cause He knows I’m a map kinda guy.
My next question was, “When?” With God’s direction we set a date for a 2 week scouting mission to India. Then we prayed for the provision we needed. The biggest part of the money came the day before we were scheduled to leave, (it wasn’t late, but it sure was scary timing). We left for India with 3 questions we wanted answered:
1) Can we minister effectively in India?
2) Is there a need for our ministry there?
3) Do we have the grace we need to live there?
We came back with 3 “Yes’s” and ready to plan our move. God gave us a specific date for moving our family to India, and I gave Him a list of all the things that needed to happen before we left. I told God I would do whatever He wanted and go wherever he wanted as long as He made the provision. One thing we worked on the hardest was setting up a strong prayer covering– people who had a heart to stand with us in prayer. Nine months later, (moving to India is a lot like having a baby, but that’s another story) after witnessing an awesome demonstration of God’s provision, we boarded the plane for Hyderabad.
It’s been a tough challenge, and there are many days I don’t care to re-live, but there is nothing more rewarding or fulfilling than being right where God wants you to be, like the day we met Madhimaka. We had traveled 36 weary hours by train and car to southern Orrisa off the bay of Bengal. Wilted by the heat, all you wanted to do was sleep. But the mosquitoes kept guard to stop that. We had come to train and encourage some frontier missionaries working in the isolated regions of North India. During one of the ministry times, Madimaka (White Bear) came up for prayer. He had been a magic man, a high priest of his village, who could change into various animals to carry out missions of darkness. His heart belonged to Christ now, but he still carried the weight of guilt for years of evil. God gave Kathleen a word for him., “Your name means White Bear, but today, I am giving you a new name”. The Spirit of God began to wash away his guilt, and this strong rugged warrior wept and wept, until his soul was at peace and his face shined like a full moon. Many other wonderful things happened on that trip but this one testimony, was worth all the discomfort, sickness, and sleeplessness we had to endure. Madimaka has become a strong church planter and led many who once trusted in magic to faith in Christ.
I’m afraid that many of us miss the adventure of God. We have not looked out beyond the limits of our comfort zone to see if God is out there calling us to come and join Him. We are too occupied with having God be with us, instead of seeking out how we can be with Him.
You know God loves His people, but if Jesus were walking on the earth today, where would He be? Would He be with us in our weekly worship service, or would He be with the poor, the lost, the widows and the orphans? Could we find Him in our comfort zone, or would He be exploring the far reaches of human desperation seeking someone who needed Him. There comes a time, when we need to leave the ninety-nine and go out after the one that is lost. It might be in your office building, your school, neighborhood or across the world. But somewhere, just outside your circle of comfort there awaits for you a grand adventure of God. Don’t miss it.
Your reluctant missionary,
Tips for Getting from Here to There
We all have to:
1) Prepare yourself to hear from God.
Lay aside your desires and seek God for His. Hold nothing back, be willing to do whatever God says. Pray and fast, until you know God has spoken to you.
2) Prepare yourself to obey God.
Ask and confirm the Lord’s timing. Count the cost, and be willing to endure the difficulties and even the tragedies you might face. Commit yourself with no reservations to the Lord’s direction. Present God with your list of needs to carry out your mission. Begin to pray in faith, proclaim in faith and walk in faith.
3) Walk it Out.
Be careful to take all the small steps of obedience that lead up to your going. Be sure to establish a strong prayer base of committed believers to cover you. Don’t shrink back, go in the name of the Lord, keeping in mind that you are sent by God.