We start this week’s podcast by hearing from Tina who took a giant leap of faith in signing up to go to India, and the Lord really showed up!
Several months before our trip, I went home from church after hearing the announcement about it and wrote down a list of a bunch of reasons why I shouldn’t go: I didn’t have enough money, I didn’t have someone to take care of my two kids, It’s too far away, etc., etc. I figured that I’d pray about it for a while (and perhaps hoping that God would say my reasons for not going were valid); but the stirring in my heart to go simply would go away! So, my prayer changed to, “OK, Lord, if this is what you want me to do, I’ll be obedient; but You’re going to have to open the doors really wide to show me that this is something You really want me to do. Seemingly out of nowhere, the money came – abundantly even; and my mom, who typically wouldn’t do anything like this, bought a plane ticket to come and stay with my kids while I was away. There seemed to be one indicator after another that this was exactly what God wanted me to do.
Then, my family went to a Family Camp in Northern California. One night, the speaker mentions that he has a friend sitting in the back of the audience – a friend whose people we probably have never heard of, the Naga people from Northeast India. My husband and I were blown away! This was the exact people group that I was preparing to go share the Gospel with! After that night’s session, I went and introduced myself to the speaker’s friend. Not only was he from Manipur, India, where we were going to be traveling to, but he was also from the exact city where we were preparing to go to.
Needless to say, I got on the plane headed for India with full confidence that it was God’s will that I go.
Then, the first night that I had to stand in front of people and share my story, I said, “I stand before you never having done this before. And never really experiencing God in an amazing way until tonight. And I stand before you taking my first big, scary step into the battle. Then, every night, when I got to stand up and offer my testimony, God gave me a new story from that previous day to share His mercy and power. By the end of the week, I could have gotten up and talked non-stop about the amazing things God had done that week!
So, my encouragement to anyone who have never even considered doing anything as crazy as getting on a plane and going clear across the world, and leaving your children or your work or your family… or whatever your excuse may be, if it’s God’s will that you go, He will provide and demonstrate Himself – His power and His love – in ways you’ve never experienced before. It will change your life forever!
So, Tina had to overcome her fear – having to leave her husband and kids behind as she went half-way around the world to India and trust that God would provide the finances needed for such a huge trip. It’s so common that people get struck with fear as they begin to consider serving God overseas. But the Lord has promised us – even commanded us – not to fear when we are walking with Him.
Isaiah 41:10 says:
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Next, Carol tells us her story from Ethiopia and how she witnessed God’s glory:
I was on the other side of the globe, and my brain didn’t want to sleep when it was supposed to, so in the middle of the night, I found myself wide awake, flipping through my Bible, and I found some sermon notes from back home. One of the notes said “Complaining is a challenge to God’s wisdom and love”. I was reminded that God has a plan, and I really shouldn’t complain when things don’t go my way, because my plan isn’t the important plan. Therefore complaining is basically telling God, “I’ve got a better way of doing things than You do!”
And lo and behold, the very next morning, things weren’t going at all according to my plans. Our transportation didn’t meet us when and where they were supposed to, and we were left just sitting for hours upon hours. I felt so frustrated because I didn’t come all the way here just to sit on a bench chatting with my team members. I wanted to be used to evangelize to the people of Ethiopia!
Eventually, we gave up on our driver and found someone else who could take us, but he didn’t know where we were supposed to be going and dropped us off at the wrong place!
Making the best of a “bad situation”, we started making small talk with some of the locals there. Eventually, we told them that we had come to share about Jesus Christ, and the women there simply replied with blank stares. They had no idea of what we were talking about and had never heard of Jesus. (God’s plan is ALWAYS the best plan).
So, we shared the Gospel with these women; and when we were done, one lady said to us, “This is such good news. We never knew that somebody did this for us. No one has ever told us this.” This entire village – that we weren’t scheduled to be at – was filled with Muslims who really didn’t know what Islam is about, they were simply raised with it as the governing religion and no one had ever told them anything different.
On another day, we were sharing God’s word and about fifty people gathered around us. As the crowd grew, I looked up and saw another group of people heading in our direction from down the street. My first thought was, “Good! The more, the merrier!”
Then I realized that it was the leader of the village mosque heading toward us with two men armed with guns and another armed with a huge spear.
They wanted us to leave.
Before we knew it, they were taking us to the local officials – with half the village following behind us. Meanwhile, one of the people from the group behind us came up and told us that they welcome us here and that the Muslims who were threatening us don’t even know their own religion. They’re simply uneducated about all of this. Then, as we continued to follow the “Gun Guys”, we passed by this interested man’s house. He offered that we could stop there and go inside and talk more about Jesus. So, we went into his yard, and the “Gun Guys” went into the yard next door and loomed over us. We stayed there and shared for around two hours, and when I looked up to check on our armed “guardians”, they had left.
It’s such a privilege to go and share God’s word with people who have never heard it before. Isaiah 46:11 says:
From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.
God is all knowing and wise. And, as Carol said, His plans are ALWAYS better than our plans!
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