I got my first rebuff when I applied to serve with a missions movement just after I finished my schooling. They first refused to let me join the teams going north because I was underage. However, I was permitted to attend the annual training conference to be held in Bangalore, Karnataka. At the conference I first heard missionary statesman George Verwer, as he preached, he challenged me as never before to commit myself to a life of breathtaking, radical discipleship.
Struggle to Surrender
Alone that night in my bed, I argued with both God and my own conscience. By two o’clock in the morning, my pillow wet with sweat and tears, I shook with fear. What if God asked me to preach in the streets? How would I ever be able to stand up in public and speak?
I knew myself only too well. I could hardly bear to look a friend in the eye during a conversation, let alone speak publicly to crowds of people on behalf of God. As I spoke the words, I realized that I was behaving as Moses did when he was called.
Suddenly, I felt that I was not alone in the room. A great sense of love and of my being loved filled the place. I felt the presence of God and fell on my knees beside the bed.
“Lord God,” I gasped in surrender to His presence and will, “I’ll give myself to speak for You—but help me to know that You’re with me.”
Burden of Love
In the morning, I awoke to a world and people suddenly different. As I walked outside, the Indian street scenes looked the same as before: Children ran between the legs of people and cows, pigs and chickens wandered about, vendors carried baskets of bright fruit and flowers on their heads. But I loved them all with a supernatural, unconditional love I’d never felt before. It was as if God had removed my eyes and replaced them with His so I could see people as the heavenly Father sees them—needy and longing for hope but with potential to glorify and reflect Him.
I walked to the bus station. My eyes filled with tears of love. I knew that these people were all heading toward eternity without ever experiencing the love of Christ—and I knew God did not want that. Suddenly I had such a burden for these masses that I had to stop and lean against a wall just to keep my balance. This was it; I knew I was feeling the burden of love God feels for the hurting and needy. His loving heart was pounding within mine, and I could hardly breathe. The tension was great. I paced back and forth restlessly to keep my knees from knocking in fright.
“Lord!” I cried. “If You want me to do something, say it, and give me courage.”
Looking up from my prayer, I saw a huge stone. I knew immediately I had to climb that stone and preach to the crowds in the bus station. Scrambling up, I felt a force like 10,000 volts of electricity shooting through my body.
Letting God Speak
I began by singing a simple children’s chorus. It was all I knew. By the time I finished, a crowd stood at the foot of the rock. I had not prepared myself to speak, but all at once God took over and filled my mouth with words of His love. I preached the Good News to the poor as Jesus commanded His disciples to do. As the authority and power of God flowed through me, I had superhuman boldness. Words came out I never knew I had—and with a power clearly from above.
Others from the ministry teams stopped to listen. The question of my age and calling never came up again. That was 1966, and I continued moving with mobile ministry teams for the next seven years. We traveled all over India, never staying very long in any one village. Everywhere we went I preached in the streets while others distributed books and tracts. Occasionally, in smaller villages, we witnessed from house to house.