The team left yesterday. Everyone except six of us who remain to equip and establish the disciples. I feel like now is the beginning of the real work of ministry. The part that is not all glitz and glamour. Winning souls to Christ is exciting- and it should be. Heaven has a party for every lost soul saved. The party left yesterday though. And now the church must do the hard part.
Ephesians 4: 11-13 is my verse for the next few days.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and the teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
I really began this work last week, on Wednesday, when I began teaching and training the young leaders in the church here, meeting with them, encouraging them, prophesying life over them. Now I continue today and tomorrow with the younger disciples. They are so hungry for the word of God!
These young leaders are the key to this nation. They hold the answers to the issues of poverty, injustice, and oppression. They are the hope of the future for India and it is an honor that the Lord would choose me and this small team to ground them in truth and train them in righteousness.
Throughout this time, you may have noticed that I have not posted many pictures. This is for the protection of these young disciples. I hope you understand. My prayer, and if you would join with me, wonderful, for them is that God would guard and protect them, allowing them to grow without hindrance or persecution. They are so precious to the Lord and to me. Thank you for joining us on this journey!
Well, I kind of fell off the blog-writing wagon the last few days. So sorry! We have been busy connecting with our new friends from the college campuses. After the seminars, lots of students wanted to meet with our team for mentoring and to just hang out. We’ve had a blast, but very little sleep.
One of the common themes from all the young ladies I have met with is that they have been living life without Jesus. Some where from an area of the nation that is Christian but didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, others grew up Hindu, others are Muslim. The common thread was they all told me they felt they were missing Something in their lives, or someone! I shared my story of how Jesus rescued me and i came to know Him. I shared the message of the gospel. Our team has done this as well, all 47 of us. I’m not sure yet how many students gave their lives to the Lord, but I know I personally led five to the Lord on Friday, plus a young woman on Sunday. What I love even more was that through a time of ministry Friday many others were touched by God, breaking down pre-conceived notions, even if they have not yet surrendered to Jesus. When these gals felt a touch from God, all of the sudden, they understood that Christianity is about relationship, not custom or religion.
I love how God completely ignores the box we try to keep Him in! Here are some of what these young ladies told me after Friday.
One young lady told me, “I feel so peaceful right now. He has taken all my burdens away and given me such inexpressible joy. I love Him so much.”
Another told me, “I was overwhelmed with how much He loves me. I couldn’t hear with my ears, but I heard so loudly with my heart.”
Yet another told me, “I was astonished by the peace He wanted to give me. I simply cannot refuse Him!”
My encouragement today is that we would run to God for peace, joy and love, just like these young women. May we be marked by the presence of God so well that others seek us out to find these things too!
Today we went to a business college on the other side of the bay here in Mumbai. This was the first time ENLI had scheduled lectures here, so it was kind of important. The team went on Monday as well to the second years. Our group taught third then first year students in business about integrity, as led and taught by my friend and colleague Mark Flint. He was engaging, entertaining and effective (how about that for three e’s!). The students really responded to him.
But while that went very well and we were able to engage a few students in follow-on conversations (to get them involved in the small group mentoring program of ENLI), the best part of my day was spent with a young leader.
I won’t name her to respect her privacy. She is a young believer. The Lord revealed to me she is like an orchid, precious, fragile but beautiful. I encouraged her towards being filled with the Holy Spirit, casting all her burdens upon the throne of Jesus. But I think I learned more from her than she from me.
Her sweet, gentle spirit convicted me that at times I am quite brash. I repented of my own pride. I cried almost as much as she. She has a very sweet relationship with Jesus. He even blesses her to feel his physical presence. She felt him taking her hand yesterday, drawing her toward him. He spoke to me, “this is my sweet princess daughter. I have picked her out especially.” this truth was so real to this young lady. I found myself stirred with jealousy to a certain extent, a holy jealousy to be sure. And I heard Jesus asking me, “Will you come further into my presence?”
Question: Jesus is beckoning us all to come further into His presence. Will you respond?
Yesterday (Tuesday) I went with part of our team, 15 of the 47, to an area close to the “red light district” in Mumbai. Our purpose for the day was to bring a day camp for about 50 of the kids. We conducted a mini-VBS program and a medical clinic focused on well-child exams. The day, logistically-speaking, went very well and we were successful in giving the kids a day away from their lives and the feeling that they were special.
All that was great, but I really just wrote all that so you would have some context for the two stories I am about to tell. These kids, for the most part, are children of prostitutes who spend most of their childhood under their mothers’ beds. Please take a minute and allow that reality to sink in.
They do their schoolwork there, if they are allowed to attend.
They eat their meals there, when they eat.
They sleep there, when it isn’t too loud.
Some know which client of their mom’s is their dad. Others do not.
Some are trafficked and we never see them again, like Rahul. He gave his heart to Jesus last year and was growing in his faith when one day he was gone. He had been sold for a price, even though Jesus had already paid the ultimate price for him. We still do not know where Rahul is, but we keep praying. And crying for him.
All this was in my heart when I started the day. I had asked God to be able to bring healing, in whatever way, to these kids. I had asked for strength to love them without condition. And I had asked for open hearts to the message of salvation.
There was one young man, 12.5 years old. He had been kicked out by his mom and dad (one of the few who was not a child of a prostitute that day). He had been naughty, for sure. But what child deserves this? He had started taking drugs to fill the void of pain. And he was working odd jobs to earn money. One man had taken him in, but was abusing him verbally and quite possibly physically. He was working long hours for not much. Nd he was not in school. By the time he got to me in pharmacy, he had already been led to the Lord and was beginning to change. But God spoke to me of his bitterness. When I asked about who he was mad at, that is when I heard the story. My mother’s heart broke for this child and it was hard for me to not just hug him. That would’ve been inappropriate. Instead, I ministered to that place of pain. He forgave his parents. Then God began to remove his pain and fill him with love. The power of the addiction was broken. Then he gave me permission to hug him. And I gave him a mama bear hug. He almost wouldn’t let go. The pastor who runs the center all these kids come to told me it was likely the first hug this child had in years. When he left, he was smiling and laughing.
Then there was the 8 year old gambler. Yes, an eight-year old gambling addict. He had thrown his shoulder out shooting the street version of craps. I confronted him on this, with help from Pastor again, and after a while, he repented. God spoke to him that healing would come but if he went back to it, the pain would return. The pain was greater than the draw to gambling for him, so he agreed to stop that- and to stop beating up his 18-years old sister. He was so little, but his rage so great. When we dug more deeply, we found out his mother has been rejecting him completely. She is a prostitute and he is not sure who his father is. She is all he has. After forgiving her and asking God for healing, we prayed for restoration in his relationship. His middle sister was there and prayed for him also. I thanked God he had her! We all need anchors in our lives.
I think about these kids, and others whose stories I have not told yet, and pray for God’s hand of protection to be on them. That they won’t be trafficked. That they will stay in school and in their faith. That they will escape life in the brothels and poverty to a life of freedom. That their moms would know the peace of Jesus.
Question: will you pray for these kids with me?
We had an awesome day today! Two different groups of about ten-fifteen went to the college campuses to deliver leadership seminars. I was at Wilson’s College speaking on Collaboration to the second year Psychology classes. They were a great class to work with! We made some great connections and I really connected with the prof. The Indians in Mumbai are extremely hospitable and have welcomed us with open arms.
Thanks Somesh for prompting me with the Ambani brothers story. It went really well into the topic and was a living demonstration of my points.
I wanted to tell the story of one of the girls I met whose name is similar to my own daughters’, Rutuja. Her family moved to Mumbai when she was young from the northern part of India. When we talked after class, she was complaining about how her dad always wanted her to immediately talk with them when she got home from college. She would be tired and not really wanting to talk. But what struck me most were the strong family bonds she had. How precious that her dad wanted to spend time with her! Too many kids here are abandoned to the streets because their moms and dads do not care about them. When she started to see the situation in that light, she became thankful for her parents. We will meet later this week so I might tell you more about her again.
One of our crew from TN has discovered a gifting and skill in evangelism. She was sharing the gospel with two girls under a tree on the beach opposite from Wilson’s, a tree our host church has nicknamed the tree of life. They both accepted the Lord Jesus on the spot- and so did a young man who had been eavesdropping on their conversation! How fun is that!
People here are hungry for truth, for true friendship and for mentoring. All of this is obvious to me today. Most of our team will be going out to the campuses again informally just to start conversations. Please agree with us for open hearts and minds and for Jesus to bring his peace to the people here!