My time at IGL has finally come to a close. I will be wrapping up a debriefing session tomorrow morning and then I will be driven to Bangalore to fly out. I wanted to take a moment while I had some peace and quiet and reflect on my trip to India.
God placed a burden on my heart to go international for mission work near December. I did not know how this was going to take shape, but I could not deny the message I received from God to go. Several things were in the way. This past semester shaped up to be one of my most demanding semesters yet. Along with this I chose to give up every other weekend to lead a guy’s Bible study at church. This plus my normal duties made for late nights and lots of coffee. At the same time as this I was a grader at my school. Then on top of this I did make a concerted effort to have somewhat of a social life. When you add all of this together my schedule did not look conducive to a month adventure in a foreign culture. Yet, the calling was still certain.
I filled out my paperwork for a passport long before I knew where I was going. I also had to figure out how to pay for the trip. I can remember the phone call I gave my mother when I first told her I was going to India. I said it as blatant as that last sentence sounded, “hey mom, I’m going to India for a month in the summer. What do you think?” After a long silence she asked a one word question, “Why?” This was the right question tho because if this one word did not make sense to me, if I could not respond in an appropriate manner then why would I be going? Luckily I approached the situation with clarity of focus and a willingness to work through the details.
Getting to IGL was no easy task. Nerves were shot by the time I left and things did not improve when I arrived. I still did not know for sure where I was or what I’d be doing for an entire month. Again tho, the call was certain and therefore I knew the details would be worked out on His terms. For the next four weeks I was stretched mentally, physically, culturally, emotionally, and spiritually. I experienced things that I have only read in books about. I ate things that I dared not ask what it was. Instead, I focused on spiritual disciplines in my own life, in the students lives, and in the lives of the men and women I would come in contact with everyday. This means that everyday I would make it a point to emphasize Christ in any situation to engage people in conversation. I became best friends to some and “Uncle” and “brother” to others. I saw more smiles on people’s faces than I ever have before.
For what reason would God put me through all this. One thing is certain, this whole four weeks I did not implement ALL of my learning from Bible college nor did I do intense study on every passage that I preached/taught from. So what was the reason? Relationships. If God has shown me anything in my time here at IGL He has at least has taught me about the importance of relationships with folks from different races, sizes, denominations, and backgrounds than myself. God has taught me that the only time worth keeping is His time to be used for His glory. A lot of words I understand, but the central questions are this, “Am I actively waiting on the Lord to use me and then am I pursuing the path He is creating?!?! I have leaped through both of these avenues for this trip and have not looked back and regretted anything!
When relationships are the focus then it is no doubt that leaving turns into the hardest task. The girls sang three songs today in class for me: one in English, one in Tamil, and another in a local language. Each one blessed my heart in a powerful way. They then gave testimonies of the past four weeks and believe me this puts into perspective all that one did in the classroom. I cannot describe to you the relationships I have with the group of college age boys. With open hearts and minds these guys are ready for what the world will surely throw at them. Their trust is found only in Christ. I left them with a lesson from the first five verses in 1 Corinthians 4. Here Paul exhorts the believers to be servants of Christ and good stewards of the mysteries of God.
Tomorrow I will leave IGL. The girls have a present for me so I will have to go for it before I leave. Also I will say final farewells to my guys at 5:30 in the morning. Altogether I cannot complain much about my stay here. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways. I have worked alongside Indians, Americans from Indiana, Australians, and have even talked to a couple of men from a different country. I pray that in all phases of the ministry for me from here on out I will seek to incorporate what I have learned here and be able to use it in North America.
Please pray for safe travel in the coming days!!!