Okay, a lot of my mission teammates have written posts on our recent India mission trip, so I will attempt to do the same thing. A team of seven from our church and a team of four from our pastor’s former church left for India on November 4th for a ten day mission of dedicating some churches, encouraging believers, and ministering to local orphanages. Dr. Samuel Thomas of Kota, India is in charge of Hopegivers International in India, the organization that guided us and assisted us in the various locations that we went to.
It was this same Samuel Thomas that convicted me about foreign missions when he visited our church for a missions conference about two years ago. Dr. Thomas has always invited Americans to assist personally with missions in his country, but the standard answer usually is “I’ll pray about it” (which is Americanese for “I’m telling you no, but I want to be polite about it, and I don’t want to seem like a bad Christian by turning you down.”). Dr. Thomas reminded us that Jesus already commissioned each Christian in Matthew 28:18-20: All authority has been given to me in Heaven and on Earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. There is no need to pray to God about it further, because God already gave a standing order about “going” 2000 years ago. Will you obey? And, you know, I couldn’t argue with Dr, Thomas. It is not legalism by another to say “You must go”. It is really a heart check on yourself.
Acts 1:8 says: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth. As far as our life is concerned, we can think of our “Jerusalem” as our hometown, with all of its needs and issues, our “Judaea” would be our State, and our “Samaria” could perhaps be our nation. Now, we certainly don’t mind helping out family and friends in our area – helping out with disaster relief, donating clothes, taking a love offering or a meal to someone, etc. Those are all “slam dunk missions”, and they are good and greatly needed. But most of us (Christians included) pause at that “uttermost part of the Earth” phrase. I think a lot of it is a fear thing – a fear of the unknown. Jesus says that he will be with us always, but our familiar way of life will not be with us in the uttermost parts of the Earth. Honestly, would Jesus be enough for us there? This is a battle that I, and many other Christians, grapple with for much of our lives.
The only way to face any fear is to run right at it and punch it in the face. So, I resolved that I was going to India. Done deal. But if this was truly going to be successful, I would have to have a little heart to heart with myself and set some goals:
1. Go with the flow. You are not in control. Serve where you are asked and the rest will fall into place. Those of you that know be best know that this goal is really hard for me. I like to be in control – to plan, to fix problems, to know where I am going and what I am doing, and why. We all had our itinerary for India, but we also privately doubted that everything would go exactly as the itinerary said.
2. Don’t let the trip get in the way of the actual trip. We all knew that the plane and train travel associated with the trip would be exhausting. But could I shake off all that and actually focus on the real mission?
3. Enrich my worldview. I am a fairly informed kind of guy. I read about world issues all the time. But could I establish actual heart connections and burdens for other people half a world away?
As we boarded the bus for the Atlanta airport, I tried to keep these goals in my heart.
Part 2 – The actual trip!