Tuesday, December 11, 2012

India By Way of Nehemiah: 2013

In November of 2011, days before we were set to leave for Ghana, I received the news that I would be joining a mission team in Cameroon the following February.  Having used all my vacation time for Ghana, and having very little time to fundraise the necessary travel costs, saying yes was still an easy act of faith.

In November of 2012, days before we were set to leave for Haiti, I received the news that I would be joining a mission team in India the following February.  Having used all my vacation time for Haiti, and having much less time to fundraise the necessary travel costs, I wanted my yes to be just as simple, but it required more prayer and consideration.

I'll be honest, when my spiritual leader and role model, one of God's amazing disciples, Jamie Charles, reached out and extended the invitation to join her as she leads this trip, I wanted nothing more than to say yes at any cost.  The opportunity to join His Hands Ministries in India is overwhelmingly great, both in terms of the blessing to serve Him and His people there, but also in terms of spiritual and personal growth.  That being said, to some, I had every reason to say no.

It's no secret that it's been a tough year.  Some would say that alone makes it the wrong time to be doing another mission trip, so close on the heels of the Haiti trip and all the changes here at home.  Few would say all the more reason to go now, even though serving, spending of ourselves to save the life of someone else, brings healing and restoration to the spirit.  Most would say the cost was too high, the time not right, that I had "too much on the go", "too much on my hands", that I needed a break, that I needed to be there for my kids.  While I understood their concern, what I really wanted to know was God's perspective, not ours.  I don't want what the world offers, I don't want easy or comfortable, I want what He wants.

I responded to the invitation by taking the time to pray.  The conversation with God went something like this:

"Father, I have this blessed opportunity in front of me to serve Your people in India, but I do not know if I am the best person for Your work there...  if You can really use me right now, as I am, with the present circumstances.  I need to know Your heart on this..."

I sensed God asking me why I felt this way, why I felt He might not send me...  I answered:  "Daddy, there seem to be so many reasons I should not go... My marriage has ended, I am on my own.  People will tell me I should stay home and take care of my family.  I only have one income now, I have to be very careful with my financial resources, I need to protect my ability to sponsor these 17 children I have committed to, and to provide for mine as well.  I do not have vacation time from my work so that I can take the time to go, this means that I would not be paid for my time while I travel.  I am trying to prepare the house to sell, it is a lot of work and I have so little time left for much else.  I am tired, and worn, and although I greatly desire to go, I do not want to hinder Your Kingdom by being the weakest person for You to send."

His response was yet another question, asking me how I felt He would respond to these reasons...  and it came to me swiftly and strongly -- "Father, You would remind me that although my marriage has ended, I am not on my own, I am never alone for You are with me always... and You have provided me with people who support and love me and are by my side... You are the one Who takes care of my family when I serve You first.  You would also remind me that my income is limited, but Your provisions are endless, and all that I have comes from You and belongs to You.  You'd also point out that You have protected my ability to provide for the sponsorships and for my children for the past two years while reduced to practically one income.  You would tell me that You created time and Your provisions are endless, and that You provided for the same circumstances last February when I was in Cameroon, and it's certainly within Your power to do it again.  You would probably laugh at me and remind me that the house will sell in Your time, not mine, and ask my why I do not simply let You take care of that and not be concerned?  And last but not least, You would remind me that You often choose the weak, the most unexpected, the worn, the old, the tired, the ones the world would not send...  You came to earth for the sick, the poor, the lonely, the orphans, the widows -- You promised that in our weaknesses, You are made strong, Lord, and as such, I should not question Your reasons for sending me, that perhaps it is not only to serve others, but so that I may grow in You, or lead by example for someone here... I don't know Your purposes and plans, Lord, but I trust You...  Yes, I may be weak in the eyes of the world, but You equip the called and I hear Your call on my heart.  I am willing, and that is my answer...  I am willing.  May it be done as You have planned."

I am willing, always.

I gave my answer to the trip leader, and told her that should all the pieces fit and the Lord be willing, she could proceed and book my ticket while I was in Haiti. I would learn upon my return whether or not I would be going to India.  Either way, I would accept His answer.

When I returned, God had answered... my tickets were booked.

If you are familiar with how the fundraising went for our mission work in Ghana, you will remember that I compared it to Nehemiah, who had been given the task to rebuild Jerusalem's walls in 52 days.  It seemed impossible.  The same was true of our fundraising efforts.  We needed to raise $30,000 by November of 2011...  we started in March of 2011, and by September of 2011, we were at 12%.  How would God do it?  We trusted explicitly that He would.  With less than 53 days to go, He provided, all of it, in full, as well as our own travel costs.

All it took was faith in a God that could, and would.

That's what it will take this time too, in abundance.

I have until Monday, December 17th to pay my airfare to India.  $1563.  A mere six days.  I have until February to raise the in-country travel costs ($500).  Seems so little in light of the $30,000 we raised for Ghana, or the $3300 we raised for Haiti... but on a human level, it seems just as impossible.  The amount has never, ever been the issue.  Whether $30,000 or $3300, or $1563, it always comes down to the fact that I come to the table with empty hands, only able to spend of myself, pour out my life as an offering, but coming short of the miracle it will take.  I have nothing to offer but absolute faith in the God I serve.

Nehemiah built the walls in 52 days.

I have 6 days.

That might just be why God picks me time and time again -- He delights in doing the seemingly impossible through the least likely.

If you would like to sow seeds into this miracle in the making, into this ministry, donations can be made by Paypal (link on sidebar or jd@beyondmeasure.me) or in person, through online banking (Canada) in any amount, no amount too small, as our God multiplies the blessings.  Your support is a blessing, not only to the people we will serve in India, but to people whose lives I touch here back home, and to my spiritual growth too.

Most of all, please pray, and keep watching to see what God will do...