Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reflections on Teaching in India

A few years ago I first heard a song by Mercy Me, “Here I am.” As I sang the song, I prayed the chorus which was based on Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me!’ ” As John and I prepared for our trip to India in January 2009, the Lord reminded me how often I had petitioned the Lord with the lyrics, “Here I am. Send me!” I paused to thank Him and praise Him for answering my prayer. I did not yet know how I would be called upon specifically to minister in India. But I was willing to go.

Because of some mix up with email, I did not discover how I was needed to minister until after we arrived in Chennai, India. First, much to my delight, I found out that I was asked to teach a three day seminar, mornings and afternoons, to a group of ladies who had traveled 12 hours by train. I smiled. The Lord knows that prayer is an important area He has been grooming me in recent years. Thankfully, I had brought my notes on prayer with me, which I am sure the Holy Spirit prompted me to do, albeit unknown to me at the time. Second, I discovered, much to my surprise, that I was also asked to teach for three afternoons to the Evangelism staff at the Bible institute. I was asked to speak to a long list of specific issues, e.g. depression, sexual abuse, parental abandonment, marital failure and suicide. I wondered to the Lord why I was called upon to teach about some issues when I did not consider them areas of my expertise or even experience. I earnestly sought the Lord. Third, John and I were asked to lead the daily community chapel for the second week of our visit.



I was worried. John was calm. But John is usually calm. He is enormously talented and gifted as a Bible teacher and has a wealth of treasured knowledge and experience in his brilliant mind which he can draw upon to speak at any given time. I prayed. And I prayed. I prayed fervently that the Lord would equip me to do the job He had brought me to India to do. Each morning I arose alone very early, sometimes awakening to the Muslim call to prayer from a neighboring mosque. As Muslims everywhere were praying to Allah, I prayed to Yahweh, the only living God. I worshipped, soaked in God’s Word, and prayed with my head covered, as I observed some of my students do in my prayer class. God met me there in that quiet time of the morning, in a way I will never forget.

The first week of teaching on prayer went by fast. I treasured the students. They were hungry for God’s Word. Every time I referenced Scripture, we paused for everyone to look it up, and then someone read it out loud. It was beautiful and memorable. God’s Word has the power to transform. In addition to my teaching them on prayer, they taught me a valuable lesson—the power of reading God’s Word when teaching. Let us learn from our Indian brothers and sisters and take the time to bring our Bibles to church, Sunday School and Bible study. Let us open our Bibles and read God’s Word together.

The second week teaching on counseling to the Evangelism staff was an incredible experience in the power of God. The first day was well spent getting to know each other. I shared with them about myself and they shared with me the issues they hoped I could help them with. I told them I would seek the Lord and planned to address their issues the next day. As much as I repeatedly sought the Lord on how I could help the staff with their significant concerns, including life or death issues, I had no practical advice for them. I confessed this to the Lord. I was empty. Though I was willing, I was not able. Or so I thought. As I returned the second day to teach the staff. I began by telling them I had no practical advice to give them on such grave issues. Then, miraculously, as I opened my mouth, I began to teach and counsel them through God’s Word on the very issues they had asked me to address. When they asked a question, I took them to Scripture to find the answer. Time flew. They were blessed. I was blessed. I left that meeting stunned. “That was the Lord, not me,” I said to myself. The third and last day was similar to the day before. The Lord guided our discussion. I pray to never forget that lesson!

I thank God for sending us. On our own, we are not able. However,  if we are willing, through Christ, we become able. Phil 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” In His grip.

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