Things I’ve Learned from India: Faithfulness and Gratefulness

In India I learned I should be more grateful and make more use of the Biblical teaching I’ve received.

I was in Tamil Nadu, India, 5 years ago, visiting the project and home of a child I sponsored. While at the project I was asked if I had a word for the children gathered there. I was put on the spot, but still wanted to encourage the children. I asked one of the staff to translate and read where Jesus allowed children to come near to him and be blessed. I said to them a little something about how God wanted us to have the faith of a child and that they could come to God at the age they were at. The staff were surprised at how well I seemed to understand the Bible and mentioned that to me a few times. After that, they honoured me with several opportunities to speak: at a pastors’ meeting, at a homeless outreach, and at a school assembly quickly arranged just for me!

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Giving a small talk at the project

I had never felt that learned or able to speak well in front of people, but their confidence in me enabled me. It made me think about how studying the Bible under wise and studied pastors had been something I took for granted. While I certainly didn’t compare to the passionate faithfulness of the Indian people I met on my trip there, I certainly had better biblical training than many of them.

The manager for the child sponsorship and survival program there took an opportunity to tell me how she spent time with the Bible each day. She said she started the day with the Bible and ended the day with the Bible. Her faithfulness to daily growth stood out to me. Christians like her are remaining faithful despite many difficulties, and so I’m spurred on to remain faithful, too.

We need to be supporting our struggling brothers and sisters in India. Persecution continues to increase in India, being 11th in the Open Doors World Watch list, and pastors continually need good training and support. Organisations like Overseas Council are bringing lasting and quality support to strategic Bible Colleges in India. Make sure to check out how you can impact the work in India.

For myself, this experience challenged me to use what I’ve learned for the sake of others and God’s Kingdom.

 

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A mountain range in Tamil Nadu


Thanks for reading! I’m looking forward to sharing more about what I’ve learned from India in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them below.

 

What I experienced in Lebanon last year

Last year in May I took part in a Muskathlon. In short, it’s a fundraising trip where you go to a country to support and learn about life-changing local ministries. You also take part in a walk, run, or cycle there.

In the lead up to the Muskathlon in Lebanon, I was asked a series of questions for the Open Doors blog. You can see my little piece (my name is Peter) along with something from the other members of the Aussie team.

At the same time, I received another set of questions to answer post-trip. Here are my answers.


After months of training and fundraising, what was it like crossing the finish line?

I ran half a kilometre to the finish line after 62km of walking. I was exhausted, but alive. I remember being fueled by anger at injustice, desire to finish well, and the joy of comradery. I also was getting very sick. (I’ll talk more on this another time.)

My experience of crossing the finish line was not straight forward. Yet, I’m glad I am able to still tell the tale with joy in my heart.

What has this experience done to your faith?

It’s made it all the more precious. To hear the stories of faithful believers, who have given up so much for their faith and ministry was a true blessing. To be with “muskathletes” who had all made sacrifices to be on this journey gave me such joy and encouragement. The power of prayer moved me and had a personal impact on me through my sickness. I am certain God used all I experienced to continue to grow me to be more like his Son.

Could you share one story (or one experience) that you will remember from this trip?

We were taken to a community centre run by a church. It was on the outskirts of refugee camps. The couple of hours we spent there were with Syrian and Iraqi refugee children, playing games and running activities for them. It was a chance to pour out love on these hurting kids for a little while. We had a blast, playing ball games, piggy-back chasey, and giving them snacks.

Everyone got a gift at the end, which was either sweets or a home-made crocheted toy.  I was struck with the thought of this being where love met suffering. Love came against suffering and swept over it with a force that would be felt for at least a little while. My hope and prayer for these children and other children like them, is for people to show love to them. They need a lot of grace and a lot of care. Life has been devastating for them, yet Christ is love and offers eternal hope.

What would you tell someone who was thinking about travelling with Open Doors, or doing a Muskathlon?

I would tell them a lot of things. Be ready for your faith to be challenged. You will see the faith of your brethren in Christ who’ve suffered through persecution. There is no doubt that persecution will come for believers if they are faithful and outspoken servants of Christ. Yet in some places in the world believers experience much higher levels of attack. Be ready with lots of questions and hearts ready to learn.

You must be ready to suffer. A Muskathlon is not a walk in the park. You are expected to aim for a half or full marathon, a 120km bike ride, or 63km hike, all to be done in less than a day. You are expected to aim for $10,000 in fund-raising for Open Doors*. All this effort takes its toll on your daily life when you are in the midst of it. Expect disappointments and exhaustion. Expect feeling like you can’t get the preparation done and wondering if it will be worth it.

You must be ready to be a team player. Trips like this stand and fall on team work. You need to be on-board with one another, supporting each other in your weaknesses, and loving each other. The leadership will be seeking to draw you all into a state of single-mindedness about the trip. They will guide with devotions, teachings, instructions, etc.

Finally, you must be ready to be filled with joy. Trips like this are a long journey that start with a prayer, a building of interest, or an invite, but will be carried by joy. Your team will support you and you will learn to depend on God more fully; the hard times will drive you to your knees and that will give you peace and joy. You will find reserves you didn’t know you had; you will discover your weaknesses and strengths. You will have joy as you entrust yourself to God.

 *Or Compassion International, depending on the trip.


Thanks for reading! Maybe you can consider going on a Muskathlon through Open Doors or Compassion.

Compassion Muskathlon in Indonesia – Deadline: End of May!

Open Doors Muskathlon in Jordan – Deadline: End of May!

Featured pic: Me running across the finishing line!

Why I need to memorize Psalm 139 again

EDITORS NOTE: This blog was written before the Muskathlon trip in May, 2017. Therefore in it I ask for support and prayer. The trip is over, but if you feel like supporting Open Door’s ministry in Syria, go to https://www.opendoors.org.au/get-involved/projects-and-appeals/. Cheers!

 

God’s Word never ceases to be helpful and relevant to my life. I would say all believers would agree to a similar sentiment. We always have new temptations, new pains, old habits that aren’t dead yet. God’s Word, by His Spirit, answers our questions, and rebukes or encourages us in living for Him.

I have a story about memorizing Psalm 139 and finding it so relevant and comforting for me.

I was in Kigali, Rwanda. It was back in January 2012, and I had just realised I had missed my flight home. I was devastated. I thought I’d really messed up. The strong control I thought I had on my life turned out to be very fragile.

Well, I gathered myself and booked flights home for the next day, using the Internet on the foyer computers in my hotel. That night I fussed and pouted around for hours. I was a mess. I couldn’t sleep or stop stressing. And then I took out a Bible, I don’t know whether it was mine or the Gideons from my hotel drawer. I went straight to the Psalms, as tends to be my prerogative when I’m stressed out |-/.

Well I landed on Psalm 139 and found it a boon to my tortured mind. It’s written by King David about how God is all knowing and in control of all his life, and how that frees David to honour Him with his life.

Here’s some of it here, plus listen to the whole psalm being sung by clicking on the video:

 “You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:1-6)

Youtube: Sons of Korah – Psalm 139 – Still with you

At the time I felt compelled to memorize the psalm to calm myself, and it did.

From then on it’s been my favourite psalm because of my experience and how God comforted me with it.

Now, as I head into the unknown with this trip with Open Doors, I feel I need a right perspective of life. God is my Lord, maker and heavenly Father. He knows all about my life and all I do which is good is thanks to Him. I am putting myself into other people’s (no doubt capable) hands and going into Lebanon, a “place of unrest”.

I think it’s time to again memorize Psalm 139 (and probably other passages), and this time I’ll be more equipped for any crisis before it happens! That is, if I trust in God to be with me.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Have you any more questions about the Muskathlon and Open Doors? Click here to be briefed on most of the trip details you need to know.