(Saturday, February 9, 2013) No church is perfect. The early church suffered from greed, pride and lack of faith (Acts 5:1-10; 112:14-16). The church in India has many of the same issues. The church in India is much like the early church in many good ways, but that is another blog for a different time. There is one thing about the church here, and in the New Testament, that can be a good lesson for us in the USA. At the risk of being guilty of always thinking the grass is greener on the other side, and thinking that the best authority is the one furthest from where we live, let me see if I can convey something I’ve been thinking about.
First, there are some lessons the church in India can learn from us in the USA. One is the importance of Biblical scholarship, learning and teaching the Bible to the people. They can learn lessons from us in organization and communication as well. But I think there is one important lesson we, or at least me anyway, can learn from them. The gospel has so changed the lives of the Christians here that they are convinced it is the answer everyone needs. The pastors are committed to the fact that Jesus is the answer and they want to make sure anyone who will listen knows so. Resources are almost nonexistent so not much time, effort or money is spent on buildings, programs, curriculum or other things that consume so much focus in the USA. These are good things when they are a means to an end, but when they become the end in themselves we are missing God’s best for us.
The extreme difficulty of life here and even more so for many Christians, keeps most of these people just trying to live from one day to the next. When you’re bailing water like crazy, just trying to keep the boat afloat, you aren’t thinking of new padding for the pews or redecorating the youth room. The biggest problem the church here faces is that it is survival mode, but that is also its greatest asset. The bottom line is: are they willing to sacrifice whatever it may take to believe in Jesus, live for Him, and tell others about Him? Or are they not willing to do so? It’s that rubber-meets-the-road simple. Not all Christians are 100% committed, some are in various stages of understanding and commitment. But the majority of those who have put their faith in Jesus understand well the cost required to follow Him. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think He was worth it, for themselves and for others. There is a single focus in their life: live for Jesus one day at a time. That’s been a good example for me.
In a country with an often corrupt, incompetent government, no human resources and unbelievable poverty, you don’t find people with an entitlement mentality. “What’s in it for me?” is not the question people are asking, but “Can I make it to tomorrow?” is what occupies their minds. Those with Jesus know the future is brighter than the past and have a joy and peace others lack.
I can’t speak for other pastors, and I’m not about to judge other churches, but I know I sometimes lack this focus as other things keep me busy and preoccupied. I’ve been focused and committed to training pastors and ministering in India these 5 weeks. I have a vision and clearly convey that to you. You respond with prayer and financial support. You have been focused on India and faithfully praying as well. But now what that the 5 weeks are about up and I‘ll be safely home?
I pray I will have as strong a vision for my life and church at home as Indians have for their life and church here. I seem to have it for this ministry in India while I’m here. I want to have it at home for Americans as well. I pray that your interest in the Kingdom of God where you live will be just as strong as it’s been for India these last few weeks. I pray you will pray as often and fervently for the pastors and the lost people around you as you do now for those in India. Please continue to pray for me and the pastors we have trained, but pray for your pastor and community as you have prayed for me and this work these 5 weeks. Pastor Moses and I have been greatly touch and deeply encouraged by your interest in and support of this ministry these past weeks. Please don’t stop, just refocus it on your pastor, your community and the people around you.
The USA needs Jesus just as badly as India, maybe more! In India the church is growing larger and stronger. I’m not sure we can say that about the church in the USA. You don’t have to come to India to minister; the mission field is right outside your front door. The church in India knows why it is here, and that goal drives them on. They know they are in a battle and they know who their enemy is. It’s easy to forget that in daily life in America.
So as this ministry trip ends, let’s not end our dedicated commitment to advance God’s kingdom. Let’s just refocus it back to our own ‘Jerusalem’ (Acts 1:8) for that is where we are to start. God didn’t put us in India, but He put us in our family and neighborhood so we can first minister there. Many of you have mentioned a renewed emphasis on praying in your life. Keep it going. If God has been working in you through these blogs don’t drift into the same old ‘status quo’ you were in before. Let’s make sure it continues 365 days a year.
John 4:34-37 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
If your gifts and calling is in the area of evangelism or in training disciples, ask God to help you reignite your fist love if it has been fading (Revelation 2:4-5) and fervently pray for God to provide opportunities for you and your church to minister the gospel to those around you, whether for salvation or spiritual growth. Ask Him to give you His vision for your life and then do everything in your power to carry that vision out.
If you, your church, or anyone you know is looking for a foreign mission to support please consider this ministry in India! Thanks!!!