This year I went on the short term mission (STM) trip to Bihar, India. This was my first time going on an overseas mission trip; God had been challenging me and preparing me to go for years. For years, I stubbornly ran from this invitation from God, but I am thankful that God was gracious as he worked in me and prepared me to go through my prideful disobedience. I’m incredibly glad and thankful that God allowed me to know him in such a way that gave me the faith to put my trust in him and his promises.
God continued to draw very close to me and the rest of the team during our time in India. He was always speaking and always reminding us of his presence. We were given many different opportunities to share the Gospel to several different communities. We did VBS with villages, two schools, and even a Catholic community, but most of our time was spent with the TIM Centre children and staff with whom are church is partnered. For me, personally, this was the ministry in which I got to experience and know God the most.
It felt like, immediately upon arriving, there was no time to get comfortable and no time to get acquainted with the staff and children. The first thing we did was join them in prayer for the ministry and for one another. Looking back, I understand now that this said a lot about their hearts — that they were focused on their mission and were there to seek and serve Christ – and that they had silently expected that we had come to do nothing but to join them in that. This set the tone of the whole trip and it was clear that even the children who were as young as 5, were living every moment with the hope that they might know Christ a little more. When we had opportunities to pray for them, despite the language barrier, all the staff and children were eager to be prayed for. When we worshiped together, whether in English or in Hindi; it was as if all the children and all the pastors were in a room alone with God, and I think it’s because they were — they were there to meet no one else but the person of Jesus Christ.
Being around brothers and sisters in Christ, young and old alike, who were chasing after Christ with every breath they had was the most humbling experience for me. Their humble pursuit after Christ left no room for me to be prideful, to care about how I looked or sounded when I did my best to pursue after Christ as well. Even if there were times where I was prideful and worried about what I prayed or what I shared, even then, each person was seeking Christ through the prideful words that came from my mouth — there was no judgement. They taught me that humility truly is a pride killer — it leaves no room for others to be prideful. Because of this humility, they showed our team love, freely and willingly. These children desired to give so much to people they had just met and they wanted to put what they had to good use.
As the weeks progressed, it became more and more apparent that it was going to be a lot harder to continue to be humbled and to love my community back at home. I knew that there would be so many things to distract me from pursuing Christ above all else. When I came back, I wasn’t surrounded by such an overwhelming humility that left no room to be prideful, but rather, I came back to the many gifts and blessings that God had given me — the gifts that I so often took for granted and used for my own comfort and pleasure. The children really challenged me to reflect on the things that God has blessed me with and to use those gifts for his glory and not my own.
It has been challenging to love my brothers and sisters here in Toronto the same way that I loved my brothers and sisters in India, fighting against the temptation to compare the people here to the people in India, but instead, to love them because I get to experience the love of Christ, to call all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, family. If we’ve been adopted into Christ’s family, we share in the journey of knowing him more no matter what each of our individual journeys look like. It’s been especially tough to humbly seek Christ in everything that I do, and to worship him freely for him, not for myself or for anyone else, just as I got to see and experience in India — to come to church to know Christ more, to fellowship with other believers so that I might know Christ more. I’ve experienced the most wrestling with myself and with God than I’ve ever experienced in my life since I returned from India and I feel like I can’t catch my breath from reflecting and wrestling, but weirdly, it has been all the more joy-giving and satisfying to be pruned and hard pressed knowing that it’s Christ who works in me and it is Christ who continues to give more of himself to me.
The invitation to serve the nations and seek Christ overseas stands for all of his children. Brothers and sisters, if you are a child of God, you are called to go and reach the nations, and if you are resistant like I was, then you are being prepared to go. So, I pray that all of us may know Jesus Christ more so that we may trust him more and follow him into the nations by faith, not delaying in getting to experience his goodness, which he so desires for us.