Dean Martin's Story
India Missions trip, April 2016 "who am I?"
This trip was a set-up by God! It is always an exciting and a growing experience to go on a short-term mission trip. Interesting sites are seen. Exposure to new customs occurs. Unusual foods are tasted. Friendships are developed with people of a different culture. God is seen manifesting his power and glory in fantastic ways. This trip to India was all of that, but more intensely than experienced before. The Holy Spirit graciously and powerfully moved through me and the team. What I did not expect, however, is the continuing change and effect on me.
Disembarking at the Delhi airport was still fairly routine. Processing through customs, claiming our luggage, passing shops and cafes in the concourse were all relatively familiar. Familiarity, however, fled the moment we stepped outside the airport doors. While we were met by the friendly smile of Emmanuel, the sounds, sights, and smells that bombarded our senses forcefully impressed on us that we were no longer in Birmingham.
Hwy 280 rush hour traffic is mild compared to driving in Delhi. A city of 21 million produces monumental commuting challenges. Thousands of cars, trucks, buses, vans, myriads of cycles, tiny three-wheeled green and yellow taxies, rickshaws, and every other imaginable vehicle along with cows and pedestrians all seemingly vying for the same spot made me immediately thankful that I was not driving! No matter that the highway was marked for three lanes. Those lines had little purpose. If there was the smallest opening, a driver was going to go through, honking all the way. Three lanes quickly became five or more. Horns incessantly beep-beeped. Somehow, the chaos works and we arrived safely at our hotel for a welcome night of sleep. I never did make sense of navigating the traffic. It all seemed very much like an amusement ride at Disney World. -Click this link for a mild sample of India traffic. https://goo.gl/photos/epX7XR4Un3PJvJST9
For centuries, India has been known for its spices.
And cooks of India do spice their food, liberally! Thankfully, for this less seasoned palate, rice was most always present, even at breakfast, toning the food down nicely. The one thing I could not stomach more than three swallows of, was the spicy buttermilk served at room temperature on the train. So I think I did pretty good at following Jesus’ command to eat what was set before me. Actually, the food was rather delicious and only once did I order American food, pizza. And it, too, had a distinctive Indian flavor.
There are two overall most memorable and impacting outcomes of this trip. 1.) The people we met and, 2.) God’s ministry through myself and the team. These have changed me.
We met so many loving and serving people. They do so out of humility and sacrifice. I think of Emmanuel, Sunny, Tapas, Mahkesh and others. They are so quick to serve and put others first. It was obviously from their hearts and not out of a sense of duty or obligation. It was their nature and just naturally flowed out of who they are. Their words and actions embodied love, humility, and serving. The examples of these men have challenged me to be more like that. To imitate them as they imitate Christ.
For example, Tapas traveled more than 30 hours by train to be at the conference. India was in the midst of a heat wave, and he was not travelling in an air conditioned train car. An elderly man in the train car was not feeling well. Tapas gave him his fold-down sleeping berth and endured the long hot ride sitting upright. By the end of the trip, however, Tapas had led this man and three others to the Lord.
I also learned that Tapas’ church provides a school in a poor community. Education is not provided free in India. Parents must pay to send their kids to school. The poor cannot afford to send their children. So his church provides a free education to hundreds of kids. The teachers are paid, but if the school is short on funds, Tapas gives up his salary, already modest.
Every day we ministered, multiple times. It was amazing how God used the diverse giftings and perspectives of the team, Alan, Jamie, Donnie, Daniel, and I, to meet the needs of the moment. We taught dozens of times. We prayed and prophesied dozens more. We watched as God encouraged, set free, and healed through us. A young lady’s blurred vision was healed as we prayed! The team joined prayers for a mother who had suffered a stroke. The next morning, we received the report that she was up walking, cooking, and talking! A young man was set free from strongholds! We ministered to a young couple struggling in their marriage. Pastors were encouraged to continue on despite rejection and opposition. In our weakness, God moved! He moved way more graciously than we deserved. But that’s his heart.
Something has shifted in my spirit. I’m not sure I fully understand it. During this trip I gained an increased awareness of God’s abilities and his desire to show his glory. He yearns to act on our behalf! I began praying with more faith and expectation. I am praying from heaven’s perspective rather than out of circumstances. Praying from heaven to earth rather than from earth to heaven. Praying from his provision rather than out of my lack. God really wants to invade every life with his love and life. Returning to normal is not an option. I want to see the Kingdom of God come now! To see his will done here, even as in heaven!
I’m also left with this overwhelming sense of “Who am I?” Who am I that the Creator of heaven and earth should take notice of me? Who am I that he should love me and redeem me? Who am I that he should place his Holy spirit in me and move with power to bring glory to his name? Who am I that he should use ordinary me to bless others so wonderfully? How then, can I not love him more?