We often have opportunities in front of us that require just a little faith, a willingness to try something new, the courage to step out of our own personal comfort zones. Some of these have the God-ordained potential to profoundly change someone’s life. Some can lead to our own maturing. Some can be the first step in a whole new adventure.
When Jesus speaks to people, he knows where they’re at:
- To the weak and weary he says “I will give you rest. Take up my yoke.. my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
- To those who would follow: “Turn from selfishness, take up your cross, and follow” (Matthew 16:24)
- To those who recognised him: “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19) See what follows: “At once they left their nets and followed him. [James and John also] left their boats and their father and followed..” They must have recognised there was something much greater ahead, if they dared go.
We knew our “Journey of Compassion” with Impact Nations would be challenging. It would present many opportunities, but first we had to commit the time and money, and surrender ourselves to a different life, albeit for only 2 weeks. We were warned of of long days, different food, potential illness, and lack of western comforts (like toilets). What wasn’t explicitly stated: we would be put on the spot, invited and expected to keep stepping out in faith.
At an orphanage (additional visit, prior to Journey): “The children are all here. You can speak to them now.” Oh, we’re expected to address them as a group?
On the first day, after orientation and teaching, clinic opening was delayed. “Go to the people who are waiting.” No chance to watch someone else apply their field experience, just go heal someone. Um, ok.
On the same morning, I was part of the prayer team tasked with walking through the village and praying, healing, evangelising. Those who know me know that I’m not a good conversationalist. I don’t engage people easily without an existing common interest. Seeing our group of four contained someone experienced in such outreach, I figured I could watch and learn before having to apply. No. We were split into pairs. My partner spoke Telugu so we didn’t need a separate interpreter, but then I couldn’t understand what he said as he greeted people and initiated conversation. Then he wanted me to join the conversation, and also to start praying for people. Take a deep breath..
Practise helps. Once you’ve prayed for a dozen people, and seen healing actually occur, it gets a lot easier. Fun, even. Then comes the next step. Healing is a gift from our Lord, Jesus, the Son of God. He is also interested in healing hearts, and changing lives. I said I’m not a conversationalist; I consider myself a most awkward evangelist. Our next responsibility after compassion and healing is to tell the good news of the Kingdom of God. Take another deep breath…
Curious fact: people who have been miraculously healed are quite interested in finding out about the source of their healing. So are their friends and family!
On Sunday, our small groups were distributed to various village churches. People would be called on to give testimony of what they’ve seen God do lately, to preach, or to explain the 5-step healing model we had been following. For me the choice was simple: 5-step model, as I wouldn’t have to decide what to talk about, just how to speak in terms an interpreter can easily translate. It’s still a role I hadn’t exercised in the church for considerable time, but in this place I found it a fairly easy step.
For the following service, another group member was struggling greatly with this same step, having also held back for some years after a hurtful experience. We talked and prayed briefly, and are both joyful that she did step out, and teach.
It was in some ways a big decision to join this journey, but it was so clearly God’s plan. I am thankful for the many wonderful opportunities we found to put faith into action, and then to find that faith growing. The opportunities came thick and fast. We often addressed the challenges with “this is what we came for”. There was usually encouragement nearby. I think I see why Jesus sent his disciples out two by two (Luke 10:1).
Now I hope and pray to keep hold of that faith, recognise the less-obvious opportunities in “everyday” life, and find ways to encourage others to take a step…
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and tested your faith? If it’s been a while, perhaps you should join a Journey of Compassion !
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