I had the opportunity to return to India on a mission trip last month. Having overcome all of the unknowns the first time around, I was able to approach this one with more confidence.
The most difficult issue for me in order to go on such a trip is to relinquish control. When you think about it, it’s an illusion to begin with. We don’t really have control of our lives each day. We just think we do. Nevertheless, once I stepped on the plane at DFW, I was at the complete mercy of others to take me where I needed to go, to feed me, to give me a place to sleep, to get me back home.
The country of India surrounds you with a plethora of sights, sounds, and smells unlike any you’ve ever experienced. This is certainly true for a man born and raised in Texas. We went to places like Raipur, Motimpur, Bilaspur, Jakabanda, Bandhavagarh, Damoh, Agra, and, of course, Delhi.
I have never experienced such a sensory overload in my life. There is a constant dissonance in your mind and heart as you see things that are diametrically opposites. For instance, walking up to a mall you see on your left a family washing their clothes on the rocks, a pig and a cow, and a shanty to live under. On the right is the beautiful mall filled with stores like those in America.
In every location we went to we were approached by children begging, and many selling trinkets of every imaginable kind. If you gave a rupee to each one you would be broke by the end of the day.
We worshiped with many churches. I love hearing praise sung in different languages. On rare occasions we recognized the tune and sang in English as they sang in their language. When they pray it’s typical for everyone to pray out loud at the same time. Over and over I kept thinking that this is what the church was like in the book of Acts–so little formality filled with so much passion and purpose. How refreshing!
We heard the testimony of many pastors. All were heart-wrenching and faith-stretching. One in particular still resonates deeply. This pastor, as a child, was sold into slavery by his father for a bag of rice. It was the best decision for all concerned.
The family would be fed. The son would also be fed, but would now work as a slave. And there were many beatings and the withholding of food when the master was displeased.
The mission we support was able to buy him back and raise him in their children’s home. He graduated from their Bible college and is now serving as a pastor. He has led hundreds of people to Christ.
There are so many lessons to be learned from such a trip. The one that convicts me most deeply is that they do so much with so little, and by comparison we seem to do so little with so much.
Psalms 119:32 (NASB) says, “I shall run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart.” The NLT says, “…for you expand my understanding.” If you pay attention to what the Spirit is saying, you can learn life-changing lessons whether in India on a mission trip or at home. Every day we should be seeking to “run the way” the Lord has set before us and learn to do much with all that He has given us.
Hank Lamb is senior pastor of Central Christian Church in Richardson.