Thursday, February 26, 2009

On Hearing the Call

I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are over come when our hearts are ready to do the Lord's will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
-George Muller
In the past few months I've heard much discussion on the topic of knowing God's will. I have given a lot thought to this subject and I would thoroughly enjoy saying that I know with certainty how anyone can know God's will. Mainly I would like to be able to honestly say that because it would make following hard after Jesus a lot easier for me personally! However, often the painful truth is that knowing God's will is an incredibly and powerfully personal issue and therefore discerning His will is most likely just a little different for each individual. One thing I do know is that our God is not a God of "formulas," He is much more personal than that.
So, how do I know that Mark and I are following God's plan for our lives through Touching Lives? Well, we do have circumstantial evidence. For instance, through a series of events God led us to the couple we are partnering with in India, the person He'd chosen to guide us through the process of filing for non-profit status, the people He wanted on our Board of Directors and I could go on...
There are also areas in this calling that line up directly with what God's Word tells us about the kind of people God uses. In 2 Corinthians 12:10 Paul says that "...when I am weak, then I am strong." 1 Corinthians 1: 27 tells us, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty..." Time after time all through out the Bible God did things in ways that just makes you scratch you head and say, "If I were God I don't think I would have done it that way!" He rose up the nation of Israel through a barren couple, He had Noah build a boat nowhere near water, Joseph was put in prison to become a government official, Moses was much too young at the age of forty to lead the Jews out of Egypt, the Son of God was born in a barn, Paul - a Jewish rabbi - became the apostle to the Gentiles - need I continue?
So, the fact that this ministry is "being born" smack dab in the middle of the worst financial time since the Great Depression and that God has chosen to use a disabled chemical operator and a part-time obstetrical nurse who live in the poorest city in Pennsylvania, helps to confirm that this "craziness" is God's doing! I often tell people that if I were God I certainly would not choose Mark and Kathi Evans for this task!
Another confirmation of this calling is that God brought Godly people to us, some we knew and some who were strangers to us, who affirmed the calling. There are several other things that contribute to our ability to say that, "we know that we know that we know" that God has carved out this road for us but what I'd really like to share is how God communicated to me that it was His will to use me to help take others onto the foreign mission field.
It started with me begging! You see, God put in me a burning, and I do mean burning, desire to serve Him. Of course that is true of all His followers, but I had a gut-wrenching passion to serve Him on the mission field. On May 29, 2004 I wrote the following entry in my journal: "Jesus, I know what I want to do – so many things, so many visions. But, Master, I lay down all those aspirations so that I can be unencumbered to do what You want me to do. I want Your vision. I want Your will to be done, but it’s got to start inside me. I need courage, boldness, meekness.
You know I can speak, Lord, help me be silent. You know I can lead, help me to follow. Show me, help me, teach me, fill me, break me, but Sovereign God, in Your love, mercy, grace and faithfulness, please, I beseech You, use me!"
It wasn't until September 14 of that same year that God whispered to my spirit that He wanted to use me to train, equip, and take others onto the mission field, especially those who might not otherwise go. While I was confused and overwhelmed by that I was also excited about it. How? When? Where? Me?
Since that day God lead us to two locations that provide many of the luxuries of the United States - and us medical people do enjoy our luxuries. Our missions will not be "roughing it" like some missions and I believe that God designed our ministry that way to allow more people an insight into the plight of the starving and lost in under-developed and developing countries.
On September 14, 2004 I did not have the slightest clue how God was going to fulfill this new call on my life. And I did think that the call was pure lunacy. But I knew in my spirit that some day I would understand what He was up too! I guess that's what He meant when He said that we should "walk by faith, not by sight."

Thursday, February 5, 2009 India!

Faith is to believe what you do not see;
the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
Saint Augustine

In May of 2006 I found myself in Hyderabad, India on a mission "scouting trip" with another ministry. The last few days before going home were spent with the Amrutharaj's, a lovely couple who had a burden and vision for the poor in their area. They shared their calling to open a medical clinic in the Papireddy Colony and asked that we pray about partnering with them in this endeavor. After I recovered from yet another "spirit jumping in me" episode, we attended a church service in another of the slums in the area.

Throughout the service I could not help but notice a woman who sat on the floor across the room from me. She had the countenance of someone with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She rarely looked up and, as far as I could see, never looked anyone in the eyes. God broke my heart for this dear woman that day and for the many, many women just like her in this city. It appeared that God was using this woman to answer my prayers regarding partnering with Drs. Joseph and Vimala even before I prayed them! I pray that God will allow me to see this precious woman again while we're still on earth but if that is not God's will I look forward to telling her about the impact she had on my life and my calling!

I wasn't to return to Hyderabad until November of 2007, a full year and one half after my first visit. However this second mission was also a "scouting trip" only this time it was on behalf of Touching Lives! And this time my sweet sister in the Lord and now fellow Touching Lives Board Member, Darien, accompanied me.

As we discussed the future partnership between Touching Lives and Drs. Joseph and Vimala, once again my spirit leaped (my body should do as much jumping as my spirit does!) when I heard that their dream is not to open one but five clinics. To this day I don't quite understand why that felt so right, I can only tell you that it did!
Over the course of this mission we were able to visit the construction site of the first clinic. As the Amrutharaj's posed in what would become the doorway of the structure for us to take pictures of them, tears came to my eyes. Before me was God's visual confirmation that this crazy adventure we were on was His will. This was a wonderfully humbling moment!

One of the few regrets I have had in regard to participating in short-term missions has always been that, either because of his work schedule or his health, I have never be able to share a mission with Mark first hand. But while in India this second time I began to ask God to bring Mark here. It only felt right that he would meet Drs. Joseph and Vimala "up close and personal" as we begin this ministry partnership. The morning after we returned home as Mark "debriefed" me on the trip, he told me that he felt God leading him to go to Hyderabad! And, you guessed it, I got that spirit-jumping thing going again! So, we have begun to pray that God would open the doors for us to visit India this coming May. Please join with us in praying that 1) God's will is done and 2) that He receives all the glory, honor, and praise due Him as He carries out His will in our lives.