My Story Part 5, India

July 2007
The first year of Bible College was almost over and the summer holidays were well on their way!  Elim International missions had been advertising for people to go on short term mission trips to Kosovo and India.  I’d always wanted to go to India and had prayed alot for that country in particular.  There was a big focus on prayer at Bible college, and each week we had morning meetings to pray for the nations.

For me, going on a mission trip that summer didn’t seem possible.  Being a student, finances were scarce and  out of the two trips, Kosovo was by far the more affordable! However, after praying, I felt challenged to have faith to go to India, and to trust God for the funds.  This was an important lesson for me, as I had worked throughout my first year of college in a hotel and I’d got used to being independent.  For most people, it seems right to get a job and be self sufficient.  I also believe this to be true, but that summer I discovered the meaning and value of relying on God for my needs.  I began to learn how to trust Him as my heavenly father for things that were beyond my reach or control.
The night before the deposit was due I didn’t have the money and during the end of year student meal, I began to think that I would have to ring Elim head office to cancel the trip.  Had I misheard from God?

When I got back to my room from the meal, I had a missed call on my phone from a number I didn’t recognise.  When I rang back a man answered and asked if I was the girl planning to go to India in the summer?  He had heard about me and my intentions to go to India through someone at a church I had visited that year.  I was quite surprised when he stated that he was sitting in a hotel lounge with his cheque book, and felt that the holy spirit had been prompting him to give me money for the trip. The idea of meeting a stranger in a hotel didn’t seem wise to me, so one of the guys from college went with me to meet him. When we arrived, the guy explained how he used to go on mission trips himself, but he now had a family, his own business, and no longer had the time to go on long trips.  He explained that God had prompted him to give me the money to go to India and he liked the idea that he could help someone else go out on mission. I shared with him how India had been a special place in my heart and the kind of things I would be involved with on the trip.
He asked me ‘how much do you need?’
I knew that in total I needed 900 pounds which would have covered the whole trip, but I only really needed 450 by the next day for a deposit.
‘450 pounds’ I said. I knew that I would still need to trust God for the other half. Before I knew it he wrote the cheque and blessed me on my way.  It was a miracle and I thanked God for His faithfulness. It is one of the most humbling experiences when God provides in this way through a complete stranger. To see this man’s simple obedience to what he believed God had told him was immense.  There is an inward struggle with this however, as I naturally wanted to give something back, but how can you give back to someone who has so much materially already?  I realised that for this man, knowing that God had spoken to him was enough, and In his own way he was being an extension for God’s kingdom by allowing me to give something by going on this trip to serve in India. The joy I later saw on those children’s faces when we gave them their gifts and sang songs with them in India was priceless!
The rest of the money for the trip came in leaps and bounds over the following month.  A lady from my mum’s work heard I was going to India and said she felt to give to this trip. Also, my home church were very generous and made a contribution. They prayed for me before I went out which was such a blessing. My job at the hotel was also amazing provision from God in order to keep on top of my student fees parallel to this..

I have written this part of my story in particular to encourage you….
God is able to do so much more than we can ever imagine! He is able to provide and make a way for those who trust Him and want to serve Him. We never know when He will humble us to give or humble us to receive!  ‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose for them’ Romans 8:28

Josephine on the left and Beth on the right (August 2007)
Josephine on the left and Beth on the right (August 2007)
As we travelled by plane to India, I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Jo and Beth were two great girls to work with. We prayed and worshipped together throughout the trip and gave each other alot of encouragement.  We spent the first 10 days in Bangalore, capital city of the Indian state, Karnataka.  Bangalore is a busy city, renowned for its educational institutes, love of cricket, beautiful public parks and lush gardens!  Upon arriving on Indian soil, we found ourselves facing a huge crowd of people with large name signs outside the airport.  Amongst the herds of people we managed to find our name signs and we were greeted by a few guys from Grace Gospel church, the place we would be staying in Bangalore.  Next, I found myself on a busy narrow road, going about 80 miles an hour! There were car horns going off constantly, cows in the middle of side roads, women on motor bikes in saris and sandals and not many traffic lights! I felt a rush of excitement at the sight of something I had never seen or experienced in my life! Then I was reminded there were no seat belts and my nerves really started to kick in!  When we arrived at the church we were greeted by a congregation of smiling faces, cheering and clapping! We were asked to go and sit on the chairs by the pastor on the stage. We were each given a beautiful coloured shawl and garlands of sweet smelling flowers were put around our necks.

I found this really moving…

Why don’t we greet people with such joy and hospitality in the West when we have so much already?

Next, we went and sat with the congregation cross-legged on the floor.  I felt like I was in a very large school assembly! You could feel the joy in the room as people worshipped. The songs were in Tamil and Kannada language.  I really enjoyed listening to them, and managed to learn a few of the songs throughout the week.
What I witnessed in that church was people being healed and set free.  The pastor was in the middle of preaching one night and a woman ran franticly to the front and started dancing like a snake and trying to remove her clothes. She appeared to be totally out of it!  The pastor commanded demons to leave her body in Jesus’ name.  The congregation joined him in prayer and the woman moved to the floor.  Then, she seemed to calm and began to cry.  The pastor prayed with her again and gently told her about Jesus, the saviour.  She then told the pastor and the congregation through a translator how up to this point she had been worshipping Hanuman, the monkey God in Hinduism.  She explained how a spirit had came into her body, took over her actions and had been tormenting her life.  She  lived in fear of this spirit and had felt the need to keep worshiping it in order to keep herself from further torment.  She was told by a friend about the church and about Jesus power to heal and deliver people. She had came to the service out of desperation as things had been getting more powerful and worse.  As soon as she had heard the pastor preaching, she felt the demon was angry and started to manifest in her body, taking over her until she was no longer in control of her own actions.  The next thing she remembered was Jesus appearing to her and then waking up on the church floor feeling lighter and set free! That night she decided to follow Jesus…

We heard many more stories of people who had experienced healings, miracles and encounters with Jesus through dreams and visions.
There was a mass church service nearly every day and we preached at some of these.  The people were very responsive and enthusiastic in their worship. The meeting which really stands out to me is the widows service.  This was a very special meeting for women who had lost their husbands or living alone in isolation.  Some had been cut off from their families because of their decision to follow Christ.  We had such a good time with the ladies singing and dancing in praise and worship.

For the second part of our trip we visited a children’s home in Tamil Nadu.  This was an amazing experience!  We played games with the children, performed dramas, sang songs and gave them chocolate and sports equipment as gifts, for which they were so grateful!  These fifty something children all share 4 workers who act as adopted parents.  They do not have an Xbox, designer clothes or an abundance of sweets and crisps, and yet these are the most happy children I have ever met!  One boy had witnessed his own mother commit suicide by the tiny age of 4! Another girl had been left in a Trash can as a baby and was found by workers from the children’s home. I listened to many more stories like these and my heart broke for some of those children and what they had been through. However, the beauty of the story for these little ones is that the love of God had rescued them out of their circumstances, and it was clear that He had used the workers to find these children and provide them with a home, quality of life and a loving community.   Many of these young people who have grown up in the children’s home have gone on to study at university and trained as engineers, nurses and much more. Some of these children have made a decision to follow Jesus and gone on to lead churches and Bible colleges.  It was amazing to hear the stories of young lives which had been transformed into something beautiful, because of the hope and love which had been given freely.  The love of God was so tangible in that children’s home, and I feel as if I left a piece of my heart in India…

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