A couple years ago my favorite seminary professor told me about a women’s mission trip to India—and that I’m going.
But wait. I’m not the global missions type.
I wanted to vomit. No one has more anxiety about international travel than I do. Call it a combination of safety freak plus control freak. (By God’s grace I’m married to a psychotherapist.)
Plus I have a love/hate relationship with India (née Rapistan.) But I would not refuse my favorite professor.
As our departure date approached, my anxiety skyrocketed.
On the Open Doors’ World Watch List for severity of persecution of Christians, India (formerly #31 a few years ago) lands at #10. India has a growing group of radicalized Hindu nationalists hostile towards those who follow the Abrahamic religions. I could be related to some of them. This group’s end goal is to remove all non-Hindus from India by the following options: 1) Forced conversion to Hinduism, 2) Leave India permanently, or 3) Prison.
For India, our mission city had an unusual religious demographic breakdown: 50% Hindu, 30% Muslim, 15% Buddhist, less than 1% Christian. India has had its share of religious riots. You think this safety freak wanted to go to India for a mission trip? Uh, no.
Plus the trip would take place during monsoon. No one goes to India on purpose during monsoon. But this theme from Revelation 5 kept popping into my mind—every tribe, every tongue, every people. So I went. #godswillnotmine
The mission included speaking at women’s conferences by day, and then visiting orphans and widows by night. Ministering to the sidelined HIV community was the best part.
The women’s conferences occurred during the work week. Many had to take time off from work and school to attend. I don’t know what they told their bosses and professors, but I doubt it sounded like, “Hey, I need Monday through Thursday off to attend a Christian conference.”
The women had many struggles: infertility, sexual assault, domestic abuse, in-law issues. Some had alcoholic husbands. Some had dead husbands. Some had no money. Many felt they had no identity outside of their husbands. I could relate with many of their struggles.
These women hungered for hope—for someone to tell them that their worth and dignity come from God, not from having babies—that their worth and dignity come from God, even if men (and women) reduce them down to body parts.
Indian Christians risk much to proclaim faith in Christ. Many lose their families, their jobs, and their social communities.
We had a Muslim convert in attendance dressed in full Muslim garb. Her family doesn’t know of her faith in Christ. If they knew they’d kill her.
The conference met in a hotel basement. From the stink-eye I received from some of the hotel staff members while speaking at the podium, I would guess they were not Christians. This didn’t help my anxiety. I feared we’d get caught. I feared the worst.
But a couple days in and God took my fear and tossed it with last week’s trash.
I went to India to provide hope and encouragement; to reach the unreached. No one would shut my mouth—not even me. And if I died then I died. I don’t control that part. What was I hoping to preserve anyway? Life on Earth is hardly fantabulous.
Before I left for India, I made a list of prayer requests. My prayer needs boiled down to 1) Health and Safety, and 2) Health and Safety. While there I survived an asthma attack, and a DVT clot in my calf. So that’s what those compression stockings were for…
My cousins warned me of flooded roadways, and to bring rain boots. I remembered. I had spent an entire summer there between second and third grades. #waistdeepwater
Days before departure it rained sheets. But sixteen days in India during the heaviest monsoon month, and those boots never saw the outside of my suitcase. Of course when I boarded the flight to go home—downpour. Two days after I left India that same airport had so much flood water on the runway, the airport ground crew had to ride rafts to guide the planes on the tarmac.
For many years I wasted my life in inactivity for the gospel. When I went to India I feared dying. I did what I could to keep a low profile. Jesus said, “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The moment I decided I was willing to die for the gospel, I was free.
I don’t take credit for any of this. God’s will took me there. God’s will brought me home.
I think about all these people growing up in India where my parents grew up. Statistically, I should have grown up an everyday Hindu, rather than an American saved by Jesus. Global missions matter.
Matthew Chapter 24 says that the gospel will be proclaimed as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Is Jesus waiting for us to spread his gospel to the ends of the earth before he returns? Revelation 5:9 says “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’” Jesus invented global missions.