Reporting from Mumbai

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I had a lot of people compliment me on the work I did in Mumbai…and I want to be honest and say that it made me a little uncomfortable. Why? Because I really didn’t do anything but see a crazy city, spend time with new friends, and get a case of something that requires the pink liquid from the drug store. I was temporary entertainment for girls who’s recent past regularily included rape. Me? What did I really do? Got them to build a chair out of newspaper and tape…but words like righteous and commendable and self-less? It made me uncomfortable….

Then God helped me with something.

Think of a recent disaster, a past war conflict, the WTC, Columbine…we were glued to the tv…listening to reporters tell us what they saw, what they experienced, the emotions and raw feelings that can only describe what they see. In those times, sitting in our sofas drinking soda Anderson Cooper would stand (in his black tshirt) in destroyed building and tell you what people were doing and the nervousness of the national guard…he would show you pictures of the bodies that were covered inside the dome. Many of us listened for hours to the stories of reporters embedded with the troops in Iraq or Kuwait. They risked their lives to bring a story to us…to make it real.

There are desperately dangerous places where reporters go to get the story to tell the world, to bring awareness to girls kidnapped in Nigeria or Christians slaughtered in Sudan. Sometimes those reporters stand next to the men and women on the front lines putting their lives in jeoprody. Now, I gotta admit that the greatest known danger around me was the incredible busy traffic…I mean they drive CRAZY, so you have to be cafeful walking across the road. Did I mention that they drive on the other side of the road? SO, when you step out looking one way, they are actually coming from the OTHER direction. Yeah, I did that.

I wasn’t on the front lines fighting daily for these girls lives like Jeevan Adhar or International Justice Mission…I didn’t spent years with these girls teaching them discipline and skills necessary to survive like the house mothers do….I’m not the social workers that spend years helping these girls untangle the damage to their hearts. Those people are the front line…they are the heros and soldiers that fight the battle day in and day out to storm the beaches and set the captives free in the name of Christ…sometimes at the greatest risk of their own lives.

I’m just the guy who went to give a report.

My report is that the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good tidings preached to them…all this is happening in the form of young girls who were desperate for a savior…in every sense of the meaning.

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Go-India 2014: Isaiah 43.18

The following was written after a trip to India to visit India to see first hand what my church is involved in.  We have several homes that work with girls that have been rescued/freed from the sex trafficking that takes place over there.  It was hard, it was challenging…it was beauty lifted from ashes.

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In Isaiah, the Israelites have left captivity in Egypt to be lead out into the desert to what they believe is freedom.  Somewhere between the parting of the Red Sea and reaching the promised land they began to grumble…began to not want to continue in their journey to freedom…the road was too hard, the path too long, and fear overtakes them.   They wanted to go back to the world that, even though hard, was something that they understood and knew how things worked. 

…but they were created for more.

At the point of 43.18, God speaks to them…

“Do not think about the past anymore…do not even consider the old ways.  For I am doing something new…it’s springing forth right before you, can’t you see it?  I will make a path in the wilderness, I will make streams in the desert.”

When considering what this trip to India meant to me in the future, this will be a defining verse.  The girls we were around were taken out of captivity, out of a world of unspeakable evils that were pressed on them.  When they first come out of their experience, they are often kept in a compound that no one can get in as well as that they cannot leave.  Why can’t they leave?  Because they are in danger of running back to what they know as familiar…no matter how oppressive, it’s a world they know…and the fear of having their lives turned upside town with unfathomable change overrides the fear of the recent horrible oppressive condition. 

Once the girls get into the Jeevan Adhar houses (means “life support”) they are often given the freedom to stay or leave, however, staying requires things.  It requires rules, education, learning to cook, learning to manage money, and growing towards independence.  It’s not enough to just be free, it’s necessary to work at, and grow towards your independence.  Like James 22 says, you must not only be a hearer of the word, but a doer.  In the same way, these girls must not only learn, but they must put it into practice and push forward, because just like the Israelites, there is not an option to stay in the desert.  You will perish there.

This is incredibly similar as to the ‘problems’  in my own life lately.  

In the past couple years, I began to really have some problems with love, joy, and passion in my life.  I began to struggle with depression and a lack of passion in my life.  I worked day and night continuously without breaks and saw little fruit in my life.  I recognized I had a problem and, under my own strength, I started over and over in my efforts to get myself straightened out to no avail.  

Around the beginning of the year, I started getting up to read scripture, pray, or worship in the morning.  I also kept track of my tithing and I set 2 days a month to fast.  I began to notice God’s gentle nudging in my life and I noticed improvement.

Just into the new year, I had a desire to train in MMA style fighting.  (I know, you’re thinking God wants you to be a cage fighter? no)   I was at the gym one day and noticed a group of guys that were training on the heavy bags.  They were short one and I gladly accepted Clayton’s invitation to join the group.

These guys were old friends, two of which had owned studios, fought in tournaments in their earlier days, and continued to want to sharpen themselves as well as stay in shape.  In their workout they would do cardio, then MMA train, then weight train.  I found myself wanting to the fighting training, but I did not want to do cardio or weights the way they were…in essence I wanted to do what I wanted to do…not all the training.

Similarly, around the same time Dennis B. asked if I would like to start meeting with him in a mentor/discipleship type of relationship…and I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to give him any real authority over my life.  I trusted that God had nudged him into my path, but I didn’t trust in his leadership ‘over’ me.  

The strand running through my life’s tapestry was that I wanted God to put people in my life to help me, mentor me, train me…but I didn’t want to slot myself under their authority and do the hard or unpopular things.  I wanted to pick and choose what I wanted to do.

In essence the Israelites, the girls, and I were the same.  We had come out of captivity, been freed….but our freedom was not enough. 

When brought out of captivity and given a leader and told that we are going to freedom, there are many points in our journey where the path becomes extremely hard and uncomfortable…to the point where we question the one leading us, question the guidance, and begin to stop following…putting us in a risk of wavering in our journey.   You see, God put people in my life to train me and it was unacceptable to do only what I wanted to do.  My faith, my walk, my maturity were incomplete without my full submission to His leadership through others.  

God wanted the Israelites to move into the promised land with maturity, leadership, abundance, and strength IN HIM.  Without His training and their obedience, what would have happened to them in the promised land?  

God’s leading me through some of my desert areas where it’s hard to get through…hard to tackle my darkest fears…hard to trust He has my best interest in mind as the world that I know and understand changes around me…sometimes to the point I think my world in crumbling.  The reality is that it is crumbling…”I am doing something new…Can’t you see it!”

The thing that we have to resolve in our minds…is that we are never going back.

The thing that we have to resolve in our minds is that we would rather die striving for freedom, than live in bondage.

The thing that we have to resolve in our minds is that Jer 29.11 is true.

We have to resolve that He loves us enough to bring us through the deserts in our lives…and when we have trained and come through the desert….and when we step onto the promised lands?  

Those giants in the promised land don’t have a chance.