Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Going Out “There”... Into the World

Hi everyone. For those of you who are new to my blogs I want to welcome you to what is and will continue to be, my devotional and journal through life. I decided some time ago to share my life with others in this type of journal, so that as you read you will soon see that even though we may have many differences, we all have many similarities.

I wrote before Christmas, on my “His Place” blog, that I was going to take the trip of a lifetime and go to India. I will be traveling in conjunction with “Far Corners Ministry” under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Shant Manuel. I am going there to help teach Lay Pastors. My course load includes the topics of “Integrity in Ministry” and “Discipleship”.

Not all of the itinerary is written in stone yet, to my knowledge, but it looks like we will leave on the 19th of February from Halifax, Nova Scotia and fly to Toronto, Ontario, before leaving Canada. From Toronto we will fly directly to Brussels in Belgium, staying over night and fly out the next morning to New Delhi, India. From New Delhi we fly to an Air Force Base called Bagdagora, near a city called Siliguri, where we will train approximately 100 Pastors, from Monday until Thursday the next week. We leave Siliguri on Friday and drive North to a town called Gangtok in Sikkim province where we may teach for another 3-4 days and work with another 50-60 Pastors. Then we drive southeast to a Mission around Dinhata about 6-8 hours away where we will work and plan for other mission trips to assist and train Pastors. We will return to Siliguri and fly South to Kolkata (Old Calcutta), where we will do some sight seeing and then fly out on the 6th to New Delhi, back to Brussels, on to Toronto and then finally back to Halifax with out much stopping. A total of about 42 hours - 52 minutes in the air travelling to, while there and then back home.

I Have been asked why. It is an easy answer for me. I live near the edge but I am not one to take chances. When I told someone the other week that I would be very close to the base of Mount Everest, that famous mountain challenged by many, they asked if I would be climbing while there. I wanted so bad to laugh and say yes, but I guess I related that I was going there to work not play. I will be climbing into bed sometime at night and hoping to be able to get up in the morning, which will be a challenge in itself. I am aware that it will be a big trip in many ways and have been warned that it will have its cost on my body and spirit.

The spirit. Now that is the thing. I found it hard to get excited....that right, I am not joking. What a chance to see the world outside of oneself. But, I know that I will see poverty as I have never seen it before. I have travelled over a lot of North America, covering 42 states and all 10 provinces. I’ve seen a man die on the street, watched the poor pick food from a garbage can in Washington, D.C. and held a woman as she was bleeding to death in my arms, but I basically live in a “Have Society” for the masses. In Canada we have Universal Medical Care and Social Services as well as a Federal Pension Plan. But, I am going to India ... I am not sure what I will see and how my heart will accept the “have-not” conditions that may confront me there. I am reminded daily that God wants me there. He has called me and I am responding, so I leave all the cares in His hands.

It is hard to go “Out There”. The world is not always a loving and kind place and Satan can play terrible games with our hearts and mind. This is true not only in the category of travel, but also in life’s journey around home. I remember back many years ago, while still a very young adult, I worked in the construction industry. As people sat around eating lunch, there was all manner of conversation and not much being glorifying to God. When I spoke out against the worst of the worst, after no longer being able to put up with being in the same room with horrifying tales of abuse in life, I was verbally abused and chastised for the stand I took on my beliefs. Their comments really hurt at the time and it wasn’t until later in life that I finally realized that my heartache over such comments against me, was only Satan lying to my heart.

At the very least, we are challenged daily by what the world defines as acceptable and what God defines as unacceptable, whether it be behaviour or what we think. God know our thoughts as well as our behaviour and to live our lives in alignment with God, and not the world, is tantamount to asking for criticism. That is where we fall down. Criticism cuts to the heart and is one of the greatest challenges to our moral, ethical and most importantly our Spiritual stand, in life.

As I take this trip, I am being prepared to face lots of difficulties. The first is cultural... those challenges are always thought to be the most scary... we don’t know what to say, how to speak the language and how to act. The second is political... there have been skirmishes, uprisings and terrorist attacks that have brought many to comment on the wisdom of my going now. The third is economic... I am a man with a soft heart. My initial thought was not about political challenges but, as I mentioned before, that of seeing poverty unlike any I have ever confronted. The fourth is health and hygiene Issues... It will be easy to eat, drink and wash in water that is far less acceptable than our standards here and I will very likely suffer the consequences in nasty ways. The fifth is relational... we are a group brought together, from various backgrounds and will be tested in our ability to always see things in unity. The sixth and final is Spiritual ... We are entering a mission field where only 2% of the country is Christian and the diversity of religious thought is legion (sizeable).

I am trying to prepare the whole of my being for “this” trip “out there”. Along with the passport, the Visas for the countries being visited, shots, special medications, decision about clothing suitable for the climate, comfortable footwear and so on, there is the preparation of the heart. My challenge these days is allowing God to prepare my life, as I pray about His guidance during the trip, His power for the work... I will need His energy through the Spirit, His grace to lift me up if I should fall and His peace for those moments of greatest trial, whether financial, physical or Spiritual. But... I am going because He wants me to go!