One of the consequences of being a human on this earth is that the planet and life itself has storms. I used to think that storms were great. In my youth it often meant that it was a day inside, or in my teens a day off school. As it turned out storms later in life often meant something missed, like an opportunity to go for a special visit in a nearby community or to an occasional outdoor event or maybe even camping with family. Storms also happen in life and when that takes place and no one is happy. Death and illness in our family, in my childhood, were the biggest storms. Second to those came the idea of limited funds and the disagreements over what was a priority for family needs verses keeping up with other families and how they lived. Storms even included most importantly, as it turned out, those moments when my heart was torn over decisions. As a young Christian my life was different. Others outside the faith judged my faith as a weakness and I often fought back, proving nothing except that I still had much to learn. Storms can be harsh and frightening.
So the day of our departure to India grew nearer and I dutifully watched the weather systems, just as though I could change the plan of forthcoming weather patterns. Karen, bless her heart, got the items together that I was to take and methodically packed my bags and we hoped for the best. Our son Benjamin had told us that he was driving us to Halifax and would take his 4 wheel drive truck if the weather got bad, but I knew that if the weather was that bad we would not fly. When the news of an impending storm on Thursday was announced, my heart made the decision to go to Halifax early, in hopes that we could leave before the storm hit too hard.
You may ask the question; “What about God’s divine care over such an important ministry?” Well, that is a great question. Need we worry in such a situation? The human heart is still the “human” heart, no matter the connection to God. We understand that we still feel fear, face disappointment and many of the other emotions in the spectrum of life’s trials. God has created us with the ability to think and once the doors were open to the fullness of that potential and we knew the difference between what was right and wrong, we saw the consequences of what could or might be. Now, like Paul, God want us to stand in constant need of him, yet be able to stand independently, ready to live for Him. This stress in our lives causes many an hour or day of questioning, for those who know that God wants us to respond to His call, yet sees no evidence in human terms of the way ahead or the light at the end of the path. We know the light is there, but how far we must go to see the light and the energy we need to expend to get there scares us, as we long for God’s words of assurance.
Well, I arrived in Halifax and was instructed to come to the home of our Mission Leader, Rev. Dr. Shant Manuel. On arrival there, his wife Ginny told me that yes, in fact there had been the opportunity to leave early the next day before the storm hit, but in the time that she needed to contact the others going on the trip to give them the heads up, the seats were gone. Everyone had the same idea of course.... get out of Halifax before the storm... and booked earlier flights. I settled in for the evening and several times was asked the question about whether or not I felt it was a good idea to try again.... each time I said yes. On the next computer search Ginny found 7 seats, all in the same row on a flight out of Halifax to Toronto at 6:30 am Thursday morning. She tied up the system by auto resetting the request for the seats and called her travel agent, who then in turn after 2 hours got the seats for us. Ha! Shant was not sure that it was such a great idea as he felt that the storm would pass us by and some of the travellers with us wanted to sleep in that morning.... imagine. We are going to go to India, we needed to be there and in top shape by Saturday and they wanted to sleep in on Thursday and wait for the 3:30 pm flight. If it was missed we would not get to India until late Sunday and we needed to start lecturing on Monday morning. My heart kept saying, “We needed to get there and be rested before we begin our teaching sessions.” So, up we got on Thursday morning at 5 am and we were in the air before the storm hit the city.
In Toronto, the group faced a long day in Pearson International. The decision was made to go into the city and do some sightseeing, shopping perhaps and just make the best of it. As the time of the pre-scheduled flight came and went we soon learned that all flights out of Halifax had been cancelled. Ha! Guess the Lord was looking after us. 7 seats on the same row and an early flight out got us to India on time and allowed us a night of good sleep to prepare for the week of lectures.
We often do not remember the words of a great missionary Mr. William Carey, who said, “Expect great things from God, but attempts great things for God.” I often wonder if I am truly convinced that I can attempt great things or if I am merely willing to paddle the known brooks and streams or walk the familiar and safe paths of life so to speak. This trip was to be a new path, unfamiliar to me in the stream of my life and I was expecting great things from God. But, I guess I was attempting something great for God too!
The attempt was for me not so much the travel to a foreign land half way around the world, but the huge task of both meeting the acceptance of the Church and community for such an undertaking at this point in ministry. My family cheered me on and I soon found out that so did my community, friends and to a limited degree so did many of my Church family. There was still that gnawing fact that I was off again and there is ministry to be done here.... why go away to do it in India?
I was amazed at the love and support that came from some very special people and families. I relied on Karen and others to get me ready and I was relying on God to make it possible and everything went perfectly according to His plan. He called, I responded and He made it happen through His people who saw the vision of ministry to this Country in great need of training in the Christian faith.
To fly or not to fly was never really the question. It was, “How faithful to the task of going was I prepared to be?” Being early and not just on time made all the difference and should I have waited till Thursday Morning, to travel to Halifax, I would never have made it on time for that 6:30 am flight that had become available. The Lord knows our needs and He made it possible to get to India on time.... as I look back I believe it was really “just in time”. A great mission was begun there with a great National, who has great vision and leadership skills, to lead the way in that part of India.