by Cousin Tim
Recently, I took a trip to Indonesia and India to visit the work our congregation and my family have been involved in for many years. I intended only to visit an orphanage and return with a report to the congregation on how the work was progressing. I had not prepared to make any speeches or preach any sermons, but God had other plans.
A method of outreach in Indonesia is teaching English through Bible classes. At their request, I brought slides of a recent trip to Israel to show to the English classes. I did so for 3 classes over six hours and also participated for an hour on their radio outreach program.
Upon my arrival in India it was clear to me that I was not in control of anything. I had planned to simply be a polite visitor and observer. However, after 23 hours of preaching and teaching in classes, villages and churches, and delivering a different message to each one, I realized something that should have been clear from the beginning: Nothing I had planned was going according to my pre-conceived idea of my purpose for this trip. The true purpose of my trip would be revealed in a poor village of Southern India.
After a long day of teaching my hosts said that we would be traveling to yet another village to preach. When I asked who would be preaching, they said, “You are!” I asked myself how I could do it after such a long and tiring day and wondered how I could think of a relevant topic.
On the road to the village, I asked my hosts to describe some characteristics of the village. As I had noticed in Indonesia, in spite of my lack of preparation, Bible stories came to my mind which applied to each group I spoke to. In this case, the covenant between David and Jonathan and how it relates to God’s faithfulness came to my mind as the right application for this village, although I did not know why. I thought about Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, who had been crippled when dropped by his nurse. He had grown up in fear that David would try to kill him.
When we arrived in the village, it was dark except for the dim light of low-wattage bulbs. I sat in a chair that was provided for me and the villagers gathered around to hear a sermon from the visiting missionary. They were poor people who had worked all day and had made great effort to come hear me speak that evening, some walking long distances to get there. I felt a great burden to meet their expectations.
As I sat there pondering this burden, a young boy of about seven years of age came crawling out from the darkness. He crawled in front of me, pulled himself up fully and with deep, dark and sparkling eyes and a smile on his face, reached out his hand to shake mine. To say the least, I was very humbled. At that moment, I had not the slightest doubt Who was in charge. I sat back down in my chair in the shadow of the night and cried, hoping I would be able to preach.
I know now that it was the Holy Spirit who provided the scriptures and the application brought to life by Mephibosheth of old and Mephibosheth of the village, a young polio victim whose nickname was Noggin.
We went to many villages and I never grew weary or worried because the Holy Spirit prepared my heart to teach His Word with a message specifically fit for each village. God’s Word would accomplish what He intended. I was not in control.
This trip belonged to God.