Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Follow Me" - Jesus

Well I haven't written in ages so thought I should share a little of what I have been up to. I spent last week in Hyderbad (a city north of Bangalore) volunteering at a children's home. 

There are 4 children homes in the one suburb run by the same organization. I was also able to spend a week with my little sister who is volunteering there for 1 month with her friend. It was a great week, doing what I love with people that I love. But it was also a hard week at times. 

These particular homes are for Children with disabilities. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of sadness I felt when I first walked through one of the homes. If I am totally honest I felt scared and sick to my stomach as well.

The first room I walked into there were about 8 babies, all under 2 years. Each of them has a disability of some sort, from blindness, to a skin disease, to clapped feet and others. I felt overwhelmed with it all, feeling so helpless and scared to even pick them up in case I did something to make it worse for them (a silly thought really).

The 2nd room we walked into had about 10 - 15 kids with ages ranging from 4-13. Again my stomach felt sick at the helplessness of the children. Nearly all of them were laying on mats on the floor not being able to move much, if at all. My eyes welled up with tears as I sat next to one who was crying, I don't think she was in pain, but probably just wanted someone to sit with her. 

The need is just so great, there are so many kids out there like these children who have been abandoned in particular because of their disabilities. The children in this home are the fortunate ones because they not only have people caring about them, with medical treatment and sooo much love but they are also taught about God and His great love for them! 

As I sat there with them I was struck with the reality of heaven, and how great it will be when there will be no sickness or disabilities. Where all who have been saved will be given new bodies, there will be no pain, just joy! Where all who have been called and responded to God will be able to worship with all they have! What a great day that will be. 

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭18-23‬

Which brings me to the second thing that God has been teaching me lately. I am reading a book called 'Follow Me' by David Platt. Such a great book and I have been greatly challenged by it. It's talks about what it means to actually follow God, about some of the misconceptions that people have about what it means to follow God. It's says that ultimately a call to follow Jesus, which is completely initiated by Him, is a call to die. A call to give up all we have, all our desires, all our things, to give up our lives for Him. 

As I was struck with the reality of how great heaven will be I was also struck with the idea of how horrible life without God will be for some. And that being called to follow God means that I am to die to myself and do all that I can to share Him with others and bring glory to His name! 

Not a new revelation but one that I need to keep being reminded of. It is so easy in the western culture to become comfortable, to remain in our comfort zone, to not die to ourselves but to live an 'easy' life. But this is not what God calls us to do as His disciples! We are called to step out, to be bold for the Kingdom. 

"Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." ‭Matthew‬ ‭16‬:‭24-25‬

I am amazed out how people in India seem to get that. For a lot of those who become Christians, it can mean giving up their comfort, the past way of doing things, their family and home and sometimes even their lives. Yet they are so open about their faith! About the fact that they are Christians. They put up verses in their homes and stickers on their cars and signs on their houses so that all who walk into their homes know that they are following Jesus. Now I know these are only signs and that doesn't make them a Christian but the point is they get what it means to be a disciple and aren't ashamed or afraid to show it to people! I feel I can learn a lot from them about that. How often do I shy away from sharing my faith, or talking about what I'm involved in? 

When I was in Bible College if truth be told I would sometimes dread people asking me what I studied. Because as soon as I told them 9/10 times there would be a sigh or an OH that I knew meant they thought I was weird or crazy and then they would do whatever they could to get out of the conversation. It's silly to think I cared that much of what people thought, but I think most of us do. 

Yet God calls us, as His followers, to give up all we have, including the approval of others, to live a life that points people to Him. So pray for me, as I do for you, that I would not shy away from making His name known, especially as I head back to Australia! 

"Giving ourselves wholly to Christ is the only way to discover who we are, the Only way to become who Christ means us to be, the only way to experience his riches in this life and the only way to fulfill the purpose for which he made us. It may seem frightening, but once you do it, your only regret will be that you didn’t do it sooner." Reflections on C.S Lewis. 

Pray For
- the precious children at the homes I met, that God would reveal himself to them, and that in all difficulties they would know the hope and glory of a life with Christ.
- me, that I would be a follower of Christ that is not ashamed to proclaim His name! 
"Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary." Psalm‬ ‭96‬:‭2-6‬
- safe trip home in the next few days

Praise God for 
- a great time in Hyderbad with my sister
- the opportunity to serve Him looking after such beautiful children 
- the many lessons He has taught me in my time here! 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Some ponderings - "what you do for the least of these you do for me"

The other night we walked up and down mosque road (the biggest mosque in Bangalore is located here). During Ramadan every night they have little food stalls up and down this street. The food smells amazing, it is really crowded and there is so many different things to eat. 

We went with some friends and they got me to try all sorts of things. From beef chilli, to chicken Kabab, to sweet lime soda, and I even tried camel! It was definitely a fun experience:)

But while we there we came across quite a few beggars. This is not something that is unusual in India but something that makes me feel so helpless. I just don't know what to do when they come up to me. How many of them are actually in need? How many of them if I give them money will give it straight to their boss? How many will then assume that all westerns are good for is to give money, that they don't actually care? How would me giving them money actually help them? 

Sometimes I carry around biscuits to give to them, but most of the time they seem annoyed with that. Tonight one particular girl was following me around, I was avoiding eye contact and just trying to ignore her, but I hate that! I don't want to become desensitized to it all, I don't want to push them away like they are nothing. They are people, with hearts and souls, they have been created with personalities and purposes. 

So I decided I would try to hold her hand, look her in the eyes and give her some food. She did not like that one bit. So how do we show these people Gods love? How do we actually help them? 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46

What you do to the least of these you do for me. This is a BIG call, and a strong warning, we are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry etc.. Does that mean we go and help every beggar we see, every person in need that we ever come across, this is something I would definitely be willing to try. I want to love, to care for every person I come across but I can't. If I tried I would probably be left feeling tired, deflated and unsuccessful!

In a instant how do we do we show God's love with the beggars we come across? It is hard and I don't know if there is an answer.

This is something I have been pondering. I was asking God what do I do, and I felt like He said to me.. Ask them their name, there is so much power in someone's name, God calls each one of us by name. 

'To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.' John 10:3 

When I have been to the different homes here and the children tell us their name and we remember it, there is so much joy on their faces. When we remember someone's name it is like we are saying you are special, you are valued! 

Names in the Bible are picked for people very specifically, and are very important! So maybe to ask their name, is to say you have value, you have worth and maybe God can use that to reveal himself to them. I don't know, maybe it's something I can try. 

Please pray for me and with me as I encounter people in poverty. People who are poor not only physically but also spiritually. Pray that I would learn to follow the Spirits leading on how He wants me to minister to people here, especially those on the streets. 

Below are some photos of the fun we have had in Bangalore with some close family friends. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Our God is a GREAT BIG GOD

Let me share about the past couple of days. I noticed a boy today sitting by himself, he was sitting by himself yesterday too. I tried to sit with him and chat with him but it was clear that his English was not good and he almost seemed embarrassed by that. So I just sat in silence with him watching the other boys play. It can be so frustrating not knowing the language and being able to communicate sometimes. 

As the afternoon went on I watched as this boy continued to be on his own a lot, I found out that he is fairly new to the home here and his name is Jason. His dad is not around and so his mum was left to care for him. Her mother got sick and she had to care for her so Jason was left alone a lot and was not able to go to school. His mother then brought him to this home. 

Being new he doesn't know anyone and is probably missing his mum a lot! As well their routine of having prayer times, of reading the Bible, even talking about the God we love and serve would probably be foreign to him. I can't imagine how unsettled he must feel. 

As I was sitting trying to think of what I could do for this precious boy, another boy threw me a football, and we started to throw it back and forth. I included Jason and slowly he got involved in it and even smiled. Then a few of the other boys joined us as well. As we played I was hit with the reminder that God knows and loves each one of these children so much! And even though I don't know each one of them, even if they are new here and feel so far from all they know that God knows each one intimately, he knows their thoughts, their hearts and still loves them. How I wish I could just stop and communicate that to each one! 

We (my mum and I) have had an opportunity to share each night during their prayer time. We have been teaching them a song the words are, 

"Our God is a great big God
Our God is a great big God
Our God is a great big God and He holds us in His hands

He's higher than a skyscraper
He's deeper than a submarine
He's wider than the universe
And beyond my wildest dreams
He's known me and He's loved me
Since before the world began
How wonderful to be a part of God's amazing plan"

So each night we have been explaining more of what exactly we are singing and using the bible to explain it. One night we talked about the idea of God holding us in His hands, of holding us close to His heart. Then we got to share about how great God is (Psalm 95:1-5), that He is greater than any of our dreams and even when things don't go the way we want that to know God is greater. Then tonight we shared about how God knows us and loves us (psalm 139) 

This is something I really wanted to share with Jason but communication hindered this. So tonight as mum shared about God knowing everything about us from psalm 139 and how he knew us before we were born, she singled out a girl and a boy, that boy was Jason. You should have seen His face light up! Then after prayer he came up to us, as they all do, and shook our hands with the BIGGEST smile! Such a different picture from the boy I saw in the afternoon. This is the power of Gods love! So Please join with me in prayer for this precious boy that God's love would become more and more real to him, that he would have a revelation  of how deep, how wide, how high Gods love is for him! 

There are many more in this home that need to know that as well! I am so grateful that God has given us this opportunity to be here and share with them that love, even just for a few days. 

Pray for
- Jason and the children here, that God would reveal to them who He is! 
- that the workers who are here looking after the children would have strength, patience and love, they are few in number and have so much to do
- that God would send the right people here to work matthew 9:
- that God would continue to direct me on how I should spend my time here. I am looking into going to Hyderabad to visit a friend's ministry. 

PRAISE God for
- the opportunity to meet these children, to spend time with them, to share with them God's love 
- safety on the roads with the many trips we have done
- the beautiful Indian Christian people who have welcomed us with open arms 
- the opportunity to bless the children here by buying a few treats for them

1. Me and some of the children, Jason is sitting to my left.
2. Me and the youngest girl when we were walking through the village 
3.all the children just before we left


Highlights from Victory Children's Home

I have so much to write! So much has happened in the past couple of days. We have moved from the girls home to a children's hostel in a remote village. 

The hostel is for children who's parents can not look after them, or live in a place where they can't get schooling. A lot of them come from homes where the father has left the mother and the mother has to work and is unable to care for them (sadly divorce is becoming more and more common). Most of them come from Hindu homes. So coming to this home is such a great opportunity to share the gospel with them, which they then can take home to their parents when they go home once a year. 

- we were greeted with a welcome sign and beautiful garlands
- playing with the children. Again language was limited between us, but it was such a joy to play football, cricket, shuttle cock, catch, duck duck goose and other games with them. I love to just stop and listen to their laughter and delight as they play! 
-  praying for the people at the church Sunday morning. What an honor to lift people up in prayer! I was humbled and challenged by the way so many of them came forward for prayer! Whether it was prayer for healing or a family member or prayer for exams, study or to grow closer to God, so many came forward! How often do we go forward for prayer? Not nearly enough! Well I know I don't. What are we afraid of? I think a lot of it is pride, it's like we have this idea that as Christians we have to have it all together. But we don't, in fact I think it should be the opposite, we are Christians because we realize we don't have it all together. Because we realize our deep need for Jesus Christ to be our Savior!! So we need to show that more! Let's be honest with each other and lift each other up in prayer!! 
- prayer and worship times with the children each evening. It is so great to hear them worshipping in their own language. 

There is so much more I could share but will try to keep this short. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers! 

House of Praise

Today we visited a girls home we have been to before many times. It is called House of Praise. Again it has changed a lot from what we once knew. There has been a lot of sadness come through this place. Yet it is still as House of Praise! A highlight of being here has been hearing the girls sing joyful songs of praise to God, they have such sweet voices! Hearin them praise God even though they have been through some hard times is such a beautiful thing! 

Last year one of the girls had leukemia and died, she was only 17years old. Then a couple of years ago the Indian man (his name is Sudarshan) who looks after the girls here had a stroke. He could not walk, talk or do anything really. Over the years God has been doing a work in him and he can now walk and is responsive to people talking to him, but is still not able to speak. While he has come such a long way it is still heartbreaking to see him this way. He is such a different man from the one I knew. I don't know I always had a soft spot for him. He was always a chatterbox, with a cheeky sense of humor. It still brings me to tears to see him this way. But the reminder that God is sovereign, that He has allowed this to happen for a reason rings in my ears. And I guess that's what we all have to hold onto in trying circumstances! 

We had an opportunity tonight as a family to share a devotion with the girls. Mum shared about obedience and the importance of being obedient to God as He loves and cares for us and knows what is best. I ran an activity where we got one of the girls to be blind folded and another girl to call out to her and lead her through some obstacles. It was a challenge for them to listen first and then to trust and obey where the girl was leading them. I then shared how we need to do the same with God. And how often in life we can't see what is around the corner, we are blind to what the future holds. But God knows the future and He calls us to do things, He leads certain ways for our best and for His glory! And we can trust and obey Him because He cares so deeply for us! 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Romans 8:28-30

It was a challenge for me to really seek God's voice and to obey wherever He is leading. Oh how great it is that we have a God who talks to each one of us. And how great it is that God can even talk to Sudarshan, and Sudarshan can talk to God. Even though he can't communicate to us, God can see his heart and as he calls out to him, God will guide him, will comfort him! This is evident as he still loves to sing praises to God (although his words are hard to make out). 

I have so loved our time here and while there has been so much sadness here again I am reminded that God is still working. The girls here are growing in to beautiful women and are being taught about God and His love for them. God has them in the palm of His hand and is walking with them. 

PRAY for 
- Sudarshan, for continued healing and revelation to Him of God
- strength, patience and peace for Sudarshans wife and daughter as they love and care for him
- the girls here, that they would all come to know God as their personal Lord and Savior 

PRAISE God for
- time with these precious people who are like family! 
- His sovereignty over all things 
- the many lessons He is teaching me 

1.Some of the girls dressed in their uniforms- so sweet 
2. Sudarshan and his wife singing praises together family, Sudarshan, His wife and daughter 
4. My family and Saroja (one of the older ladies here) 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Faithful in ALL circumstances!

Yesterday some Indian friends drove us down to a boys home. A lot has changed since we were here last. Unfortunately there have been some disagreements amongst the people who run the orphanages and it is not the same children's home that we once knew. 

Despite that though God is still faithful and is still taking care of His children. And that is so evident in the story we heard of some of the little boys who came around a year ago to this home. When they came they were malnourished and not in a good way. Their father had died and their mother, who was only 23, was left to look after them herself. Having 3 boys she couldn't handle it so they were referred to this home. Looking at these boys now you would have no idea of the life they once had. There is such a deep joy and delight on their faces! They look healthy and are learning so much. 

They know barely any English but I still was able to spend the afternoon playing with them. We played with a ball for ages and then sat down in the dirt and drew pictures with sticks. They tried to explain to me what they were drawing in Kanarese (a local language) and I would try to say it in English. It didn't even seem to matter that we didn't speak the same language. They would laugh at me and I would laugh back at them. We then saw who could throw a rock the furthest and I spun them around until I felt sick with dizziness! But It was so worth it! Oh the sound of their laughter I will never forget! So much joy, so much freedom and innocence, such a different life from a year ago. 

At dinner time we all sat around in a room and they sung some songs before dinner. Again such joy filled the faces of the boys as they sung songs that speak of how great God is! I will try to attach a video, as it is such a delight to see them doing actions and all! 

God is at work here despite some of the politics that are going on with the people who run the home. And that is so encouraging to see. Despite our downfalls and sometimes the conflict that can go on between people, even amongst Christians, God is still so faithful! And He cares deeply for the lowly, the downcast, the poor. He cares deeply for children! 

I think sometimes we need to take a step back and remember this. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the politics of things. Or so caught up in how someone has wronged me. Or maybe we even get so caught up in the huge injustices in the world that we miss the fact that God is at work even in the most dire of circumstances. And He is ALWAYS faithful! 

"All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! 
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] 
The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. 
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. 
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. 
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever." 
Psalm 145:10-21 

- the situation in the boys home, that God would bring unity amongst the people. John 17:20-23
- that I would be sensitive to the Spirits leading on how He wants me to use my time here 
- safety on the roads as we travel tomorrow 

- His faithfulness in doing a work amongst the people of India
- my time at the boys home and the joy I have had in spending time with these precious children! 

Below are 2 pictures of the gorgeous boys I was playing with :) 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Blessed to be a blessing

Firstly let me start of by saying a big thank you to all of you who blessed me immensely before leaving for India! Thank you for the cards, money and kind words! I feel truly blessed by the amazing people God has surround me with in Australia! I have been blessed to be a blessing! 

Well we made it safely to India and are currently in the beautiful OOTY which is over 3000m above sea level. We had a good flight and were met at the airport by Pastor Mark. It was such a joy to be greeted by a smiling familiar face.

Coming out of the airport car park we were then greeted with the familiar sounds of beeping horns and chaotic traffic. There is really nothing like it, and as we drove and saw motorbikes and autos weaving in and out of traffic, as we saw buses overloaded with people, as we saw people in such beautiful, bright colored clothing there was a sense of relief and rest. We are back!! We are in India!! 

We came straight to OOTY where I have enjoyed just walking the streets, going down to the market, being in and with the people of India. Mum, dad and Hope have all enjoyed catching up with people they know from Hebron School from when they were here for 3 years. 

I think God has been teaching me a bit more of being still. I have had a bit of down time. More then I really want and have almost been feeling aggravated that I don't have a whole lot to do. Life before coming here was so chaotic, with all sorts of ministries and college it was rare for me to really get a chance to stop.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm‬ ‭46‬:‭10‬

But God has been teaching me to just be still before Him. I have had some time with Him to stop and to know He is God. To stop and draw near to Him and to be filled. I have had time to read the Bible and journal. I have really seen this time as a time when He has been filling me so that I may go and bless others in the future. I am Blessed to be a blessing! 

However in saying that there have still been times of doing things as well. The highlight of the week so far is a kids club I went to. It is run by some of the teachers from Hebron school held in a local Indian house. We had around 18 Indian kids and 5 adults all crammed into the living room, which is the size of my bedroom (not that big). A lady told the story of Zacchaeus and then we did a craft. I connected with these 2 boys and was sitting chatting and coloring in with them. They then sang us these cute songs in Tamil, with actions and everything. 

As we were there I was reminded again that this is what I love to do. To be with the real people of India, especially children. To be sitting with them, talking with them, being on the same level as them (which is hard sometimes because they so often treat white people like they're royalty which makes me feel so uncomfortable)! 

In my conversation with the boys I was struck by how easy it was to chat with them (although at times language was a little frustrating, I wish we could instantly speak another language). They noticed my phone and asked me what kind of phone it was. When I told them an Apple iPhone they were shocked and excited all at the same time. They then offered me 100 rupees ($2.50) to buy it off me haha, I politely refused. But it was a challenge to me, they thought the iPhone was such an amazing thing (which it is) but how often do I take it for granted?! It is just expected that every person owns one, and that you are to keep upgrading even when you old phone still works fine. 

I could tell you more stories and more detail but I should probably bring this to a close. I will try to make my next post shorter :) below are some photos and prayer and praise points. Enjoy! 

Pray FOR
- contentment with being still this week 
- opportunities to speak truth to the people of India of God's love for each one of them
- God to reveal to me more of what He would have me do in the future 

Praise God FOR
- safe arrival 
- meeting an Indian in Malaysia who is from Brisbane, whom we will keep in contact with 
- The provision of money for both me and my family 
- the many people we have been able to reconnect with 
- my time with the boys at kids club