How God changed my heart -Reflections on my first visit to India – Part 3
In my previous blog, I only partly answered the question, “What had brought me to this place?” by saying it was, “to meet the children of Rupamari School whom I had been supporting through my work as Project Manager”. And now, in a state of self-pity, lying on my bed and thinking, “I will never get there in the morning! Why would God have brought me to this country only to die before meeting the children and seeing the work?”
Sitting on the deck of the motorised boat heading towards Rupamari Island, I had time for reflection.
Overseas Mission – alright for others, but not for me.
Just two and a half years ago I had been attending the Vision for Asia conference desperately trying to feel something for the splendid work in which they were involved in. Try as I might, I felt nothing except feelings of guilt for my hard-heartedness! Despite the excellent times of worship, the stories I was hearing of Mission Trips, and meeting one of the partners from West Bengal, it all left me cold, uninspired and seriously not wanting to be a part of this organisation. Even though the friend who had invited me happened also to be the Founder Trustee, I couldn’t wait to get away from this place.
Throughout my Christian life overseas mission work had never interested me, always believing that there was enough work to do on my own doorstep! I was filled with admiration for those who obeyed God’s calling for their lives in going to “the uttermost parts of the earth”, and I was happy to leave my interest at that.
An awkward conversation.
Eighteen months later, I was having lunch with said friend who was telling me about the new school project, which Vision for Asia had initiated, on an island in West Bengal. There was the need of a Project Manager to run the child sponsorship scheme. Allowing this current line of Vision for Asia conversation to go in one ear and out the other, I just smiled and nodded and sympathised with the dilemma being expressed.
In an attempt to draw this subject to a close, I threw out a glib reply of, “I’ll think about it” which often means, “OK! I’ve heard enough. I don’t know how to respond, but this seems an acceptable way to finish this conversation and concentrate on mundane small talk such as the dog’s health!” Failing that, I have discovered that a line such as, “Oh, is that so and so I see over there?” works equally well!
My friend continued talking in her enthusiastic way. Gazing into my half-drunk Latte, I responded with the words, “I’ll pray about it”, and steered the conversation towards a different subject.
God’s subtle steering.
Suddenly, pictures of children’s big, brown eyes looking at me flooded my mind one after the other, and seemed to penetrate my heart. I began to ask questions about the school project, and what it would mean to become Project Manager. My adamant reluctance to get involved with this organisation had been challenged to the point of saying with the deepest passion and enthusiasm, “I’ll do it!” Why? Because I believe God Himself placed those pictures in my mind of Indian children and spoke to my heart that day in sharing His heart for these children. How could I refuse?
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (New Living Translation)
Not only that but, to my utter amazement, He impressed on me the desire to go and visit the children of Rupamari Island. And this is where we were now heading. Eating breakfast, playing with a child, on a little boat, in the middle of a river, with friends. What a privilege!
Unless by this point, I have totally lost your interest, you can read more of my reflections on my first visit to India in Part 4 soon.