India. I hated it … and I loved it. I cannot speak of India without crying and I cannot think of that dark, empty nation without a great yearning in my soul.
I am undone. Completely and totally and absolutely undone by the 2 weeks that I spent in India.
I didn’t want to go to India. I have never felt the same call to the foreign mission field that others feel. Oh … I love the stories of the great missionaries and count these men and women among my heroes and heroines.
But me?! Go to a dark continent?! I don’t think so!!
I invest in the lives of those who are called to live and serve in other countries. I invest financially in their ministries, in their plane tickets, in their provision and in praying for them by name.
But I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay complacent yet committed. I wanted my money to do the talking for me. I felt somehow justified in merely supporting others while I stayed home in ease and in comfort.
I was a “sender” not a “go-er”.
I was smugly comforted by the fact that for the past 5 years, Just Joy! Ministries has given 10% of every dollar that comes in to our ministry to the Girls’ Home at HBI. The girls who live there are “social” orphans and have been rejected by their parents for a variety of reasons. The girls are fed, clothed, nurtured, discipled, educated and loved by the house parents there. The home that they live in is spartan but clean. I want these valuable girls to experience a touch of beauty and a splash of comfort. I want to provide items of personal hygiene for their care and great books for them to read. I want them to sleep covered with beautiful sheets and to wake up in the morning with music playing.
I felt in some self-serving way that I was doing my part for the people of India by giving a generous 10%.
I have never been so wrong in a prideful assumption!
Because, you see, I heard the voice of God. He opened an extraordinary door for me to speak at two women’s conferences in Chennai, India in the summer of 2015. It was a door that only God could have opened and I would have been willfully and foolishly disobedient to say, “No”.
In my 6 decades of living, I may not have learned much, but I have learned not to say, “No” to God.
I said a fearful yet firm, “Yes!” to God as the plans for a Just Joy! Conference in India began in earnest. We gathered a team of women to accompany me, we began to raise money, to pray and to plan.
And then, that unwelcome intruder by the name of “cancer” invaded my body.
Cancer interrupted my timely plan to travel to India. Even though I hated cancer, I was a tiny bit grateful that I didn’t have to go to India.
Whew! Dodged that call!
After surgeries, horrible medications and a myriad of tests and procedures, I was gloriously declared, “Cancer free!” I couldn’t wait to get on with the life that God had given to me. And I know that I know that I know that the life that I am called to live is a call to obedience.
God called me to India. Cancer may have detoured my journey but it didn’t silence the call.
And so humbly, quietly and submissively, I whispered, “Yes,” once again to my Father.
The plans were made … the airline tickets were purchased … a team was assembled … and our bags were packed.
Heat … curry … lizards … filth … traffic … cows … slums … rice … trash … people … darkness … bugs … smell … empty.
India has a massive population of people who are empty. They are angry and empty. Most of them live in squalor and serve gods of other empty religions.
The need is great and my heart crumbled at the call.
The women who came to the first conference knew no English and most of them had never been out of their remote village before this opportunity to travel by train to Chennai. They wept as they worshiped and raised grateful hands to the Father Who had made them and saved them. They were desperate for prayer and were able to communicate with demonstrative hand motions their prayer requests. Tears came unbidden down their wrinkled faces as they stood in awe of their Creator and of His great love for them.
We prayed until we were hoarse. We prayed until we saw breakthroughs. We prayed for miracles and the miracles came.
Every night while in India I went to bed weary yet energized. How could I foolishly think that I wasn’t called to missions? How could I mistakenly believe that I could be a sender and not a goer? How could I?!
On Saturday morning, our final day in India, I was summoned away from the worship at the women’s conference to attend the dedication of the renovated Girls’ Home. This home will house the younger girls who live in the safety of HBI. The painters were still working as 100 or more people gathered to rejoice in what God had provided for these valuable daughters of the most high King!
I was asked to pull back a curtain of pink silk that hid the dedication plaque and as I did, tears began to rush down my cheeks. The sign declared,
“But Jesus said, “Let the children alone and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14
To the Glory of God
HBI’s Children’s Home
On 30 th July 2016
Mrs. Carol McLeod
In the Present of
Dr. Paul R. Gupta
President and Director of HBI College
And then, the precious, beautiful, innocent girls began to sing a song they had prepared. They sang a song that had been written by one of my dear college friends, Marty Nystrom.
“As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after Thee.
You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship Thee.
You alone are my strength and shield; to You alone will my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship Thee.
I want You more than gold or silver,
Only You can satisfy.
You alone are the real joy Giver
And the apple of my eye.
You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield;
You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship Thee.”
I sang with my girls. I sang with tears running down my cheeks. I sang in India amidst the filth and need.
I am undone. I will never be the same again.
But enough about me … what will it take to change you? What will it take to call you out of your complacent and comfortable lifestyle?
Have you heard the voice of God lately? Are you bold, yet humble enough, to answer His call with obedience?
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for Us? Then I said, “Here am I, Lord. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8
**Photo Credit: Joni McLeod and Michelle Fisher