Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reflections on India

I remember when I came back from India and began telling people about my experiences, a lot of people told me to begin a journal of my time there. I never had any good experiences with keeping a journal, but maybe doing it online may work better. We'll see. Anyways, some thoughts...

The Trinity of Me, Myself and I
Before we left for India, I got sick with a serious case of the cold. For the whole flight over, I was leaking out my nose, coughing, and feeling absolutely miserable. In hindsight, I think there were preventative measures I could have taken to sidestep this illness. But I distinctly remember thinking to myself "I'm traveling with a medical team. If I ever get sick, I'll be surrounded by people who can fix me." I dunno if there's anything more selfish than that. Because of my stupidity, over the course of the trip, I began seeing people drop like flies from the 'Chen Cooties' (not to be confused with children's cooties. Mine are 1,000 times more potent and are known to cause sudden outbursts of verbal diarrhea and flatulence.) As I began to seriously wrestle with how my mind works, it dawned on me that I am tremendously selfish. I don't think past my own circumstances and often don't realize how my actions will affect those around me. Oh, if only I had a llama to serve as my sidekick, I would have gotten a serious punt from Jorge for being such a selfish ass.

Tyndale -----> India?
Probably one of the biggest lessons I was able to take back from India was a realization that things don't happen by chance, and things are more connected than we think.

On one of the first few days in India, we were given the pleasure of being in the company of a room full of local Indian pastors. They shared their stories from the field, some of which were funny, others were serious. But all of them were absolutely real. We heard stories of miracles, persecution, and people being raised from the dead. One story that I can't seem to get out of my head is one where a pastor was called over to someone's house to pray over the family's sick child. This family had taken their child to every doctor they could think of, witch doctors, western doctors, Indian doctors, and everything in between. But the child's illness showed no signs of improvement. When the pastor arrived at the family's home, he was asked to pray over the child. But before he could begin praying, he was told that if after he prays, but the child dies, they will find the pastor and kill him as well as his family. These experiences are typical of what life is like for pastors in India. With the spiritual climate being this way in India, these pastors are modeling what it means to be faithful to God instead of being whores like many of us are in North America. We run to God when we need something, but if "all is well", we're turning tricks with clients we call greed, apathy and indifference, and all their friends and relatives. But I digress...
Although these pastors are living and experiencing things that many of us would never encounter here in North America, one thing that seemed to be echoed by many of these pastors was a desire to be trained and equipped to be more effective in what God has called them to do. When I heard this, it didn't quite register, but it wasn't until I got back to North America that I realized that perhaps God has positioned me at Tyndale to learn all this theological crap for more than my own personal gain. I remember when I left Detroit to start school in Toronto and the feeling of inadequacy when it came to being on staff with the church for 2 1/2 years. I didn't know what I was doing, and there were people who reminded me that my preaching and teaching sucks. So I figured that if this is where God is leading me, then I better get some help. But in reflecting on my reasoning to go back to school and this encounter with God's people in India, I feel that I've been given this renewed excitement for school because I now know that there's a bigger purpose to what I'm doing than just learning for myself. I'm still wrestling with how this will play itself out and unfold in the next little while, but as I'm feeling both excited and trepidatious for what the future holds, I know that my existence here in this world is for something bigger than me.


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