I Never Thought I would do this (Final Part)
By Stephen L France
*See previous parts to this testimony in the links below
Alone in my room, nights in India were filled with tears and thanksgiving.
There were tears because famous soundtrack Amazing Grace’s words became real in my understanding of how much of a ‘wretch’ I am; and there was thanksgiving to the Lord because he’d allowed me to see the deceptive beliefs in my soul, that He intended to transform [Romans 12:2].
For our days spent in India, leaders Femi Sofolarin and Mona Lisa, Shalom, Lydie Joanna, Tayo Igbintade, and I, played our parts as a team. The group dynamic was as perfect as everything is when walking in tune with the Lord’s ways [2 Samuel 22:31].
All of us did what Christian Mission traditionally compels one to do; step out of our comfort zones and serve the Lord by faith alone, allowing His grace to preserve us through our various trials [Ephesians 2:8-9].
Chennai’s reception of us won my heart; the sincerity in the smiles of the poor, showed me joy and peace in the most arduous conditions.
Amid our diverse duties, we served food at soup kitchens, saw Haven of Hope Handicaraft Centre where women of poverty are blessed with an opportunity to work, visited and sang songs at the orphanage, toured Bethany Nursery, Primary, and Higher Secondary School, conducted a huge prayer session for Rainbow Ministry of Hope – HIV and Aids victims, gave the Word, testimonies, and worship at girls’ and boys’ rallies with the Street Children’s Ministry, were shown the victory of Bethany Health Care Centre, and met our sponsored children – a truly touching time.
Perhaps most bright among my memories were the moments we were suddenly called by God to act.
At the Leprosy village, Shalom was asked if she could play the guitar to which she responded:
“I haven’t played for a long time. Do I get time to practice?”
But there was no time. The CMCT staff handed her a guitar, rung the rations delivery bell, and everybody from the village was in our assembly room within minutes, ready for worship, prayer, and testimony from us.
Shalom played and led song like she’d never been separated from the guitar.
Then there was the moment that Femi was asked to give a third sermon, because his preaching was so nourishing to the congregation. His response:
“I’m not getting any sleep tonight.”
He went at preparation all night long, constructed a sermon, and in the early hours of the morning just before he was to deliver his well-prepared Biblical lesson, God told him to scrap it, and give another message. This Holy Spirit inspired sermon was a success as CMCT staff all over the headquarters approached Femi to thank him.
On our bus journeys to the various CMCT ministries in Chennai, our mission team would take turns in prayer. On Lydie’s first turn, she surprised us saying:
“That was my first time praying in public.”
The words she was inspired to give had sounded like she regularly conducted prayer with an audience.
Both Tayo and Mona Lisa were tried with relaying their testimonies and the Word of God at unexpected moments; both handled themselves flawlessly with the knowledge that God was with them, not appearing phased in the slightest by their new challenges.
And then there was my own trial of public speaking when I was called to retell the story of Jonah to 50 children in a very unexpected change of plan.
However, in every activity, we came through as a team, reflected on our teachings from the mission, and in the evenings, enjoyed lively conversation about God’s work in our lives.
CMCT’s mission is a Godly one. Full stop.
They are completely dedicated and organised in helping the poor of India; a ministry of vision, faith, and action.
Seeing all this in physical form was witnessing Jesus Christ’s phenomenal work – nothing less. In the bright light of God’s triumph, my sins were brought under the magnifying glass, not for condemnation, but for the perfecting of my faith [James 1:3].
This specific mission trip is a journey we should all take at least once in our lives – it will impact you.
Being a Lump of Clay
So where has all this landed me at the close of 2016?
Where have two years of faith and a Christian Mission to India taken me to?
What has ‘making my life a living sacrifice to God’ meant? [Romans 12:1]
As I write this on Sunday December 18, 2016 after Westminster Community Choir performance weekend—of which I was a tenor and had a fantastic time—I confess that I am now a lump of clay.
That’s right, I said it. A LUMP OF CLAY [Romans 9:21].
After two years of holding faith in loving obedience to His Laws, my life feels as if it has been reset.
Of course, this has not been easy at all. My fallen nature/pride is still attempting to struggle as I understand it will for the rest of my life on Earth [James 1:13 – 18], but what occurs next—as in tomorrow—is now in God’s authority…
All the wounds that my memories harbour have been exposed as the spiritual strongholds and deceptions that they are. In addition—and perhaps more significantly—all the prideful measures I took to repair these wounds have been unmasked as the lies they are.
I have literally been left with nothing that I can do, because all I can do in my own strength won’t work. I have one wise choice – to pray without ceasing for God’s love and grace.
As a man who was secretly proud of his own self-righteous ways and morality, this is a tough place to be, but simultaneously, an exciting position to experience.
I go into 2017, ready to be moulded by the Lord. Ready to be fashioned into His soldier. And most importantly, ready to know what real love actually means [1 Corinthians 13:4 – 7].
So I ask you this as someone learning about love for the first time; what is it like to be loved by God?
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See Part 1 here: http://stephen-l-france.com/i-never-thought-i-part-1/
See Part 2 here: http://stephen-l-france.com/i-never-thought-i-part-2/
See Part 3 here: http://stephen-l-france.com/video-photos-i-never-thought-i-part-3/
Full Photo Collection Here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10100966922753712.1073741831.286103077&type=1&l=410044551f
See more from Feeding Faith here: http://stephen-l-france.com/category/feeding-faith/