Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Teaching In India

One of the signs of the Christian spirit is our willingness and preparation to tell others about our faith. That willingness should not be found only among priests and other religious, but among everyday laity. Such an evangelical spirit is promoted heavily by our Catholic bishops, but it doesn't always catch on. Catholic laity, for the most part I think, still leave evangelization to priests, nuns, brothers and sisters.

As a child brought up in Evangelicalism, I was aware of a prohibition in our Evangelical ranks against ordaining women. (Wonder where that came from?) But it became obvious that if the Gospel was going to get out, women had a major role to play. In a previous post I discussed a little of the legacy that my grandmother, Edith Willobee, established by helping to plant churches and preaching in India; and I mentioned my Evangelical (not Catholic) daughter, Trudy Nelson, going to India for a very brief visit to teach the untouchables how to live Christian lives that trust God in the midst of dire circumstances. Below is her prayer letter upon her return. I offer Trudy's experience and preparation up as an example of Christian virtue that we should all follow. (That's Trudy above with her family in 2006 aboard Family Ties off Flower Pot Island, Canada.) (Stan Williams)

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Dear Praying Friends, November 3, 2007

We serve an amazing God who is worthy of all our praise! I believed this with all my heart before going to India. While I was there, however, I sensed the power and presence of God in ways I never have before. Thank you for making this trip possible. It changed me; it changed each person on our team; and it changed the 265 Indian women who attended the conference.

In my earlier letter, I asked for prayer in five areas. Thank you for your faithfulness as you prayed for each of these things. I saw God use your prayers in tremendous ways!

It was incredible to watch each member of our team teach the Word of God. Some of us had experience in teaching, but others honestly weren’t comfortable with being asked to teach. Yet, God took our willingness and obedience to His call, and gave us clarity as we prepared our lessons.

I asked: Pray that we will communicate God’s Word effectively and appropriately.He also gave us passion and a personal connection to the topics we had been assigned.
The women listened with wide eyes and, those who could, took vigorous notes.

I personally saw God take my topics and give me confidence in the words I should speak. He also provided clear visuals for my talks that were all of Him. (I’m not that creative!) One woman said, “This talk healed me,” regarding my first talk. In that talk, the women erupted into spontaneous applause at the climax of the visual (as a woman was transformed from an enslaved sinner to a daughter of the King of Kings). In the picture to the right, Rita is , wearing a “condemned” sign, with me before my talk.

Another woman found me and said, “I will never forget the sitar,” referring to the main illustration of my last talk. That talk was an allegory of how a common gourd is transformed into a sitar (a classical Indian instrument). I knew nothing about how sitars were made when God put this illustration on my heart. As I researched it, I was blown away by the unique ways a sitar is made and played and how well it illustrates what God does to transform us into instruments of good works for Him.

I asked: Pray for clarity, as we will be using translators during most of the teaching and many of the women are illiterate in their own language. This went hand in hand with the above request. It was exciting to have women translating for us who were also eager to communicate God’s truths. There were times when the translators would entreat the women lovingly, “Do you understand?! Listen! She has just told you something you need to hear!”

I asked: Pray for safety in travel and for good health. All of our traveling went smoothly and we were kept safe (even amid the crazy Indian traffic). We were also kept amazingly healthy throughout the week. There was a team member who had one rough day feeling sick, but it cleared up just in time for her day of teaching.

I asked: Pray that I will listen to God’s people in India and learn what God has prepared for me to learn from them as well. My answer to this could fill a few pages! Even before I arrived in India, God was revealing the depth of His love as I prayed through Ephesians 3:14-19. I had been praying for the Indian women to understand His love in a deeper way. I truly believe He answered this prayer. Yet, He did more: He filled my heart with His love for them—which translated into a deeper understanding of His love for me. Then, as I understood His love for me in a deeper way, I was freed to love them more. This was (and still is) a unique and powerful learning process for me.

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While in India, I was struck by the depth of hunger these women had for God’s blessing. They were needy in so many ways, but the need they acted on most visibly was their desire for Spiritual blessing. So often, I would be approached by someone who knew only how to say, “Please, pray.” They would stand before me, full of expectation for the prayer I could offer while my hands held theirs. God’s power filled me with passion for them and I was given His perspective of hope as I prayed for them.

Now that I’m home, I wonder how often we sense our own deep need for God’s blessing. Do I hunger for this like I saw these women hunger for it? Do I have faith to pray with power for my brothers and sisters here, just as I did there? Do I believe God is just as passionate about His children here as He is about His children there? Yes, I do—and because of this, I am still filled with hope and expectation.

The women also gave strong testimonies of the blessing it was be among such a large number of “Sisters.” Some came from across the city, but many took long bus and train rides to get to the conference. (Half of their travel expenses were provided to allow them to come.) They are such a small minority as Dalit Christians and are regularly persecuted for their “status” and their faith. One woman shared, “The number of women at this conference is greater than the size of my village.” The fellowship of being among Sisters was so overwhelming, that they even described it as, “a taste of heaven.”

These women cherished the fellowship given to them because they would not have it once they got home. Do I cherish the fellowship I have in my church? Do I thank God for my Christian sisters and brothers? Do I treat them like the gift they truly are to me? I want to grow even more in this area.

I asked: Pray also for Steve and the kids as they allow me to go, for safety and for an understanding of their partnership in this work. God took such good care of Steve and the kids while I was gone. Steve was able to take off work to stay home with them. Steve’s Mom was also a big help. I could not have done any of this if I didn’t have the full support of my family. Thank you so much for praying for them. I returned home to happy and healthy kids and to a loving and grateful husband. I am incredibly blessed to have each of them.

If you’ve made it this far in my letter—thank you! Thank you for your encouragement as I went. Thank you for your prayers as I was there. Thank you for your continued prayers for the church in India. If you see any reminders of my trip in the world
around you, please remember to pray for these
women:
-Pray they will remember all they learned.
-Pray they will not lose heart in the midst of persecution.
-Pray they will have courage and eyes of faith.

Thank you again.

In Him,

Trudy Nelson
mtrudyn@twmi.rr.com

More pictures of Trudy's trip can be found at http://wwpicasaweb.google.com/mtrudyn

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