I have been back for a little over a week now, and I have tried to wrap my head around how to put my feelings into words. At least, how to put them into words without writing a 50 page essay for you. I will do my best, however, because I know that God did not give me this opportunity for myself alone. He has a bigger plan here, and I am waiting to see how he will bring it about.
If you have been reading my previous posts, you will know that I have always been a homebody. I have never been anxious to travel or see the world, but God told me to go on this mission trip, and so I went. I learned once again how God's plans are always better than mine.
Because the girl who balked at the idea of leaving her city for college now loves a place halfway across the world. And the girl who didn't think twice about missions in a foreign country now weeps for the lost who live far away. God's work is amazing.
I think one of the things that I love most about India is the people. So many sweet faces fill my mind as I look back on my time there. I remember the little girl in the school who asked me if I was "coming back tomorrow and next day and next day?" and I so wanted to tell her yes. I remember the laughter of the kids at the orphanage as they taught me to play "king ball" with them. I remember hearing the stories of God's power from the missionaries who started the ministry we worked with. I remember the tiny little girl blowing me kisses during craft time at VBS. I remember the joy on the faces of the women at the tea plantation when they realized that at the core, we are just like them. I remember the smiles from a little boy at the orphanage when I taught him how to use my camera. I can still hear the kids cheering each other on during game time at VBS.
There is so much I remember, and so much I don't want to forget.
Strangely enough, I also loved the culture of India, the clothes of India, the food of India, and even the smells! I learned to bow or shake hands with each person I met while saying in Hindi, "Praise the Lord." I learned that Indian food is amazing, and that I actually do like spicy food. I learned that Indian clothes are beautiful and extremely comfortable. And as much as people warned me about the smells, I found that they didn't bother me at all. Moreover, I found that incense and curry powder and dust and cardamom can be a pleasant combination.
As I am processing my time there, I come back to the point: what is pulling my heart to India? I believe it is the opportunity for ministry and the Lord's work that needs to be done there. What breaks my heart is that many of the people I encountered may never have the chance to know the joy of Christ. I weep to think that I will never see again some of these faces that are etched on my memory.
One night, the missionaries we were working with told us stories of the Buddhist monks in nearby Bhutan. These monks renounce their families and live as beggars, all in hope of achieving salvation. The problem is that they are going to stand before the Lord of Creation and discover that all their work was for nothing. Does this not grieve you, to know that these who strove so hard in this life to do the right thing will not find any reward in the next? And all because no one was there to point them to the truth, to show them the only way to salvation and peace.
Here is the cold, hard truth: 86% of Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus do not know a Christian. 80,000 people will die today without getting a chance to hear the name of Christ or the gospel. India is the most unreached nation in the world, with 98% of Indian people unable to hear about Christ's salvation even if they wanted to.
I don't want to sit idly by and watch these people I love be eternally separated from God. I am waiting on God to see how he leads me, but this I believe in full faith: I will go back to India. Sometime, somehow, I will see this place again.
Thank you, Lord for taking me on this journey. I can't wait to see what you do next.
[To learn more about the unreached and global missions, I would encourage you to visit the Joshua Project]