Sunday, September 19, 2010

I am a whore, I do confess...

This is going to be long and way over due, but I promise it's worth your time to read!

Today was our first flag football game for intramurals and I had to wrap with tape, a bracelet that one of the girls from the slums in India gave me. After the game, I took off the tape to find the bracelet had broken to pieces. I immediately began to cry. It was a piece of India that hasn't left my side since I've come back to America. And as I sit here typing I can't do anything but cry, and the only reason I can think of is not because a 10 cent bracelet broke or even the fact that I am no longer in India or the fact that no one understands or cares about what amazing things God did this summer in my life...all I can result with is, like Christ, "I am not of this world." That being said, I just want to be as close in relationship to Christ as possible during my time here on Earth. The last day of ministry in India was one of the worst days of my life, but also one of my best....

I went to preschool in the morning for the last time and said our goodbyes to our teachers and my 5 year old class I still can't get off my mind. After lunch, Sam and I went to say goodbye to our friend Sue (from previous blog) and to give her a Bible. We visited with her and her family for a few hours until we had to go meet some friends. In order to give her the Bible without her husband seeing we had to give it to her so her husband wouldn't see. So I asked her if the girls who worked for her were there so I could say bye to them. Sue took us to say bye to them. They didn't realize it was our last day and had wanted to give us something, so they gave us their earings and then walked out to buy us snacks. While they were outside, Sue's husband came in and in broken English spoke "dead man" and "10 minutes." Soon after Sue ran in and told us a man just died outside in the streets! My first reaction was to go pray over him and raise him from the dead...and I wish I could tell you I was obedient in that, but I wasn't, I was a selfish whore. Sue grabbed our hands and drug us outside to a crowd of people and pushed us to the front of the crowd. There, three feet in front of me lay a man, dead, on the dirt street of the slums, his widowed wife lay over her dead husband screaming over his chest, crying out for one of her god's to save her. Her god's can't save her, but mine can. And my God was telling me to kneal by him, lay my hands on him, and pray life into him in the name of Jesus. I used the excuse of I am already late and I don't know what is culturally appropriate. So in disobedience I held my hand out where I was and prayed in my own comfort. Soon, Sam and I walked back to eat our snack from our friends, say our last goodbyes as me cry, and walk away. The whole time I was hearing the Lord repeatedly to tell me to go pray over the man, the whole time I disobeyed.

The whole time I was grappling with how I had been disobedient. God wanted to show me something big! He wanted to use me, maybe even to raise a dead man, He had something huge in that, and I disobeyed even though I knew that He was going to provide. Why, why do I fear such Earthly things. Things fo this world are not worth fearing. The Creator is the only One worth fearing. As I beat myself up and tore myself up over my choice in disobedience, the Lord only comforted me. He told me, "Alison, I don't need you to do what I am going to do in Birla and in those people. Because of your disobedience, I am no less glorious and because of your disobedience their salvation is no different from what it was. You did not mess up my plans. Yes, I wanted to use you and bless you be being a part of that. You were disobedient, but I am not disappointed! You heared my voice Alison, and you recognized it. i am proud of you for that. It is working progress. Now you know my voice and now we will work on obedience. Alison, you are my beloved daughter with whom I am well pleased!"

I am just so overwhelmed with the love the Lord has for me, that He would make so much out of nothing, that He would love me dispite my imperfections and my faults. Instead He sees how I turn my back on Him and it just makes Him want to be that much closer to me. He loves me more than I could and will ever know. But I want to strive every day to know more of that love. As I was sitting on the bus listening to the Lord, I heard the song we had been singing with the kids all summer long: "Mercy is falling like a sweet spring rain. Mercy is falling all over you. I receive your mercy, I receive your grace." His grace and mercy fall down on me like the rain in monsoon season and I gratefully receive all of it. I will never be good enough for God, but I will always be deeply, intimately, and passionately loved and desired by God!

My thoughts flashed back to earlier that week while I was listening to Wedding Dress. It says "I am a whore I do confess. Could you love this bastered child, though I don't trust you to provide? With one hand in a pot of gold and with the other at your side, because I am so easily satisfied." I say I am yours, God, yet I don't trust You, I am afraid, I am selfish whore, and my actions say I care more about worldly things than things that will last (You). I would rather stick to what I know (earthly things) being easily satisfied than to give you my whole self. I no longer want this to be true. That day on the Arabian Sea, my heart was ripped to peices by this sinful heart of mine, but redeemed by the blood of Christ as He poured out His grace and love on His beloved daughter.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What waits inside the Gate

Last weekend some of my friends and I took a weekend trip to Mumbai. It started off with us missing our bus to the train station, a 12 hour train ride there, getting there at 4:30 in the morning going to the Gateway of India in the pitchblack, finding out we were standing in front of the Taja Hotel just as it started to pour down rain. With no place to go and nothing to do until 10, we decided to go into the hotel cafe and have a cup of chai, this was not what I was expecting on our weekend trip! After breakfast we joined the Indian laughing club as we passed them on the street and eventually made it to our hotel. We then spent sometime with the Salvation Army and learned a little about what they are doing. There's a whole lot more to tell about about I will stick to just one thing now.

On Sunday we went to a church in one of the slums. It was cute little quaint church with a fence around the outside of it. There are five services every Sunday, each is a different language. So when we got there, there was already another service going on. At the gate, there was a lady on her knees begging. The entire weekend, and alot of the trip, we have had beggars following us down the streets, but something hit me about this particular lady. Just the fact that there was this lady sitting at the gate of this church begging. I started to think...If only she knew what waited for her inside, if only she knew of the riches inside. How many of us are sitting on the outside of the gate begging, to blind to see that the gate is already open and waiting for us to take a step of faith to enter the gate? Why did I not take her by the hand and walk with her inside? Maybe she didn't know she was welcomed, maybe she didn't feel welcomed, maybe she wasn't welcomed? How many people don't know they are welcomed into the body, or don't feel as though they are welcome, or even worse they aren't welcomed? How ofter do I walk by an opportunity to show someone they are welcomed by the body? I am so caught up in my everyday life, that I don't take the time to hold the hands of the beggers and welcome them into the body. How cold hearted am I that I don't share the love of the one who loves them SO much. There are so many people that I walk by everyday that are begging for the answer to a better life, some look to idols, some to jealousy, or selfishness, the list goes on. But they are all the same, they are sitting at the gateway to him with a life they cannot imagine on the other side of the fence. We have to stop just going throught the motions and take every opportunity to welcome them into the life that is waiting for them on the otherside, welcome them into the arms that are open wide on the otheside.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The greatest faith I have ever seen!!

Last week one of my friends and I went into the slums next to one of the preschools where we are working. As we were walking around a lady (we will call here Sue) came out of her house to greet us. There is so much I would love to tell you about Sue and her family, but I just can not even come close to bringing it full justice in a couple paragraphs. So I will just tell you a little bit. She is a believer, but her husband is not and she is not allowed to be a believer, so she does not "believe" in front of him. She reads when she is at work since she is not allowed to at home. Sue has two sons. The older is a believer, but like his mom, to please his their dad, he does not show that he believes in front of their dad. But when their dad leaves the house, they talk to and read about their true dad. The youngest son, who is only seven years old, refuses to act like he is not a believer. While the rest of the family is "Hindu" this little boy refuses to participate in anything that has to do with any gods because they are not his god. One day his family was eating at their aunts house and the food, before it was eaten was in front of idol statues and even though they had not eaten all day, this little boy who was starving refused to eat a bit of food simply because it had been in the presence of gods. He refuses to enter temples. His family (especially his dads side) tries to bribe him to participate in rituals with some of his favorite things, but this little boy does not want any of that. He does not care about the price he has to pay, he refuses to ever bow down to any of their gods. When his dad is yelling at him and is mad at him, this little boy responds by talking to his true dad about the situation. When he talks to his true dad, he gets down on his knees with his hands in the air and his eyes clinched shut. This little boy fears no one, but the one. This little boy will not offer one bit of himself to anyone or anything but his god. This little boy has the faith that I pray for everyday. He is an inspiration to my life and the relationship I have with my father. This little boy has faith that can move the mountains!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Beloved, Be Loved

This week I have not been continuing to give up my lunches that I talked about in my last post, but I have been trying to discover if that is what was wanted and asked of me. It has taken me the entire week to figure out the answer. I have been frustrated and stressed out about this; I am being broken and molded into a new character not of my own but of his. It is beautiful, but more heart wrenching than I anticipated. What I heard in the midst of a thousand voices and directions in my mind was, "beloved, rest and be loved." I have been too busy talking things out in my head, getting frustrated, and wasting time when in all reality, when I think about the way he loves me, I have no time to maintain my regrets. I have been going a hundred miles an hour trying to work things out in my head that I have not been quiet enough to listen to the one voice I need to hear. When I finally slowed down enough to hear, I heard:

All I want to do is love you, all I want to do is to be with you, all I want to do is be your resting place, all I want to do is be your provider, all I want to do is use you the way you want to be used, all I want to do is hold you in my arms and love you, and Alison, my love endures forever. This week have I not shown you that all I want is your love?

This is some of how I was shown his love: Sunday, John accepted a bracelet from us that would show him who he is. Monday, John was actually wearing it. Tuesday, I got to learn and sing silly songs with a room full of giggling little kids from the slums and I also got to have some incredible and encouraging conversations with some teammates. Wednesday, during snack time, four kids from my preschool class came and gave me a handful (about half) of their snacks. It is so hard to accept this from them, I already have so much to eat and they don't. But that is kind of how it is with my dad, I offer him something that is big for me, but so small for him, yet he loves me and is proud of me for even things that are so small. Also, I got to help the cook make dinner at the place we are staying. He told me all about his family and his two daughters that he absolutely adores, which is a small glimpse of the way my dad loves me. I loved cooking with him and can't wait to do it again. It felt like I was spending time with my dad in the way in which he craves everyday. Thursday, I was walking around by the place we are staying and walked along the beach when a lady popped out of her store. We went inside this shack by the beach and she had her baby laying on the ground laughing. I got to hold her and play with her for two hours. As I did this I felt my own dad holding me and making me laugh for two hours. Friday, one of the girls we were teaching English to went to get some of her friends and they drew henna all up and down our arms. This is only a small portion in which I was shown enduring love this week. He does not want me to give up my lunches, but instead he just wants me to be his beloved. In all of these examples of intimacy this week, it is continuously running through my mind that this is only a tiny glimpse of the love he wants to lavish on me, his beloved daughter.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Lunch for a Life

Last Thursday when we were eating our amazing Indian dinner at the guest house where we are staying, I started thinking about the thousands of people around me that are lucky if they get one meal a day. I felt as though I was being convicted, convicted of eating too much. Why should I eat three meals a day as I watch people around me starving to death. I felt as though I was being called to give up one meal a day to someone else who needs it a whole lot more than I do. After all, what is mine, isn't really mine, it belongs to him, the one who gave it to me in the first place. And those begging on the streets are his children just as much as I am is daughter. I do not say this to bring glory to myself, trust me, I am not capable of obtaining this mindset. All glory goes to the only one worthy of all the glory, honor, and praise.

On Monday my team and I went to a restaurant on our lunch break. I had to tell my team about what I have been called to do, so that they could hold me accountable. So as they ate, I sat there drinking my water and looking outside the window at this little 7 or 8 year old boy begging for some food. After the meal, I got all the leftovers together and took it outside to him. We asked his name, we'll call him John. John didn't respond too much to what we were saying even though they were simple questions in Hindi. He wanted money and we told him we didn't have any to give him but that we had food for him. So we gave him food and walked in different directions. He kept looking back at us and smiling and when he saw us look at him he got a huge smile on his face and waved really big. I think he was surprised and excited just at the fact that we wanted to talk to him.

One Thursday, we ran into John again on our way to lunch, only this time he had a picture of Luxshmie (the god of prosperity and money) around his neck. As we sat down to lunch we talked about the situation and what to do. If we give him food, he will go and pray and give praise to Luxshmie. The team asked me what I was thinking as I sat there quietly. I was originally planning on giving my portion of the meal after they all ate, but I didn't want him to turn to praise Luxshmie because of it. So I told them, I wanted to take off his picture from around his neck and bring him inside to eat. Our friend Will who was eating with us asked me what I wanted to say to him, I said that I want to tell John that Someone loves him and can and will give him all that he will ever want and need, and that Luxshmie cannot, nor will he ever give him what he needs. Luxshmie doesn't know who he is, he doesn't love him or care about him, but Someone does and and will provide for him. But that he has to leave Luxshmie behind. So with a little encouragement, I went outside, and called him over to me. He looked at a guy on a motorcycle, then at me, back at the man, then at me again and then walked over to me. I invited him in, but motioned for him to leave Luxshmie at the door before he came in. He looked at the man on the motorcycle and after confirmation, continued to walk inside with me. We have to leave our idols and at the door in order to come in and enjoy the banquet prepared for us.

Once inside, Will gave John his lime soda and we tried to talk to him with what little Hindi we know. He said he didn't know how old he was, or if he had any family. He doesn't have any brothers or sisters that he knows of and he doesn't know his parents or grandparents. If you have ever seen the movie Slum Dog Millionaire, I dread that that might be his situation. Before we ate we talked to him*, then served John first, then ate. He had a lot of fun joking around with my teammates and making funny faces. He asked me in sign language, why I wasn't eating. I didn't know how to respond, so they explained to him that I am not eating so that he can have a lunch to eat. I could tell he understood and that it meant something to him, he started to tear up but hid it really fast. We talked to him again for John, gave John the left overs, then I walked him to the door. I told him that I loved him. He picked up Luxshmie, put it in his bag and walked away. The rest of the afternoon I spent a couple hours analyzing, processing, and crying. God is breaking my heart for these people more and more each day. But I am beginning to see that there is a light in this darkness, just like there is a smile on John's face and a sweet laugh from his heart. Every time I see a smile on the face of a child or hear the laughter in their voice, I see a glimpse of hope for the people of India. And every time the rain pours down (which is pretty much 50% of the time), I am reminded of the grace that rains down all over the nation.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Heart is Broken

We have been in India for a little over a week and a half now and are in our second location. Quick update on the acid reflux: have not taken my medicine at all since the last post, had chick-fil-a at the airport (acid reflux was ok, but my stomach kinda flipped out), and I have been eating greasy, spicy, and fried foods everyday....and its been amazing! No pain! I am healed!!
Now about the trip...We started out getting accustomed to the culture. We now have our Indian attire that we wear everyday. It's difficult to fully express ourselves when we have to watch our language and when we talk to our daddy we can not close our eyes as we can in America. The atmosphere is much like Slum Dog Millionaire: children younger than one year old begging, rick-saw rides, buses with flashing lights, crazy music, and huge crowds, beggars of all ages everywhere, poverty every where you look, public squaties (their "toilets") cost money, trash filled streets, at least ten different nauseating smells each block, cows, goats, pigs, and water buffalo's roam the streets. The list goes on, but the worst part about it is the heartbreak that you feel every second for these people.
Last week we went to a train station to board for our 17 hour trip, each carrying about 75 pounds of luggage up two flights of stairs, across the train tracks, and then back down. The whole time men standing all over the place just watching you struggle this fight as sweat runs down your face like a water fall. On the train, I looked out the window just thinking and we passed by slums and towns and people out in the fields plowing with animals. As we passed a few people gathered around a fire on the side of the train tracks that night, I they have a place to sleep, a home, or a shack? Why are they there? What are they doing? Do they know someone loves them? All I saw and felt was heartbreak, someone needs to tell them about this hope that I have, this awesome daddy that I know!
When we got to RR on our second day of working, I was put in a classroom of nine, three year olds from the slums and then the teacher left the room. They hardly know English and all I know in Hindi is hello and thank you. I watched them as they colored and could only look at them and think, these innocent girls will someday be sex workers and these sweet boys will someday be just like the men at the train station, heartless and cold, taking advantage of these girls.
Everywhere I go, every street I walk down, every person I see, I feel my heartbreak. I asked my daddy to make my heart break for what breaks his, but I didn't know my heart could break this much. There is so much hopelessness hear, so much pain. India is in desperate need of both hope, restoration, redemption, and love. And there is only one that can provide this for them. I ask him to use me and my team to bring a little bit of that light into this country of darkness. My daddy granted my first request and I trust he will grant my second as well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Goodbye acid relux....Hello spicy food!

Hey everyone! So we are finishing up training camp and are leaving for the airport in the next hour! We have been together as a team for 4 days now and we have become unbelievably close. We started out traveling by Marta to the Atlanta Safe House and doing ministry on the streets of Atlanta on a Friday night, then bonded by spitting water in each others faces, amazing worship services, team building activities, cold showers outside at night, testimony sharing, and so much more. These past few days have been incredible and so much needed, the Lord has been preparing us and filling us with the Holy Spirit! We all have incredible visions for the women of India and cannot wait to see the Lord work through us to change the hearts of women in India.
During worship on Sunday night we learned and practice hearing God speak to us. It was incredible and incredibly hard. I still have a long way to go with that, but it was an incredible experience. My number one goal for the next two months is to listen to God, respond with obedience, and hold nothing back. I believe if God can teach me obedience, then He will work in unfathomable ways through me to reach the women of India in ways I cannot even imagine. Yesterday morning one of me teammates, Emily, showed a perfect example. During worship she heard God speaking to her saying that I would be healed of my acid reflux that night!!! Those of you who know me, know that is HUGE!!! So last night I laid down on a table and the entire team laid their hands on me as Emily prayed healing over me! We both have complete faith that God has healed me or at least is healing me!! So far I am feeling great, and today at the airport am going to try out some Chick-fil-a fried chicken for the first time in over a year! The faith and love of my team has blown me away and I cannot wait to be broken, loved, encouraged, built up, and grow with these wonderful sisters! The consuming fire of the Lord is among our team and is so ready to set the flames loose in India!