/Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Hello dear friends…
Having just returned from India … I must share!
For the first 2 weeks of our India trip, Gerald and I met with 40+ pastors, one by one, on their turf. They’d host us in their church over a cup of tea, some fresh fruit, and some homemade snacks. And I would ask them, “Could you tell me please, what is God doing through you? What’s happening in your church?”
And then I took notes like crazy. Jotting down everything they shared.
Almost without fail, the pastor would become animated, telling stories of the power of Jesus working through him, and working through the church members. People being healed. People coming to Christ, leaving behind their idols, their fetishes, their gods, turning away from the faith of their families, and following Jesus. Knowing that their families would disown them, they said yes to Jesus. Why? Because they had seen the power of the Almighty God at work in their lives.
We arrived at one church later in the evening, at approximately 8 PM. There were a handful of people with the pastor. As he responded to my question about what God was doing, people just started showing up. He had sent for 2-3 as he told their stories. But a whole lot more people just started showing up. He would point to one and say this is what God has done in their lives. He’d point to another and share about the miracle in their lives. The more he told stories, the more animated he became. The village people who used to follow and worship Hindu gods, were sitting on the floor with huge smiles on their faces, nodding.
And as his stories were translated to us, one by one, we were moved by the power of God present in that place.
It’s not an isolated story. We witnessed that many times.
Questions to Consider
What is it that God has to do to prove to me, to any one of us, that He is who he says he is?
When is it that I walk by faith and not by sight?
What is it that God has to do to convince me that what He says, goes?
We’re no different than the disciples. We’re afraid, anxious, and fearful, doubting the power of God, and yet we say we follow him? If as Christ followers, we don’t walk by faith, aren’t we an embarrassment to Jesus?
A Jesus Story
“You feed them,” Jesus said. They said, “We couldn’t scrape up more than five loaves of bread and a couple of fish—unless, of course, you want us to go to town ourselves and buy food for everybody.” (There were more than five thousand people in the crowd.) -Luke 9:13-14a MSG
Right before this familiar story, of Jesus feeding the five thousand, in Luke 9 (see the verses above), Jesus’ 12 disciples had just returned from the most amazing experience in their entire lives. They had never seen anything like it. The had personally witnessed the power of Jesus in their lives, and through their lives.
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. -Luke 9:1-2, 6 ESV
Jesus sends out his 12 disciples. They’re rookies. Yet to their complete and total amazement, demons obey them, and people are healed. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually! They had to have been overwhelmed!
They had gone out two by two, by themselves, with no Jesus in sight. It was a complete walk of faith.
I don’t know about you, but if I had personally experienced God‘s power through me, in such amazing ways, I would like to think that I would have had the faith to feed 5000 men, plus women and children. Wouldn’t you?
Yet, at this very moment, as Jesus tests their faith, the disciples fail. Why?
The greatest, most powerful being that the disciples had ever known was with them. God, through His son Jesus, was present. And anytime Jesus was “in the house”, the disciples acted as though they were powerless. They just watched Him work.
We’re a lot alike. When we are with the authority we report to and we respect, we wait for them to take the lead. They’re in charge.
Yet, Jesus wanted them to think for themselves and take action. Just like they had done on their first mission trip. He wanted them to see themselves in action. Men of faith, acting in the power of the Almighty God.
But they wimped out. They looked to Jesus and said, “huh?“ They froze.
The 12 disciples, including Judas Iscariot, had seen the power of God within themselves. They had to have been walking on air, excited, amazed, thrilled, and deeply impacted.
Yet they tell Jesus they don’t have two cents to rub together.
Are we any different? Not really. We find ourselves in a fix and we panic.
What are we to do?
I was in the airport in the city of Bagdogra, West Bengal, preparing to fly to New Delhi, the final leg of my India trip before flying home.
I had a dozen or so In Touch Messenger units and all the signs around me said I couldn’t travel with them. (In Touch Messenger units are an electronic device with the entire audio bible and 60+ messages in 2 languages, e.g. Hindi & English. It is solar powered, and/or can be charged via USB cable.)
I panicked, as I didn’t want these Messenger units confiscated. I prayed. And then I texted our care group to pray, right there in the middle of the airport just before I was to put my suitcase through the x-ray machine. Help!
Thankfully, several responded to my prayer request and prayed. And as I contemplated my situation, I thought, “What’s the worst that can happen? The officials could confiscate these units. Then they would be in the hands of Hindu officials. Who knows, that they may use them personally? Isn’t that why I brought them?“
After that, I was at peace.
I brought 30 of them to India to give away. Every time I gave one away, I prayed, asking the Lord to go before me, and to prepare the heart of the recipient. I never had one person turn me down.
Why was I afraid?
Didn’t I know that I had the power of the Almighty God, through the Holy Spirit, in me?
I am guilty of dumbing down the greatest power in the universe. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that is within me. Huh?
But he went ahead and directed his disciples, “Sit them down in groups of about fifty.” They did what he said, and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd. After the people had all eaten their fill, twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered up. -Luke 9:14b-17 MSG
Jesus in effect said, “I’ll show you what to do.”
There are people who think miraculous works are over. That miraculous works were just for Jesus’ time. No! We live in a time of miracles. We’re watching and listening and waiting for Jesus to return expectantly. We are his hands and feet. How else will the watching world know that Jesus is alive?
Is God at work in the lives of everyday people?
Yes, without question, He is. All around the world.
Will I follow him, taking risks that I might look like a complete fool as I call on the name of the Lord - to heal the sick, to command demons to flee, to do the completely impossible (for me) in the name of Jesus?
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is within me! Why would I be afraid?
Our story is far from over.
- Am I going to boldly speak the name of Jesus?
- Do I expect God to use me in ways that are completely impossible in my own strength?
- Am I waiting for God to use me in ways far beyond “my pay grade”?
There can only be one answer: Yes! Otherwise, what we’re really saying to Jesus is, “I am embarrassed. I’m ashamed. I don’t really think you can pull it off.” Frankly, that’s the worst possible thing that could happen in our lives.
Our reputation is not what’s important here. It’s Jesus’ reputation! Will I act on his behalf, in authority?
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:23-27 ESV
Throughout my India trip, I found myself reflecting on this question, “Am I ashamed of Jesus?”
I was meeting bold, faithful, Christ followers, who were not ashamed. Some were well educated, others illiterate. God is using them all.
Wait, what? An illiterate pastor? Yes! God uses them in miraculous ways. Men and women of God, planting little churches in remote villages, obeying the voice of God in their lives. Walking in faith, and watching these little churches grow as people come to Christ, as people are healed, as people are baptized, rejecting the faith of their forefathers to follow Jesus.
Am I ashamed of the gospel?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” -Romans 1:16-17 ESV
Our work is not over.
No matter what our age, no matter what our abilities, no matter what our inabilities, God will use us for good. Am I ready?
Jesus told his disciples that they would do greater things than he was doing. That’s for us today! We are his disciples. Will you believe and let him use you in ways far beyond your abilities?
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” -John 14:12 ESV
That’s our commission.
Wherever we go, the presence of the Almighty God is there. We represent Him in our words, in our actions, in our smiles. What does He want to accomplish through us today?
God’s blessings over each one of you!
Paul Dyck is the former National Team Leader and now an Ambassador for the MORE Network - a Canada-wide collaborative supporting cross-cultural workers & MKs (Missionary Kids) in transition. Paul fills the role of Ministry Ambassador and Champion across Canada, working with church & mission leaders involved with caring for cross-cultural workers & MKs. Paul is an MK and has experience in Member Care, Pastoring, Banking and Business Leadership. Paul & his wife Carol life in Abbotsford, BC.