It was morning. I was waiting for my ride to the meeting place. A young Indian pastor (Thomas) had stayed nearby and was waiting with me for our ride. We began to chat about Thomas's life. I asked him what his life as a pastor was like in India. He told me about a typical Saturday and Sunday in His schedule.
On Saturday evening He, his family, and church members meet for all-night-prayer. They start at about 11 pm and pray until about 5 am. They break shortly for tea and pray some more...until about 7 or 8 am. Thomas said when prayer ends he and his family head home to clean up for their first service. This service lasts about 3 hours. Around 11 am or 12 noon, they break for lunch. After a short rest he and family head for another small congregation to conduct a service during the afternoon. After the service they break for dinner. After the evening meal they move to yet another congregation for their third and last service of the day. I was overwhelmed at their dedication and commitment to serving Jesus. I was wondering when they rested. However, rest was not an issue to them. It was very obvious...the joy of the Lord was their strength.
As Pastor Thomas was telling me this I turned off the TV in the hotel room on which ESPN was playing. The TV was somewhere around 13 inches, and black and white. (Some of you have never seen a black and white TV.) But they did have a satellite feed with ESPN in English! I was so convicted over my lack-luster Christian life-style I turned it off. As Pastor Thomas continued and tears began to stream down my cheeks. God had pierced my heart and emotionally it was almost too much for me. Then Pastor Thomas began to cry. We both sat and wept as we worshiped the God who is worthy of it all.
It had become so clear to me that what I thought was a deep commitment to Jesus was very shallow. Jesus was important to me. I was a pastor! But for me it was NOT all about Him. He was important, but not the CENTER of it all. Like so many Christian Americans, I was too busy for Him. Most of all I did was for ministry sake...but not for Jesus. God used this first visit to India to shake me, to awaken me, and to prepare me.
I returned to America with a renewed commitment to live for Jesus 24 x 7. I wanted my life to be consumed with Jesus, ministering to Him and to others like my friends in India were consumed.
When it was time for me to return to the States I was ready. I couldn't wait to get back to the comforts of America. It was great returning home to my family. However, a week after I was home I began to realize my first trip to India was just the beginning. What started as a visionary trip had turned in to a calling to the nations on my life. I had to go back! (More to come.)