These recent two weeks have engaged my heart in new ways through a 2 week ministry engagement in India. Meeting pastoral leaders and leaders-in-training who must work bi-vocationally to provide for basic needs and who are so grateful for any investment made in them has been life-changing. This has been my fourth trip to this nation of over 1 billion people and this time my eyes were opened wider.
That’s why this blog has been put on hold as I invested in teaching, praying, preaching, visiting and of course drinking my share of ‘tea’ the beverage of choice in West Bengal. I won’t post all the details publicly but those of you who have my email address can request a full report which I hope to have completed within the next 2 weeks. Blessings on those who gave, prayed, supported and encouraged me from day one beginning, most strategically, with my immediate family, my extended family and then those who are my brothers and sisters in faith through a common work of salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ.
Part of my teaching of “Habits of the Heart” involved working through the text of Ephesians 3:14-21. For today’ blog, let’s simply reflect on the first sentence of this God-centred prayer.
1) Paul’s posture – ‘kneeling before the Father.’ For real estate transactions the mantra is ‘location, location, location.’ For relational praying the call is for ‘reverence, reverence, reverence.’ Take a look at the Western Wall, some times noted as the Wailing Wall. There faithful Jews stand as they pray. Here this first century Messiah-transformed Jew kneels before the Father.
Paul has just finished 2.5 chapters of reflections on spiritual blessings in Christ. God’s eternal plan, has unfolded in the disclosing of this ‘mystery’ this secret plan now made evident. It was all about Christ, Christ Jesus our Lord the one who provides freedom and confidence for the seeker as they access God’s help.
2) Paul’s perspective – ‘from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth.’ God has only one family, those who have trusted in His One and only Son for salvation. Though distinguished by language, ethnicity and other cultural markings, our commonality centres around Jesus Christ. Jack Chen, one of my beloved co-instructors, urged our Bengali hosts to sing one of the old-time hymns of the faith, namely, O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus. Long will that haunting expression of praise ring in my ears. And then as we watched one of the students ‘graduate’ having completed 15 years of instruction, I pondered at the vision and perseverance of William Carey who arrived in 1793 to reach out to the people of West Bengal.
3) Paul’s prayer – The balance of this prayer, we will examine in coming days. For now, may I plead with you who read these few words to pray for protection, perseverance and priorities for these leaders who carry ‘good news’ to the villages. We had some opportunity to preach, through translation, and to pray for a fresh moving of God’s Spirit among those we served.
I am returning, grateful, and more deeply challenged to ‘step up’ my service to Christ and His people wherever they may be found. For now I carry with me wonderful memories of time spent with part of God’s worldwide family. The picture accompanying this post is of our second block of training, 12.5 hours by train from the great metropolis of Kolkata.