Having returned from my first Global Outreach Seminar just a few days ago I thought I would give you a few of my reflections as I look back over my experiences in India.
I will never forget the privilege of meeting, sharing with, and praying with some of the heroes of our faith disguised as ordinary people who are living out their faith with passion among the lost and unreached of India. We went with the attitude of learners, and these precious brothers and sisters taught us much of what a surrendered life to Jesus looks like compared to casual, complacent Christianity.
Among these lasting images is standing on the flat rooftops near the conclusion of each of our two Seminars in Delhi and Chennai with my hand on the shoulder of my Indian brothers and sisters as they firmly held onto their Indian flag and poured out their prayers on behalf of those within their borders to become disciples of Jesus. I was deeply moved by their sincere passion to present the gospel to not only their own people and among their own caste, but they have been inspired to take the Gospel to those beyond their boundaries.
Another image is that of kneeing down with my fellow teammates and having the participants of our Chennai Seminar lay hands on us and pray down the blessings of heaven upon us. As I heard them cry out in their native tongue, I asked God not to let me rise from the floor as the same person who knelt moments before. What a humbling experience to have these Indian believers show their great appreciation by surrounding us in fervent prayer.
Upon my arrival in Chennai, I discovered that I would be leaving in just a few short hours to speak in a United Methodist Church in Chennai. I could have never imagined how transforming that experience would be for me. When I arrived at the church building I was greeted by a couple and their family. Later in the worship service their son and daughter came up onto the platform to lead the congregation in five simple, but powerful songs of praise. The mom functioned as our worship leader as the father played the guitar, their ten-year-old son played the keyboard, and their daughter sang along. I was moved by their impact upon me, not because of my familiarity of the songs, but by the visible presence of God’s Spirit speaking and singing through them. The mother beautifully wove scripture between the songs that helped us to engage in worship at a deeper level.
By the time I arose to deliver the message I was experiencing a variety of feelings. But I tell you with all sincerity, that I have seldom sensed the presence and freedom of God’s Holy Spirit any more than I did at that moment as I shared God’s missional message of our sacred privilege and responsibility of passing the treasure of the gospel on to people of every tribe, language, and nation.
As I attempted to make the message practical to my Indian brothers and sisters, I stepped off the platform and walked over to the family that had earlier led us in worship. I told the father, “Johnson,” that God had entrusted this treasure of the gospel into his hand. He then passed it to his wife, then to her son, and finally to their daughter. I then asked the congregation, “What is Leeann’s responsibility now that she has received the treasure?” They responded “To share it with others!” Since they had already received the treasure themselves, I escorted this precious teenager out the door to pass the baton on to those who have yet to hear it.
In closing, how do you and The Mission Society measure the success of such an investment of time and resources? Unfortunately, there are practical limitations on trying to accurately measure the value of such a venture. One of the ways I have answered that question is by the response of the participants themselves.
These words came from one of the participants at the Delhi Seminar who has remained connected with me through email:
Dear Rev. Denny Heiberg,
Praise the Lord. I read the message that you had written down in my notebook, many times. It has encouraged me very much. May God bless you abundantly because of your parental love.
You remember, when we prayed for Sudan during our prayer time; on the19th, I saw a photo, which was published in The Times of India, which has touched me very much. If God allows, we both will travel to Sudan and many more poor nations (both spiritually and physically).
I learned many things from the conference, regarding global outreach. I am praying to God to use me like a good vessel in His hands. I invited my team of pastors in Delhi, tomorrow. And I called up my team of Tribal mission in Madhya Pradesh and informed them that I would visit them shortly; the reason being, that I want to equip them as leaders (disciples).
Convey my regards and love to your family. We are praying to further strengthen our relationship to reach the world. My family and I are doing well by the grace of our Lord.
Rev. Philip John
Denny & Cindy Heiberg