Prati walked up to the porch looking like a queen – her golden sari shining. I never imagined I would see her in the USA – let alone in my childhood home!
She hugged each one of us and remembered details about our lives. Oh, how could she? As the wife of the president of a large ministry in India, they have teams from the US over there all the time, but she remembered.
There are some people that you connect with, but then there are those that change your life. (I know, I can be pretty overdramatic, but this is true!*) She is one of them. Prati is married to Sam Stephens, president of a flourishing ministry in India that works in rural villages. They reach some people who have literally never heard about God before or never heard the name Jesus. And then they get to see God transform their lives, person by person, ignited with new life. And Prati is God’s vessel for ignition. She heads up “Women With a Mission,” a ministry that serves women in India by giving them the ability to spread the Gospel through training and discipleship. This is TOTALLY revolutionary – women in rural Indian villages most of the time have no purpose.
Prati’s mission is to preach the reality of the new life in Christ. Her ministry is with women who have been told they are nothing their whole lives. They are viewed as objects or inconveniences to those around them, they have no confidence. So, Prati LOVES telling them about their new life in Christ. When they ask God to come into their lives and take away their sin, everything changes. They can put off completely their old identity of nothing and take on this new identity of being everything. She says, “These women need to know that they mean everything to Jesus.”
This is profound to me. In the USA, whether we try to or not, we’re all about works and success. Even those who have a relationship with God for years can get crushed when we look around and see we don’t have any ministry or that we aren’t highly esteemed by our peers. That’s what we want: recognition, pride, confidence – in what we’ve accomplished.
So, I think what Prati says to those women in India is very humbling to a woman in the US to hear – instead of trying and striving and shame in failure, the only thing that should have that much impact on my life is Christ in me. The only thing that matters is how He views me. It doesn’t matter what I think of myself, or how I view my weaknesses, I should celebrate Christ in me. He’s the only thing about me that matters… He makes me EVERYTHING to God, and that changes EVERYTHING.
This is what I want to preach to those around me, too. So many are broken, defeated and left with no hope. I’m seeing it younger & younger as I get to work with high schoolers – they feel they are nothing since they are treated as such and they look for significance from anything. It causes much more hurt when they do this. (When I do it, too!) I don’t think I do this enough: preach new identity in Christ. I want to! Just having this reminder has pushed me to pursue God on another level – it connects the gap between us because there is no gap! He is in me! I want to pursue who is my heavenly Father and what he wants to do through me! It’s Ephesians 1:1-14 – all of those blessings, all of those truths about Christ and what he’s given to us. It is a powerful fact that changes entire lives.
—> The time with her was warm and honest. Were we back in India, again? We ate, laughed, caught up a little and then she told us about how the Lord is moving in India. She spoke of four new regions of India that God has allowed India Gospel League – and specifically her ministry, Women With A Mission – to enter to spread the Gospel of Jesus. She spoke of amazing things such as women never knowing that they could have a purposeful relationship with the Lord, never knowing of their significance to Him, and women’s prayers answered left and right. She spoke of God giving her the ability to preach in a language she only studied in school 40 years ago!
Someone should write a book about this lady. This was the second time I have met her, but the more I learn about her walk with the Lord, the more profound my view of Him becomes. She is so faithful to God because she has a very deep, emotional, close relationship with Him. She is human – she has been through many struggles! She has encountered many sins! But she always seems to go to God first. She’s been through much hurt, too. The way she speaks to the heart of the insecure makes so much sense. She’s seen her lot of hardships. But she also knows how diligent the Lord is to come through on his promises.
—> She shared with us what she has been learning about prayer. She is always learning something as she walks with God! She realized that every time she prayed, it’s as if she swiped her credit card – “God, I need this. Please & thank you.” But as she studied Luke 11:1 and Matthew 6, it became more apparent that what God wants from us in prayer is constant, honest, reliant communication spurred from a close, intimate relationship with him. Not only asking for our daily needs, which are SO hard to see past! But for the greater things! Because if we really knew him, we would be ABLE to SEE that HE is ABLE to accomplish MUCH more than just: “Please, help me pass this test, provide me a job, etc.” He is able to change eternities.
And then, we got to pray with her. Her prayers are deep, emotional, hopeful, and encouraging. She knows God so deeply. She prayed for so many things I never thought to pray for. But she had such confidence God heard her and already had a solution because that is how much he cares for us.
My goal is to be like Prati. I want to know God this closely – close enough to pray to Him like she does. Close enough to want his glory more than my own. Close enough to kneel before him in reliance. Close enough to have joy in EVERY circumstance. Close enough to praise him for every good thing…
Close enough to be able to look a woman in the eye, as she did to me, and tell her: “You are significant and important. You are right, not because of who you are, but because you have a Father that invested into you. You are here for a very great purpose – DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?”
*Prati changed my life in a few ways, no lie. But the largest way is this: while we were in India, she had all the women at the conferences pray that I find a good husband and get married. At the time, Zak & I had been broken up and going through much breaking. She told me this later, but she knew Zak from his time in India and prayed we could be together, if in God’s will. So, I owe this lady a LOT! – Isn’t that cool?!