My Convictions.

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to post in a little while about my trip to India. A couple reasons have halted me from doing so. But I would like to write about the convictions I have brought home with me from India. There was so much I learned from this trip and so much I saw. Before I share my thoughts I want to say that I am in no way “broken” of certain sins in my life. I didn’t go to India and come back some kind of TOTALLY changed man. However, I will say that I have a new and fresh perspective on many things in my life and the lives of those around me. These convictions I want to share are not intended to come across as condescending or unfair. I want to encourage the reader of this post to think about their own life honestly. Do you struggle with your ego, hyper-control, anxiety, finances, or being grateful? Try to reflect on what I write and the Word of God to see if there is something you can ask God to help with in your life. Sometimes we hold onto reservations. We aren’t quite willing to let God tamper with certain areas in our life. This trip has led me to let go of certain reservations and let God have more control. I am faithful that this will lead to change. I think it is silly to say that this trip just changed me over the course of a week. It is just the beginning of the change that I am hopeful for Christ to carry out in my life.

“Spontaneity is The Continuity of Life”

This is a phrase that a wise young man said once. His name was Bryan James Bassett. As silly as it may sound, it’s actually quite true. Sometimes we need to learn how to go with the flow without lapsing into a seizure of anxiety and fretting.

The term “India Time” gets thrown around a lot in India. Just like the term “Xenos Time” gets used a lot here. What time will we start CT? Who knows? Xenos time baby. But even in comparison, India time proved to be much more severe. We were given a schedule with relative times for the arrivals and starts of things. In reality, they were VERY relative. My personality lacks patience and desires order to things. It was hard to sometimes not know when you would be asked to teach, not know what you needed to teach in some cases, and not know your time frame. A lot of the time we just needed to go with the flow. I remember arriving at Sharon Gardens just totally exhausted. Within 5 minutes a man named Sam approached Mike and I and said that our respective sponsor kids had arrived and were waiting. This was exciting yet super unexpected. Then as our time with them drew to a close, it was time for the children’s program already. It was great because all the kids are so freakin’ cute and excited. We did a teaching and role-play of the story Jonah and the Whale. It was like a wave of spontaneity and improvising. Then to end the trip we stopped at a small church. This was probably the biggest test of letting go of control and order. Everyone had spoken except for me and then the pastor of the church asked me to share my testimony. I was more prepared to teach at the moment and I was thrown off guard. I needed to condense my teaching to a testimony and then apply it to these pastor’s lives within 15 seconds. I had to let go and let the Lord do his thing. It turned out pretty sweet actually as I had a few men approach me and say they felt moved and inspired.

I realized I need to stop being so rigid at home. The Lord is going to do his thing regardless of our special timing. I’m not saying organization isn’t important but I am saying there are some of us that could really let go of some control in our lives.

Why Be a Hard Ass?

James 4:6 ““God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (NASB)

I definitely fall into the crowd of “jocks” here in NEO. Jocks are known as the guys who are always trying to be dominant and look good in front of others. They really have a hard time coming off as very humble in front of others. In India, you aren’t on your own turf. You aren’t in your own country. There is really no room for ego and hard-assery. You can’t step in front of a room full of people and expect your suave or “impeccable” personality to get you anywhere. Anything good that comes out of a teaching or meeting there is because of the Lord. This is true anywhere though! When we teach and deal with people, we need to let the Lord be a part. I tend to think highly of myself. I will sometimes say “I’m just trusting the Lord with this” but in actuality I am not. Our society puts us in a mold that enables conformity. We are trained to look good, be the best, and look out for number 1. A big point that was made by pastor Benny was to disciple people. It is the whole point behind the great commission! We cannot just leave it at the gospel which is step 1. As leaders we must learn how to bring other people up with us. If we settle and simply look out for number 1 all the time, we are setting ourselves up for a very unfruitful existence. My prayer is that the Lord will continue to work on my heart in this area. I pray that he will put the needs of others in the forefront of my mind every day I wake up.

Gratefulness is Paramount

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

The things I saw In India were sometimes overwhelming. You really just can’t help but think “WOW do we have it good in America”. I don’t care who you are: A poor American college student that eats ramen and bread or a rich college student that gets many things paid for, we must learn to be grateful. We were born in a place with food right down the street. We were born in a place where money flies out of pockets like it’s nothing. We were born in a place where there are traffic laws to ensure your safety while traveling. The list could go on forever. The list also changes depending on who you are BUT there is surely a list for everyone.

Listen, I know it’s easy to complain and express or discomfort. I’m notorious for this. It’s easy to feel like nothing is going our way and everyone is out to get us. But just think; it really could be worse. I mean, most of us had parents that loved us enough to keep us alive. It’s not uncommon to find kids in India that are alive because someone picked them up out of the trash. Gratefulness is key to a joyful and significant life. As Christians, It is reprehensible to go about our daily lives complaining all day and thinking about how our situation could be better. The verse doesn’t say be thankful FOR all circumstances like “Lord I’m so thankful my relative died”. The verse says be thankful IN all circumstances. This isn’t something that comes easily either. Being thankful requires the Holy Spirit to intervene in our thinking.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 “So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.” (NLT)

I pray that we can learn how to thank God more often. The Christians in India all know one phrase of gratefulness  in English regardless of their English fluency, “Praise the Lord”. It’s pretty refreshing to say!

How Can You Help?

So India Gospel League offers a variety of ways that we can help the cause in India. We can take a trip there to encourage our brothers and sisters or we can support financially. One thing I am convicted about is the sponsorship of pastors. Yes, sponsoring children is important and an awesome thing to do. I spent a lot of time around the pastors that work their tails off in India. There are pastors being brought up all the time there. They need financial support to get started in their villages. Many of them pick up what they have, and go to a rural village like Sariki. They need support. I couldn’t help but think that in IP we have pretty cool living situations at Whitehall. Our rent is VERY cheap compared to other complexes in Kent! Talk to your houses about this. Could you and your roommates split the cost of sponsoring a pastor? It’s $100 a month! My house and a couple of ex-roommates sponsor a pastor and it has been a privilege. These guys are doing the tough work of discipling and preaching over there. Pray about it..

 

Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to catch up with everyone and answer questions that I didn’t cover in this post!

Peace and Love,

Jordan

Taking it all in.

So we have just finished our third day in India. Pretty much everything has gone smoothly since arriving in India.  Although, we did have to fly a day early out of Mumbai due to landslides that ruined some roads and flight departure times. This was all good. We took our day of rest in Pune instead of Mumbai.

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I wanted to cover a couple things in this blog so here they are:

FOOD:

I like food and I was really excited to come to India and taste many foods that I have never had before. They put spices in everything just like expected. Have you ever had spicy watermelon? My favorite food thus far has been buttered chicken and fried rice with these special sauces. The other day we went to an Indian KFC that was seriously twice as good as American KFC. Some of the food we have had has been spicy but I don’t think anything has been too crazy yet.

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ATMOSPHERE:

The atmosphere in India is so detailed. My eyes are fluttering, trying to intake everything as we drive or walk down the street. Our hotel is posh while right out of our window you can see young children playing with trash bags for fun. The weather has actually been pretty delightful in my opinion. It hasn’t been deathly hot but rather a manageable temperature and humidity. The atmosphere at the pastors conference was one to remember. There were men and women standing and singing quite loudly. I sat down with the guys at the front in some chairs. I almost felt myself getting light-headed because so many thoughts were flying through my head. During one of the teachings there was a LOUD screech that came from the sound system. An Indian man, probably named Layne, got up and fixed that problem.

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INTIMIDATION FACTOR:

There are some things that we have experienced that can be quite intimidating. One of these things is driving. Usually when I drive at home I tend to be a control freak and overreact when cut off in traffic. This goes out the window in India. The traffic here is nuts. Its one thing to see a video, but it is a whole other thing to experience it. Many of us guys have been using “the imaginary brake” when traveling.

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Another thing that is quite intimidating is the looks. We took a stroll through Pune the other day. I read in the book “Commissioned” that you can smile and nod at people to get them to smile back. Let’s just say, this mostly works. Some men have given me “death stares”, not breaking eye contact until I pass them in the street. It is odd for sure but, I guess that’s how it is. The last thing that tends to be pretty intimidating is the teachings. The looks you get while teaching are very hard to read and can throw you off. Lets just say, I will never be intimidated by some punk in Neoxenos who gives me a dirty look during a teaching LOL. This being said, the Lord has been really working through these teachings and has really done a good job of encouraging the men & women here. Many of the pastors have come up to us and said they can’t wait to teach our material to their church. It is an encouragement to us that we are an encouragement to them.

EMOTION

There has been a level of emotion I have experienced while in India that I do not experience at home. When I am reading my books, I have found myself getting teary eyed when the book makes mention of a verse or the gospel. When traveling one evening, I found my heart in my throat as I saw a women laying in some trash and mud. Her infant baby lay in the trash with its head resting on her calf muscle. This level of poverty is arresting. When we first arrived at the pastors conference, we were seated in the front, facing all of the pastors. They had eyes closed and singing to God with heart-felt passion. As I took a few pictures I was overcome by emotion. It is very hard to explain but I started to cry. There was such a level of intimacy and sincerity when they were singing even in Marati (Local language). I have never experienced anything like that when watching people sing.  Lastly, Tom taught today on the concept of faith and trusting the Lord with difficult situations. He spoke about the situation with his family that he experienced years ago. The men and women were clearly identifying with what Tom said. At the end of his teaching they were able to comment. One pastor stood up and offered to pray for Tom and his family. The entire room raised their hands and pointed them towards Tom and affirmed the pastors prayers with “yes Lord”. Tom began to weep and so did I. It was easily the most emotional scene of the whole trip thus far.

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FUN

Everyone except Greg went out to explore Pune the other day. We went into a supermarket and looked at all the products. I took some good pictures of shop vendors and people laying cricket. 2 days ago we went to the mall with Benny, Minova, His wife Rebecca, and his one daughter Michelle (9yr). Michelle is literally hilarious. She always beats you at competitions she makes up. She gave me great advice on what dress to buy Erin.  I showed her my cats at home and she went “AWWWWWW”. Anyways, driving has also been fun. It’s pretty funny to see the stuff drivers will pull in order to get ahead.

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THANK GOD FOR THESE THINGS

  1. Safety so far
  2. Our guides Benny & Minova
  3. Teachings at the pastors conference went well.
  4. I have not seen a spider yet.

PRAY FOR THESE THINGS:

  1. Tom’s stomach. He is not doing well after the conference today.
  2. Health for all of us. (Some of us have had some stomach issues)
  3. Safe travel from Pune to Vizag tomorrow.
  4. Protection from the evil one. He seems to like to accuse or feed you lies about your teaching quite often.
  5. Continued unity with our team.

We love and miss everybody,

Peace.

The start of a journey.

If you would have asked me at the beginning of 2015 what my New Years resolution was, I would not have said “Missions trip” or “India Trip”. I was actually very apathetic to the idea of going to India. I specifically remember conversations I had with people where I justified my hesitancy to consider a trip to India. I would say:

“wellll I’ve been on the Buffalo Missions Trip 5 times and I feel like I got my missions experience”.

Yes I know, this is silly. I think there was a lot to be learned at the Buffalo Missions Trip. I now realize that I will learn much different lessons through this India trip. Lessons that include being vulnerable with other men on a daily basis, experiencing a new culture with open ears and my mouth shut at times, and learning how to trust the Lord on a very deep level with my deepest anxieties.  I struggle with anxiety and stress so my prayer for this trip is that it will give Matthew 6:25-34 a whole new meaning to my life.

It was in February that Pastor Benny came from India to visit our Church in Kent, Ohio. He spoke on the topic of the different stages of the Church out of Acts. It is hard for me remember the exact points Benny was making but I do know, after that teaching, I was almost convinced that I wanted to go to India. I thought about how this man is willing to travel by himself to America and teach a room full of people that he hardly knows. This moved me. I prayed at the end of that teaching and I felt the Lord put it on my heart that I needed to stop worrying and justifying, He made it clear to me that this India trip could be something that is fruitful.

In the next week I contacted Greg and told him that I would like to go to India and before I knew it, things were on the move. As the months went by it was made clear the the Lord was at work. One thing I will mention is my team that the Lord put together. I am going to India with Mike Hudok, Greg Morscher, Ian McCullough, & Tom Smith. I have heard and read that unity within your team is key to having a successful trip. I found it humorous how the Lord put together a team that i felt so comfortable with. I have led in high school ministry with 3 of these men, do crafts/make cool things with one, and one of them happens to be my gracious boss/mentor for about four years now. I feel so privileged to be able to go on a trip with these brothers and have this experience with them.

This is just the background to the “Start of a journey”.  I cannot wait to share more of my experiences and convictions with you as I travel.

To close, here are some random facts and things I am excited/curious about:

  1. I’ve never flown
  2. I’ve never been in a different country (Other than Canada)
  3. I love Indian food (I hope this remains true)
  4. I want to buy a knife or some kind of handmade item in India.
  5. I can’t wait to say I’ve been to Germany.
  6. I do not want to see a single effing spider on my whole trip.
  7. I can’t wait to buy Sam Stevens Coffee and drink chai tea.
  8. I can wait to sweat for 18 hours a day.
  9. Lastly, I can’t wait to meet this young lady:

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-Gayathri, my parents sponsor child.

Peace out.