A Journey of Grace

Among Christian circles today, grace has become a hot topic. Everyone has an opinion about what grace is. I like to consider grace not only from study of the scripture, but from personal experience. Since December of 2013, my husband William and I have been on what we have called a journey of grace. During this period of time, we have not stayed in one place for longer than one month. By grace, we traveled to Mexico, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. It has truly been an amazing experience. Our journey actually began back in 2007 when we took our first short term mission trip to India, to meet a young Pastor we had actually met on a Christian community website. We will never forget that first face to face embrace. That experience captured our hearts and further ignited a passion for missions. It was definitely getting out of the boat of security and walking on the water of Godís grace. When we walked out of the plane, into the airport, then out into the humid, heavy atmosphere of the dark early morning in the city of Chennai, it felt like we had landed on another planet.
The next few years found us using vacation time to return to India to experience God and His grace in a way that was not possible in our comfortable American life. Imagine meeting someone for the first time, face to face, and taking a journey to a train station before the sun comes up. The train station is open air, not very well lit and here you are in a country you have only seen pictures of and read articles about, with someone you only know from the internet and you are getting ready to catch a train. Everything is new and unfamiliar, but in your heart you know God brought you here and you must trust Him. Faces in the shadows appear to be threatening and can distract your focus. The only way you can keep fear from overwhelming you is by His grace.
Before I continue with the stories of our experience, let me give you the definition of grace that I am talking about. Grace is the divine influence of the Spirit of God upon the heart of man, and its reflection in the life. In other words, Holy Spirit lives in us and as we live yielded to Him, He influences everything in our lives: our behavior, thoughts, emotions, and also the hearts and minds of people around us. The key to living a life of grace is surrender. Grace is living life by His power and ability not ours. We have seen this continually in our journey.
Another milestone in our lives was when we were introduced to the Indonesian community in our city. It began with an invitation to what they call a food bazaar. I was working for a company that sold commercial cleaning franchises and one day, one of the franchise owners came to my office to invite me and my husband to this event. We attended and met the Pastor and leaders of the church and got introduced to Indonesian cuisine. Soon after that, they were having some special meetings and invited us to experience their worship service. I have always been drawn to attend churches where the Spirit of God is tangible and that was the case. It wasnít long and the senior Pastor invited us to serve as associate pastors in this church. As we continued in our relationship with this community of believers, participating in various community events like birthdays, anniversaries, memorial services, special holiday events, we met more and more of the Indonesian community. We were becoming more and more engrafted into the life of this nation of people. Our hearts became knit together. They supported us with prayer, finances, and encouragement as we continued our short term missions trips to India. Later on, they would even welcome the Indian pastor, Lakku, to minister in the church when he came to US.
We continued to have incredible experiences traveling to India. Every time we went was better than the last, and we continued to desire to become full time in the field. There were so many things about our experiences in India that had a profound effect on our lives. It was our first experience of extreme poverty. We also found that in the villages, many people cannot read and that changes the way you preach. You cannot tell people to read their Bible to know about God. They have to hear the word preached and they have to have an experience with God. They are very strong in worship and prayer. Even though life in much of India is very difficult for Christians, the church there is powerful. When a person becomes a believer, they are committing themselves to totally depend on God for everything in their lives because as a Christian, they have cut themselves off from family and any kind of support from society. This commitment includes doing what they call giving their name to God. They surrender their Hindu name for a Christian name when they receive baptism. They truly live by grace. An example of Godís grace was an experience we had in a town in India. We were walking through a neighborhood where many Brahmans lived on our way to a house church meeting. One man was standing watching us as we were walking toward the gate of his home. He came to his gate as we were walking by and requested that we come into his home and pray for his family. He was obviously Hindu and we were obviously foreigners and with a local Pastor. Grace was working in us to fill us with the love of God to accept his invitation. Grace was working in him to have the desire to reach out to Jesus for the help that he needed for his family. We entered into his house and he gathered his family into the foyer of his home. We began to sing and worship God. The presence of God was tangible. My husband, William, began to lay hands on each member of the family and when he began to pray for the wife, he spoke healing into her body and she began to weep. We finished our prayer time and continued on our way to the meeting. Later this man gave testimony that God had healed his wife and that he wanted to be baptized with his entire family.
We have had so many experiences like this in India. Then there came the time when our Indonesian family began to urge us to visit their homeland and let God use us to touch their nation. In 2012, they sent us to India and Indonesia. We only had eight days in Indonesia, but we definitely felt that God was bringing a change to the course of our lives. When we returned to the US, events began to take place that lead to our committing to full time service. I had lost my job in 2010 and had been unable to find another position, so I occupied myself doing cleaning on the side and child care. My husband would sit in his office and his heart would be in India and Indonesia longing to be preaching and ministering to people in the power of the Holy Spirit. We began to make preparation for the day when God would finally give us the release to let go of everything and begin this amazing journey. In 2012, we had already sold our house and were living in a basement apartment in the home of an Ethiopian family. Williamís mother and younger brother passed away that year. In 2013, we sold one of our cars and continued to prepare. Finally, William received the confirmation from the Lord that it was time to resign from his job and begin the journey. It took grace to walk away from house, cars, job and totally depend on Godís ability to provide for our lives.
Something I havenít mentioned, is that William and I are in our late fifties-early sixties. That in itself presents special challenges to this journey. Beds in India are for the most part very firm which makes for a stiff, sore body sometimes. Trains donít always give you a lot of time to get on or get off and when you are older it takes you longer to do things. One thing I really urge people to do is to pursue their vision today because the older you get, the more challenges you face. I also encourage older people to live in Godís grace to get past their fears and really give themselves to their vision. We all know that these bodies are not going to last forever and life on this earth has an end point. Donít wait until you physically canít meet these challenges. Run while you can. Pray and plan, plan and pray and God will lead the way! Thus began our travels for the past two years. During our time of serving in short term missions, we asked ourselves, ďCould we really live in India or Indonesia?Ē In 2013, we actually spent three months in India. Living conditions in India can be very challenging. What I found was that when we were living in the village, with the five by five bathroom where you do your business and wash by pouring water from a large bucket with a smaller bucket over your body, where you were awakened in the morning by monkeys running across the tin roof, that the living conditions were not a problem because the anointing was so strong. We had people coming to us in the morning, before we even had time to bathe, on their way to labor in the fields, wanting prayer and to hear the word of God. The meetings in the evening were from eight until midnight as the people returned from their back breaking labor in the rice fields with a hunger and thirst for the presence of God that is almost impossible to describe. That was a powerful experience of the grace of God moving in an entire community. From India, we continued to Indonesia and spent two and a half months there. That was another manifestation of grace in our lives. When we arrived in Jakarta, we again were greeted by a Pastor that we met through Facebook and he became our care taker while we were in Jakarta. We were staying in the home of one of our members back in US who was out of the country at the time. Many of our Indonesian friends, as well as this pastor, warned us to be very careful in Jakarta. It takes grace to live in a place where you donít really feel safe to walk around the neighborhood. Not only that, but we didnít have any plan past the first two weeks. Once again the grace of God had an Indonesian pastor in US, Pastor Luther, make one phone call to one of his pastor friends in Indonesia and suddenly we were following Holy Spirit all over Indonesia. To be continued. This is the introduction to our journey of grace. Our goal is to inspire people to learn to live by grace and give themselves to the go of the gospel. Our missions organization is called Kingdom of Heaven Embassy. If you wish to learn more about us and our ministry you can visit our website AsiaforChrist. com or you can email us at pswilliamh@gmail.com We would love to connect with you if you are interested in missions.