Monday, October 18, 2010

Let us walk into Nations!

The term Tentmaking is becoming more familiar in the Indian mission context these days as more and more people are willing to use their professional identities for strategic proliferation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I present before you an abstract of Tentmaking opportunities based on my observations during my field mission assessment trips to these neighboring countries of India. All of this is presented with faith that people would stand at the gap for the issues at hand, through prayer and active Christian collaboration.


The Nation: Thailand is called the land of smiles and is famous for the pleasant and courteous hospitality of its people. Thailand is predominantly Buddhist and tourism is its most thriving industry. Thai is its most prevalent language.

Religious Snapshot: 95% of Thailand is Buddhist, 4% is Muslim and a meager 1.7% is Christian. The Thai Christian church was instituted by the colonial rulers of Thailand. The church to this day is influenced by its colonial legacy and past. Their type of worship and lines of thinking belong to an era gone by. The one great failure of the Thai church is that it has not been able to adapt and diffuse itself within the local culture or society.

Information in Context of Missions: Thailand best resembles Sodom and Gomorrah as spoken of in bible times. The sex industry is the most flourishing and contributing industry to the economy of Thailand. One reason why the sex industry thrives in Thailand is because of the inflow of a huge quantity of foreign tourists. Foreign tourists indulge with lust in the no-limits barred sex trade within Thailand. The trade of human flesh is a sad reality in Thailand, as close to 2 lakh Thai women are exported as sex objects from Thailand every year. Not alone are Thai women exploited, but close to 40000 women from neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia are imported and trafficked within the local Thai sex industry. I see this as Thailand’s most captivating bond. For the nation to be transformed, this bondage of lust needs to be broken. Out of every ten visiting male seven of them come for sexual pleasure. RS.60000 Crores is the income to the Thai economy through foreign tourists. Because it includes variables as strong as money and lust, I consider it as a significant spiritual stronghold. Another big stronghold is the religion of Buddhism. Everywhere you go you get to see Buddhist monasteries and monks around in Thailand. Buddhism encourages a short time monk commitment which is quite popular with the young Thai people and you get to see several of them dressed up in red flowing robes walking from monastery to monastery in a kind of a pilgrimage. This gives them a perception that their sins have been washed away and they return to normal life. This spiritual blindness imposed by the religion of Buddhism in Thailand is another powerful stronghold.

Status of Christian work: The local Thai church is very much held back from progress as it continues to be short sighted, unable to break barriers and build bridges with the local sentiments. Even an international Christian conference held inside Thailand did not feature significant local Thai representation. I am not very encouraged looking at their evangelical thrust and their desire to do ministry. But there is a lot of foreign missionary involvement all over Thailand. These foreign missionaries minister through orphanages and such social homes for the deprived. A few of them minister to a focused Muslim population. A few others work as professionals in the cities and act as spheres of influence in the high societies they mix. Some others work among the sex workers themselves. They work toward rehabilitation these sex workers, caring for their ignored or orphaned children, offering sex workers a way out of the sex trade, and help them achieve self dependency through a healthy livelihood and pattern of life.

Opportunities for Ministry: I want to see a revival among the local Thai church in a bigger way and I’m sure that it can’t be achieved without the local church breaking its barriers and embracing the local way of life in Thailand. That is when the whole of Thailand can be reached with the Gospel of Jesus. Though several foreign missionary agencies are working in the urban parts of Thailand using some help from the local Thai church, there is not much ministry happening in the interior parts of Thailand. The local Thai church needs to be motivated to reach these forgotten interior parts of Thailand. From the Indian perspective, I believe it’s a good opportunity for people from the seven north Eastern states of India to venture out as missionaries to these parts of Thailand. I say this because their mongoloid features will easily help them break mental barriers and feel accepted. Any other outside missionary going into Thailand should attach himself to local Thai Christians and work by motivating them. Another important feature about Thailand is it’s a free nation and it does not impose restrictions on freedom of religion. This is an open door in front of us. I encourage Indian Christian professionals to make use of this opportunity and take up Tentmaking jobs in Thailand and be spheres of influence for our Lord in Thailand.


The Nation: Myanmar is a nation under military rule and so life in Myanmar is full of regulations and impositions. Every government department is headed by an army chief. 7 states and 7 divisions comprise the whole of Myanmar. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, where poverty and inflation has made life miserable. For a comparative statement 50 Indian Rupees is as valuable as 1250 Kyat (Currency of Myanmar). Yangon is its capital. Myanmar is frequently hit by natural disasters like cyclones and flooding of the Yangon River. Opium trade is another significant feature about Myanmar.

Religious snapshot of Myanmar: Myanmar is a Buddhist nation, 89% of its approximately 5 crores population is Buddhist, 4% Christian and 1% Muslim. There are a lot of migrants from India and Bangladesh. South Indian Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam speaking migrant groups are a significant minority.

Status of Christian work: Myanmar being a military governed nation, the church functions with a lot of fear in its heart. All sorts of denominations are found within Myanmar; Methodists, Baptists, Seventh day Adventists, Catholics, Assemblies of God, and more. 4% out of the total population is a significant number. We can see big cathedrals and British-style church architecture scattered as remnants from the colonial era. But in spite of the gripping fear and prevalent poverty the churches of Myanmar show great desire for ministry and souls.

Opportunities for Ministry: The interior parts of Myanmar have much need.  The local church involvement needs to be encouraged and channelized towards Evangelism and outreach. Their desire to do something needs to be productively leveraged. There is a reception availability of a large number of Tamil satellite channels through which effective Christian broadcasts reach into Myanmar. Christian programs orienting viewers with evangelical thrust and programs encouraging them to reach out to the unreached among their countrymen need to be broadcast. Tamil Christian messages and songs, CDs and DVDs are very much available within Myanmar. This too can be used to influence directive Christian agenda within the church at Myanmar. Another great opportunity for Indian mission organizations to work within Myanmar is through social work and disaster time relief as successive natural disasters have left much of Myanmar still a wreck.


The Nation: Singapore is a very small nation but has made its strategic location count as it has galvanized itself into an economic world hub. Singapore speaks many languages, the predominant of which are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. The population of Singapore is approximately 50 lakhs. Singapore is a free trade zone country providing the most open of economies for trade to flourish, and hence has become one of the most sort after countries in the world.

Religious snapshot of Singapore: 51% of Singapore is Buddhist, 15% of it does not follow any religion, 15% of it is Christian and 4% is Muslim. Singapore is a tolerant and balanced religious society, where even residential apartments are ensured to be balanced with a fair mix of races and religions to ensure racial harmony. The Church in Singapore is a vibrant, activity rich, and evangelical in its functioning. There are many small groups and focused worshipping fellowships too within Singapore.

Opportunities for ministry: Singapore suffers from work sophistication, and much of its people are bound by their very work and careers. GEMS PROFIT(PROfessionals Fellowship of Indian/International Talents) has made this opportunity count by encouraging professionals towards reaching out to colleagues in their respective work place. GEMS PROFIT has initiated gatherings known as PROFIT CHAPTERS among the medical professionals, engineers and doctors in equipping them for workplace evangelism. These PROFIT CHAPTERS draw upon the core values of GEMS, Bihar and defines itself in a corporate setting. Several non-Christians are reached out through group outreach activities of these PROFIT members. I see Singapore as not just a hub for business, but a hub for ministry through which the whole of South East Asia can be reached out with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Another significant factor in Singapore is that, Christians are dispersed into all levels of Singaporean society, which when well tapped or networked can contribute wholesome societal change. The greatest need and hence our opportunity is the ‘Work-o-holic’ Singapore addicted to the hold of the mundane. Kingdom principles and perspectives need to be instilled among the work obsessed Singaporeans.

Conclusion: As so much of Indian mission work has come to mean concentrating on people groups, villages, tribal people etc, focus on another large chunk of people has been compromised. Let us be open to viewing India and other nations through the eyes of God. May God open our eyes to look at the un-reached Urban Crowd, Corporate Sectors, Government Offices, Educational Campuses, Closed Countries, and Creative Access Countries. God sees people only as the saved and the lost; the reached and the un-reached; and as Christians and Missions we are meant to reach the un-reached and the lost, irrespective of what the term Mission work has come to represent. The Lord has a call for us wherever we are. The call to stand at the GAP! The call to care for nations!

Rajesh Duthie
Dr. Rajesh Duthie is serving as one of the Assistant Directors in GEMS. He heads the Research and Development department of GEMS. He also facilitates Tentmaking and Research Network of IMA (India Missions Association).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Starting Trouble!

What made them do it? Bone-crushing hunger, Frightful desperation, suicidal itch, heroic madness, hopeless guts, insane spark of logic, tombstone insight, survival tactic, divine destiny, God’s super-intension? Before you decide to call it ‘whatever’, hold-on, there is more! They do it again? This time call it can’t-keep-it-to-themselves-overflowing-abundance, fear of retribution, better-late-than-spontaneous inclination to share, and such. 

What is this build-up about? In bits, pieces and in-between the lines, it’s the story of the 4 Samaritan lepers that unfolds in 2Kings 7:3-10 that I am encouraging you to wonder about. Out of all of what unfolded, there are two distinct moments when they make up their minds to do something. It is these two moments and the line of unique variables that led to the two decisions that I am building up your attention towards and if I ended up achieving that, I would like to hold it there a wee bit more. The two lists of variables have a practical contemporary connection to what goes on in every professional Christian’s head when he goes through the ‘do-I-say’ or ‘do-I-not-say’ perplexity of workplace evangelism. The devil with his murky intentions or classical Christianity with its misplaced high intentions have made the first list of imaginary variables sink deep into every Christian’s thought-realm, that whenever workplace evangelism becomes a personal choice, these ‘call-it-whatever’ issues freezes him even before he would start. I am convinced that you don’t need to even consider the first list of variables to pass Jesus around in your workplace. If you look at the whole Samaritan incident as the bible depicts it as, it seems a perfect analogy for resolving personal workplace evangelism challenges. The devil builds up so much pre-hyper-heat about workplace evangelism, but the bible assures you that it just could be like the middle part of that story - walking in to a deserted enemy territory and claiming the free spoil. But it is a personal choice. If you want to be there, it’s a decision you got to make for yourself. That’s the truth on how you should handle the pre-hyper-heat.

Coming back to the second list of variables, it is one that I earnestly urge you to consider. ‘Can’t-keep-it-to-themselves-overflowing-abundance, fear of retribution, better-late-than-spontaneous inclination to share, and such’. Maybe this is a list of issues that we all need to let linger in our conscious mind spaces. I am not attempting to dwell more than this into strengthening your Christian convictions of obligation and call to duty; rather I am convinced that you would make the personal choice of ‘yes-I-decide-say’ in your workplaces.

This magazine space last time around answered the question on whether one can be a corporate missionary and promised more subsequent inputs in answering the how side of the question. Here it goes, four practical pointers to crack the mission field of your workplace:

1.   Be Available - “Hey! You can count on me…”
2.  Build Relationships - “Wow! You are doing a good job…”
3.  Be Sensitive to the Felt Needs - “Oh! I understand I went through a similar phase…”
4.  Be Prayerful - “O! Lord, hear my prayer for my coworkers!!...”

Be Available: In the present day workplace, one of the biggest traps that a Christian falls into is that, he is not available for people. Do remember that God always used people who were available irrespective of their ability. “People don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care”. 
The only ability that’s a genuine eligibility is availability. When people know you are available, they will count on you. This creates an open door to share your faith. Of course, this comes at a cost. You cannot be available to people without that hurting you. Even when you don’t want to, even when you feel like saying ‘I-just-can’t’ and when you find it the most difficult; it is then that you need to be most Available. Having ‘Compassion’ for people helps, which will automatically enable you to enjoy being available for other people, to listen, to care, and to be with them and so on.
Luke 10:33 - But a certain traveling Samaritan came upon him, and seeing him, he was filled with pity. (MKJV)
Mar 6:31 And He said to them, come aside into a deserted place and rest a little. For there were many coming and going and they had no opportunity even to eat. (MKJV)
In the Good Samaritan parable, the Samaritan, had his own things to accomplish, but when he happened to see the person in difficulty, made himself available. This is expected out of every Christian. In every walk of life, in every kind of moment we are expected to be available. In Mark, chapter 6 - Jesus is rejected in his own hometown, hears the news of his first cousin John’s sad demise, is physically exhausted, wants to be alone with his band, but didn’t have the heart to deny people with need. In both the above incidents, we find that “Compassion” led them to go the extra mile making themselves always available for people in need.

Build Relationships: When two persons have something in common, a relationship begins. This is defining relationship in its most elementary form. But, to have a quality relationship, it needs to be “Worked On”.
Relationship is a big topic in itself and here it is limited to a very basic practical understanding needed to build and work on relationships. Find common areas of interest and build your relationship starting from there. Once you find yourself in the ‘Accepted Realm’ of a person, they will listen to you.
Act 17:23 For as I passed by and saw the things you worship, I also found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Not knowing then whom you worship, I make Him known to you. (MKJV). Paul finds a common platform to communicate the Scripture meaningfully. It is no manipulation to build a genuine relationship with your peer while sharing the Faith. Conversation and activities in the common areas of interest will provide you the space, freedom and comfort to build relationships and make them count for better. Moreover, this gives us an opportunity to understand the person more clearly and Gospel can be shared in context to that person’s life Sports, Politics, Music, Art, etc. are few examples of areas you could trace a common interest with your peers. Only be cautioned to avoid loose moral conversations and activities that could pave your own spiritual downfall. Keep the bar safely high, and don’t sell yourself cheap by trying to please everyone or every bit of someone.

Be Sensitive to the Felt Needs: Felt needs, are areas of active struggle in a person’s life which are real and genuine. Only the Lord is able to fulfill the felt needs of any man. Identify that area and introduce Jesus - the only way, the truth and the life. But let them be informed that Jesus promises no shortcuts to ‘nirvana’. Accepting Jesus is only a Start. For the solution of problems and completeness of life it requires growth within Him. Once relationship with Christ is initiated, discipleship has to follow, which most often than not, involves TIME.

Luke 5:5-8 Simon said to Him, Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing. Yet at Your word I will let down the net.  (6)  And doing this, they enclosed a great multitude of fish. And their net was being torn.  (7)  And they signaled the partners, those in the other boat, to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they were sinking.  (8)  And seeing, Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus, saying, depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.

Here Peter is in need. In outspoken terms it is strictly business! Jesus answers the felt need of Peter and it paves the way for Peter to accept Jesus as his Saviour. The business need being met seems like having pulled strings within his heart and making him realize that he is a sinner, making him aware of a deeper need; that is the need of Jesus. So watch out for unmet needs of your colleagues, for they could be doorways of their salvation. And these unmet needs could be physical, emotional, relational, mental or spiritual. A possible way to identify an un-met felt need of a person is to trace an exhibited sense of frustration or irritation due to failure or insecurities. Smarting from past hurts is a felt need too which when healed could trigger a more God conscious conscience.
Be Prayerful: you come across many people in life who are smart in seemingly outsmarting the Gospel message itself. In the times that you happen to be the person sharing the message and find yourself cornered for truth by force of argument by a smart and aggressive colleague, quite often you find yourself being despised too. It is possible that there is a hidden spiritual context that requires prayer to unravel. Deal the situation spiritually while sharing the Gospel. Prayer is one of the key elements which cannot be ignored nor substituted. For we know that everything has a root spiritual implication. If we take grip of the implication in the Spiritual Realm in the authority of the Holy Spirit, He can help in releasing people from Satan’s bondages and thereby bring them into God’s Kingdom.

Mark 9: 17-29 “He replied, this kind of spirit can come out only by prayer…” (29). In a normal practical view, the disciples had the right intentions and were formally empowered by the Lord Himself, but they faced outright defeat because of the lack of prayer. A person who is not able to be controlled by anyone might have spiritual bondages that need to be dealt with in the spiritual realm by Jesus. So ‘go in’ after having strengthened and prepared yourself with adequate prayer.

Be Available! Build Relationships! Be Sensitive to the Felt Needs! Be Prayerful!

A PROFIT (PROfessionals Fellowship of International Talents) recommended formula to succeed as a CORPORATE MISSIONARY.

Arun Venkit
Arun Venkit serves as the Research Associate in GEMS R&D and also as the International Facilitator of PROFIT a mission initiative of GEMS for equipping professionals to be directly involved in workplace evangelism.

Monday, October 4, 2010

When God is not spelt JESUS

We live in deceptively seducing times rampant with irreverent cynicism and in an age when people have a form of godliness but deny its power, as was fore-warned in 2Timothy 3:5 so as it would fore-arm us for the last days. When we crack the contemporary issues of the world around us using the bible as key, we are all the more quickened to appreciate and give in to the truth it reveals.

‘When God is not spelt JESUS’(WGINSJ) derives no influence from possible conspiracy theories on how Barack Obama could possibly be the Antichrist or any other ‘doctrine of fear’ leveraging the dread of the ‘Abomination of desolation’. Rather it draws upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who shows wonders in the heavens above, signs on the earth below, and guides us into all truths before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord, by convicting us of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.

‘WGINSJ’ in bits and pieces is the poignant contemporary story about the country called United States of America and the almost tragic Christian moral it imparts.

America was founded a Christian nation and its constitution declared that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. The founding fathers of America were not just passionate in keeping their Christian faith personal but were also explicitly outgoing in injecting it into the foundations of their government.  Even as many look upon modern day America, there are remnant signs to suggest its Christian origin. For example, “God bless America” is a phrase that even Hollywood reveres and was famously used as a slogan by the patriarchs of America. The dollar note till not so long ago used to contain a small quote "In God we trust". However, these signs that indicate America as a Christian nation are merely the few remains of the foundation of true Christianity that America was once built upon. In America not long ago, God and His word were at the very heart of the nation where the BIBLE was proclaimed as the absolute truth. It was the love for God and respect for who He is that brought people to try to live morally and in accordance with Scripture. Such respect for God can be seen in the words of one of America’s forefathers, President Lincoln (1861-1865), “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Here we see a President willing to place God above all others and not afraid to boldly declare God to be the One around whom our lives should revolve, rather than God revolving around our lives. The first president of America, George Washington is known for his famous quote: It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. George Washington, rightly called the Father of America was an exemplary Christian and one who was an epitome of America’s stance as a Christian nation.

America has welcomed a new horizon as Barack Obama has taken over as the 44th President of the USA. However, will this be a new beginning for God to be restored to His rightful place or will this so called Christian country simply fall further away from their Christian beginnings and from proclaiming the true identity of God? Obama is a professing Christian, whose speeches do often give reference to God. However, his speeches do not always seem to profess the God of the Bible as strongly and clearly as some of his predecessors and some of his ethics seem to conflict with the Bible’s teaching. It is possible that his faith in God is genuine and Biblical; however, it is also possible that the faith he proclaims is a faith that concurs with the new diluted American version of God.

Christianity was once understood, respected and declared by America as the absolute truth, but new age and free thinking has created a new line of thought which claims no absolute truth. This line of American thought proclaims that you can believe what you want and no one should be able to tell you that you are wrong. This is something the next generation is eagerly accepting with tolerance being over-emphasized in religious studies at schools. While tolerance to other beliefs and religions is necessary and right, it seems that America has gone beyond that to elevate these other beliefs and religions to a level equal with Christianity. Christianity, while still talked about and practiced by many, for much of America it has become simply a religion that is listed along with many others. The God of Christianity is no longer set apart and exalted above all others. For many the God has become a god. By dishonoring the God of the Bible, the morals of the Bible have also lost their inviolability. Without the absolute truth of God to support moral principles, people have less of a conviction to live by those morals.

The following analogy explains more clearly this principle: Consider five year old stealing sweets from a shop and having got away with the act. He is told by a friend another five year old friend not to steal sweets. Having managed a successful lift the boy knows that if he does steal sweets there will be no consequences as his friend does not have the authority to tell him what to do. However, if the boy is told by his father not to steal sweets, the boy knows that he must obey because his father has authority over him and there will be consequences if he disobeys. It is not the moral message that makes the young boy obedient, but it is who commands him that becomes important. Without the authority of his father the boy decided there was no reason to not do as he wished. Sadly, this same thinking has become true for many in America, without God there becomes seemingly little reason for individuals to not do as they wish. The tragic effect of this thinking becomes clear when we consider the following statistics. In America there is one murder every 22 minutes, one rape every 5 minutes, one robbery every 49 seconds, and one burglary every 10 seconds. These are shocking statistics for a nation that many refer to as Christian.

It is clear however, as previously mentioned, that the name of God has not completely disappeared from the lips of America. Many A-list celebrities are heard confessing their thanks to God, and have declared themselves Christian with the genuine belief that they are Christian, when by biblical standards and truths; this is clearly not the case. The answer is that their society and country have diluted Christianity and along with the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, according to these diluted standards, they are Christian. Much of America lives in the delusional mindset of a new age generation that cries out “if it feels good, do it” and “do whatever makes you happy”. It seems that they have tried to adapt Christianity to not stand out from,
but to harmonize with these new age principles. They have become delusional to who God really is and created God to be who they desire Him to be. Therefore, although there are some genuine Christians throughout America, for many the Christianity they claim is merely a Christianity fabricated by human convenience and conception. This once great Christian nation seems to be in an awful spiritual state where widely either God has been left out completely or been replaced by a new American god.

‘WGINSJ’ is no comprehensive case presentation of American society but just a contemporary snapshot of the obviously prevalent. But it is an attempt to caution Christendom of similar decays of spiritual truths, fervor, values, standards and stances that might set into our lives, our societies and our churches. 

Beware of small inroads of the devil. Beware of all stances, cults, people, fellowships and doctrines representing the seeming harmony of religions and the promotion of universal good-values such as democracy, peace, fraternity, art of living, etc,  but fail to mention it as according to what our Lord Jesus ordains it in His Bible. If you give in to such ‘make-yourself-feel-better’ orientations you are in for diversion and deception on the long run. Cracking the Contemporary using the Bible as key equips us to be loyal unto death for our Lord. If you would want to be counted among the faithful and not to be duped by the master of slow evil deception, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit of God and draw upon His strength and inspiration. But, you could also do this! Remember the ‘WGINSJ’ story of United States of America.

Vicky Gibson
Vicky Gibson is an Irish student of theology who visited GEMS for Indian mission exposure as part of her curriculum.

If God can use a donkey, God can use [Insert your name]

Long, long time ago in a land where kings ruled, the temple reigned and men farmed, something amazing happened to a little donkey named Sam.  You see, Sam the Colt was a young fellow with great imagination, wild dreams and spades of impudent determination.  Mostly, he aspired to be like his big, strong and talented dad. His dad, Abbott went on long adventurous trips, helped their owner, Mr. Nathan herd goats and even carried all the harvest to the market.  Sam always wanted to help, he wanted to do grown up things; he wanted to be useful just like his dad.  However things never worked out for Sam; whenever he attempted to lend a hand or a hoof in Sam’s case, it always ended in disaster.  

One day Mr. Nathan planned a trip across the river to a distant land to sell some of the precious colored wool; collected from the sheep on the farm.  Sam decided without telling his dad that he would join the trip and help lead the way, just like his dad always did.  Sam’s dad had such a keen sense of direction; Sam believed it was hereditary.  “I am sure I can help lead the way”, Sam thought.  As Mr. Nathan was leaving for the long journey across the river, Sam tagged along without the knowledge of Mr. Nathan, or his father.  Sam decided he would go ahead of the other donkeys and lead the way; since it was quite dark and no one would suspect it was him until sunrise.  Sam would than take the credit for leading the way, once they arrived at their destination.   An hour had passed by and Sam continued to gallop at a steady pace, making sure to follow the trodden path. However, Sam was not used to not having any light, or any experience to lead the way.  There was a fork in the path up ahead, but Sam did not notice; he continued to the right, as the only light on offer was the shine from the moon.  After two hours of forceful trotting, Mr. Nathan was in dire confusion when they had not reached their pit stop.  All the donkeys needed some rest and water.  Mr. Nathan soon realized that they were lost.  He came to the head of the line and realized that Sam was leading the way.  Mr. Nathan was quite upset and replied “Sam, You got us lost!”  “Could we be lost?” Sam thought.  “No way! We can’t be lost, I am genealogically prone to find the way, just like my Dad” Sam was lost even in his thoughts.  Sam soon realized that he had made a mess of the whole trip.  Sam was so terribly sad, because they were lost.

Sam was not one to give up easily, so the next day, Sam thought that he could help herd the goats with the other donkeys, so he went along.  “How hard could it be?” he thought.  “I always see the other donkeys doing it; all I have to do is run after the goats.”  So that is exactly what Sam did, he ran after a goat, “I am going to be the best herd donkey ever”, he thought and so he ran and ran after the goat.  He heard some yelling from behind, “I guess the other donkeys are cheering for me” he said to himself.  “I’ll show them, I am the best herd donkey ever”.  Until suddenly, it started to rain and he stopped running and looked around.  He couldn’t believe it, where was everybody else?  He looked around and saw the herd in the far distance.  “Oh no! I chased this goat in the wrong direction!” Sam realized.    He slowly walked back to the farm without the goat.  He was so embarrassed.  “What is everyone going to think of me, not only did I herd in the wrong direction, but I lost a goat” he thought.  As he finally reached the farm, the other donkeys gave him derisive looks and jeered, saying “Sam is so dumb; he can’t even herd one goat”.  Sam was so terribly sad, because he felt dumb.

Sam woke the next day and felt the sun shine on his face.  His fur all clean after the drench-wash in yesterday’s rain, he felt a new sense of hope to do something useful.  Sam decided to help Mr. Nathan carry the morning farm items to the market.  Sam always wanted to carry things like his big strong Dad.  So he got up real early the next day and prepared to wait at the gate to make sure Mr. Nathan will choose Sam to take to the market. Mr. Nathan was already upset that a goat was missing and that he had gotten them lost previously.  However, Mr. Nathan was a kind fellow who loved God and gave everyone a chance, even young Sam.  So as Sam waited at the gate, Mr. Nathan came out and said “Not you again! You want to help but you are too weak to carry the heavy load to market”.  Sam hee-hawed saying “No! I’m strong, just try me!” Mr. Nathan understood that Sam wanted to help, so he said “Okay, I’ll give you a chance”.  Mr. Nathan slowly lifted the milk and eggs onto Sam’s back, one by one.  “This is not that heavy, ha! It is so light!” Sam thought as Mr. Nathan had put 10 jars of milk.  Next Mr. Nathan loaded another 10 jars of milk of the other side of Sam’s back.  “Okay it’s a little heavy, but I can bear this”, Sam thought.  Next Mr. Nathan   loaded 10 dozen eggs on top of the jars.  “I’m sure that dad doesn’t carry this much to the market, this is really heavy, but that’s okay, the market is not that far away” Sam thought.  Mr. Nathan took hold of the rope and lead Sam.  Just as Sam took his first step, he placed one of his hoofs in a ditch, Sam tripped, and couldn’t keep his balance due to the heavy load, and he fell.  The eggs flew up in the air and crashed on Mr. Nathan’s head and the jars broke and milk puddled the ground.  “Oh no!” Mr. Nathan shouted “I knew you were too weak to carry the load!” Mr. Nathan lamented.  Sam felt dreadful; he had completely destroyed all the items Mr. Nathan needed to bring to the market.  Sam was so terribly sad, because he felt so weak.

As Sam returned back home, Mr. Nathan tied Sam off at the doorway of his house on the street, so that he could get cleaned up before taking Sam to the Farmhouse.  For the first time in Sam’s life he felt so sad that tears began to fill his eyes, his heart began to wobble and his head was locked towards the ground.  All Sam wanted to do is be useful, just like his dad, but every time he tried, he just failed.  Everyone thought he was lost, dumb or weak; and now Sam too thought the same.  What was the point of being a donkey, if he couldn’t do anything? Just then, Sam heard the voice of two men running towards him yelling “There’s the donkey!”  He looked up and at once felt joy beyond measure “Are they talking about me? Are they calling me? They couldn’t be, could they?” Sam wondered.  Sam was startled when the two men reached him, and started to untie him.  Sam hee-hawed so loud that even Mr. Nathan heard the loud commotion and came to see what was going on.  When Mr. Nathan saw what was happening, he questioned the two, even though he was frustrated with Sam saying “What are you doing, are you trying to steal my donkey?” When the two men raised their faces and looked at him; Mr. Nathan had something unexplainable happen within himself.  All of the frustration and anger that Mr. Nathan felt towards Sam disappeared.  At once he was remorseful at the way he had treated this young donkey.   The two men then replied “The Lord has need for this donkey; we will return this young colt after using him.”  At once, without question and unlike Mr. Nathan, he replied, “yes, take him.”

Even though Sam was startled and didn’t know these men, he felt such delight at the thought of being used for the Lord.  The two men lead Sam to the village of Bethphage at the Mount of Olives and placed clean cloths on his back.  The men were readying Sam for the Lord; but Sam felt insecure.  “What if I get lost when I lead the way? What if He thinks I’m too dumb? What if, I’m too weak to carry Him?” Sam thought.  Just then, Sam looked up and he saw the most enduring eyes.  They called him “Jesus”.  Jesus gave Sam a good pat on the back, a great sense of peace overwhelmed Sam.  All the questions that made him feel weak, dumb and lost were suddenly answered.  Sam with his quintessential hope said to himself “I am going to be used for the Lord”.  Jesus smiled at Sam, (like he knew exactly what Sam was thinking).  Jesus climbed on to Sam, and Sam felt strong.  A great multitude of people were gathered to see Jesus.  Sam started to slowly trot through the crowd, knowing precisely what way he should go; since Jesus was with him he knew he would never be lost.  As he entered the crowd, the people exclaimed, “Hosanna to the Son of David!, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  The large crowd laid down there cloaks and waved palm branches. 

All this happened to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion ‘See your king comes to you gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”.  Before Sam was even born, God had a great purpose for him.  God looked down at the heart of Sam, because he was so eager to be used.  God used Sam for a great purpose; he was the chosen donkey that Jesus rode on.  Jesus, the King of King and Lord of Lords chose Sam.  The moral of this story is: If God can use a donkey; he can use [INSERT YOUR NAME].

The End

Anne is a Canadian volunteer who served in the GEMS Hospital on a short termcommission.

What keeps you awake at night

Night; makes one feel inconspicuous; provides a restful emptiness; is mysterious by evoking a sense of potential and possibility. Black is the colour of night and so too is the colour of thoughts. There is something about black that makes one feel hidden away in it. Black is the color that absorbs everything. It’s the colour we obtain when we mix various colours. So also when our minds contemplate certain complex waves of thoughts, perhaps our mind becomes like a melting pot mixing contradicting notions and then our feelings become darker and darker until they become predominantly black.

In the still night
In the deepest, darkest night
Where there is no moonlight
Where there’s not even candlelight
Where there’s no light
Under my bed, or in my head
Monsters lurk!

Night is the time when the mind reflects and it is natural that young people’s thoughts turn to the one ‘object of desire’ that captures their imagination, triggers their passion and exposes their vulnerabilities. Not a young man or woman goes through the fleeting fantasy of youth-hood without those sleepless nights, with their minds churning with powerful feelings for that one dimple-cheeked sweet dolly girl or that blue eyed Romeo. Here a story for you to understand the outcome of it all.  

Dolly could not sleep! She looked out of the window; it would take long before the sun rose. She felt very lonely; her world had imploded. She didn’t want to face the day ahead. Tears were streaming down her eyes. Hadn’t God warned her a humpty number of times? -and her parents too that Tom was in reality a flirt and would ditch her sooner or later. Dolly had been so passionately involved about Tom that she had dreamt of him all the time. Yes! He was going to be the man – her man. She had spent many a sleepless night deriving pleasure dreaming of her love. She was so soaked into her dreams that she was prepared to die for them to come true; but she had only waited to see her dreams crash!!!!!

 It all began on a rainy June day, none of her friends had come to college, and in fact only a few students had come. Dolly sat all by herself, wondering what lay in the day’s folded fist.  That is when she saw him, a tall-dark-handsome young guy walking towards her. She acted as if she didn’t notice him but then he sat in the bench next to hers and looked straight into her eyes. A current passed through her body- that was …… the notorious guy of the college -Tom. Was she to…just shun his presence…or be rude to him and cut his friendship right away? After all she was bored? What was wrong in enjoying his company? All her friends had boy friends; probably they thought she was not capable of having one, or pretty enough to. It will be pure friendship and she as ever before would draw a line there.

They began to talk initially about their subjects, then about their lecturers, interesting books and then their own likes and dislikes……The talk was getting more and more personal. Suddenly Tom threw a personal remark on her beautiful hair, smile and her ringing laugh. Never before had she felt so good. She wanted to just keep on talking to him.

When they went to the games ground, she kept watching and admiring the way he played. Indeed he was the best football player of her college! Tom very well knew that he had been successful in making enticing claim to this sweet innocent girl’s virgin heart.

The day came to an end and the NIGHT came and Dolly’s mind was a melting pot of feelings. Tom’s thoughts kept racing back and forth in her mind. She couldn’t sleep the whole night. She didn’t want it otherwise too, for there seemed to be a curious kind of pleasure in imagining, dreaming and inferring warmth out of all that had and had not come to pass. She thought this was what people called as ‘Love’ and that now it had come her way and she had to respond too. But she was in a dilemma about- Was she right?
Dolly was actually a shy girl who limited the world around herself. Although she had many friends, no-one ever understood the deep urges of her heart. She always felt a vacuum within her. She herself could never clearly address her longing, let alone others to ever understand her. With all these thoughts in her head she chose to convince herself that her parents might call her ‘bad’, her friends would have no genuine concern for her, and would use her story as good gossip to spread round. In her mind she convinced herself that she was on the right track.

The next day, she took special interest in adorning herself for Tom. She was waiting to see him. Although it was raining, Dolly decided to go to school pushing away the advice of her parents. How everything about her seemed to have changed so very fast seemed to first shock her! But then her mind convinced her that this was who she was always meant to be. How very obedient she had been to her parents! But now she just wanted them to stay away from her.

Even before she stepped out of the college bus, she saw Tom running towards her with an umbrella in his hand. The story that she had built up in her head last night seemed true and colorful. “Tom really loves me! How much concern he has for me!” were Dolly unspoken thoughts. Tom held the umbrella for Dolly and walked very close to her. A new feeling surged through her - ‘Tom was hers’. Dolly felt proud as her friends looked at her and assumed that it was envy in their eyes.

All advices; from bosom buddies; caring professors and concerned elders fell on deaf ears as more days spent with Tom and even more nights spent dreaming about him kept Dolly in a trance. Though she respected most of the people in that list and distantly understood their concern, long nights spent deriving pleasure out of stimulating and lustful thoughts of Tom overpowered her. The climax was when Tom even proposed to her. She felt vindicated about all her thoughts and energy spent tossing them within her all those several nights.

Then came the unexpected day- It was exactly a year since Tom proposed to her and Dolly hadn’t met Tom for days…She had wondered why he seemed to just avoid her these days. After all everyone knew of their affair; she had even talked it out with her parents. After a lot of hesitation, they had to consent. With questions in her head Dolly stumbled upon Tom in the canteen. Dolly would have shouted a greeting, which was when she saw him touch the hair of Pinky - a popular girl at college who was extremely pretty. She was close enough to hear Tom say- “I have never seen any girl with such pretty hair as yours”. Dolly just turned back and ran.

It was night and Dolly could not sleep! She looked out of the window; it would take long before the sun rose. She felt very lonely; her world had imploded; she didn’t want to face the day ahead. Tears were streaming down her eyes. Hadn’t God, family and friends warned her humpty number of times? She had spent many a sleepless night deriving pleasure dreaming of her love and now the price for those cheap thoughts seem to be painfully high, for the same pleasurable nights seem to come back to haunt her.

Dolly not wanting to face any one in college dragged herself to the college chapel, to cry by herself. Probably the pouring out would pacify her, she reckoned. The verse written on the blackboard brought deep regret to Dolly “I wouldn’t listen to my teachers. I paid no attention to them. And suddenly I found myself publicly disgraced” Proverbs 6: 25 & 35. Well, this was her story too. A special group had come to the chapel that day. As Dolly walked in, God was in the song they sang that day, for it captured the exact words ringing in her heart. It went like this……

She was young and beautiful.
                   She captured my heart with a smile
                    She was anytime on the phone
          I talked to her all the time
                   She said that she loved me
                   And would be with me all my life.
(Oh)But she lied all the time,
She had many others on her mind.
She wasted all my time and made me cry all night.
All these things made me recall Proverbs Chapter 5 

Honey dripped from her lips
Smoother were her words
I loved her more and more
And gave her all of my time
I thought that she is the one
And the only women of my life

(Oh)But she lied all the time,
She had many others on her mind.
She wasted all my time and made me cry all night.
All these things made me recall Proverbs Chapter 5       

The preacher’s sermon was on Luke 15:7 “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent”. Dolly now realized that there was still hope for her. She felt as if every word was spoken just for her. Yes, God had sent his angels there for her sake so that she would repent. How loving and caring this God was, who she had not listened to all these days and all those nights! That night tears of repentance flowed down her cheeks. And in no time love, joy, peace and hope flooded into her heart and an assurance that it comes with no hidden painful costs.

Last night
My Jesus
I cried out
Last night
You filled me
The emptiness
I’d been waiting to fill
You finally filled
Last night

No matter who you are, if you are young you will have to deal with and conquer the NIGHT and its base issues. Not all lessons need to be as painfully learnt as was by Dolly. There is a much easier way. All of Bible shows that God has his own plans for the night. God has revealed himself in visions to so many of his children from Jacob to Paul during the nights; the Israelites were liberated out of Egyptian captivity during the night; Gideon tested God in the night; Nehemiah used the night to scout and sketch the Jerusalem-wall-architecture-project; Lord moved kings like Artaxerxes to do his bidding during the night; God gives His children songs to sing in the night; People have secretly sought Jesus in the nights; and God’s heavenly dew fell in the night to prepare for manna to fall upon it in the morning. So nights can be a revelation, or can be used for preparing yourself to receive fresh revelations for tomorrow or also to communicate a whole range of emotions to God like David did. In the book of Job, the Bible says that in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, God may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrong doing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.

Take care of what you do in the nights, restrain your thoughts or even better, call on Him to share His secrets and reveal His mysteries. And nights will never be the same again. Till that day without letting the night dawn upon us; let the light shine amidst the encircling gloom of the darkest of nights. Be sure to analyze and introspect the moments of the day and repent, correct and redirect your thoughts and life in line to God’s best. Sleep well or dream about God. But choose in between the two; that is good.

So, as you settle in to your cozy bed tonight ask yourself, WHAT KEEPS ME AWAKE AT NIGHT? 

Angeline Mariyosh
Angeline Mariyosh works as English teacher in GEMS English School, Bihar & is married to GEMS missionary J.Mariyosh