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April 19, 2024

Updated: Apr 26


 


Just this week, I had the privilege of sitting down with a group of men who meet at our Ross Township Campus each week for discipleship. These guys are all retired and every Wednesday morning they spend time learning about following Jesus really means and encouraging each other to grow. Not all of them attend White Oak, but all of them have a love for Jesus Christ. They invited me in because they wanted to hear a word from me about what I’m experiencing as the Campus Pastor.


When I walked in, I warned these guys that they might have bitten off more than they could chew. If you give me room to talk, I’m going to do it. God gifted me with the ability to communicate, and I lean right into that gift. And yet, what I ended up sharing with them were things I learned from my time in India that took place in January. They were curious how I saw God move in that place, but what I hope they learned from me was that God did so much more in me during that time.


You see, and I’m being REAL authentic with you here, I didn’t want to go to India. When I got the initial invitation to be part of the team to travel to encourage and visit Christia Seva Mission, I wrote an email back saying, “No, thank you.” I was certain this wasn’t for me, and I had been pretty adamant about it. How could I go away for 11 days? What about my family? What if something happened to me? And yet, I felt something tell me not to send the email.


After praying about it, spending a day listening to God’s voice on the matter, talking to my wife, talking to my closest people, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me I needed to go. Honestly, God said to me, “Trust me, and see what I will do.” This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this voice, so I listened. And so I found myself in Chickballapur region, near Bangalore, in early January.



I travelled with three other men who had been there many times before. I was apprehensive about the trip, and even worried about the situation. This trip was something I struggled to accept, but while I was there, God was working on my heart.

The people in India are hungry for God to work in their lives. I saw their genuine passion for worship. Their reliance on the Holy Spirit to heal and provide for them. Their complete and total need for the love of Jesus Christ.  What we would view as a lack of resources, they view as gifts from God. And the way that Jesus’ love is shared is through the caring ministry that is done by the pastors of each of these village churches. Truly, the way they love is showing all the people of India how Jesus truly feels about them.



And yet, in that place, with these people who had an authentic heart of worship and adoration, God showed me something powerful that has changed the way I view the work I do. You see, the first day we were in India, I was reading from a book my wife, Pam, gifted me for Christmas. In the book, the author references 1 Peter 5. And starting in verse 6, I read these words.


“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:6-11


As I entered into this place, I had anxiety. I was afraid. I was worried how this would impact my family. How my creature comforts would be upended. Truthfully, I had entered into a wilderness season. I made the choice to go into a place where I wasn’t in control, didn’t have my bearings, and there was danger lurking. And yet, as this passage reminded me, God had me.


Don’t be fooled, the enemy is lurking. He is looking for ways to either take us into a place of wilderness so that we can separated from our heavenly father, or he wants to make us think that these seasons need to be escaped. He is looking to devour our faith. To take away our hope. We are ALL enduring the same sufferings. Even these people in India, who are living in a completely different culture, suffer the exact same things we do. And what do we suffer? The brokenness inside each of our hearts. We are dead because of the sin in our lives. And yet, we can be restored and brought into life by the one who saves us, Jesus Christ.


That’s what God took me 7500 miles from my home to show me. That no matter what season of wilderness I may face. No matter how I let the weakness in my flesh lead me astray, that God can and will restore us and make us strong.  What an awesome lesson he taught me.


So, what about you? Are you in a wilderness season of your life? How are you responding to your wilderness? Is it causing frustration, anger, and bitterness? Do you feel like a victim of circumstances, family, or friends? Or do you see the Lord using this to grow you and enlarge your capacity? Are you able to remain faithful and peaceful in the midst of your wilderness?


 

Chris

 

 


Chris Emmons

Ross Campus Pastor

White Oak Christian Church





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