By Mary Ingram
So my assignment was to write 600 words about a country that could fit into the United States three times while having a population of over 1.3 billion people. Let me just say that is a lot more people than what is in America. So this place is pretty jam-packed with culture, character, and experiences, yet I needed just 600 short words. Well, let’s see how this goes, considering I already used up almost 100 words just on this minor complaint!
God took me to India in an unexpected way. In fact, I never really thought of India as somewhere I wanted to go as a missionary. It seemed like a great place to visit sometime but never somewhere I felt a tug to go. God did the work to change my mind about that. Well really, he changed my heart and my mind just had to follow and trust where God led.
Don’t Waste Your Life!
It was around two years ago while I was reading “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper that God told me where he wanted me to be. I had read through the entire book and come to the final pages. In these final pages, Piper has a list of countries and the number of unreached people in those respective countries. I read down through the list and my eyes fell upon the astoundingly large number in India. There are still over 1 billion, 299 million people of India that are considered unreached.I read the numbers and in the loudest voice I have ever heard God speak, he told me “Mary, let’s go!” I knew from that moment that somehow God would get me there and no matter what happened, my only option was merely to trust and let the purpose God had given my life speak. It wasn’t long after this that I texted my best friend Kierra McClure and said: “Do you want to go to India with me? “I think God is leading me to go.” Kierra has always felt drawn to India and I think this was God’s way of getting us both to go. We were so excited at that moment, but then came the real problem of not knowing anyone else who had gone to India, and we didn’t know any Indian missionaries to consult, so we just prayed for guidance. It was eventually a friend of ours that introduced us to Koinonia and from there we were given the chance of a lifetime and went where God was leading.
Ever since I got back from India people keep asking if India was all that I expected it to be, and every time I have to say, “No.” India was so much more, it blew my mind. The place is absolutely packed with beauty, culture, and differences from America. India for me was way more than I ever expected. At one of our checkpoints where we went through security, I was even accused of being drunk! The attendant asked where I was from and what I thought of India. I told him I was from the USA and I thought India was beautiful! The look on his face was complete confusion. I guess to the natives of the country India isn’t in great shape, but that place is certainly being watched over by our God, and even if the streets are dirty and the poor groan from the inside of a tarp-covered box, there is hope to be had, and joy.
In fact, one of my favorite parts of the trip was when we walked the streets of New Delhi, we were right there among the people that we longed to reach. We got the blunt force of the street smells and the contrast of a perfume shop. It is indescribable how amazing that country is. We stayed in a ritzy hotel that we wouldn’t have been able to walk inside of in America, and just on the other side of the nearby wall could have been a family of five starving because the father cannot find work. The culture of India is astounding and so completely different than how we are raised in America. The culture was my favorite part of the Indian world.
The Girls Home in Pune was the part of the trip that all of us were looking forward to from the very beginning. From the moment we saw the girls and received a hearty welcome and plenty of hugs I knew my heart was lost to them. I was so inspired by the love for God that their house mothers obviously have and their desire to see every one of the girls thrive and live a life for God. I can’t describe the joy of getting to share a relationship with God with believers in another country. We were able to worship together in song and meditate together on God’s word, and even if sometimes we couldn’t understand what was being said, the presence of the Lord was undeniable.
From making bracelets, painting with watercolors, singing silly songs, taking hundreds of polaroids (I only got to keep one), making fake flower pens, becoming a work of art for their henna, attempting to not look like a fool while eating with them, and tickle fights, I couldn’t have better memories of those girls and our time with them. It was such an honor to spend those precious moments with them and I pray that I am able to go back soon to see them again.
Where God is Leading Me
So many other things happened in India and I wish I had the time to share every single story, but that would become an entire book and that was not my assignment. I will end this not-so-600-word essay with what I feel God is leading me to next as his disciple.God led me to India with the call to unreached people groups and while I was in India for the Girls Home and Vision Tour, God reminded me of that calling. It was November eighth, our last full day in India and our last day to go to the college devotions. That morning I felt God’s voice calling me to remember what I was called to, and he led me to read Psalm 150 for our team’s morning prayer. This Psalm is all about worshipping God, how all things in creation worship the Lord. It gives us no time limit or dedicated time that we know God will be listening; it just says to praise him always and with all things. No matter what we are doing, no matter what he has called us to or where we will go, we must always praise God.
That psalm spoke volumes to me because I knew God was saying “you may think you could stay and work at the Girls Home and that would be enough, but I have called you to something else.” He has called me to be a missionary to the unreached people groups of India. I don’t know how it will happen or when, but I must always be ready because the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37).
I felt this call quite clearly that morning and then at devotions it became crystal clear. The girls and the guys were split up and we began with some hymns. We sang Christ Is Enough, one of the best songs I have ever heard. Then Jerusha, the leader of the devotions, read Psalm 150! God was speaking that day! They asked us to share what led us to India and from there I got to tell them and myself what I knew God was telling me. It was such a joy to share the leading of the Lord in my life and hear it in the lives of everyone who went on the trip.
I still don’t know when I will go back to India but I pray it will be soon, and I must prepare myself, study to show myself approved (2 Timothy 2:15), so that I can be a vessel for the Lord’s gospel wherever he leads.
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”