4 days into this trip focusing on the Gateway School at the Come Together Compound and the churches of Gateway Ministry here in Rajahmundry, India. I've asked Melissa to give here thoughts so far:
Melissa here, checking in at the end of day 4. We’re currently waiting on our dinner so I thought I’d take advantage of this time to type up a quick blog for you. Speaking of dinner, on our way home from running errands this afternoon we stopped at a little chicken shop/coop on the side of the road and chose a chicken that was at one moment happily running around and a few fateful moments later was being killed for us to eat tonight. They don’t have Publix nearby that I’m aware of.
If you’ve been to a Third Day show this year, chances are you’ve seen me behind the merchandise table in my role as their touring merchandise manager. Although merch certainly makes a tour go round, there’s a lot more to my heart than counting t-shirts! I didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity to join our tour pastor Nigel on this trip to India even though I had very little idea of what I was going to be participating in once I got here. I couldn’t stop dreaming of precious Indian children and knew I needed to be a part of what the band and Nigel have invested in through the Come Together Compound.
You’ve already heard from Jamie about the churches we’ve visited as well as our time at the school. My experiences in both places have been amazing and heartbreaking and everything in-between. What an indescribable privilege it’s been to see yet another beautiful reflection of the image of God in these people. I have never seen a faith so raw and a hunger so deep for an encounter with the Holy Spirit – that alone has left an indelible mark on my soul.
These fellow believers are desperately trusting that through our prayers we are going to be able to lead them to the throne of God – so we approach Him confidently to receive mercy and grace. *Hebrews 4:16* I’ve been struck the most though by what I’ve seen as we’ve been driving through the city and villages, watching the people and the countryside go by. Looking out the car window, I feel as if someone has taken the roughest sandpaper all around the edges of my heart… I have the same devastated, shredded up feeling walking around the market in the city as well. I often have the question “Why?” on the edge of my lips. Reading Matthew 9:36, I realized that wrenching feeling is actually compassion. In this passage I imagine Jesus felt the same way as He looked over the crowds: “he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” I am humbled that He would give me His heart for these lost people. My prayer is that even in acknowledging strangers with a smile, I would carry the sweet aroma of Christ. *2 Corinthians 2:14* I am utterly humbled to know the love of Christ and I treasure being involved in the work God is doing here – in a tangible way by ministering at the churches, and in a still way by praying for the harassed and helpless in the quiet places of my soul.
Tomorrow we’re going to visit a leprosy colony and then go into the hills to visit some tribal people. I do believe that God is actually not far from each one we will interact with tomorrow. *Acts 17:27* I am prepared for plenty more heart wrenching to come. Even so, I pray for a fresh compassion and a pure overflow of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name and for His glory.
PS Next time you come to Third Day’s merch table, I’d be happy to sell you the most flattering shirt and the best CD, but then make sure to ask me about my time here in India and how you can get involved!