We always feel that someone else will look after the bigger tasks like mission work, maybe because we are content serving God in small ways just like I was satisfied with my service at weekend meetings. But God had different plans for me.
The dates for the CFCI Youth Summer Mission Programs were out in March 2018 and I wasn’t thinking about it much until my Household servant asked me to pray about mission work.
At that very moment, I sensed the Spirit of God encouraging me to go for the mission and also to reflect on where my heart’s desire lay in serving Him. It just took a couple of seconds for a ‘BIG’ NO to change to “YES LORD, I DESIRE TO SERVE YOU”, as I recollected the verse from Isaiah 49: 1-3
“The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name… You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory.”
We were going to serve for the Youth Growth Camp in Assam and this was my first mission to North India. My biggest anxiety was that the entire session was to be conducted in Hindi. Nevertheless, I knew God’s Spirit would guide me as I was doing His work. I didn’t get much time to prepare for the session so I was really worried about it and I thought I’d just sail through using my notes as a reference but that thought had to be archived since I was going to speak on ‘How To Give A Session’. I had to live out the teaching myself, it had to be practical and not simply theoretical. The day before the session, I was able to attend mass and during the offertory, the Lord stretched His arm out to me and He reassured me by saying “rely on me and I will guide you. Just be calm and I will take care of the rest”. At that very moment, all the fear and anxiety left me and I was able to deliver and live out the session the next day and connect with the youth through it.
I heaved a sigh of relief knowing that my part was complete, but I was wrong! We had to proceed to the village that very evening for the youth growth camp and I was oblivious as to what I would be doing but nonetheless, I accompanied the service team to the village of Shinglijan, Tinsukia. We were welcomed by a CFCI full-time pastoral worker who was so hospitable and warm that I immediately felt my inhibitions leave me and I felt at ease and open to God using me as He deemed fit. As we interacted, I learnt that the villagers would get to avail of the sacraments and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament just once in two to three months, when the priest could visit their village. This left me feeling sad and in a lurch since I gain my strength from the sacraments and Blessed Sacrament adoration when I feel low. I couldn’t digest the fact that something that was so easily accessible to me was so difficult for these people to get.
We were welcomed for the Youth Growth program by sixty boys and girls with folk songs, flowers and washing of hands. Praise and Worship were held followed by the sessions. The boys on the service team were insufficient to handle the groups of boys in the village so I was asked to handle one of the groups. I was not prepared for such a task but I did it knowing that God was in charge and I was open to Him using me as he wished.
Day two was quite different, as we entered the church, we were surprised to find only three small kids in the church for the program. However, we did not get dejected but we started praying together in tongues and God worked his wonders and within the next thirty minutes, the participants started entering.
Back in Bangalore, the community works tirelessly for a CLS and all these efforts are taken for granted. Here in Assam, people are so committed to the program that they come walking or cycling from 2-3 kms simply to learn more about God. During the lunch break they go back home and return again after the break and all we could provide for them throughout the day was plain water but they were still so joyful.
During the one-to-ones, I could see the thirst for God amongst my brothers. One of the boys had a deep desire to read the Word of God but he was not well educated so he couldn’t. I immediately felt horrible thinking about myself, that even though I have a Bible I fail to read it. Post the one-to-one, we had the session on the Holy Spirit followed by the pray over. We usually wait for the music ministry or the person leading praise to tell us to praise but here no encouragement was needed, the youth just broke out into mighty praise, shouting out to the heavens in their loudest voices and this lasted for almost 45minutes. I was shaken up and got goosebumps just experiencing the power of the praise as I could see them crying out to the Almighty.
On the last day, the participants exchanged letters with their parents and you could see the emotions on all their faces as they poured out their hearts to their parents. We culminated the program with Holy Eucharist and we bid farewell to all the participants as they trod along their paths with their faces gleaming and their hearts renewed with the joy of Jesus Christ.
On the journey back, I pondered on what exactly God had taught me during this mission, and as I reflected I sensed the Lord saying:
“Deepen your thirst for me and trust me as I lead you into deeper waters”.
I have heard the following verse many times during the Chapter meetings but I truly experienced it during the mission.
Matthew 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”.
During my initial days in the community when I was asked to serve, I would always wonder if I would be able to do the task assigned and I would think of the other priorities in my life but today I seek opportunities to serve my God and completely rely on His strength as I serve Him.