2017 India – Emily Tregelles

Stopped for the Ones He Loved

I had been eager to go on missions ever since I knew there was such a thing as missions, and I had especially been waiting to minister in the field with New Philly ever since I heard my first missions testimonies back in 2011! And now 5 years later, not a moment too soon or too late, the Lord opened the doors for me to go! I travelled with my team from December 26th until January 1st to Chennai, India to minister the Gospel and to be the hands and feet of Jesus, whatever it looked like. And to be honest, it didn’t look anything like I thought it would. Maybe that’s because after years and years and years of hearing mission testimonies, my imagination had basically taken every epic moment from every testimony I had ever heard and arranged them into the storyline for our trip. I was eager to rough it, to sleep on the ground somewhere with limited access to electricity, to wash my hands in murky water, and to fan myself and others in blistering heat. I was ready to see salvations and to press in for breakthrough at all times. I wanted the fire of God to fall, for healing to break out during our services, and for deliverance at the altar. I’m telling you, I was READY!

But to be honest, the trip was not like anything like this. Contrasted against my extreme expectations, it was very… chill. It felt a lot more like my daily life doing Emmaus Campus Ministry than my idea of “missions.” We slept in a modern hotel with comfortable beds. We had clean running water, air conditioning, delicious food, lots of downtime in the mornings, AND we got 7 hours of sleep a night. We didn’t see the dramatic, visible “fruit” of healing, deliverance, or people manifesting under the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, as it is with familia discipleship or large group at Emmaus, we were simple fully present with people. We listened, we taught, we fellowshipped, we prayed, we prophesied. I thought to myself, this feels very natural… and I was thankful that God had prepared me over these many years to reach a point where this felt natural. Of course, I’m sure that future trips will have the challenging elements that I anticipated. However, on this trip God wanted to use my day to day abroad to teach me about “normal Christianity” in the day to day at home. Let me tell you how.

From the early stages of missions training, God gave me one word for Chennai: DEVOTION. He said that the people of Chennai were devoted. And they were. From the moment we landed, the signs of devotion were everywhere. There were brightly painted temples and people with the mark of their devotion between their eyebrows. We were actually ministering in the religious capital of the region. People from all around the state came to make religious pilgrimages to various gods. But I knew that a culture that had such a propensity to prostitute themselves to idols has the same God-given capacity to cast their affections on Jesus. And here we were – God had planted us to reveal Jesus to His people in the midst of their daily lives.

In the streets, I met children who had never heard the name of Jesus. But God smiled down on them and gave me the opportunity to delight in their interests, their names, their beings; to play rock, paper, scissors, and to draw in the dirt; to give hugs and exchange warm smiles. In the prayer meetings, I saw men and women who wept through prayers of thanksgiving and boldly testified Jesus to their neighbors and family, in spite of the persecution and rejection. God showed us beauty everywhere, and He was so jealous for it!

Daily I could hear Deuteronomy 7:6 being declared over India: “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” And I realized that you don’t find a devoted people anywhere on the Earth without a devoted God.

We asked Him to align us with His heartbeat and from day one in our devotions, and I felt His waves of love tugging me, inviting me deeper. Daily visions reminded me that God did not delight to see His people perish, and thus He sent us to invite them into His courts. I felt God telling me that wherever we walked was His kingdom, and that every person we met was His child- His creation. All I could see was beauty and everything in me wanted the people to know of His love, His nearness, and His smiling affections. And day after day, I was overcome by His love and longing for each person I met.

This all taught me how to stop for the one. I learned how to see by being in a place of rest. In Korea, I’m often too caught up in my busyness to stop for the one. But in Chennai, this was the only item on God’s agenda and thus it was the only item on mine. When I look back over the trip without the “crazy” fire and super spiritual manifestations, it was so similar to my daily life that I realize– all along God had not intended to blow my mind. He didn’t need to. He wanted to arrest my heart, to catch me up in friendship and delight. He wanted me to be able to draw a parallel– for me to realize that walking with Christ in any place and time and stopping for the one was the only thing on His agenda- whether in India or in Korea. We are called to slow down, take time, and listen to His heartbeat. Through a people of devotion God imparted to me a daily need do delight in Him who makes the mundane miraculous. It doesn’t have to look like anything exemplary, except a faithful heart and an attentive gaze. I watched the Father love. I stopped for the ones He loved. I didn’t strive. I just did what I saw God doing.

I realized that rather than feeling connected to God through powerful altar calls, the times I felt most connected to the heart of God were in moments of embraces and photos and handshakes. It was when I asked someone their name and told them they were beautiful- investing for just a moment the abundance of delight God had given me.

And so I went on a missions trip finally, but I finally realized that God had given me the same mission here in my Jerusalem. God used Chennai to teach me to stop and listen again, to slow down, and take the time to ask, to be devoted in the day to day.