2017 India – Jennifer Seo

Joy for His Glory

“…a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” – John Piper’s definition of JOY

I have been on many short-term missions trip in my short (short or long – depends how old you, the reader, are) lifetime. My first missions trip was to China, along the border of North Korea, when I was 20 years old. And since then, the way I view God, myself, the Gospel, and my world view have never been the same (in a good way). So, over the years, I have tried to make it somewhat a priority (financially and time-wise) to make it out to the short-term mission field on a semi-regular basis. But people who know me will know well that I am not a full-time minister, a gifted preacher, nor have I received any theological training at a reputable seminary. So I am always amazed by how God uses the incredibly small “talents” I have when I am on missions.

For example, when I was 20, He used my piano and cello playing abilities as a channel of blessing to a group of Chinese and/or Korean (and North Korean) school kids. And through this unexpected channel, I was able to share the Gospel and minister to many! Praise the Lord! In 2007, I was sent on a short-term missions trip to an orphanage in Cambodia and was able use to my [awesome, lol] English speaking and writing abilities to teach the Bible in English to the beautiful orphanage kids! Praise the Lord! Actually, another amazing fruit of that short-term missions trip was that God provided me with an opportunity to speak into the life of a young Christian who is now a POWERFUL full-time preacher, minister, and shepherd to many! Praise the Lord!

And in this context, my most recent trip to Chennai, India was no exception. God moved in unexpected ways! Our team partnered with a local native minister named Pastor Matthew, along his wife Jeeva and their daughter Harrisha. And let me tell you something about Pastor Matthew – he is small (in height and stature), but he is SO MIGHTY in the Lord! We were able to join him for his usual ministry duties and this man is so anointed, meek, and humble- yet he is so wise, strong, influential, and full of faith! He relies on God’s grace as he runs his own local church (with approximately 200 members), but also oversees/ministers with many other ministers/leaders in Chennai who look to him for leadership, accountability, oversight, prayer, and resources.

This man wakes up at 4.30am to a prayer walk around Chennai on a regular basis – we joined him one morning and let me tell you- for the one and a half hours we walked (fast), he prayed the most fiery, faith-filled, and earnest prayers as he took each step (I deliberately walked right behind him, haha!). At one point, some members in our team were tempted to ask Pastor Matthew to walk a bit slower, but he later told me that he deliberately walks fast so that it is in rhythm with his prayers – ie. fast prayers will mean fiery prayers and if he walks slower, he feels he may be tempted to pray less fervently!

Pastor Matthew is respected and loved by so many in Chennai and I could see why. He doesn’t just talk the talk. This man walks the walk. He knows it is impossible to outgive God. He lives out Acts 20:24: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

When Pastor Mathew preaches, he preaches with so much authority and clarity, but also with so much love. He is very time-oriented and he is a man of action (he carries the spirit of apostle Paul), but he will also stop everything to pray healing over a lame man in a poor village (as he did with us)! The man experienced more than 50% instant healing- he was started walking with neither crutches nor assistance, and was able to also open and close his formerly paralyzed up hands! Praise the Lord!. Pastor Matthew also co-led praise and worship during a year-ending thanksgiving prayer meeting at his church (which by the way went for 3 hours straight). We also accompanied him to officially open one of his small church plants in a far away, unreached village! Pastor Mathew is also very fluent in English (self-taught) so was able to translate for us all throughout our trip as we shared our personal testimonies and preached the word of God. Pastor Matthew also drove us around everywhere during our stay in Chennai (he drove one and a half hours to and from the airport, twice in one day to pick up the Sydney team members and then the Korea team members! What kind of lead pastor is this?!). I felt so honoured and humbled by his acts of service. His beautiful wife Jeeva also went grocery shopping and prepared home-cooked meals for our team of 13 members, almost every night! We also got to spend a lot of time with his daughter Harisha who genuinely thinks her dad is “the best looking guy in India!” Haha!

When I think of Pastor Matthew and Jeeva, I think the following quotes summarise them well:
“Life is pitiful, death so familiar, suffering and pain so common, yet I would not be anywhere else. Do not wish me out of this or in any way seek to get me out, for I will not be got out while this trial is on. These are my people, God has given them to me, and I will live or die for Him and His glory.” – Gladys Aylward

“I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God; first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” – Hudson Taylor

I got to spend quite a lot of time with Pastor Matthew, Jeeva and Harrisha- in between ministry times and church/village visits, before and after meals, as we commuted from village to village. I was my usual self- I asked a lot of questions, and at times we talked about frivolous (arguably inappropriate) things/topics, but I could tell that they thought I was funny. Because they laughed at ALL (yes all) my jokes and gave me lots of hugs :)

There were, of course, many amazing and supernatural works of salvation and physical healing moments in our trip (including one girl I prayed for who received 100% healing from stomach pains she had experienced for 3 years that the doctor couldn’t diagnose). But personally I think the greatest and most profound moment on this trip for me was when Pastor Matthew and Jeeva expressed their earnest and heartfelt gratitude to our team on our final night in Chennai. We were all in a small room in his church, and with many tears Pastor Matthew and Jeeva each shared that they had actually been feeling weary and tired this past season. They had specifically asked God for times of refreshing, and we had been the unexpected answer to their prayers! Praise the Lord!

Those of you who know me well, will know that by God’s grace, He has marked me with the JOY of the Lord. I remember as a teenager, listening to a sermon that taught me “happiness” was dependent on one’s circumstances, but that “joy” was independent of one’s circumstances. I remember wrestling with and really nurturing this truth to live it out on a daily basis. But, I never expected God to use this JOY I have as a ministry, because in hindsight I guess I took this joy for granted. I considered it a somewhat “small” and familiar thing- “small” in that the affects of JOY are very hard to measure and quantify. With the gift of faith, you can count the number of supernatural occurrences. With the gift of prophecy, you can test the accuracy of your word. However, joy can be such an obscure thing. But on this trip, I realised that God had used something so “small” to DEEPLY refresh key native leaders and warriors in Chennai- Pastor Matthew, Jeeva and Harisha- and for me, this moment in the little room at his church was SO SWEET. I also shed a few tears (which means a lot because I am not a very emotional type) and made me think that this trip was so short, but SO worth it.

All glory to God! Thank you Jesus- You are so worthy!