2017 India – Joshua Lee

His Love is Strong

From December 26 to 31, New Philly sent me to Chennai, India. It was an awesome way to end 2016 (though it was away from my newly-wed wife). God opened our team’s eyes to the incredible things He is doing in this faraway land. We went to villages and churches around the Chennai suburb of Thiruvallur. We witnessed people accepting Jesus into their hearts, rejoicing in His presence, and experiencing physical healing. God’s love is thick in this area.

Before going to Chennai, India, I did a bit of research and found that the city, along with the state of Tamil Nadu, are predominantly Hindu. When our team finally arrived and drove through the streets towards our accommodations, I saw all kinds of Hindu temples and idols. I thought to myself, what a dark place- the love of God is absent. Thus I prayed in the car that we would be some sort of light in the darkness while we were there. But boy, did God really exceed my expectations. The stronger the influence of evil, the stronger the love of God!

On the second day of our trip, we went to a small Hindu village outside of Thiruvallur, which was about an hour’s drive away. When the team got out of the car, we walked into a tiny village which consisted of one small alleyway with gutters on each side, along with a handful of homes. The houses were made with branches and hay, while some well-off families had built their homes with concrete. Pastor Mathew, our native partner, told us that the families of this village migrate seasonally to work in other parts of the state, and that the children of the village walk for miles to go to school. This was a village in which an elder of Pastor Mathew’s church, New Life Christian Assembly (NLCA), would often go to evangelize with their youth group.

When we entered the village, we were greeted by more than fifty smiling faces. The people were sitting on a blue tarp, listening to Tamil worship music on a loudspeaker. Our team leader Gina introduced us and afterwards, our team worship leader David played the guitar as our team sang “God is So Good.” We then we sang it together in Tamil, “Jesu Nallavar.” We motioned for the villagers to sing with us in Tamil. They sang out the words “Jesu Nallavar” and at that moment, I felt God’s strong love in the voices of the children! I was broken, at once, and tears filled my eyes. God showed me that especially in places like this, God’s love is so extremely strong.

Our team preacher, Pastor John Park, then delivered a sermon about the free gift of Jesus’ sacrifice to us who are undeserving. He then asked who wanted to receive this free gift from Jesus, and hands shot up immediately. The love of God was stirring in His people. We laid our hands on them and prayed for each of them.

But this wasn’t the end! We also went to Pallyam village, where a member of Pastor Mathew’s ministry was called to plant a church. We joined for their church dedication. We drove on bumpy and cracked roads past cows lounging on the roads, scavenging goats, and monkeys dashing across the streets. On the side of a dirt road, out there somewhere, stood this tiny church built with some concrete for walls and branches for the roof. The outside was painted white and marked by a red cross.

Outside stood about forty-something people, mostly women and children, along with their pastor. Our team along with Pastor Mathew joined them outside the church and lifted our hands to pray over the structure. Then we all marched into the tiny building singing praises to God, and to my surprise, we could all fit inside the building! We worshipped together and prayed together. And in this place, God highlighted the mothers to me. It was from the mothers that I could feel the love of God as they sang worship, listened to the sermon, and prayed. These mothers are often the only Christians in their families and face persecution from their husbands and relatives. But these mothers are also the ones who are raising their children to love the Lord. I saw the love in their eyes- gentle but fiery.

Thus every place we went, God showed me again and again how much He loves His people. And His love is reaching the hearts of people all across the region. The love of God is spreading out from the ministries of Pastor Mathew and the members of New Life Christian Assembly. And not only that, but where we’re at our weakest, God’s love is at its strongest. We know this famous verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9 that reads “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” In India, God showed me that where the control of the enemy seems strongest, His love is even stronger. And this gave me hope that in the places in my life where I feel the weakest, that’s where God’s love is strongest.

God gave me another country to fall in love with and I’m excited to see what He will continue to do in southern India. I’m also hopeful about my own life and what God will do in the areas where I feel the most hopeless. God’s love is strong and it covers the whole Earth! It is at its strongest where you least expect it!