2017 India – Tiffany Maxwell

God’s Goodness Is So Deep
(audio mp3)

A team of 13, including myself, was sent to Chennai, India from December 26th, 2016 to January 31st. Our team was quite diverse, having people from 5 different countries, representing several of our New Philly campuses. From the Busan campus, it was myself and our amazing Kylie Posteraro. I had gotten to know Kylie from being one of her CG (Community Group) leaders, and was excited to be able to be in the same group as her. But when I realized that I would need to personally get to know–not just be acquainted with–11 new people, I felt a bit apprehensive. That’s a lot of people, and for the record, I am not a sanguine or an extrovert!

On top of that, this was the first missions trip that I had ever been on. I had heard amazing testimonies from friends who had gone on previous missions trips with New Philly, about supernatural healing, provision, salvations, outpourings of the Holy Spirit, and other powerful encounters with God. I was really curious about what God was going to do through our time in India.

As you can expect, God did amazing things! Our team had the privilege of partnering with Pastor Matthew (a local pastor in Chennai). We went on several village outreaches where we sang and danced, performed skits, shared testimonies, preached the Gospel, prayed for people, and handed out new clothes and small cakes. I expected that I would see a couple people respond and receive salvation. But, when our team preached the Gospel for the first time, and almost every hand in the entire village went up to receive Jesus, I was stunned. And then, when the same thing happened in the next village, I couldn’t help but marvel all over again at the ways of God. I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that God brought me there on purpose, to witness that treasure of a moment with my own eyes-and even beyond that, to invite me to be active in that moment and pray for His precious children.

At one of the villages, there was a man who was partially paralyzed. He had been in some kind of accident and so had lost the use of the right side of his body. He was not able to walk on his own or open his hand. After our service, some of our team members and Pastor Matthew prayed for the man. He was healed—but it didn’t look how I expected it to look. I imagined that it would be a simple, instantaneous healing; I’d pictured a one minute paralyzed, next minute jumping up and down like a crazy person kind of transformation. Instead, I saw him be helped up into a standing position, his chair moved away, and when he was able to balance on his own, people let go of him and backed away. Then, I watched him take one slow, small step after another. Up a hill. Every step he took, he confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord. Even with Pastor Matthew going before him and encouraging him, it still must have been difficult, even painful, as he was regaining use of his legs. As I saw sweat go down the side of his head, I tried to wrap my mind around having the honor of seeing this man begin to walk out his salvation–literally. And as I looked at the people of the village gathered around him in silence, I knew that God was inviting me to see a tiny bit of all that God has planned for them. His love for them is so great.

Another memory that stands out to me is at Pastor Matthew’s church, where we took part in a church service that lasted over 4 hours. I was surprised at how many people came out, because it was on a Friday morning. Pastor Matthew told us that many of the people that came had taken time off of work in order to be there. After an extended time of worship, a wireless microphone was passed around the room, and literally every person in the sanctuary spoke into it and lifted up words to God. Unable to understand Tamil, to me it sounded like the people were powerfully interceding for their families, church, and city. After the meeting ended, Pastor Matthew told us that the people were actually only giving thanks to God, that this was a thanksgiving service. He informed us with a smile that they hold a separate meeting specifically for intercession. When I heard that, it felt like my brain stopped working for a minute.

At Pastor Matthew’s brother’s church, we were in store for something a bit different. I had expected that it would be a normal church service, just like the ones we had been to before. In some ways it was. We did VBS (Vacation Bible School) songs, we prayed, our team preacher preached, and then we prayed again. But it was a different environment. I’m so used to praying for people with music going on in the background. It’s nice to have that because you don’t have to worry about praying loud. But in this service, there were these massive blocks of silence interrupted by 1-2 notes on the keys on very irregular intervals. I don’t know about the other people on the team, but for me it felt so painfully awkward to pray for people at first, because it was definitely not what I was used to. But, we all kept praying and, of course, God showed up powerfully. After the service, Pastor Matthew came up to me and asked what I thought about it. I told him it was different, but useful. He responded, “Yes. Veerry different. I bet you didn’t see anything quite like that before…You needed that,” with a chuckle.

I missed the significance of those last 3 words in that moment, but now if I had to summarize my experience on the trip, those three words would fit perfectly. I needed that. The time leading up to the trip was personally very difficult for me. A combination of an already very busy schedule, a very large amount of missions training and preparations, and just difficult personal life things that happened to come up had me feeling really down. Maybe my supporters won’t want to hear this—sorry supporters!—but by the time that it was time to be sent out to Chennai from Korea, I really didn’t want to go. I felt a lot of resistance both physically and spiritually, and was tired of fighting and trying to push through. I felt really negative and found it difficult to really connect with God’s heart for missions, for India, for Chennai—even for the 11 members of my team that I hadn’t met yet. The last thing I wanted to do was go be social! I just wanted to go camp out on a mountain somewhere with my cat, and not talk to anyone for a month!

But very early on in the trip during one of our morning devotions, my team preacher led a prayer topic about feeling disconnected. So, I asked for prayer, and my team prayed for me. I got a lot of personal breakthrough through that prayer. After that, it was so much easier—I’d even go as far as to say that it became natural –for me to connect with my teammates, the local people, and to really engage with God’s heart. I experienced a completely new level of relational freedom that wasn’t even on my radar before. I couldn’t believe myself! I was actually really enjoying being social. I wasn’t stressed, and I wasn’t drained, and I think I even got a little bit of energy from it! By the time that we needed to come back to Korea, I sincerely didn’t want to leave Chennai. (Supporters—thank you so much! Your financial gifts were well-stewarded and your powerful prayers helped completely change my heart!)

As our team ministered throughout the week, I just couldn’t get over how deep God’s goodness is, every step of the way. At the end of the trip, I asked God why He brought me specifically on this trip. I reflected on how I felt like I’d been changed, and all that I learned and understood that I hadn’t before, and I marveled at being able to see and know so much more of His heart. I was amazed all over again at how God freely gave me so much. I told God that although I felt like I served very well and with joy, what I received on this trip far outweighed everything that I contributed. It was then that God answered my question. Why did he bring me on this trip? It wasn’t because He wanted to teach me or train me. Instead, God’s answer to me was simply, “Just because I love you.”

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 says,

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given to us.”

God’s goodness to us is so deep, and He gives to us so freely, whether here in Korea or all the way in India. Thank you so much for sending me out into the mission field, where this truth was able to become a reality to me.