2017 Indonesia – Lindsey Harrison

No Condemnation in Christ

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

In the new year, from January 9 to 16, I was part of a mission team sent by New Philadelphia Church to Manado, Indonesia to minister alongside our NPWM (Native Partners for World Mission) local contacts: Pastor Rentje Rendus and his wife Wany, and Pastor Daud Moningka and his wife Mary. We partnered in ministering at many local churches and one college campus. Our goal as a team was to release joy into the people through the love and unity we displayed to one another as a team. We were about to do this and watch as God did a deeper work in the hearts of the people we ministered to, as well as my own.

This missions season was unexpectedly difficult for me. All throughout the training process I was constantly bogged down with an overwhelming sense of apathy and an inability to pray or hear God’s voice. Coupled with stress from work and my busy schedule, I began to blame myself for my lack of diligence and inability to keep up, rather than discern that this was spiritual warfare. It was only two weeks before the trip that I felt the apathy begin to break and I was able to absorb the training and begin preparing my heart for missions. The self-condemnation however didn’t end, and it only proceeded to get worse. The closer we got to our send-off date, the more I condemned myself for not having done more, for not having been more diligent in praying, or in trying to discern God’s heart for Manado. In fact, during our flight to Manado, I was asking God for forgiveness over my lack of preparation and cried out for the grace to minister to His people with joy instead of the weight of failure that had been burdening me.

Our first day in the field was the busiest ministry-wise on our trip. We started our day with a morning youth service at a local congregation in Manado. This was our very first day together as a team, and my very first time leading VBS (children’s Bible songs). I was also the first person to share my testimony. That morning, I forgot our portable speaker and cable so my team leader had to help me figure out a solution for playing the VBS music. I didn’t feel very prepared to teach VBS and right after leading, I had to share my testimony. My testimony was about having confidence in the Father’s love. God as our father does not look down on us or judge us for our failures. Rather His love is patient and kind and does not keep a record of our wrongs. Afterwards, our team photographer, Jamie, came up and preached a powerful message about having confidence in the Father’s love. Many people responded to receive prayer, to break off shame and guilt and to experience the Father’s love. The irony! I was so caught up in berating myself for the minor hiccups of the morning, that the power of my testimony and of Jamie’s message and the many people powerfully touched by God that morning was completely lost on me.

This is how I spent a good portion of the trip, focusing only on my mistakes or inadequacies, such that I missed out on the moments of joy, fellowship and seeing God use our team in powerful ways. I actually didn’t realise this until our last night in Manado when our team had a time of affirmation and appreciation. When it came time for my turn to receive affirmation, my first thought was, “Are they going to be able to say anything nice about me?” I felt like I hadn’t done enough. But I was blown away by how loving the team was towards me and I was completely surprised by some of the really nice things they said about me.

After that dinner, we had one more ministry time before we left the country. We were scheduled to have Sunday worship with a West Papuan student fellowship. Like most our trip, things did not go as planned. The service had to be delayed because the students’ ship from West Papua had been delayed and they only arrived in Manado at 4am that day. As a result, they were over an hour late. During the wait, our team took the opportunity to worship and pray beforehand for the students and our time with them. This was actually the highlight of this trip for me. You could tangibly feel God’s presence in that place. It was the most deeply connected I felt to God during the week. It was in that place of prayer and seeking God that I felt so overwhelmed by how pleased God was with us and with our time in Manado. I so clearly felt him telling me that we had done exactly what He had set out for us to do.

At first, I thought God was only speaking about the team as a whole and not me specifically, but soon I realized He was speaking about me as well. I had done exactly what He had set out for me to do on this trip. In trying so hard to be perfect, I had completely missed out on what God had been trying to tell me from the beginning: “It’s okay, just rest in me. Abide in me, and I will take care of the rest.” For the first time on this trip I felt at peace, and I felt confident in God’s love for me. I was able to accept the affirmations that my team had spoken over me. I was able to feel true joy. Finally, I stopped striving and began to rest in who God is, and His love for me. I set down the yoke of self-condemnation, and traded it for His joy.

Our final service with the Papuan students was a beautiful time. I was finally able to see, firsthand, the joy that God had been releasing through our VBS songs. Seeing a very stoic people shaking their hips and laughing along with us was amazing. This is the service where we saw three people receive 100% healing from their physical ailments. This is the service where we saw God restore the dignity of a people very downtrodden within Indonesian society, through a foot washing ceremony. This is the service where we saw God pour out His love in the greatest measure. This was the service where I was finally able to see how God was moving, and delight in it with Him.

God did a deep work in the people we ministered to on this trip. God released so much love and joy through our team. And through the unfailing love of my team and the Father, God also did a deep work in me. There is therefore now no condemnation for me because I choose to live in the freedom that can only be found in Christ Jesus, and the love of our heavenly Father that covers all things!