2017 India – Julian Cheung

Mutual Edification

Over the past Christmas and New Year period, I travelled with 12 others from Korea and Sydney to partner with a local ministry from New Life Christian Assembly (NLCA) in Chennai, India. Signing up for this mission trip was a difficult decision for me. Many people had encouraged me to go, but I was resistant to commit. Even through the preparation process I had many doubts and questions. What were we even going to do in the field? What was I going to contribute? Why did I have to dance? However, throughout the trip God really revealed the purposes of sending our team to build up the local church, and also to encourage me in my own walk.

Once in the field, my view of the trip quickly changed through interactions with the local ministers, Pastor Matthew and his wife Jeeva. In the car ride from Chennai Airport we asked P. Matthew what he wanted to see from our trip. He explained how he was encouraged by the culture of New Philly and wanted us to impart some of the spirit of prayer and intercession to his local church. Pastor Mathew also shared specific ways of how he and his local ministry have been blessed and empowered through the Native Partners for World Missions (NPWM) network and a previous New Philly team from two years prior. Personally, this really enlightened me regarding the impact of short-term missions trips for local ministries, and the long-term partnerships that can be cultivated.

The next day, in the car to a village outreach ministry, sister Jeeva shared about her salvation testimony, along with that of her mother. Sister Jeeva’s mother was from a Hindu family but encountered Jesus by hearing His voice, just as Samuel heard the voice of God in 1 Samuel 3. This voice called her name on three separate occasions, but Sister Jeeva’s mother did not initially recognise it. After the third time, the voice said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” She later realized that this voice belong to Jesus, and as a result converted to Christianity. She along with her children were persecuted for following Christ, as they all lived in a predominantly Hindu area. I had never met someone who had such a tangible encounter with Jesus. But after hearing this testimony I thought to myself – why would a mother put her children through this persecution unless this encounter was real?

Sister Jeeva then shared about her personal struggles with money while studying in seminary. When her father found out she was studying at seminary instead of nursing school, he stopped supporting her. With her school fees being unpaid, Sister Jeeva was about to be forced to return home. But while she was worrying and praying about this over some weeks, someone came into the principal’s office and paid for her fees after seeing her name on a list of unpaid students. These testimonies were some of the most supernatural encounters I had ever heard, breaking away scepticism I had about God’s ability to work in my life in a personal way.

As we ended the trip, we prayed for P. Matthew, Sister Jeeva, and their daughter Harrisha. During this very emotional time, sister Jeeva shared that the family had been feeling very lonely in the ministry- to the point where it had become a point of prayer for the past few months. She told us that the time our team spent with them was a direct answer to this prayer. Our trip had been such a blessing to them! Personally, this felt so validating as to the value of our presence, all with this perspective, all the preparation and stress was worthwhile.

As a result of this trip I can see greatness in God’s design for our lives. How amazing is it that we can connect with brothers and sisters from the other side of the world, in a culture and demographic so different from ours, but work side by side with a common goal. Even better, we have the ability to encourage each other as we run the race set before us. I have been surprised to see how God used our team to support a ministry that was already walking in so much authority and anointing. It is mind boggling to think that we could be able to do this. Walking in the power of the Holy Spirit in a tangible and life-changing way is for anyone- to impact those around wherever God has placed us. Soli Deo Gloria! Glory to God alone!