In January, I got offered an opportunity to go to India with work. My boss just approached me one day and said “How do you fancy going to Bangalore, for 3 months to a year?” This came completely out of the blue. What’s more I didn’t have long to decide, as we were hoping to start in a month’s time. I was given one night to work out how I felt. I didn’t get much sleep.
On the one hand, it was an awesome offer. My accommodation, food and travel would all be paid for and having never been outside of Europe, it was an adventure like no other. However, leaving my home for that long was not an easy choice to make. I had a great church, a fab family I would miss dearly. I had been struggling with loneliness in the past year, getting to a state of near depression from feeling unloved. I had started to overcome this but going to another country with nobody I know could be dangerous, as I’d previously self harmed and had suicidal thoughts.
I was praying quite hard that night, asking all those close to me what they thought about it. My parents first reaction was one of caution. India is a scary place for your son to visit alone, one that inspires thoughts of poverty, disease and dangerous driving.
As they cautioned me though, I became uncomfortable at the thought of turning it down. The more I thought of going, the more peace I had. And that was enough for me to know it was God’s will.
From that moment on, it became my desire to go. I’ve never wanted to see India, but after that night, I chose to accept and aspire to God’s plan. I focused on leaving the UK and flying out, craving it more each day.
This was then tested. February came and went. The guy who was to accompany me during my first month left the company. He had been perfect for the job in my eyes. He was a christian too, something I thought would help me personally while I was out there. The man who would replace him was a virtual stranger to me, working on a separate part of the project.
At this point I could have become disillusioned, but I was now seeing it as something else entirely. It was now a chance to shed my comfort and try to rely on God more fully. This became my drive, not a chance to see another country but one to lean on my true provider. The only reason I was glad it was in India was that I hoped with a culture so alien that I would be able to see what parts of my own identity had been out of line with Kingdom thinking.
With this, the excitement of the potential for God to move grew and grew. Two long months passed and there was no sign of my trip getting nearer. It was never taken off the cards, but was just difficult to organise. How do you find the money to pay for this, what exactly does everyone want?
At the end of May however a date was presented to me. 5 weeks time. They had just recruited another eight people to join the Indian team who would be starting in June. I was to be there for the 25th.
It had been so long since any serious talk of going had happened, I was once again shocked by it. My heart missed a beat. I left the office that day practically skipping, smiling from ear to ear. It wasn’t confirmed so I couldn’t tell the world, but I couldn’t help but tell a few people, such was my excitement.
The following week it became official and I had to start preparations to depart. I got stabbed with needles, bought diarrhea tablets and insect repellent (which thankfully I haven’t needed thus far) and organised saying my goodbyes.
My last week in the UK was one of the most blessed times I have ever had. I was smothered with kisses from heaven. My small group organised another session to say goodbye, sending me off in style with a fabulous meal that involved chips, custard and gravy. I got to see all my friends who would miss me, dispelling any last misled thoughts I had of being unloved.
Even in the practical organisations, God was there. I was rushed off my feet to fit everything in but God made sure I had all I would need. I remember on my last day wanting to get some Euros, which would apparently be useful to tip people with, and a colleague at work just happened to find some he didn’t want while clearing out his desk.
I flew out last Saturday and have been overwhelmed. God has not left my side and I have felt His hand everywhere I go. I have never felt closer to Him than now. Tonight I went to a church in Bangalore. I sat at the back and was crying with joy, for I knew in my spirit that I was home.
I am writing this not to show you how blessed I am, though I have been, far beyond my imaginings. I am responding to a verse I read.
John 15v27 [Amplified]
But you also will testify and be My witnesses, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
From the beginning, not only of this journey, not only of my life journey, but from the beginning of creation, God has not left my side. How can I not tell the world?
The pastor in Bangalore preached on Hebrews 12 1-5 which starts:
Hebrews 12v1 [HCSB]
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us.
I fear loneliness no more. I know God is with me and that I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, even when I cannot see them. Praise be to God!