Life on the World Race is not all roses and chocolates. Some days you wake up at 4:30am, pack up your life’s possessions in a bag, and then travel squished in a bus for hours. Some days you get served mysterious sauces on rice and when you ask what it is you can’t understand them even though they are speaking English so you just eat it with a smile, saying “delicious.” Some days you walk and walk for hours and then engage in conversations with people while they serve you cup after cup of tea that has so much sugar it is more like syrup than tea and would honestly go much better on pancakes than in a mug.
It’s easy in the midst of all this to have the attitude of “clocking in” during ministry and “clocking out” when we finish. On the World Race, personal time is some of the only time we have a say in what we do and when we do it, and thus we have to guard this time because not only do we rejuvenate our spirits but it keeps us sane.
But one thing that I’m learning is that when you are serving Jesus, you are always “on.” Being in full-time ministry isn’t a step you take when you raise support and become a missionary; rather, when you become a follower of Jesus, you are serving Jesus full-time. There is no clocking in and clocking out because Jesus is always in the midst of doing something.
It’s our duty and privilege to take part in His kingdom, but God leaves it up to us to make that choice. I once heard it said that the Holy Spirit is always moving; but our role is to put up the sails, so we can hear what God is already doing. I’ve given myself a challenge to ask periodically throughout the day, “God, what are you doing here? How can I share your love with the people around me?”
Yesterday was one of these moments that I asked God this question. And you wouldn’t believe what happened next.
We were in the midst of a four-hour ride from our ministry site in Hetauda back to Kathmandu. There were eleven of us crammed in an SUV-type vehicle with our large black bags haphazardly roped to the top, causing me to silently pray that our possessions would make it to our destination. As we set off, it soon became evident why big city busses didn’t travel this route. The route twisted and turned up the valley, with huge grassy terraced mountains extending on either side, on a road that was really only wide enough for one car. Our driver seemed unnaturally comfortable with the tight curves – speeding up in places where I would definitely slow down – while aggressively beeping to alert any unsuspecting vehicles of our arrival. The other people in the vehicle seemed unfazed by the car lurching forward every ten seconds as we slammed on the breaks so that the oncoming traffic could get by. Our ride became even more interesting when we got stuck behind trucks which were going plenty fast for me but evidently not fast enough for our driver. My life flashed before my eyes time and again as large vehicles barreled towards us carrying chickens, grains, or God-knows what, getting larger and larger in the windshield as I hope and pray that we’ll make it back to our lane in time.
In times like this I’m thankful that I believe in Jesus. Time and again, I have seen the way our Father has protected us in difficult situations. I exchanged looks with my teammate Meghan whose hip was jutting into my thigh (Nepalese vehicles are made for Nepalese people, who are exactly 2/3 the size of us Americans) and she whispered a simple prayer: “Thank you, Jesus, for protecting us and giving us a safe journey. Amen.”
My mind drifted and I gazed at the grandiose Nepalese landscape. One thing I love about Nepal is the colors – bands of yellows, pinks, and florescent green stretched for miles down the valley. No, they definitely don’t make mountains like this in America. After a few minutes, I said a prayer that would change the course of the duration of our ride, and potentially the rest of eternity:
“Jesus, how can I show your love to these people?” Immediately I sensed a prompting to talk to the man sitting on the left side of me, a young dark-skinned man with black-rimmed glasses. As I pondered how to initiate this conversation, he interrupted my thoughts:
“You know, Jesus will protect us.”
I was a bit taken aback. Evidently, he had heard the prayer that Meghan had whispered a few minutes prior. I responded, “Yes…I definitely believe He will. I have seen it happen time and again” (pause) “Do you believe in Jesus?”
“Yes, I believe in Jesus, just as I believe in Ram and Buddah and all the other gods.” And that was the beginning of our conversation together. I learned that his name was Sarad, and that he was an English literature student studying in a local college. His parents were Hindu, and I asked him to tell me more about his beliefs. After some time, he asked about Jesus and why I believe in Him. I shared the gospel and the story of Jesus…but honestly I did a terrible job with it because of the churning of my upset stomach. I said a silent prayer thanking God that it is not up to me and praying that the Holy Spirit would do what needs to be done in His heart.
For the next two hours, we talked about family, truth, literature, miracles, sports, God, life. He asked me some tough questions about faith, and it was evident to me that God was working in his heart. As we entered the outskirts of Kathmandu, I asked if I could pray for him. He said yes. I prayed a blessing over his life and that God would guide and lead him every day. I asked that the Holy Spirit would come right then and show him how much Jesus loves him. A sense of joy bubbled up in my heart and at that moment he started giggling. I asked what he was feeling. He said, “It feels like…indescribable joy.” I told him that what he was feeling was Jesus’ love for him.
I asked him if he would like to meet with someone locally to learn more about Jesus. He excitedly agreed. We exchanged Facebooks and emails and parted ways a few minutes after that.
As Christians we are never off the clock. At any moment, we can make the choice to ask God, “What are you doing here? And how can I be a part in it?” In the midst of a crazy van ride, Sarad had an encounter with Jesus Christ that will be a part of his story forever.
Will you be one to dare to ask God this question? Who knows what God will do when you put up your sail…