[Missions Lessons Index] [Prev Lesson] [Next Lesson]
I want to share some of the lessons that God taught me while Bret Wade and myself were on a missions trip to India. I hope that these will be a blessing to you.
This lesson was a bit of a new concept for me, but God kept repeating it for me over and over on this trip. It may also be a new concept for some of you.
Lesson - God Uses What We Have
God uses what we have if we will simply present it to Him. God began to speak this to me through scripture as I was traveling to India. I was pondering the powerful things He did through Moses, such as parting the Red Sea when Moses struck it with his staff. Then I began to think about how God used the staff as the first miracle as well.. God turned Moses' staff into a serpent and it ate the magician's staffs when the imitated that miracle. And God caused water to flow from a rock in the desert when Moses struck it with his staff. I sort of teasingly asked God to give me a staff like He had given Moses. God told me, "Teresa, you have it all wrong. I didn't give Moses a staff to let him move in My power. He already had the staff because he was a shepherd. In fact, it was just about all he had. He presented himself to me as My servant, so I empowered and used what he had."
I was surprised and a bit amazed by what God said, so I asked Him about it. God began to give me many other examples from scripture. Elijah had an overcoat or a mantle. So that is what God empowered. That mantle parted the waters on the day that Elijah was to ascend to heaven. That mantle fell to Elisha and he also parted the waters with it to cross back the other direction after Elijah was taken to heaven. David had a slingshot and God used it to defeat a lion, a bear and later a giant that blasphemed His name. On two occasions, the disciples only had a little bread and a few fish... and God used it to feed a multitude. The power is not in the objects and we are not to desire empowered objects from God. Rather, God will take what we have and empower it and use it to His glory. God told me that when we present ourselves to Him, He enjoys using what little we happen to have to His glory.
Then He told me that He was going to do that with me on this trip. I told Him that I did not have much to present to Him because I was traveling very light, I only brought one suitcase with me. He laughed and told me to watch and see what He would do with the little I had.
The fist night that I was to speak, I did not have a clue of what to do for an introduction. As they sang the worship songs in Telegu, I leafed through my bible. There were 5 weeks worth of old church bulletins stuck in the back of my Bible. God pointed these bulletins out to me. "Remember, Teresa, I use what you have. You have these bulletins."
I could not imagine how God could possibly use some old church bulletins and I told Him so. Then He gave me a strategy. Greet the people and bring them greetings from my church. Then tell them I want to give them a flavor of what Church is like in San Francisco, so I am going to show them how we greet each other at church. I asked for 5 volunteers. Then I gave each one a bulletin, shook their hand and told them how happy we were to have them with us at church in San Francisco today. The group simply loved it and I had instant audience rapport.
The next night, at a different city, all I had on me was my camera. (I should mention that Indian people love to have their picture taken. They will go out of their way, if they see someone with a camera, to get in the shot.) I sat on the platform wondering what to do for my introduction. God reminded me that He liked to use whatever I had, if I would only present myself to Him. "But God," I complained, "all I have is my camera."
"Then I will use it," God answered. I got up and approached the microphone, camera in hand but no idea how God would use it. I began by bringing greetings from my family and from my church. Then I mentioned that some of the folks at my church had been praying for the people at these meetings. I told them I'd like to take their picture to bring it back to my church. I asked if this was ok with them, and everyone thought it was a great idea. (I am not smart enough to think of this on my own, but God showed me what to do.)
So I pulled out my camera and began to take some pictures of different sections of our large audience. Everyone watched with keen interest, paying close attention to when I was photocopying their section so they could pose and smile. It was a very large crowd, so it must have taken about 12 shots to get all sections of the audience. While this sort of thing might not go over big in my own western culture, it was a real "win" in this culture. To finish off, I took snapshots of the people on the podium, of the Indian "worship team", of the sound man, etc. The people in the audience laughed each time I snapped someone on the stage. I took about 20 pictures and they loved it. Many of the people in the meeting were unsaved. God had used that camera to give me instant audience rapport. He is very smart.
Over and over again, God used what I had on me in brilliant ways. He had insights into the culture that I did not have, and each time I got up to speak, He did something that gave me instant rapport by using whatever I happened to have on me.
Let me share one last example, as it is one of my favorites. On Thursday we began some in depth training sessions for the local pastors and Bible College students. ("Local," in this case, means pastor within a two day journey of where we were holding the training.) They also allowed some of the lay leaders from the hosting church to come. The training ranged between 50 to 70 people each session. I was scheduled to do the very opening session. That morning as I got dressed, I asked God to show me how to start, how to build rapport with these pastors. I happened to be looking at my suitcase as I prayed. God called my attention to two boxes of Andes Chocolate Mints that I had brought with me as emergency "token gifts." Each mint is individually wrapped and they are really tasty. They are a thin layer of mint sandwiched between two thin layers of chocolate. Since God called my attention to them, I took them with me.
They did some worship songs just before the class started. As they worshiped in Telegu, God spoke to me about the mints. He told me to pass out a piece of the mint chocolate to each person and then He would tell me what to say. Each box had about 30 pieces in it, and there were about 50 people there. So I did what God told me to. Just after they introduced me, I told them how happy I was to be here and how I had brought a little present for each person. I proceeded to walk around the room, handing a candy to each person. I told them how yummy the candy was and invited them to enjoy it now. They did and everyone liked the candy. In fact, it made me a very popular teacher.
Then God gave me an object lesson from the candy. I did not know what He was going to have me say until just before I spoke it. I shared how I had given them the candy as a free gift, but it was up to each of them whether or not they would accept it from me. Likewise God had given us a free gift, salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. But it was up to each of us to accept that gift from God. Of course, everyone in the room had already done that. Then I told them that once they had received the gift of candy from me, they still had another choice to make. If they wanted to partake of the candy, they had to unwrap it and eat it. No one was forcing them to eat it, that choice was totally theirs. The candy was intended for eating and enjoying, but it was totally useless as such until they unwrapped it and put it into their mouths. Likewise, when we received Jesus and were infilled with His Holy Spirit, we each received the innate ability to clearly hear and recognize God's voice. But it is up to each one of us whether or not we will partake of that and learn to use it. God has given each of us, as His children, the ability to clearly and distinctly hear Him speak to us. But we have to choose to unwrap that gift by learning to recognize His voice. And this class is where I am going to show them how. It was a tasty object lesson and very well received and understood.
God is smart, and He is able to use whatever we happen to have to His glory if we will simply present it to Him.