This is a guest post from Elaine, who recently returned from visiting ministry partners in India. She has an especially deep compassion for girls and women in India and is an advocate on their behalf.
When people ask me what it is like to travel to India, I usually respond, “It’s not for the faint of heart … especially for women.”
India is tough for women – both those who live there and those who visit this amazing country. While I have never felt threatened or fearful while there, I am much more conscious of my actions and my words so as to not offend. Everything from what I wear to what I say and how I act goes through an extra “filter” from me. But my trip this last month added one more level of consciousness that I hadn’t experienced before: a test of my faith.
It was supposed to be an ordinary visit to a house church. Josiah, our host, was taking us to visit a group that had to now meet in a different location.
Although they had been meeting for months, the landlord that owned the room they were meeting in had kicked them out because he didn’t like the activities the Church Planter was doing in the space they were renting. (A common occurrence for our Church Planters when the landlord is Hindu.) So this was the first week the group would be meeting in the new location.
We climbed up the rickety stairs and entered into a room no bigger than 12 feet by 12 feet. Off to the back was a small kitchen, with another room behind us separated by a curtain. There were probably 8 adults and 8 children, which was about half the size of the group that used to meet.
Although we three Americans didn’t speak the language, we listened to the beautiful songs they sang praising the same God we all were there to worship. It was inspirational. It was lovely. It was heartfelt.
And then we came to the end of the “service.” This is the time were the group usually asks us to pray for specific needs. The various times I have been in this situation before, I have prayed for children to do well in their studies, for healing for minor injuries, for transformation of other family members, etc.
But this time was different. This time they brought Anna up to me.
About 12 years old, Anna was hunched over, not daring to make eye contact with us. When I looked at her, I saw a pain I didn’t want to see. The Church Planter explained to me that Anna had been having “fits” or “seizures” when he first met her, but they have been praying for her for the past few weeks and the incidences had subsided. Would we be willing to pray for her? Absolutely.
As we laid our hands on her and prayed for her, I was overwhelmed with the sense of pain in her life. I prayed for Jesus to heal her – to eradicate this illness from her body. To bring her to wholeness. To heal her so she could be a witness to the amazing powers of our Lord and Savior.
Then Anna went back to her place against the wall. As I looked at her, she started to cry. Not just small tears, but an overwhelming, body-shaking sob that seem inconsolable. My heart ached. Lord, will you hear my prayers and heal this girl? Will you deliver her from this pain and torment?
I went and sat next to her with my right arm around her and my left hand wiping away my own tears.
And that’s where my faith was tested. I won’t know the outcome. I won’t be there to see if she no longer has anymore “fits.” I won’t know if she continues to attend the church and becomes closer to Jesus. I won’t know if she is able to tell others of the tremendous healing powers of the One True God. I just won’t know. But I have to be okay with that.
Anna’s face is forever in my mind. I cannot erase it – nor do I want to. Because some day I want to recognize Anna when I see her in heaven. We serve a God of mercy, of healing and of grace, and I trust that He will deliver Anna to wholeness. It happens all the time in India, and I feel blessed to be a small part of seeing the incredible work God does through people like Anna.