Before I went on the mission to the Punjab, I thought that my faith was fairly strong, like many of us here in the UK, I went to Mass regularly and sometimes attended retreats. I had heard amazing testimonies and I’d witnessed miracles. Yet, I felt that there was still something missing. I wondered why I still struggled to believe sometimes, even though I had seen and experienced miracles. Why was it that when I had a problem, I went to God as a formality, not really expecting Him to do anything. I think the answer to these questions lies in the nature of my faith at the time.
HE ALONE COULD HELP THEM
By the grace of God, during the summer holidays, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with a team to Punjab in India. I was very surprised to find that in Punjab, the vast majority of the people who came to church were actually Hindus and Sikhs. They were largely very poor and uneducated. So I began to ask myself why did these seemingly, traditional village people leave their customs and their temples to come and pray to the Lord Jesus Christ. The answer was simple, it’s because they were sure that He would solve their problems. They knew that He alone could help them.
THEY TRUSTED IN CHRIST
Just think about how much trouble and problems would be caused in your family, if you left the family religion. In India their religion is very important to them within the wider life of the community and there would be great social ramifications. By going to church, these Hindus and Sikhs were putting a lot on the line. But they really trusted in Christ, they fully depended on Him to solve their problems. They didn’t have a plan B when it came to God. Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19.24) Now, I understand what Jesus meant. In the UK we have our education and our knowledge and we rely on our wealth and our connections to get us out of trouble, then if necessary we go to God, as a last resort or simply as a formality.
FAITH LEADS TO LOVE
I always thought that what I needed was more faith; it was always about quantity. I went to Punjab hoping that when I saw the Lord performing miracles, this would give me more faith. But now I have come to understand that it is not the size of my faith that matters but the nature of my faith. Seeing miracles and believing is one thing, but there is something greater. This is the faith that is rooted in complete dependency on God. True faith is believing in God because there is no one else, nothing else in the world to put your hope in. When we genuinely depend on someone for something, we have to hope in them and have faith in them. From this faith and hope develops love for that person. It is like a baby developing love for its mother because it is fully dependent on her.
HUMILITY IS THE KEY
I realised in Punjab that a lot of their faith and trust came from their humility. This humility is knowing and accepting the truth that everything they have is simply a blessing. And I found this amazing. Why? Well, I’ll give you an example: we visited a poor home in a village in Punjab. It was their custom to serve visitors a cool drink as soon as they sat down. Now, normally, when guests come to your home your mum brings out the best glasses or cups for the visitors but we were served our drinks in plastic cups (the type you find in water fountains at school). I then remembered all the times that my friends and I had sat around mindlessly picking apart these plastic cups after a drink at school. Now all of sudden, this plastic cup meant a lot. I held it with care so as not to crush it, or bend it, because I knew that this family had just given me the best they had to offer. They had given it with love and as we were leaving I saw the plastic cups being washed up to be used again.
These wonderful people knew that all they have is a blessing from God. So now I pray for that type of faith. A faith like that of a little child who runs to their parent with every small problem, never doubting that the parent can help them. Remember those days when you thought your dad knew everything in the whole world! Well, your Father in heaven really does! So ask Him, anything you want, and everything you need, just ask Him.
Written by Neethu Sebastian