“You are the light of the world. A city that is on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14ff
As I meditated upon how I would describe the Christians here, this passage kept coming to mind. The overarching analogy of my time here would be the difference of darkness and light (as can be noted in my former correspondences). I assure you that the darkness of the last update will herein be juxtaposed with lambency.
When St. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about the glory of the New Covenant, he reminded them how the Israelites could not look steadily on Moses’ face “because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away” (3:7ff). He continues to posit the question, “how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?” Through our birth into that Spirit, we become partakers of the eternal excelling glory which will by no means pass away and that “glory of countenance” which emanated from Moses’ face shines in the countenances of the believers here.
When I walk into one of the ministry houses or churches here it is as though the weight of hopelessness is lifted. The sword of death which falls heavy upon those outside passes over the lintels of these faithful ones. When you look at their lives, it is very apparent that the fruits of the Spirit have replaced the works of evil and their lives begin to shine with Christ. The fruition of faith seen in the life of a single convert is amazing. In most cases there is the anticipation that within a short amount of time the whole family will convert to Christianity because of the testimony and life-witness of the one person.
The words of Sheldon Vanauken come to mind, that “the best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness.” Here it is quite a winning case! The soil which has been spoiled through centuries of idol-worship is crying out for a crop-rotation which will offer love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And God is using the faithful lives of His saints here to plow in hope just as they have been partakers in the Hope of the world (I Cor. 9:10f).
I could give you numerous examples in this moment of converts who have dedicated their lives to the service of the church here. Six are teaching in schools that minister to children from the slums, the streets, and the red light. Four are nearly ready to take over teaching at the Shelters of Hope that we have opened. Twelve spend hours a week listening to me teach about HIV/AIDS/STD and general health care – these are the ones I am teaching how to teach the same material to other women so that the education can continue long after my departure. Between 30-50 come twice a week to church to hear me teach on the basics of Christianity.
A few weeks ago I was teaching about a dozen women (mixed Hindu & Christian) about necessity of forgiveness in our lives (both accepting and giving). Preparing for this was difficult for me, as a keen sense of unworthiness flooded my thoughts – these women had been sinned against in more ways than I could ever imagine, and I was teaching them about the need to forgive? I must have tried to change the lesson for that night three or four times and somehow every passage or principle I looked at took me right back to forgiveness. I prayed for grace and humility and taught that evening. The next day the Maity’s told me that there had been an heated argument between five of those women that week and they had severed relationships with each other. That night after the gathering they reconciled with one another through forgiveness. I once again saw undeniably that God’s Word is true and He uses unworthy vessels to spread His truth to the world. Thanks be to God that His Word is not dependent on our experience or knowledge and may my soul be kept from the pride that would think it was.
Thank you for your faithful prayers. This next week is full of teaching engagements and preparing leaders at the Shelter of Hope who can sustain the school once I leave. There is quite a long list of things which have to be completed in terms of infrastructure, and it can be quite overwhelming (like having the women open bank accounts, how to buy the raw materials, keeping records of funds and production, etc…). Your prayers are desired for continued daily strength, clarity and efficiency in the details of the infrastructure for the schools, and that God would continue to bless the ministries He has begun here.
Together in Service,
Nícole de Martimprey