Thursday, June 27, 2013

So, What Now?

So What?

We’ve been given a glimpse into the persecuted church and we’ve been moved to compassion.  Our eyes have been opened to the reality of immense poverty and suffering around the world.  The faces have names and the need is real.  We’ve found that children are the same wherever you go; they all love to be loved and need to feel valued.  How dangerous it would be to somehow feel that because we have experienced these emotions we have something to hang our hat on.  After all, we have genuinely prayed that God would help them.  He doesn’t really expect me to do more than that, does He? 

“My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him.”    ~ David Platt, Radical

So What Now?

We still live in America.  It’s not like we can all sell our houses, quit our jobs, and move our family to a country in the 10/40 window.  How can we follow Christ in a first world, twenty-first century type of way?

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Some things never change.  Through centuries and millennia, His Word remains.  The Lord doesn't tell each of us to send x number of dollars each month or to never buy a Coach (or Vera Bradley, in some of our cases) bag again.  He does, however, require that we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He does require us to seek justice for those that cannot speak for themselves, to be kind to our enemies, and to be a servant of Jesus Christ.

It may be that some of us will be called to a country that is presently persecuting Christians or to an area of the world that has never before heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Others will find that the Lord is using them in their own city where Christianity has a bad name.  I don't think the point is necessarily where we go, as long as we all understand that we are commanded to go.

Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Let's all go together.

Let's be a church that is unified at least on this one thing.  If we have our faith in Christ in common, then we are all heirs in Christ.  We are brothers and sisters with the same goal in mind.  In Christ, there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Baptist nor Pentecostal...Oh, wait!  I think I added that last one.  Anyway, you get the point.  Let's all seek the Lord with our whole heart, meditate on His Word, and obey His commands.  He is faithful to always be with us.  He will never leave us or forsake us, even to the end of the age.  Let's keep our minds set on things that are eternal, like the salvation of souls.

Something that really struck me in my conversations with Pastor Wilson was when he was surprised to hear that not all Americans that say they are Christians are really followers of Christ.  He said, "Oh, here in India, if someone says they are a Christian, they are most likely a Christ follower!  To follow Christ means one is willing to forsake their family, their homes, and even their own lives."  May this be true for all of us.

Let’s get practical together.

Sharing the gospel is hard!  I mean, like I would sometimes rather go to the dentist than share the gospel with my neighbor.  I’m just being honest.  It makes us vulnerable and open to ridicule.  We all want to be liked.  None of us want to be weird.  I am incredibly shy and an extreme introvert.  These are things I struggle with daily.  But, the more time I spend in the Word of God, the more I truly believe what it says.  The more I believe what it says, the more compelled I feel to tell others.  It is the answer they are looking for.  It is the Hope they need.  I would have to really hate them to not tell them where they can find the answers to their problems.  It’s the old, “What would you do if your friend was heading into a burning building?” scenario.  Wouldn’t you tell them of the danger and show them the way to safety?!  We aren’t any better than they are.  We just have the One that can show them the way.  Let’s commit to doing this together.

If you are looking for direction, I certainly have a few paths to share with you.  You all know that India is dear to my heart.  You have heard my stories and seen hundreds of pictures.  I didn’t know going into this whether it was a legitimate ministry or not.  I hoped.  I believed, but I wasn’t certain.  Now, I can assure you that this is the closest thing I have ever witnessed to the early church.  They are Christ centered and the Word of God is held as the final authority of all things.  They aren’t perfect and neither are we, but their desire is to glorify God in all they do.  They are actively reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ and they are caring for those in need as the body of Christ should.  They understand that their lives could be taken and that the sacrifice is great, but in light of eternity, they are willing.  Pastor Wilson reminded me as the Hindus came into the church that day, “God is good and His will is perfect.  We can trust Him.”  These are words that have stuck in my head and I hope I will never forget.  The Lord is sovereign over all.  His grace abounds and I am honored to be His servant.

There are many ways you can get involved with the Zurishaddai Church and the Truth Children’s Home.

The church building is in need of a roof.  This is not like one of our American multi-million dollar building programs.  This is a village that is coming to know Christ.  Many are coming to hear the Word of God.  They have already expanded the building, but they have not been able to afford a roof.  They have palm branches covering it now, which does provide shelter from the sun, but it does not provide shelter from the rain.  This is the same roof that many of the children and workers sleep under at night. 

There are still 26 children being cared for at the orphanage that need sponsors.  Sending $30 a month is a great way to help meet their needs.  They are given safe shelter, food, education, and most importantly, they are taught about Jesus and their need for Him.  It also gives you a wonderful opportunity to pour into a child’s life.  There are also many one time needs.   I know the children currently need to purchase new school books.  They also are in desperate need of new, clean mats to sleep on.  I know Pastor Wilson would be happy to share with you some of the immediate needs that they have.  Feel free to contact him any time.

I am assuming here that you are already connected to your own body of believers.  That you are serving and giving to your own church.  That you are witnessing to those in your own community.  If not, why not start now?  I’m pretty sure you don’t have to worry about being killed for attending your church service or for sharing the gospel…at least not yet.  Ask the Lord where He wants you and be sensitive to His calling. 

Let’s all use these new found emotions as a beginning, not an ending, to live out the great commission.  Let’s do this together.  I’d love to be of any help I can.  Feel free to ask me questions.  Feel free to share this with your church.  I know that God is going to do exceeding abundantly more than we could ever ask or think.  To God be the glory great things He has done!

Zurishaddai Church
Truth Children Home
Pastor P. Wilson Babu
Door No. 3-69/1
A.P. Trayam, Kakinada
Andhra Padesh
INDIA  533006

You can also contact Pastor Wilson through Facebook, at PastorWilson babu.

Follow this link to find out what the 10/40 window is.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


It occurred to me that I haven’t actually given an update on the events of our trip since we left.  So much has happened and Facebook posts have been going out left and right, but trying to be sensitive to the situation on the ground has kept many in the dark.  I apologize!

I will try to give the cliffs notes first, then I can always go back and share with you all some of my day to day journaling.  Maybe we can mimic the news a little and do 14 days in 14 paragraphs, or something like that.  See the YouTube news link at if that has you confused. J

Luke and I just returned from India this past week.  We are still dealing with some exhaustion and sickness, but we are grateful to be home and unharmed.  We are overwhelmed by the prayers of our friends and family!  Over the past two weeks, we were welcomed to the Zurishaddai Church in Kakinada, India with open hearts and open arms.  We were used by the Lord is some amazing and humbling ways and we are excited to see the Lord continue the work He has begun. 

We left home on June 6th and arrived in Kakinada on June 8th…It was a very long and tiring journey.  When we arrived in Rajahmundry, we were greeted by a cheerful welcoming party.  After all the introductions, we were on our last leg of the journey.  This included a memorable, two hour taxi ride that endlessly swerved around cars, buses, cows, bikes, and children (just to name a few).     

We conducted three days of Children's Bible Clubs with over 200 village children, two days of Women's Outreach Meetings with well over a hundred, served countless meals, visited many homes, and loved on the 32 children in the orphanage.  It was wonderful and heart-breaking at the same time.  There is so much more I want to share about these events, but I will work on that a little later.

Throughout the week, we noticed some stares that were a little more than curious.  We were told that they were Hindus and may not be happy with our arrival.  We just decided to smile, wave, and say “hello”.  This seemed to be the best response at the time.

On our last Sunday, during the service, the Hindus forced their way into the church and were protesting our presence.  They were very angry that we were there and demanded our visas.  They claimed that this was the land of the Hindus and that we were trying to convert their Hindu women and children.  They said that we should be severely punished for our actions.  Of course, at the time, we had no clue what they were saying and all we could tell was that they were not going to allow us to stay.  The men in the church protected us and defended us.  The women prayed with all of their might.  

Our friends were able to drive them out for a time and get us to safety.  At just the right moment, we grabbed our passports and ran to a waiting vehicle.  The boys hung on the sides covering all the spaces where we could be seen.  We spent several hours hiding and being driven to different locations to keep us protected.

The Hindus gathered in the town square and called for all other Hindus to come against the church.  Rioting went on throughout the night.  We made the news, faces, names, and all.  It made it very unsafe for us to be white Americans, we definitely stand out.  We prayed for safety and protection of the church.  We prayed for the gospel to still go forth.  We were given an unbelievable amount of peace during this storm.  I kept hearing in my head, God is good and His will in perfect…We can trust in Him.

The Kakinada Police were contacted, but were of no help.  In fact, charges were filed against the Pastor for "Bringing foreigners to preach gospel".  He has been questioned and investigated.  He has recently heard that no fault was found, but he is still waiting to hear this from the authorities.  While they are relieved at the moment, they are still living in a village/community that has great animosity for the things of the Lord.  They need the Lord to strengthen them as they continue in this battle.  They need other believers to lift them in prayer and support them on every side.

Miraculously, Luke’s phone worked in India.  We do not have an international plan and my fancy new smart phone couldn’t do a thing.  He was able to send Brian a message telling him that we were in trouble and needed people to pray.  Brian was able to call Luke’s phone (only this one time) and get the rest of our information.  Brian was then able to contact our travel agent to get the first flight out and the US Embassy to make them aware that we were in danger.  We were driven to Rajahmundry and stayed with a relative of Pastor Wilson.  We stayed hidden as much as possible.  No shopping or touring around.  We knew we would not be able to blend in and we weren’t sure how far the news had spread.

The US Embassy was able to contact us and ensure we had a way to escape.  We were relieved to be scheduled on a flight out of India, although we were saddened to have to leave early.  My next concern was that the airport would have us on their flight plan.  With the lack of computers and technology, I feared it would be difficult to prove.  I was very relieved to see our names on the print out and knew that the Lord was guiding our every step.

It was another grueling journey home.  There were many hours on planes and waiting in airports.  Trying to navigate our way around Mumbai was a nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  It was such a blessing though to be able to use Luke’s phone up until the last flight out of India.  I must also add that Luke’s phone hasn’t been able to send any international texts or calls since then.  I’m thinking we need to place it on the mantel and as reminder of God’s gracious protection over us. J 
Although, we are truly grateful that the Lord has chosen to bring us home safely, we feel an unbelievable burden for our brothers and sisters in Christ that are still there on the battlefield.  The Lord has given us such compassion for the persecuted church around the world!  I believe it has also opened the eyes of many of our friends back at home.  I hope that our love for the Lord will continue to grow and overflow into every conversation and relationship.  

Supposedly, India has freedom of religion, but obviously not.  The Hindus say that they are not against Christians, but against trying to convert Hindus to Christianity. Of course, we know that we cannot force anyone to believe in Christ and it is only the Holy Spirit that can bring a person to faith in Christ.  Since we are commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every nation, this is what we must do.  Whether or not we will be in danger is beside the point.  We are commanded to go, and we must go.

Please pray for Pastor P.Wilson Babu of A.P. Trayam, Kakinada, India and the Zurishaddai Church.  Please pray for the children at the Truth Children's Home.  Please pray for wisdom as they answer the authorities and above all, please pray for the spread of the gospel.  Our prayer is that what Satan has meant for evil, God will make into something good.  May Christ be glorified!

Below is the longer news link:
I am working on getting some transcripts in English. 

All for the glory of God,

Angela Gabbert

Monday, June 24, 2013


After being home for a week, my head is starting to clear.  It has been a difficult adjustment home.  The jet lag and all that we have experienced has had us sick with exhaustion.  There is so much I want to share, but I know it will take some time to make sense of all these thoughts.

To give you an idea of the great mass of things swirling around in my brain, I will try to share with you some that are on the tip of my tongue (or fingers).  But, first, I must take a moment to thank all of you that have prayed, cried, and have supported us on our journey and I want to thank our Heavenly Father for granting us the great gift of not only allowing us to hear of Him, but to see Him.  We will be eternally grateful.

"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you." ~ Job 42:5
Amazing Grace!!

So, here it goes...

  To restore relationship; Cause to coexist in harmony, to make or show to be compatible.

How can I reconcile all that I have seen?

How can I put all these thoughts, emotions, and experiences into a neat, orderly package for minds to be able to grasp? 

How can I feel joy for the comfort of my home and family when those that have become a part of my heart are hungry and sleeping on floors?

How do I celebrate our safe return when those that preached the gospel with me are being charged as criminals?

How can I sit another moment in a cold pew and call it church when I have worshiped under palm branches as hearts are poured out to the Lord?

How can we bring our offerings, our set aside extra resources, to the church and expect the Lord’s favor when I have watched the poor widow leave her last bag of rice and bottle of coconut oil at the altar?

Why has the Lord chosen to bring us safely home to our cozy, clean bed while he has chosen others to stand all night on the front lines?

Are we really in the better place?

I've seen the joy of those that have nothing and misery of those whose hands are full.

I've seen the compassion for the poor be more than a hand out.

I've witnessed what the early church must have looked like.

I've found more in common with strangers on the other side of the world than with those that shake my hand at home.

I've watched the gospel preached with urgency that I've never experienced before.

I've prayed and begged for the healing of the sick, the poor, and the lonely in a way that our conservative churches rebuke.

Here in America, we seem to have it all.  Everything, but joy.

We look to Christ as one who satisfies our own desires—our lust for more. 

We serve an anti-christ!  A christ we have created in our own minds.  One that gives acceptance and brings comfort, but never requires anything of us.

The real Christ calls for suffering.  The real Christ shows us the cross.  Through His death, He gives life.  The real Christ satisfies the soul, not the flesh.

I have tasted the real thing and this anti-christ will no longer bring me peace.  My soul longs for Jesus.  He delivers me from my own selfish desires.  He is my Savior.

I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live.  It is Jesus that lives in me.

So, how can I reconcile all that I have seen?  I cannot, but Christ can and has.

Romans 5:8-9
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Once, I was God’s enemy.  I was full of anger and wrath, until He presented me with a gift, the gift of reconciliation.  Through the death of Christ, my sin has been punished, His wrath has been poured out, and I have received the greatest gift.  My sentence is life instead of death.  He has reconciled me to Himself.  

Romans 5:10-11
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Here is where I experience the JOY.  It was of no work of my own that I have been given life.  My joy is not found in houses, furniture, jobs, cars, vacations, etc.  It was while I was His enemy that He died for me.  He is my source of JOY.  I have no reason to boast or brag.  It is all a gift.  I am humbled and rejoice, but it doesn't stop there.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 

He has given those of us that have been reconciled to Himself a ministry of reconciliation.  He has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation.

As Americans, we have become very self-assured.  We have been successful and have come to believe that all our merits are from our own hands.  We feel we have the right to be treated with respect and will fight for justice as long as it brings us comfort.  We reject anything that brings guilt or shame.  As Proverbs says, pride comes before a fall.  I believe America is on the brink of a great fall.  May the Lord grant us mercy.

As American Christians, we have a great responsibility to use our resources and abilities for the glory of Christ.  It isn't wrong to have money, health, and the comforts of this life unless we are holding onto it as our source of joy…unless we are worshiping the gift and not the Giver.  We must use all that the Lord has given us for His glory.  We must be willing to surrender all.  We must take this ministry of reconciliation seriously.  

Are we proclaiming the message of Salvation through Christ alone, or are we implying through our comfortable lives that we can make it on our own?  Are we naming sin for what it is or are we sugar-coating it to keep peace?  Sin is what separates us from a Holy God.  If we follow the way of the world and preach a gospel of tolerance, prosperity, and peace, we are not preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is a false gospel, an anti-christ that will only lead those around us to an eternity separated from God.

So, is there an answer to all my questions?  I think each one deserves a serious look and its own research, but the final answer is to keep our eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, the One that has come to save, to heal the broken-hearted and to set the captives free, the only One that has given us the gift of reconciliation, the only One that is worthy of our praise.

I want to take all that the Lord has shown me and place it as a memorial before my eyes.  I never want to forget.  I don’t know what is next, but I know that the Lord will complete the work He has begun.  He has given me a great compassion for the persecuted church all over the world and I believe He has used these experiences to open the eyes of others as well.  I pray that He will keep my heart softened to His will and my ears sensitive to His calling.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I will go.

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."