Sunday, August 5, 2007
RAISE YOUR VOICE
I started my journey towards the venue around 5:15pm – we were supposed to start at 6:00pm. It was a continuation of a series entitled “It’s a Great Life.” It was sponsored by a group of churches and it was at a High School Venue that was usually very well attended. However, it is Monsoon season in India and although you might have an inkling to get moving – for right now the trains have been stopped. You see the water can go to gathering on the side of the road to lifting cars off of the pavement in a matter of minutes it seems. In fact just the other day, almost two years to the day – Lok Hospital flooded again. This time the wall that separates the creek from the hospital grounds fell down – because the water came from the other side and pushed it down – the water then ran into the first floor examination rooms, the dentist office and before anyone could do anything to stop it – many costly pieces of equipment were destroyed. Water finds its own path – regardless if you cooperate or not – its funny that way.
Well speaking of finding your own way – we began to find ours, Santosh and myself. Santosh is the bass player from ASTRAVIDAH. I knew he was coming on his bike and then we would attempt to head over to the venue in an auto rickshaw. We started in that direction and began to talk about the new keyboard they just got as a band and how excited he was to start really getting to use it. As we got closer – I wondered would anyone even show up tonight – with all this water? It was now 5:50pm and I asked Santosh – did he think the sound system had arrived – he said it should be there. He phoned the gentleman and the guy answered the phone – only he had overslept and was just going to head over now. Wow I thought, time to let this go and realize this was going to happen in God’s time and not a minute earlier.
VOICES TAKING FLIGHT
During the time it took to get the sound guy to the venue and get it set up – the rain stopped – the trains started running again and a good 25 other people showed up – it started to be a nice little group. I was especially excited as I was going to share the evening with my friends – James, Flavia and Shubangi – James and Flavia had spoken many times before a crowd and especially about HIV/AIDS. This was Shubanghi’s first time in front of a group – I was nervous and excited for her. I asked her if she was nervous – her face lit up with a resounding smile of “YES.” We had a chance to pray together as group before we started.
When she participated in the retreat the weekend before the Lord had drawn my attention to her as she prepared her timeline and as she spoke before the group. She had such grace and purpose as she shared her story of hard lessons learned in her life. A message to younger girls who felt compelled to marry a man against the wishes of their parents and how in this instance there were grave consequences on many levels. She was sharing her story of living with HIV as a platform to educate people and especially younger women - what a story of redemption – and how exciting to be a small part of the process.
James and Flavia have been sharing around various parts of the city to those would listen – Flavia having shared with World Vision. I met them both on my first day to India – at the “There Is Hope AIDS Conference” sponsored by Samaritans Purse. I had no idea that we would share a stage together and share our stories of hope. I had the privilege of getting to do some music – a bit like a mini – concert in between the stories.
Having to conform in the past to professional standards in the arts over the years has really stretched me on many levels. I believe God wants us to excel in what we are doing for Him. However, it is always a challenge to let go of Western production values and just be grateful for a cd player and a sound system and no rehearsal or sound checks and just “go for it. Not that doing ministry should be equated with low production values – but it is the sense of being willing to show up with whatever God provides – not waiting for things to look a certain way before you can participate. I have grown over the years to be thankful for whatever platform I am given – the main thing is the message and if they can understand it -- then mission accomplished!
I was able to share my journey with HIV and how Jesus Christ by His grace, forgiveness and a second chance at what seemed like a throwaway life, just 6 years ago, has transformed me. There was a man there, living with HIV, called Sashi – he told me “brother John – you have given me so much hope – I have hope for the first time” his face was beaming. If I flew all the way over here just for him – it would have been worth it!