Category Archives: The Call

Post 167. Friends first

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We felt Tony needed to visit Dudley Daniel to chat about our future with NCMI. (See Post 73) We were still feeling isolated and wanted some clarity regarding relationships and expectations.  Dudley was living in L.A. but we felt the long trip was absolutely vital.

Tony had a dream a few months before going.  He dreamt he was walking in a park with Dudley, pouring his heart out.  Dudley was listening and encouraging him.  When he met Dudley, it was just as it had been in his dream.  They went for a walk.  Tony talked and Dudley listened.  There were lots of questions and explanations.  When Dudley asked about our financial situation, he was visually upset to hear we weren’t getting enough regular support.  We hadn’t spoken about it so he had no idea.  He was also surprised to hear that so few of his team were coming to help us with our training.

Tony came home armed with a fax/answer machine, a thousand apologies from Dudley and his assurance that things would be different.  We were grateful and relieved to hear that.  We knew we could not have continued the way we were going.

Friendships were important to us.  Not just wordy, whimsical friendships, but real ones.  Deep ones.  Agape ones.  Ones that were going to last forever.   Friends who were like brothers and sisters.  People who knew our kids and their friends.  Friends who loved India and knew our Indian family.  People who knew and loved what we were doing.

When we were in a dark, lonely place we found ourselves asking the questions, “Who are our friends?  Where are our friends?  Who can we call?  Who would come if the wheels came off our lives?”   There was a bigger question.  “Who are going to be our friends ‘til the day we die?”

Friendships based on what we were doing didn’t seem to cut it.  We had hundreds of visitors.  People loved what we were doing and many expressed the desire to be involved in our future.   Those friendships were great while they lasted, but they didn’t last.  It seemed to be “out of sight, out of mind.”  They flew home and we never heard from them again.

Many who visited asked what they could do to help.  We got to a point where we replied, “Do you really want to know or are you just asking?”  Most were just asking so we didn’t feel the need to tell them what we needed.  Some left us with promises to send finances for our training and projects.  They took our bank details and never used them.  We learnt to deal with disappointment.

We weren’t completely friendless.  Sometimes it just seemed that way.  There were people who would have come at the drop of a hat.  We were so grateful to have them in our lives.

The most important lesson we learnt in those early days was that to put our confidence in man was NOT a good idea.  How many times had we unintentionally failed our friends?  How often had we not been able to come up with the goods?  How many times had we over-promised and under-delivered?

There was only One we could rely on.  Only One who would never let us down.  He would always answer and He would always provide.  His timing was always perfect even though we so often thought He was late; or just VERY slow.

Post 136. Off the edge

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It had been our toughest year yet and we had a feeling life was going to get tougher.  The challenge was, were we prepared to let go completely and trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God to catch us when we let go.

Tony’s favourite place to worship and pray was on the rock on our roof.  He could look over onto the Doon Valley and down on jungle and forest.  When we first moved in, it was a bare rock with a sheer drop on all sides.  We were all upset when our landlord sent workers to build a cement wall around it.  It looked so ugly and it lost its natural beauty.

For some reason, known only to God, Tony was clamouring around on the outside of the wall.  He somehow lost his footing and slipped.  He reached up and grabbed the wall, which hadn’t been there a few days before.  It may have been ugly, but it saved his life.

During his time with God, he had the thought that living on the edge is not risky enough.  It is only when we jump and live a life outside of our control that we are really fulfilled and satisfied.

When he told me about his experience, I wrote down some words, which he put into a song.

Off the Edge:

I’ve been living on the edge

Preparing to dive

Toes hanging over

Looking to the skies

I’ve cut all the ropes

The fall is steep

I’m tired of waiting

Almost falling asleep

Take me off the edge I’m willing to die

Holding your hand

Head held high

Achieving the impossible

You with me

Take me off the edge

I’m flying free

Arms outstretched

Sun in my eyes

Soaring with the eagles

Running through the skies

Secured by your love

Held by your hand

I’m living off the edge

I’m a free man

Post 133. Intimidation

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By the end of that year (1995) things really started hotting up.  There were protests all over Uttar Pradesh.  Many felt the state should be divided in two.  Some felt it shouldn’t.  There were so many “bandhs” in Mussoorie it was hard to know when the shops were closed and when they would be open again.

It was October and we had a team from South Africa with us.  Bruce Richter, Wally Gersmeier and Ralph Cawood were among them.  We had planned an outreach at the Naaz Bar.  For some reason, we went ahead and had our meeting even though there was a bandh on.  We did some “silly” things in our enthusiasm and zeal.

I stayed home with the kids during the first evening meeting.  Everyone was worshipping like there was no tomorrow.  There was nothing unusual about that.  The hall was packed.  Right in the middle of the worship a lady guru walked in with a group of her men devotees.  She was heavily made up and was obviously the boss.  Her men started pulling some of the coolie labourers out of their chairs and pushing them outside.  There was a lot of shouting going on. Bruce’s old bouncer instincts almost got the better of him, but he remained calm.  Tony was leading the worship time and felt that everyone should raise their voices and give a loud shout.  It got louder and louder and there was a lot of clapping and cheering.  When the leader of the group saw we weren’t intimidated, he looked around and joined in the clapping.  The evening was intense but it ended well.

They told us we were not to meet on Sunday.  We knew then,  the protests weren’t political but religious.  The men let us know they had handed pamphlets out to the community telling them to meet outside the Naaz Bar.  They were going to drive the foreigners out of Mussoorie.  T

They were leaving after the service anyway so that wasn’t a problem.  There were all kinds of threats.  After lots of prayer and discussion with our local leaders as well as the visiting team, we agreed we should go ahead with the meeting.   We felt if we gave in to intimidation once, it would be the beginning of the end of the community.  We had to win that one.

The staff and students of Woodstock were called together for a meeting on Saturday afternoon.  They were told they were no longer allowed to attend Community of Nations Church (CNC).  It was banned and out of bounds.  The principal felt we had put their lives in danger by staying open during a bandh.  Doctor Barton and other teachers said they were ready to hand in their resignation.  They loved the church and did not appreciate being told they couldn’t be part of it.  The students felt the same way and got permission from their parents to keep attending when things settled down.

We all felt a bit nervous getting ready for church the next day.  I wondered if I should stay at home with the children in case things got ugly.  Tony wasn’t sure what was going to take place.

The bazaar was really quiet and all the shops were closed.  We arrived at the venue excited but uncertain.  We were ready for anything.  The hall was full.  No one had stayed at home.  No one wanted to miss out on the action.  Our young ACTS students were energised by the attack the night before and felt it was the best thing that could have happened to us.

The meeting went on as usual.  The worship was loud and wild.  A few people gathered outside.  The group leader was there, fiddling with a few pamphlets and looking very sheepish.  He was standing at the entrance, so people shook his hand as they walked in.  He became our welcomer.    He kept looking up and down the bazaar for more people to join him.  No one came.

Post 75. Bridges burnt

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Us all blurry eyed at the airport. Zoe making plans to rock and roll.

Us at the airport- all blurry eyed.

We did a trip down to Durban to say goodbye to Wilf and Val, Dave and Pete and their families.  It was a hard one.  For us, we were going on the adventure of our lives, and they were just wondering if they would ever see us again.  We tried to give them assurance that we would be ok, but how could we know that?  We let them into the details we did have, but those details opened up more questions we couldn’t answer.  Nothing we said made them feel better about letting us all go.

Back in Johannesburg, we had an amazing send off from our church.  There were so many tears but lots of promises of letters, calls and visits. During a conference in the Drakensberg, we were prayed for again.  Dudley and Anne Daniel and Mike and Joan Hanchett were the first of the NCMI families to leave the shores of South Africa to go to “the nations”.  We were the third.   It was comforting to know, that while we were going alone we weren’t really alone.  There were so many who loved us and were supportive of what we were doing.  There were commitments from our church and a few friends to support us financially until we got on our feet.   We weren’t quite sure what “On our feet” meant but we were hoping that wouldn’t take forever.  At the same time, knowing that in a third world context, it might.

When we were on the stage surrounded by our friends, I got really tearful.  I was trying hard to be brave.  Every time I came undone, I hid my face in Tony’s chest.  There was no way I could hide my smallness or my vulnerability.  While all the words had been encouraging, I had a feeling that things weren’t going to be easy.  When we got back to our room later on that evening, I expressed my concern to Tony.  There wasn’t one mention about how tough it was going to be.  We took the words and wrote them down in our big book of “Words for India.”  There were some pretty big ones and there were also a lot of blank pages still to be filled up.  We were very aware that any words no matter how great or profound, were just fantasies without hard work and obedience.

On 3 September 1991, we left South Africa.  Tony was beyond excited.  It was his fourth trip to India.  It was so different from his first trip as an independent, messed up twenty one year old on the drug/hippy trail.  This time he was going as a pioneer, a husband and father of two. This time he was hoping to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Going to the airport with our family and friends was hard. Some were crying as if they would never see us again.  While we didn’t want to upset the girls, Sue and I were beside ourselves; especially when I saw her hugging Asha and Zoe goodbye.  She was like a second mother to them.

We had bought a set of 4 new suitcases from medium all the way down to small; one for our clothes, one for the girl’s clothes, a bag for books and toys and then a small one for toiletries and extras. The girls each had a little back pack of goodies and special toys to keep them busy on the plane.   We heard the final call and we had to go.

When we were thousands of kilometres up in the air, Tony and I independently had the same thought. “If this plane goes down it will be at the peak of my obedience to God.”  We would have been happy to go to heaven right then.  I was so happy I wasn’t giving much thought to how the  “heaven” thing might have happened.

I hadn’t flown much since our around the world trip with Ash when she was 6 months old.  Memories of our bad take offs and landings came back to me but I managed to calm my self down.  The kids distracted me and I kept trying to imagine what it was going to be like landing in India.  Our flight was great.   Zoë kept us on our feet and got overtired and miserable.  Ash was as good as gold.  When the girls finally dozed off at the same time, I got out my journal and scribbled down some of my thoughts.

“Lord, if you want to take me now

At the peak of my obedience to you

You can do that

If not, please give me the grace

To be always at a peak

So I will be ready at any time

Love,

Lin”

So, with all our bridges burnt, there was no going back.  This was it.   My heart was in a country I had never been to and I was following it.  We were making plans to live there forever, not in the least bit concerned that all we had in our passports were six-month tourist visas.

PS.

From now on I will be sharing excerpts from my journals in quotation marks.  That way I will stick to how I was really feeling at the time with no hindsight perspective.

Post 74. The big question

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Our six years in South Africa were coming to a close.  Johannesburg had become our home and now we were going to have to say goodbye.   We had made so many good friends.  We had also accumulated a lot of stuff; a whole houseful of furniture, clothing, toys, books and kitchen utensils.   Most of it had been given to us.  Once our tickets were booked, we started to give things away.  We managed to sell some of our big things and that money was going to be what we lived on when we got to the other side.  All we had left was a big box of Tupperware, a few boxes of books, photo albums and a few other sentimental things.  Friends offered to store them for us.  At that point we had no idea when we would ever see them again.  We weren’t planning to be back any time soon.

The big question was, “Where will you be living in India?”   Somehow we knew it would be in the North, somewhere near the source of the Ganga.  While it was something, it still left a lot to the imagination.  India was huge and there were needs everywhere.  How was it going to be possible to pick a spot?  Closing our eyes and pointing at the map wasn’t an option but at least we knew our starting point.

When Tony got back from his survey trip, things were a little bit clearer.  At least there was a plan.  We would stay in Goa for six months to learn as much as we could from the NFI family.  Tony felt that would be the softest introduction to India for all of us.  That was settled. We were going to take one step at a time.  Goa was in the South and we were going to live in the North.  How we were going to get up there didn’t enter our minds.

God had also spoken to Tony about children of influential families.  He was reading Ps 45:9 which talked about daughters of kings being part of God’s household.  Tony started to cry and pray for those children and had a deep burden for Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter.  He had no idea if he even had a daughter.

People thought we were radical.  We didn’t feel we were being radical.  God told us to go and we were being obedient.  We both knew that if we chose to stay anywhere else, no matter how “safe,” we would be miserable.  Our biggest desire was to be in the will of God. His will was going to be home for us

I didn’t know much about India.  Most of what I knew, I had learnt from Tony, and he wasn’t the best at giving details.   We didn’t have a TV so I hadn’t watched any programmes featuring India on National Geographic.  Because we didn’t know where we would be living, we didn’t know which language we needed to learn.   We didn’t even think about it.  There was no preparation other than preparation of the heart.  During my YFC and O.M days we had been taught to be R.F.A.  Ready for anything.  We figured that as long as our hearts were ready, we would be ok.

We chatted to Phil and Linda Maxwell who had started a community and school in Hout Bay.  Their advice was that we home-schooled our girls.  That sounded like a good idea.  They also talked about what an idol formal education had become.  They helped us to see how much our girls were going to learn just being on the trip with us.  The advice we got from Rob Rufus was “Go in naivety and childlike trust.  You don’t have to know everything for everything to work out.”

It became more and more obvious to me that our children were happy and secure, all the time they were with us.  They didn’t mind where we went or for how long, as long as they were tagging along. The concept of another nation, another city was just not an issue for them.  It had to do with family.  Geography has little meaning when you are 2 and nearly 4.  We decided then that if it wasn’t an issue for them, we weren’t going to make it an issue.  There was going to be no suggestion of “shame you poor kids, having to tag along with us and give up all your friends and family.”

They were part of our call to India.  Whatever we were going to face, we were going to face together.  We were burning all our bridges and there was no plan B.

Post 73. Leave the girls with me.

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Life was busy.  Rigby and Sue introduced us to Dudley and Anne Daniel.  Dudley had formed a team called New Covenant Ministries International. They helped pastors and leaders all over South Africa.  Tony was the new kid on the block so he went along and sat quietly listening to everything that was going on.  It was all really helpful for our future and there were many friends made along the way.  Those who knew of our plan to move to India were supportive and it was comforting to know we weren’t alone in the decision

The movement got bigger and bigger and the first few couples left South African shores to start communities in other countries.  We knew our time was coming soon.  It had been almost six years since Tony had arrived in S.A.  He had learnt so much from Rig and other people in his life.  We read lots of books on parenting, marriage and missions.  One story we cried through was the story of William Carey.  We were so challenged by his life and perseverance.  He just never seemed to give up no matter what happened to him or his family.  We wondered if we would be as brave.

Asha was besotted with her baby sister.   Zoë was chunky and strong and able to put up with all the affection.  They were best friends from day one.  Zoë started walking at 9 ½ months.  She insisted on pushing the limits and was prepared to risk her life for anything she felt was worth it.   She was given a little brown monkey with a pointy finger that was supposed to go into its mouth.  Zoë used that finger to touch all kinds of things she wasn’t allowed to touch.  If we asked her if she touched the stereo, she would just say, “Monkey touchdit.”   When she was 2 ½ I told her I was going to smack her for something.  She looked at me and said, “You smack me, I smack you.”  Another time, she ignored me when I was calling her over and over again.  When I went to find her she looked at me and said, “Talkin a me?”  She had a twinkle in her eye and was full of spunk.  The Bum Woody worked over time.

Asha at 2 ½ was a sweet tooth, “admin” type.  During a ladies bible study she was paging through the Bible as if she was reading it.  I asked her what she was reading.  She ran her finger along the line and said, “God said, you must eat sweets.”  Once when we were on holiday down the coast, we visited a church. Nothing had been organised for the kids so they were all at the back on a blanket.  Asha got them all to sit in a circle, opened her little brown suitcase, handed them each a toy and came and sat down next to us on a chair where she could watch them.  They were all way older than she was.

When people heard we were moving to India with our girls, we got different responses.  Most of them were positive, but Wilf and Val were very concerned.  They suggested we leave the girls with them, go do our thing in India and then come back when it was out of our system.  More than concerned, they were sad.  They had already said goodbye to Ryan and Leigh.  Another friend from Brazil, wrote a very angry letter to Tony, telling him how irresponsible he was, taking his little girls to India.   She didn’t mince her words.

It was a bit scary.  Before Tony’s survey trip, we had very little idea about where we were going.  We didn’t know what we would do about schooling.  We knew very little about anything.  What we did know was that our girls were going with us.  God spoke to us about the children of Israel.  He didn’t tell them to leave their kids in Egypt.  He didn’t say, “Leave them in Egypt and when you are well settled and safe in the Promised Land, you can go back and get them.”   If that had been the case, the kids would never have seen their parents again.   Staying behind wasn’t an option.  They had to go with their parents.  They had to see the wonders of God.  They had to see His wrath against sin and they had to wander in the wastelands to see how He could provide food, water and everything else they needed.  They had to be there.

Reading about how William Carey had lost two wives and a couple of children in India wasn’t much comfort to those who were already concerned.   I knew there would be huge adjustments. As mother of two little ones, I knew that I would be stretched beyond anything I had ever known.  I knew I wasn’t going to cope with starving people and dying children if I didn’t have the means to help them.  God knew the many needs would overwhelm me; and I knew He wouldn’t put me among people to be devastated by them.

In all of the questions and wonderings, there were a few things we knew for sure.  We had friends.  We were going to India.  Our girls were coming with us.  So was God.

Post 72. The Call

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A lot had changed.  Tony was working at Waverley as a salaried pastor, we sold our VW Golf, got a second hand Renault and we had two children. Our biggest surprise was when two businessmen from the church told us they wanted to build us a house.  One of them was a builder and the other owned a hardware store.  They insisted that they didn’t want us to pay a cent towards it.  It was a gift for us.

We couldn’t believe we were going to have our own home.  The church property at Linbro Park was the perfect place for it.   We watched the foundations being dug and the building going up.   We went to the hardware store and selected light fittings, kitchen cupboards and paint for the walls.   It was amazing.  In the back of our minds we knew it wouldn’t be ours for long but we were determined to enjoy it to the full while we had it.

For our house warming party, our friends brought plants for our little garden.   We had shovels and spades ready and we all got our hands dirty.  We loved showing them around and having people on almost every corner of our wall-to- wall carpet.

Just as we were settling, Tony felt it was time to make a survey trip to India.  Dudley Reed was quick to volunteer to go with him.  They had sent their passports to a travel agent to get visas.  On departure day, we left the house for the airport but the passports still hadn’t arrived.  They were apparently in the belly of a plane, which was landing just before theirs was due to take off.   We were all at the airport ready to say a teary goodbye to the two brave men about to embark on their first trip together.  Departure time came and went and we were left standing in the departure lounge, stunned that they had missed the plane.  The travel agent really got it from all sides.  We went home, had a good sleep and the next day was like déjà vu, except they had their visas in hand.

There was a big trip planned all over India; first to Bombay where they met up with some of the leaders of New Frontiers who were doing some great things.  They became good friends.  From there they travelled to Chennai, Delhi and were making their way to Mussoorie, Bihar, Varanasi, Kathmandu, Delhi and then back to Johannesburg.

On the way to Mussoorie they stopped in a small village called Kotdwara.  Tony went up to the flat roof to worship and pray about our future in India.  He was looking over the village and singing an old Keith Green song,

“I pledge my head to heaven for the Gospel,

And I ask no man on earth to fill my needs.

Like the sparrow up above, I am enveloped in His love,

And I trust Him like those little ones He feeds.

Well I pledge my wife to heaven, for the Gospel,

Though our love each passing day just seems to grow.

As I told her when we wed, I’d surely rather be found dead,

Than to love her more than the one who saved my soul.

Well I pledge my son to heaven for the gospel.

Though he’s kicked and beaten, ridiculed and scorned.

I will teach him to rejoice, and lift a thankful praising voice,

And to be like Him who bore the nails and crown of thorns

I’m your child, and I want to be in your family forever

I’m your child, and I’m going to follow you,

Oh no matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost

I’ve had the chance to gain the world, and to live just like a king,

But without your love, it doesn’t mean a thing.

Well I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven for the gospel.”

As he was singing, God spoke into his heart; “I want you to give me your children; whether they live or die.” Then, “I want your wife, whether she lives or dies.”  Then, “Now I want you, whether you live or die.”  Dudley went up onto the roof to find out where he was.  He found him on the floor in a fetal position, weeping in agony.

While I had agreed to going to India and was really happy to go anywhere, I still hadn’t felt my own personal call.  I was very aware that India wasn’t just “anywhere”.  While Tony was away God did just that.  I put the girls to bed and sat listening to “Let me be a shining light to the nations.”  When the line “Let me be a healing balm to the nations” played, I started crying.  My heart filled with an overwhelming desire to bring healing to India and her people.

A week later some insurance salesmen came around trying to make us scared for our future.  “What if something happens to your husband?  You could end up in a tiny flat in Johannesburg with nothing.”  My reply was, “If something happens to Tony, I will be living in India.  If I have nothing, that’s also ok.”  I meant it with all of my heart.