Saturday, September 27, 2014

Light in the Darkness

We have been in India for almost 3 weeks now, but it seems like we have been here for months. There is so much to tell. So much we are taking in. So many people we are getting to know and getting to re-know.

There is the woman on the beach who is so full of joy in the Lord. We go to encourage her with the Word of God that she desperately wants to here, but come out more encouraged by her faith and hope in the Lord despite the hardships she faces. She is known as Hope. How I've missed her laugh and smile.

There are the children in the slums who have grown a little taller and a little chubbier, but still have the same hearts that are full of life and child-like faith. As they have grown, they have been a little more self-conscious/shy, as all junior high/high school aged students are, but they have also grown in the understanding of the Gospel that we pray they come to full faith in. And the talking and laughter they do, never ends.

There are the leaders who do so much for their communities. They invest in these people day in and day out without much rest and without much resources. But despite the things they lack, they live out how they have everything they need. And we are always amazed by how God uses what little they have to plant seeds into the hearts of the people here.

It seems this trip is all about building relationships. I feel like my last trip to Goa was only a taste of India and all the complexities that it holds. Though I knew the darkness is here in India, and so many people are trapped in it, I see it more now as we are spending more time with so many different people. It seems we cannot escape it.

There are children being abused and their family and community just turn a blind eye. Women being beaten by their husbands. Boys who walk miles and miles to leave pooja for their gods hoping God hears them so their father will get a job. Women who think the only worth or ability they have is to pick up trash or offer their bodies for their gods. People doing empty rituals over and over again. Girls who are told they can't by themselves or their families. So many lost yet hear the truth of Jesus everyday.

Sometimes the darkness seems too much bear. It so often makes me feel just...heavy. What good are we really doing here when there is so much darkness? But then I am reminded...
 "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." 
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
"I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." 
"Because of the tender mercy of our God...the sunrise shall visit us from high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Jesus is the light, the hope that we have. There is a reason all these are being revealed to us. For the Lord is exposing them with His light. The light He has given us. He says to us, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill that cannot be hidden...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to God."

And thankfully, the Lord has already saved so many that were once trapped in darkness. That these lights will continue to shine onto these people in hope that they will no longer need to remain in that darkness.

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How to pray:

  • For the people who are in darkness and following the empty rituals of Hinduism
  • For the believers and staff here who need encouragement
  • For the people we minister to that have just started hearing the Gospel or have been hearing it since being in all our programs
  • For us --that we would be encouraged and gain our strength from the Lord to do this work. I have been struggling with feeling inadequate in the work I am doing and Caleb has been struggling with finding his place in the ministry here. We have also been very tired and it makes it hard to be present when we are out in ministry. 
Blessings from the Sharps




Monday, September 15, 2014

Religious Curry

"In the Garden of Eden," said the man sitting opposite me, "good and evil are united in the form of a fruit...Since that time, we see the division. Good, separated from evil, is written on every man's heart. You, my friend, must listen to your heart to know what is good. And when you do this, you will know God because God is good." I was astounded by the diversity in this man's world views. Trying to help untangle this fishing-line of truths and lies, we debated for almost 2 hours.

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His soup of theology contained an unwavering belief that he was saved through Jesus Christ, but also through his childhood devotion to the Catholic saints, heavily salted with New-Age belief that you decide what is right for yourself, and peppered with Hinduism claiming that doing good is the essence of knowing God.
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"You see a man stealing." He continued, "I say that is wrong; YOU say that is wrong. We are agreed. You look at it from one side; I look from the other side. We both are correct..."Stories like this one seem to come up everywhere. A land steeped in Hindu thought has little resentment for the name of Jesus. Accepting the gospel is not a stretch; removing all previous religious orientation is. As well, knowing that being a sold-out believer is considering to be the most embarrassing of religions.

Still I am deeply encouraged by the faith of those who have none by Jesus. There are three of us on the field, and the work we are doing stretches and blesses us every day. The heart cries of Believers praying for their neighbors living in demonic darkness and the laughs of school children torn away from troubled lives for a few short hours a day; it makes our hearts melt.

It is the end of the first week. Lack of sleep and a head cold are testing two of us. God is faithful. We have had many first experinces and I'm sure they will not end soon. Biggest culture shock for me was lack of personal space. Every other experience has been fascinating.

Will we ever see the fruit of these Gospel conversations or witness the life changing power of our bible stories on young children and unbelieving teachers? Maybe not till the end of time. India has already pushed our prayers into high gear.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

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Vegabonds

We are on our way! Or rather have been on our way. We leave for India TODAY!!! It is so surreal and still doesn't  feel like reality. Caleb and I have been traveling for essentially the last month, but more seriously the last week. And it has been a whirlwind. 
Going from plane to train. Van to cab. Foot to subway. The only mode of transportation we didn't take was the bus! And everything has been quickly passing us by. We took advantage of our across the world travel and decided to have a long layover in Pennsylvania and New York City, and it's been exciting, but so tiring. All the traveling and walking is one thing, but adding all that extra stress to a marriage is another. So again I say, it's exciting, but yes, oh so tiring and HARD. I have learned more about my husband and us the last month and last week than I have ever. But I know God is using this time to refine us and sanctify us, which sanctification is always HARD. Married or not, it's hard. And even through those moments where we're both lost and confused and blisters are bursting and backs are aching, we know we need each other through this journey as we are living like veganonds. To see our weaknesses. To see in just what areas do we need to become more like Christ. To be reminded of the Gospel. That it's a hard, but a beautiful, exciting journey that only the Lord in His grace can get us through. 

And now, as we continue on this expedition. To India, the place we have been anticipating for the last 6 months. We know just how much we are NOT ready. But we also know and are so thankful that God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called. And we know, He will continue to continue to grow us in our marriage, grow us as individuals, and grow us closer to Him. It will be hard. But I know I can't wait to look back 3 months from now and see all the crazy adventures (and modes of transportation and stress) God has brought us through. 

Keep us in your prayers. And next time you hear from us we will finally be in INDIA!

Blessings from the Shrarps <3


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