The voice on the other end of the phone was Masih Das, ringing from prison, the other side of the world. Pinch me again please. I wasn’t imagining it, was I?
No, it was him. Somehow, he had got access to a mobile and had tried three times to get me. Oh, what joy! How we talked!!!!
He told me of the most amazing Christmas Eve Festival they had organised in the prison, getting permission to hire a cook from outside to bring in 60kg of chicken and 70kg of rice. Six hundred out of the 800 prison population were fed and listened to the Christmas story, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Animists, all being thrilled by the explanation for the ‘reason for the season’.
‘It was wonderful, Pastor Les’, he told me with such joy in his voice. ‘God did something amazing‘.
‘And it hasn’t stopped’, he said. ‘Every day, morning and evening, the prison let me use the community hall for Bible Studies to help the men explore the spiritual life, twenty-five at a time. The ministry is going on, Pastor Les. Please thank EVERYONE for praying, God is touching so many. And they love feeling and touching all the many Christmas cards that have come in an aeroplane. I have read them over and over to the people, they ask me to read those lovely messages again and again to them. Please thank everyone and the church of Jesus Christ who have not forgotten us’.
Pinch me please. Black and Blue, I don’t mind!!!
What a challenge to my faith and the way I think about prayer as we start another year. So often our prayers are conditioned by what we think is ‘do-able’. We must hinder God so often by making Him rethink what He originally wanted to do and shrink it down to the size of our requests.
Never in a million years would I have asked God to use Masih das inside a notorious prison in such a way. With militant Hinduism on the rise, Christians being persecuted all over the country, and many reports of violence and killings, I was praying for safety for him in the prison, especially as many locked up with him are mentally disturbed.
But our God is the ‘so much more’ God. Remember the first miracle Jesus performed at a wedding? Turning 600 litres of water into 800 bottles of wine!! That’s over the top if anything ever was, Jesus deliberately showing us that our God is not mean and calculating, doing the bare minimum, but open handed, generous, big hearted. That was a wedding to remember!! Like my phone call from India.
Alexandra the Great once gave an audience to a man who asked him for schooling for his son, a dowry for his daughter, and a farm for himself. The King gave all three. His Chancellor protested, ‘That’s too much’. The King explained that he was fed up of all those who came crawling before him, pleading for half a piece of gold. ‘This man’, he said, ‘treated me as a KING’
Be encouraged as you start 2017. Value and treasure the privilege we have of being heard in the throne room of heaven because of Jesus. There really is someone there, sitting, fully in control, who hears YOU and He sits on throne because he is a KING.
LET’S TREAT HIM LIKE ONE.
In 2017 Ask BIG. Take the brakes off the Living God and let Him do ‘so much more than we can ever ask for or even think of’. Talk to Him about BIG issues. He is a King, likes to be treated like one, and asked for BIG things that ONLY A KING CAN DO.
May you have to pinch yourself often this year, and please continue lifting up Masih das and Sarita, two lovely undercover agents for Jesus.
Prayer REALLY is powerful!!!