Not according to plans
Last summer I had the opportunity to participate again with our Massah team as we reached out to the many Israeli backpackers who travel through India each year after army service. As in the past, the relaxed nature of the environment, along with the general openness many Israelis show to new ideas and experiences, led to awesome opportunities to connect and share. That being said, one of the things travelers learn early on is that in India, things often don’t go according to plans. In fact, they usually don’t! The great thing is, amazing opportunities to share end up happening anyway.
For example, when my wife Rachel and I were in India a few years back, we participated fairly regularly in helping a local orphanage. So last year, I was excited to return. Not only did I plan to return but I also planned to invite Israelis with us, to see if serving the children alongside us would open up more witnessing opportunities.
On the day we decided to make a trip out to the orphanage, a couple of us, along with our Israeli friend Shir* (met on previous years of Massah), caught a rickshaw to the village where the orphanage is located. Somehow I managed to remember the big rock that posed as a sign as we were nearing the orphanage, and so we exited our vehicle and made our way. We arrived only to find that the orphanage had been temporarily closed!
Though disappointed, we decided to make the best of it and began to hike our way to a nearby waterfall. While Shir previously had a basic understanding of our Messianic background, as we hiked, we had the chance to share extensively about our belief in Yeshua. Though our plans of helping out with the orphanage were cut short, God still used the trip to give us chance to really connect and share with Shir.
Because plans can often be uncertain in India, sometimes the best plan is to just be still and wait! One night while staying in the village of Manali, we had some issues at one of our guesthouses. Another team leader and I went to try to resolve the problem. While waiting to discuss the matter at the guesthouse, I noticed a few Israeli guys sitting around outside their room and we began to strike up a conversation. (It turned out that we would be waiting for quite a while!)
A few hours later we had engaged on all kinds of topics that served to begin a friendship that grew throughout our whole time in India. As I met with Gil and Omer periodically throughout those days, I saw especially in Omer openness and receptivity to the gospel that was very encouraging, as he accepted a Hebrew New Testament from me. Though I would not have planned to be kept waiting, my time with Gil and Omer became one of the most memorable parts of my time in India.
Back at my regular station in Washington DC, where waiting is often not even in our vocabulary, I am challenged to sometimes surrender my plans. Sometimes all we really need to do is rest, and wait for God to move. If you can, please lift up Shir,* Gil* and Omer* in prayer. Pray that God would continue to move in their hearts as they continue to travel throughout India, and that perhaps this year’s team will meet up with them as well.
*not their real names
David Liebman is a missionary at the Washington, D.C. branch of Jews for Jesus. David received his theological training at Phoenix Seminary. He and his wife, Rachel, have both helped lead a short-term missions program, Massah, in Israel and India. They have one son, Micah.