Elisabeth Elliot: I wonder if someone is listening today who is in a similar quandary. What to do? Where to go? A new job, perhaps? A move to another state? A move to a retirement home? That's a tough one, isn't it?
Lisa Barry: And it reveals just how ever-changing life is, doesn't it? Most of us don't appreciate change very much in our lives. We would just as soon have everything stay just the way it is. Well, if you're facing some big change in your life, Elisabeth Elliot would like to use a personal journey of her own to strengthen your faith in God. You'll see first-hand how God leads in deliberate and tangible ways. Then wait with joyful anticipation as God reveals the steps that He wants you to take. That's coming up next on this Monday edition of Gateway To Joy. Here's Elisabeth
Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking with you this week about journeys with God.
Just a few days before I sat down to work on this week's talks, my daughter Valerie and her husband announced a startling piece of news. Another baby? Number nine? No. Another church. Walt Shepard, my son-in-law, has been called to be the pastor of a church in South Carolina. He was a pastor for ten years in California. Of course, when there's a call to a different church there are many questions and hesitations and prayers.
I wonder if someone is listening today who is in a similar quandary. What to do? Where to go? A new job, perhaps? A move to another state? A move to a retirement home? That's a tough one, isn't it? Very difficult.
My younger brother-he's only thirteen months younger than I am, but he has had to move into a retirement home because of his wife's health. My brother does a lot of traveling and the doctor said, "You must not leave her alone." So she has to be in a place where help is readily available.
I sent to him a line from a poem that I had learned: "Henceforth on earth no place shall I count strange, for every place belongeth to my Christ." I love that. It brings me peace and assurance. "Henceforth on earth no place shall I count strange, for every place belongeth to my Christ."
My husband Lars and I have had more overseas trips this year than we have ever had before. I do want to say that it is just as though the Lord has given us a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, as He gave to the Israelites-guidance in ways which seem to be perfectly clear. We were so grateful for that.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 31, Moses is talking to the Israelites. He says, "I'm now 120 years old. I'm no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, 'You shall not cross the Jordan.' The Lord your God Himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you. And the Lord will do to them what He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites whom He destroyed. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you."
In verse 8 he repeats those words: "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged."
I had an invitation that came by mail more than a year ago from an organization called THE SOUTH INDIA PRAYER FELLOWSHIP. It was a Mrs. Chelladurai who wrote to me. She could write fairly understandable English, but it was a different question when we tried to get on the telephone and find out exactly what airport we were to fly into.
Well, Lars tried to talk to her. He tried every way in the world to understand what she was saying. But finally, he said, "You talk to her." So I said, "Can you tell us which airport you would like us to fly into?" She said, "Oh, Mrs. Elliot, we are so glad you are coming!" I said, "Thank you. Can you tell us which airport we need to fly into?" "Oh, the ladies are so excited that you are coming!"
And that really was about all we could get. So we had to leave the States, not knowing if we were going to the right airport. We chose Madras, since that seemed to be the major airport that was closest to where we were going, but we weren't very sure as to exactly where we were going. But we had an engagement in Illinois first, so we went from that engagement to the Chicago airport. We found that the flight was delayed. Perhaps we were going to miss our connection in Frankfurt.
So I prayed, "Lord, when You put forth Your sheep, You go before them." That was the Lord's promise. "So Lord, I'm going to commit all this to You with a quiet heart." Well, I thought maybe you'd like to hear some entries from my journal.
May 2. Spent a four-hour night at the Hotel Centaur in Bombay. It cost us $240 for a four-hour night. Now we are en route to Madras where we hope to be met and taken to the conference site. The teeming millions, each one loved with an everlasting love. And what of their future? How will Christ claim His earthly heritage? Surely there are unimagined glories yet to be known.
Saturday morning, May 3. Eighty women of the Women's Prayer Fellowship of the Church of South India in Tirunelvelly Diocese, Madras addressed me in a sari. Do you what the sari is? That beautiful, most feminine of all feminine garments. It's an 18-foot long piece of material, one single piece of material. It took them about 15 minutes to wrap and pleat and wind it around me. They used a few safety pins, too. So there I was, trying to learn to walk in a floor-length sari.
We had lunch in someone's home and again saw the teeming millions as we drove from the YWCA to the church. It was staggering. The poverty, the filth, the noise, the wild drivers-indescribable.
Sunday, May 4, we were up at 4:15 and went to the railroad station at 5:00. At least 10,000 people were there, a good many of them asleep on the concrete floor. There were porters in short skirts and red turbans, balancing three suitcases on their heads and carrying one or two in their hands. The station was patterned after those vast ones in Europe. Our escorts were Princess and Daisy.
I forgot to mention that the Lord did answer our prayers most wonderfully. When we got off the plane in Madras, the first thing that we saw after we got through customs was a huge sign with G-R-E-N. That's my last name, you know. My husband's name is Lars Gren and I am Mrs. Lars Gren. Here were two charming Indian girls, 26 and 27 years old, beautiful girls dressed in saris, and they were holding up the sign. So the Lord had answered our prayer that we got to the right airport.
Well, the train pulled out at 6:00. We had an eight-hour ride through rural country. Palm trees. Banana groves. Rice fields. Sugar cane. Vegetables. Tiny leaf shacks, very like some of the Auca shacks in the jungle where I lived in Ecuador years ago. Adobe houses. Goats. Cattle. Bullocks. All terribly skinny.
All the women wear saris all the time, no matter how back-breaking the work or how muddy and filthy they get. We saw women swinging pick axes on the railroad and carrying concrete in wooden bowls.
We arrived at Coimbatore Batore at 2:00. I'm not sure I'm pronouncing that correctly. We were met by Tom, a kind Christian man. Our two guides, Princess and Daisy, have accompanied us everywhere. They stayed at the "Y" with us in Madras.
May 5. We were in Pollachi, 9:30 a.m., at the same church where we were last night. Women all sitting cross-legged on the floor for hours. They were sitting on concrete virtually all day long, their backs perfectly straight, and they sang. And did they sing! Very loud, a very nasal kind of singing, as it seemed to me, led by a trio in pink chiffon saris, accompanied by drums and tambourines, even more repetitious than the charismatic singing that we hear in the United States. Seemingly tireless, verse after verse after verse.
I spoke on spiritual mothering. I had an excellent interpreter, Karduna Haran, a gracious man who speaks excellent English. After the meeting, he came to our suite and talked of a primitive tribe of Stone Age people, the Hadaras, on the island of Nicobar. "Missionaries are forbidden to seek to reach them, because the government wants to preserve their culture. The bush police shoot people who try to go in there."
Our lunch was vegetarian rice and tea. How I'm tempted to pamper myself! Am I soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb? "Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while others sought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?" Well, you can guess that comes from an old hymn that's in my head.
I'm not merely tempted to pamper myself. I confess that I succumbed. A dead man lay by the roadside. A few people were apparently very casual about it. The patient, hardworking bullocks, heavy yokes rubbing their necks with each step, were everywhere.
The phone rang very early the next morning. A voice said, "Newspaper door open." I said, "I beg your pardon?" "Newspaper door open." Well, I opened the door and there stood a boy with a newspaper.
My final talk was on the subject of suffering. Lars' twenty-minute talk, which he did with great ease and humor, as always, was a simple testimony of his growing up-the times that God has preserved his life, the providential preparation for the job that he now has. Such a lovely reminder of God's ways!
"All the way my Savior leads me." That's a hymn that kept going over and over in my mind. God was faithful.
I'll be talking again tomorrow about journeys with God.
Lisa Barry: And of course, we have to mention that India was the place where Amy Carmichael was a missionary for so many years, rescuing children from temple prostitution. So it's fitting that we should mention the biography Elisabeth has written about Amy Carmichael's life. It's called A CHANCE TO DIE. Getting a small taste today of what the surroundings are like in India will go a long way to enrich your reading of her life story.
If you'd like to purchase a copy, the cost is $25. You can send that, along with your request, to Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll-free at 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Our Internet ministry address is gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible.
We'll hear more about Elisabeth's fascinating journey tomorrow, so I hope you'll join us then for another Gateway To Joy.