On behalf of all of our brothers and sisters in India who serve the Lord with us, greetings in the Name of our Lord.
By His grace all our colleagues- both in the seminary and in the churches are safe in the midst of this pandemic. Thank you for praying for us and for partnering with us in the Gospel in India.
Let me give you a quick update on the ministries in India before I share from God’s Word. Graduation service for the class of 2020 in the seminary was held on February 29, 2020. Ninety-one graduated this year. PTL!
Two weeks after graduation service we had to shut down the seminary due to the COVID 19 situation.
Many of our congregations, even the very poor ones, are actively helping people who are suffering due to the shutdown of the country. There are millions of migrant workers in India who are starving because all work is shut down. Our congregations are doing their maximum to help such people.
My wife and I were scheduled to speak in three churches here in the US starting on Sunday, March 22 and so we reached US on March 20th and were to return to India on April 16. But are now unable to go back and are stuck here in California. Don’t know when we will be able to return. Do pray for us.
Reason for confidence in the midst of fear and panic
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow
of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Whenever I face circumstances that generate fear and anxiety I remember and recite this Scripture. One of the reasons is that there is a vivid memory from my childhood that is attached to this Scripture.
May I share that with you?
I was born and raised in a devout Christian family in a remote village in the South Indian state of Kerala. Our village had no roads, or electricity or any other conveniences. Walking was our only option to go anywhere including church.
Our church was about 2 miles away from home.
On the way to our church there was a valley which was believed to be haunted by ghosts. A man was murdered there long ago and all the villagers believed that the victim’s ghost was there! As children we believed such stories and were terrified to walk through there alone, especially after dark. To be short, it was an altogether scary place for us little children: it was the valley of shadow of death of Psalm 23 for us!
Some days my cousin, who was younger than me, and I had to go to youth meetings or some other events during evenings. And when we came to this place we would be gripped with fear and run though that place singing very loud to keep the ghosts away from us!
But some days either my father or my uncle, my cousin’s father, would come with us to church. Those days we never ran in fear. We would hold the hands of our father, and walk boldly, with heads lifted high. Why? Our father was with us and we were confident that no ghosts would dare to come near us.
This might sound silly to you. But for me and for my cousin, this was real. In a way we identified with David and thus that Scripture became so real and alive for us, etched in our memory.
Why was David not afraid to face “the valley of shadow of death”? Not because of his bravery, or because of his soldiers; but because he was confident about the presence of the LORD with him. He began the Psalm by singing: “The Lord is my shepherd.”
I wonder whether he was remembering the promise that the Lord gave to the children of Israel through Moses long ago found in Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
David was confident of his personal relationship with the Lord. That’s why he could say. “The Lord is MY shepherd.” If we are confident of our relationship with our Lord, we too will be able to face fearful circumstances with that kind of confidence and say “I fear no evil” because my Father is with me. He is holding my hand; He will never leave me or forsake me. And His rod and staff would comfort me. We know that rod and staff are symbols of the shepherd protecting the sheep and providing for the sheep.
Even in the midst of this pandemic we can be confident that our Good Shepherd will protect us and provide for us. Let’s confidently keep trusting Him. He will not leave us or forsake us. Let’s pray!
“Father, give us confidence that you are with us always and that you would NEVER leave us or forsake us. Therefore, we do not need to become slaves of fear or anxiety. We can face tomorrow because we know you hold our tomorrows and your rod and staff be there with us. Thank you for this assurance in your Word. In Jesus Name we pray! Amen!”
May the Lord bless you all!