by Hattie Lindstrom
I sat in the steaming hot van gripping my Bible and praying. I had the same churning feeling that I remember feeling the hour before an anatomy test. Well, that feeling plus a dozen others that added up to something I labeled “outreach anxiety.”
I had my ipod on max volume in an effort to block out the steady stream of horns coming from the busy streets. God and I were in a very intense conversation. I didn’t want to go back to the brothel. We had been there the previous night for ministry and I had left with an oppressive feeling of despair.
It made me angry at the Indian men who were being used by Satan to ruin lives. It made me feel overwhelmed by the nearly impossible task of stopping prostitution in India. It also made me scared. My mind knew there was really nothing to fear. But my heart was in a panic to stay far away from that place that enslaved so many women.
And the worst part of it all – Today I was supposed to give a testimony!
I flipped through my Bible desperately trying to find some highlighted verse that was in one of the typical courage passages. I was failing miserably at becoming the courageous Joshua or Esther I wanted to be at that moment.
And then my Bible fell open to a much-read page: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body… whether by life or death.”
I had claimed Philippians 1:20 for myself in the fall of my 10th grade year. I had played the part of a martyred missionary in a play done by my school. And I had decided that I wanted to give my life to God in the same way.
Yeah, I thought. Easy to say back then… back when I was surrounded by my friends and family. Back when worries were about geography exams and getting a part in the school play.
Now, some of my biggest worries included finding words to explain God’s love to enslaved prostitutes.
“Very funny God,” I muttered. Then I breathed a sigh of relief.
This was exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
I looked out the window and smiled. God would give me courage.
A couple hours later, I sat on a cold, dirty floor sharing my heart with a room packed full of women. I felt completely at ease. And as I looked at the faces around me, I knew God was speaking through me.
As I saw tears glisten on one woman’s face, I felt as bold as Joshua. Of course, God had gotten me through this! My God never changes. The same God who was with me in Driver’s Ed and during my ACT test was with me here in India. He was there when I was 15 and picked that verse from Philippians.
And that is the God I choose to exalt with my body… whether by life or death. Now as always.