Some days ago, I got a call at 3 am in the morning. As the phone rang, my initial reaction was to cut the call and go back to sleep. However, it was a good friend who wouldn’t normally call at odd hours, so I did pick up the call. “Hello Colin, Joe is in a very bad state. He’s crying and wants to talk to you now. I’m wondering if I can bring him over to your place”. I sat up. We had been trying to reach out to Joe for many, many years. I said, “Of course, yes, bring him right away”, and put the phone down.
By now Sheeba was up, and I told her this friend was bringing Joe over. Joe had been one of us for a long time, and then he had disappeared for years. Phone calls would be ignored, text messages inviting him home would get a one word reply, “Sure”, but he would never come and see us. We knew he was in a mess and remembered him in our prayers.
By 3:15 am, this friend of ours had brought Joe over. He poured his heart out and wept bitterly. We spoke to him for a few hours. Later on, we came to know that Joe was on the verge of taking his life that night. God had brought him to us, and here I was, wondering if I was making any difference during the lockdown. I had been feeling sad about the number of camps, outreaches and mission trips that had to be cancelled this year. That conversation with Joe reminded us that God is in absolute control of His work, Covid or no Covid. Since that night, Joe has dropped in to see us once in a while.
We’ve had to stop a lot of our ‘normal routine work’ this last year, but God’s work carried on. Since people couldn’t go out much during the lockdown, we started a Facebook outreach called Chennai Christian Worship. As a family, we went live on this page with worship, at 8 am for a year. The idea was to encourage people and families to sit down and worship during the lockdown. We received many text messages and phone calls from different people, saying they watch or listen to the worship sessions at home/at work/while driving, and were encouraged even while feeling down during the lockdown. We were amazed to see feedback from people who we had been trying to reach out to for years, and even people in far away places who we hadn’t met for a long time.
Online Bible Study
We started Garage Theology a year before the lockdown. A few of us met at 9 am every Saturday, for Bible Study through Zoom. This was done with the idea of keeping the leaders here grounded in the Word, and for training them for the work ahead. Those of us who could join the Bible study in person, would meet in a garage, and hence the name Garage Theology. The rest would join in via Zoom. We continued with Garage Theology even during the lockdown. Last year, Allan Driver took the team through the Old Testament survey. This year, Michael Taylor and Murray Lydmore lead the team through the Pastoral Epistles. We also had some others join in for the Bible Study – leaders and missionaries who live in remote villages.
This past year, God constantly reminded us that He is in control and we were encouraged to know that God uses those of us who are willing – Covid or no Covid, lockdown or no lockdown. We don’t always see it, but God doesn’t stop His work.
Here are a few lines from a song called ‘Way Maker’ that we’ve been singing often this year:
“Even when I don’t see it, You’re working
Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working
You never stop, You never stop working
You never stop, You never stop working.”
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash