Ten years ago on this day I completed all the formalities for exiting from a job in a big Indian IT firm. I had just completed about four and a half years working for Infosys. I quit my job with the intention to preach the Gospel of Jesus while being employed full-time by Cross Cultured Church, a church that I had planted back in 2008.
Ten years since have passed since that day. When I look back, all I can see is the hand of God and his providence caring for me and my family and the church in each of those days, weeks, months and years. I am super grateful.
I am grateful for God’s shaping my doctrine
My story is unusual. I was never really a member of any church. I barely had gone to church for more than two months at a time for the four plus years of being a Christian before I had come to Mysore. Yet God in his strange ways had somehow worked in my life that I was accepted as a leader, teacher and shepherd in a church plant that was the heart-desire and outcome of a bunch of 23 year old passionate just become Christian boys who thought they knew what church should look like and be like.
Don’t get me wrong. We were not know-it-alls but we did have a passion for the glory of God. Diamonds in the rough. Our doctrine was decent in some areas, unclear in some areas and crazy in some areas. God had to deal with those. Do you know how hard it is to teach a 20 something year old smarty-pants? I am grateful to God for all those men and women who patiently endured with me in those years. I am even more grateful to God for those persons whom he brought into my life to tell me off when I needed to hear what I needed to hear.
Ten years later I would like to think that my doctrine has become more sound in most areas. Some areas are still unclear and fuzzy. But thanks be to God, they are not crazy in any area. At least, I’d like to think that way.
I am grateful for God’s training in preaching
When I began as a full time pastor, I preached topically as was my method in those days. There’s a good way to do a topical series and there’s a bad way. I had cool series – that was good. But then, there’s a good way to preach a biblically faithful topical sermon and there’s a bad way to preach a topical sermon. Mine was the bad way. I had no training in preaching. I had barely heard enough good sermons. My heroes were good communicators but not good exegetes. My preaching was just a Christian version of self-help of some sort.
However, God brought into my life people who at that time were a pain! They challenged my thinking and my teaching (although I have no idea if they knew it). God also used my own reading and studying of scriptures to shape my thoughts, understanding and eventually practice.
Thanks to God’s training in the area of studying the Bible and preaching, I am in a much better place as a preacher today than ten years ago. And by his grace I hope to be a better teacher and preacher ten years from now as he continues to work in my life and discipline me.
I am grateful to God for shaping Cross Cultured Church
We began as an interdenominational democratic congregation of brothers and sisters in Infosys – a group called ROCK (Representatives Of Christ’s Kingdom) that eventually became Cross Cultured Church. But as God shaped our doctrine and practice, we gave more thought to our faith, our practice, our polity, our discipline and worked in each area slowly as God enabled us.
I am grateful that God not only helped us define a statement of faith, but also to have biblical leadership in the form of a plurality of elders and be assisted by deacons. All of whom were raised in house. God used the church to proclaim the gospel in this city. We have witnessed conversions and baptisms.
I am grateful for the weddings, the babies, the hospitalizations, the celebrations, the tears and the laughter. I am grateful for the members of the church who have grown in the faith, in their love for Jesus, for one another and for their care for one another.
I am grateful to God for how generous he has made the members of the church to be. Time and again they have proven to be capable of rising above and beyond to be a blessing in any situation.
I am grateful to God for his grace in suffering
D. A. Carson said “The truth of the matter is that all we have to do is live long enough and we will suffer.” I have no idea how long others have had to live before they suffered. I was 5 or 6 years old when my country of residence was invaded by a neighboring country. I have been ill. I have witnessed broken families. All this before I turned 10.
But then I was taught by the brand of Christianity that I was introduced to as a young convert that Christians do not suffer (bad doctrine!). One of God’s ways of teaching me his sovereignty and his goodness has been through suffering. This decade has been the hardest for me in terms of suffering individually, as a family, as a church. It has been painful. But in all of it, God’s grace carried us through. That’s in hindsight. At the time it was devastating.
But today I am far more stronger as a person and I think I can bear much more pain than I could a decade ago. Because now I am more confident of God’s goodness and his power for I have tasted his goodness and his power whenever I lodged at the inn of suffering.
More than ever I long for this world to pass, to be tossed away like an old sheet and for the renewal of all things. I long for Jesus and to be home where there shall be no more suffering. Until then, I am confident of God’s grace.
I am grateful to God for his providence
The first time I spoke to my father-in-law he asked me a question “You seem to love God clearly. And you desire to plant a church. But will you ever consider going full-time?” My response “I do not think I see myself doing that any time soon. But whatever God wills!” At the time I had no idea that in three and a half years, I would have quit my IT job to serve God in the employ of Cross Cultured Church.
I understood that my father-in-law was concerned that I might not be able to care for his little girl. I am a father of two daughters and I understand that concern. It was my concern as I considered leaving my job. But we knew who we were serving. I am grateful to God for a wonderful wife without whom the difficult times would have been unbearable. God provided for us in every way. There were hard times now and then – and God came through each time. And he gave grace each time we had to face a challenge. We can confidently say that we could do the last ten years because Jesus gave us the strength to face them.
We learned to use God given resources wisely and have become very creative in the process. The early years were the hardest. Over time, we have been blessed more. But God has always had a way of keeping us from becoming too comfortable for our own good. Every time we kinda settled, God has unsettled us in a good way. I am grateful for God’s providence.
There is much more to be grateful for. But I think I should stop now.
To the next decade in the service of God!