I did not fully understand the power of the words “Dear Heavenly Father” and “Amen” or the weight they carry in a world marred by war, disease, and famine. I didn’t understand that four words could change people’s lives in a way that can’t be described by any natural phenomena. I didn’t understand any of this until I went to India in December of 2018.
You can spend months preparing to go to a foreign country, researching its culture and training for effective ministry, but the truth of the matter is you cannot understand a place or people until you actually get there and meet them. Then all of a sudden, your heart shifts for “this place” and “these people,” and you want to do everything you can for them. You’d give them the shirt off your back if that were culturally appropriate. You’d eat any dish set before you no matter how full you were. You’d pray for them until your team was just about ready to pull off without you.
This was my experience in India. I had no idea that one place could drastically change my relationship with God in a way I couldn’t even fathom. I felt that everything I was doing while I was there was not enough. I even felt as if my prayers were somehow “losing signal,” not getting to heaven. No matter how fervently I prayed, no one had gotten healed on the spot yet.
Our team was given gentle reminders daily that it is not our job to heal people; it’s simply our job to step out and pray. As encouraging as that message was, it also brought a wave of sadness. I was “willing,” but I wanted to be “able.” I wanted to be able to heal people. I wanted to be able to deliver people. I wanted to able to do a lot of things. So day in and day out God reminded me to trust in His plans and His timing. He was doing something far greater than I could imagine. My willingness would lead to the greater work of God’s “ableness.”
The poorest of the poor in India are those who are physically impaired, the ones who can’t even work because of their status socially and physically. Most often these people happen to be those with leprosy, a contagious disease that affects the skin and nerves of the body. It causes lumps and discoloration of the skin. In extreme cases, it causes loss of limbs. The people I encountered had extreme cases of leprosy. Most were missing fingers or toes, even whole hands and feet.
Our team had several opportunities to go out to leper colonies (which are separated from the rest of society) to pray for those suffering with this illness. We also had the opportunity to feed them, share the gospel with them, and just love them. Nearing the end of a full day out, we visited one last colony for the night. I was tired but ready to experience a miracle, so I prayed for strength in my tiredness. One of my companions, Grace, and I had the opportunity to pray for a woman with no fingers. I cupped the remaining part of the woman’s hands in mine and began to pray for healing. I simply began with “Dear Heavenly Father” and bookended my prayer with “Amen.” Underneath my hands I felt a weird popping sensation. When I finished praying, I started to move on and pray for the next person when Grace stopped me and pointed my attention to the new fingers the woman was wiggling in front of us as she hugged us and thanked us!
Here’s what I learned that night in a leper colony in India. When we as Christ-followers utter the words “Dear Jesus” or “Dear Heavenly Father,” we are grabbing our Creator’s attention and simply saying, “My body is ready to be used as a vessel for Your glory.” When we finish boldly with an “Amen,” we are saying, “So be it.” We are reinforcing the idea that our God is mighty and has the power to do anything. Everything that happens in between is God moving through our words and prayers. (He loves to surpass our expectations.) These words carry weight; they should never be taken lightly. My prayers the rest of the time in India were based on these core beliefs.
God’s power is real and He longs to pour it out on anyone who believes and is willing to receive it. I learned that day that my job is to be bold enough to pray for those who need it. As I came home with this new perspective, I couldn’t wait to get started in my own hometown, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t revert to a tired relationship with God. Instead I would chase Him actively every day so that He would use me every day.
God knows the plans for our future and so desperately longs to partner with us in accomplishing that future for His glory. All we have to do is make ourselves available and be willing to say yes.
About the Author
Allison Khan is a student at California State University Northridge, pursuing her dream of becoming a history teacher. She said, “I have loved every minute of growing up in the church and following Jesus.” Allison attends Desert Streams Church of the Open Bible in Santa Clarita, California, a church her dad, Gary Khan, pastors.