5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips,And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
“Here am I. Send Me!”. Isaiah didn’t the lord much of a resume did he? In lieu of any qualifications he exclaimed he was ruined and unclean. And the next moment he is asking the Lord in should be a prophet. But in Isaiah’s naiveté he understood some profound spiritual truth. We are all sinners and every sinner has been chosen to serve in the kingdom of God. The best way to find your place is to volunteer.
Some of you may have noticed I haven’t posted in quite some time. My absence is actually a story of good news I too was sent on a journey. One of the perks of my competitive position at AMD is on the fifth year of my employment I was awarded an extra long paid vacation.
When I first had that written into my contract I may have been a little naive. I really didn’t know what I would be doing five years in the future but in the back of my mind I thought wouldn’t it be nice if I could spend than time …like… ?feeding people in the third world? … or something. Well my five year mark had came and went but I never did get more of concrete idea than that.
Yes I made some inquiries. By now I knew which websites to check. I had a few connections at the my parish and the diocese. But I was finding any opportunities for long short term mission work. I was actually pretty perplexed by the whole thing.
In January my parents started pressuring me to hurry up and decide before I lost the benefit by forfeit. By May my manager was getting antsy wanting to know exactly when he would need to cover my absence. By June I was personally frustrated. I was beginning to suspect God had rejected my application. I was just a naive sinner God wanted else where.
I gave myself the deadline of July 4th. If I didn’t hear a clear call by then I would pick from a number of plan B’s and make the most of the time.
Looking back I think God was teaching me patience.
I first became aware of the Cooks through a christian singles meetup invite. I had joined the singles meetup mainly hoping I would get some dates. The meetup invite was fairly vague it mentioned a group who did some form of foreign volunteer work in India. And a website. I honestly didn’t find the website particularly helpful.
The meetup was scheduled for Sunday June 30th. I was suppose to leave for my home town that Friday and not come back until after the 4th. With uncertainty I decided to wait and see what this group from India had to say. And so 4 days before my time ran out in the back of an Indian restaurant the Cooks began to tell me their story.
Don and Margie cook were originally from South Africa but they also lived in Hawaii for a time. Don likes to joke that for many Christians their worst fear is God might call them to Africa. But since Don was from Africa his worst fear was God would call him to India. Don is a joyful charismatic christian. The type that likes to put his hands in the air and say “Praise the lord!” … “I love you lord!” So I guess once he must have put his arms up ans said “Send me Lord!” Because the Lord sent Don to India.
Mamallapuram is a small village in southern rural India. While in some parts of India today the country is a booming technical power house 70% of the country still lives in rural areas. And a recent study found that 60% of rural Indians live on less than 35 Rs [$0.57] a day.
Much of the Housing in rural India could be justly described as substandard. The villagers who live around Mamallapuram build brick walls only a few feet high with roofs made of palm While these palm leave roofs are cool and water resistant they make good homes for snakes and rats. And the roofs will need to be reconstructed every few years. When someone becomes unable to rebuild their roof they lose their house.
Widows in rural India are especially vulnerable. A widow in India loses both companionship, financial provision and a partner for continued house rebuilding. In many communities the widows are forbidden from remarrying and they may even be blamed for the death of their spouse.
The good news is Gods love knows no boundaries. God called the Cooks to bring his love to India. Don and Margie Cook where joined by their son Andrew and daughter in law Karls. They formed Hands on Houses.
The mission of Hands on Houses [HOH] was to construct reliable housing for the most vulnerable people in rural India. HOH would hire a team of Indian villagers so they could stimulate and not displace the local economy. The Cooks also partnered with a local minister who could help translate both the language (that none of the Cooks speak well) and laws. The minister would also choose the recipients so resources would go to who needed it most.
HOH targets the widows and handicapped villagers as their recipients. Many of their recipients where blind. Because most of their recipients were incapable to contribute in money or service the houses would be 100% gift, with no “sweat equity” collected. With Dons background in construction HOH could build a house in only a few weeks. These houses would be cool and inexpensive (in American terms) and they would last for over a decade.
During the monsoon season the Cooks would travel around the united states and promote the project to get funding and volunteers. In 2013 they visited Austin for the first time.
This is where you might expect me to say I was so overjoyed that God had answered my prayer I enthusiastically signed up right away. Nope. God was clearly answering my prayers but I wasn’t entirely ready for that.
Fun fact Mamallapuram has an eleven and a half hour time difference from Austin. That is one half rotation of the earth between Austin to India. Or to explain put it the way my anxieties where screaming it, God wanted to send me LITERALLY as far as I travel without launching into space!
I actually had some reservations about that. My immediate reaction was to find some excuse to say ‘no’ this is to crazy. But as I prayed about it I realized, this was God speaking. My hands where on the plow. He was waiting to see if I would turn back. So I signed up. Let God figure out the details.
All that remained was the journey of a lifetime. And that story I will… tell in my next post.
Listening and saying yes. That is the first step. Sometimes it is the hardest step. It is always the right step. For this post my challenge to you is to let God know where you are and ask him to be sent.
Post note- recently I have been working my way through the book “Hidden Things” by Richard Rohr. The book has helped me rediscover the power of scripture. So starting with this post I will not only conclude each post with my signature challenge I will also be providing scripture versus I suggest my readers pray through if they choose.
This post’s readings: Mathew 28 16:20 Luke 9 57:63