Earlier this year, I began a new “read the Bible in a year” plan. I’m only in Numbers, so I have a ways to go! After making it through a lot of Old Testament laws and specifications for the building of the tabernacle, I came across a cool passage in Numbers 10 that reminded me of Bethania. God had a plan to move the nation of Israel. They had been camped just outside the Promised Land after their slavery in Egypt. God’s presence with them is in the form of a cloud that covers the tabernacle, and when that cloud moves, so moves the nation of Israel. I’m not just talking about a few large families. There were hundreds of thousands of Israelites on the journey.
This imagery reminded me of Bethania’s new developments in Orissa. I think God decided that our existing ministries are really well established, and it is now time to pick up and move out of our comfort zone. Orissa is an area of India that is very unlike the other regions that we are familiar with – Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. I hope you’ve looked around our website and seen the raw video footage of this impoverished area in East Central India. To give you just a taste of the social and economic issues: There is no internet access (except in town), and even if it were available, many people cannot read. Alcohol and other chemical addictions are common. There exist strong beliefs rooted in witchcraft, influencing medical care and directly impacting community health. You see, the poverty in this area involves multiple contributing socio-economic factors.
The decision to expand there was made after a long process of discerning God’s vision for Bethania. First, the U.S. Board of Directors took time to evaluate the current state of the ministry and weigh different options for future growth. They asked the Indian Board of Directors for their ideas, and they suggested this particular area of India. Then research was undertaken to find out the feasibility of working in Orissa. Once the decision to expand was made by Bethania leaders on both sides of the globe, fundraising efforts began for the start-up expenses. That’s where we experienced an incredible outpouring of generosity through the many, many donors who stepped up to fulfill a $30,000 match challenge. If you donated towards the new ministry in Orissa, thank you! You have participated in an endeavor that will change the lives of children and their families, meeting their immediate physical needs and also hopefully making an eternal impact. Already 100 new Bethania children have been selected, and I am personally so very excited to see how God will work in Orissa.
Leaving our comfort zone is rarely easy, but it can be exciting when we trust in God’s direction. His plans are always better than ours! I remember when the past president of our U.S. Board, Todd, stated wisely that when God says “march”, we march. When God says “stay put”, we stay put. Let us march forward in faith! Do you have similar experiences from your own life that you can share?