Monday, April 23, 2007

Guest Blog by my dad, Don Beebe

Measuring Ministry

For six months I looked forward to our trip to India. Whenever we would mention India to friends they graciously interpreted it as “missions” when, being perfectly honest, all I was really thinking about was seeing my kids and grandson. I dreaded the long hours in airplanes and I had already learned from my AIA trip to Poland in 2003 that being out of the States meant being far out of my comfort zone. However, I was determined! I missed my kids and I so longed to catch up with and re-connect with Simon who, in contrast to his first 12 months of life, was rapidly learning the Pop-pop was but a face and voice in his mom’s computer. What a great trip we had! It was both eye-opening and challenging for me.

I was greatly impressed with the many ministry opportunities afforded Ben, Sus, and Sy beyond what I understood to be their primary objectives. I had already understood the objective of seeking to develop cooperation with Campus Crusade on the use of sport ministry strategy for enhancing the current campus ministry efforts. I also believed I understood the commitment to identify and train nationals as potential local leaders for the cooperation and implementation of sport ministry strategy for current campus ministry. What I was not prepared for was how extensive other ministry opportunities have opened up for Ben and Susie as they have given themselves to God’s plan, the people, and the very culture.

Those opportunities include the impact of sportsmen and coaches at all levels. This was demonstrated through the invitation Ben secured for us to attend a practice of the India Men’s National Basketball Team. The respect afforded us from the moment we walked in was staggering from being escorted to our seats at center court and through being served our tea at tea break. After being welcomed by the coaches the players lined up on the end line where we were introduced and Ben was able to inform and offer the ministry services of AIA to each one. Before resuming practice we were asked to go along the line and meet each player as if we were dignitaries of a foreign country inspecting the troops. I found myself checking my amazement at this great opportunity with the fact that each of these young men were persons for whom Jesus had died and that these introductions could actually be the door through which Ben and AIA might enter to lead one or all to Christ. I watched for a while as practice resumed before the coaches began to ask me, “So what do you think? What do you think we should be working on?” For a moment I felt like John Wooden or Dean Smith! More importantly I realized that they really wanted to listen and that this openness was a great sign of future opportunity for relationship building and discipleship.

Another opportunity was seen through the operating of two days of basketball clinics with a local college basketball team. The AIA staff seeks to develop campus relationships with Physical Directors which leads to invitations to operate training clinics with basketball sportsman. While basketball and teaching drew them I was able to present testimony of faith one day while the next day another staff member led the players through an offer of the gospel. It was hot and tiring but truly exciting to watch the work of the gospel by faithful servants.

Ministry opportunities continued to be seen in both Ben and Susie just through their investing in daily and routine relationships. The caring relationship with their housekeeper Lechsmi and her family; the neighborhood Bible study conducted by Sus and Stephanie; the outreach to local shopkeepers; all were moving to watch. Seeing how they responded to a rickshaw driver they have befriended while his family was in crisis was humbling for me as I realized how many similar opportunities I see here in the states everyday that I just pass by.

While the daily and routine engagements could easily fill the days there was still the highly intentional commitment to love where it might be difficult to love. We accompanied them to Accept, a ministry that provides care for about 15 children orphaned by AIDS parents. It was long ride and certainly out-of-the-way but the reception of those kids when they saw our car arrive on their property was priceless. We played cricket and soccer with some while others played on the simple playground equipment. We shared cupcakes Susie had prepared for the kids. We sang songs and prayed with them and for them. They were great young hosts and so appreciative of the visit and expressions of care. I was overwhelmed by how Ben and Sus gave both Christ and themselves to these special children.

As we headed back to the airport I pondered how blessed I was to have been there and played a small part in the ministry. What hit me however was that I was now going home to resume my own routine while Ben & Sus were headed to bed because there was so much ministry to prepare for the next day and the next day, and the next day. I had hoped to somehow measure their ministry so I could share it with our family and friends back here at home. I came to realize however, that their ministry couldn’t be measured. It wasn’t as easy as planning a couple activities or following a schedule. It was simply being willing to be used by God in the myriad of opportunity and need to which they have given themselves and for which they are trusting God. Not only is God using our kids to impact India, He continues to use them to impact me.

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