How Great is Our God?

22 Jul

Last night was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life. Pastor Caleb, our ministry contact here in Vellore, India, took us to a slum outside the city. I had no idea what to expect, and as I walked through the slum, my heart broke for the extreme poverty I witnessed. The dirt paths winding through the slum was lined with raw sewage. Everything I know about sanitation screamed inside of me as I saw vases filled with drinking water laying in puddles of human excrement. The smell was enough to knock you over. I pressed  forward. The buildings were rotting, pieces of the critical structure crumbling to pieces, and the thatched roofs had giant holes in them. What do these people do when it rains? I pressed forward, noticing children with scabs on their faces and no clothes on their bodies. Boogers were crusted along their noses and flies buzzed around their drooling mouths. I pressed forward. Tiny women with no meat on their bones carried huge loads of food and firewood. I watched them as they passed by and I noticed their spines, bent like boomerangs and I wondered how much pain they suffer through, day in and day out. I saw very few men. I wondered where they were. Were they still working? Or were they out satisfying their lust with other lovers, leaving their wives to carry the heavy burden of the household? I pressed on.

And then I saw her, a brilliant ray of sunshine in the slum heavy with darkness, her sparkling orange punjabi shining brighter than the rest of the colors swirling around me. Something is different about her, I thought. I didn’t even have to approach her. She wasted no time, sticking her hand out to shake mine. She spoke perfect English, asking my name. She told me hers – Jusibiya. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl. She pointed out her twin and I pushed through the crowd to meet her, doing my best not to step on any little toes. I pulled the two away and quickly snapped a photo before the mob found us again.

Jusibiya, the girl on the left, grabbed my hand and led me through the crowd to where we were to have our program. We had planned on singing a few songs and sharing a story or two, but when we heard that most of the people in the slum were not believers we decided to take advantage of the perfect situation to share the Gospel message. My leader Jessica looked around for volunteers and I immediately said “yes.” I closed my eyes in prayer and asked the Lord to help me know what it was that He wanted me to say. Instantly the fear of the Lord was upon me. I knew this was an important task. My previously calm state evaporated instantly and my eyes were as big as the moon. I stood in the back as my team performed, asking the Lord for direction. And there she was. Jusibiya. She looked at me with a wide grin and asked me what was the matter. I told her I was about to speak about Jesus and I asked her to pray for me. She happily obliged. As she began praying in Tamil, her native tongue, I struggled to keep my footing. The Holy Spirit was so thick, so tangible and it seemed to flow from her lips as she spoke, her soothing voice calming my nerves. My confidence returned, yet this time it was not confidence in myself, but confidence in the Lord. I knew He had great plans for this night. He whispered another gem to me, too. He told me that my friend Elizabeth was to heal an arm that night. I shared the Lord’s instruction with her and she smiled brightly. We knew God’s glory would be revealed.

It was my turn and I grabbed the microphone. I quickly became frustrated. Everyone was talking to each other. No one seemed to be listening. I was failing. I cried out to the Lord in my mind, asking Him to help me. Instantly my friend Lindsay let out a loud “Shhhhhhhh!” and a hush fell over the crowd. The timing was perfect. “You need to listen to this, it’s the best part,” I said. I was about to reveal the truth about the greatest miracle in history. I shouted, “The grave could not hold our God!” My words shook with the power of the Lord. I finished my message and asked if anyone wanted to commit their life to Christ. A wave of people stood to their feet, raising their hands in beautiful surrender. I have never felt so weak, and I have never felt God so strong. I led these new believers in prayer and they asked for forgiveness, accepting Jesus as their Savior. I could not believe my eyes. Souls being saved is the most precious sight to behold.

Afterwards we prayed for everyone individually and rushed to the slum church’s meeting place to have a drink. And there she was. Jusibiya. She sat down next to me and held my hand, gazing into my eyes. I asked her to write her name for me in my journal. She wrote her number as well. As she was doing so my friend Elizabeth came to me to tell me that Jusibiya had blood cancer. She has been diagnosed for three years. Jusibiya handed me my journal. “You will call me, won’t you?” she said. I couldn’t handle it. I began sobbing, and she held even tighter to my hand. “Yes, of course I will.” I said.

As we left the tiny hut, people were shoving me from all sides. Someone accidentally shoved me into the sewer and human waste covered my feet. I took a deep breath and tried to remain calm, but she saw me. She knew what had happened and she rushed me towards one of the huts. I didn’t know what was happening until a woman emerged carrying her only vase of drinking water. The woman took the only clean water she had and washed my feet. I struggled to keep it together, but I was shattered. How could she do this? She has nothing! And she gave this life-giving water to me. For my feet! Unbelievable. I looked at Jusibiya, my eyes welling with tears and asked her if she was an angel. “Yes.” was all she said.

I hugged my angel goodbye, marveling at the faithfulness of God. I’m speechless. And I’m forever changed. Angels live in slums and God is in India. And He is doing amazing things. I know more is on the horizon, and I’m waiting expectantly.


16 Responses to “How Great is Our God?”

  1. mikey July 23, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    wow this is so incredible, I’m speechless…

  2. marisa July 23, 2010 at 1:27 am #

    wow. incredible! my eyes are welling with tears. you guys are doing amazing things. I will pray for your new friend 🙂

  3. La Vonne July 23, 2010 at 3:19 am #

    I’m speachless. We have so much here, complain and know nothing of the power of god. Thank you for sharing your love of god with those beautiful people. We will pray for all of them and for your continued strength.

  4. Maysa Monte July 23, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    I started following your story when you were about to leave for India. Every report is a good surprise, not because of what you see there but because of what I see in you. I have a 23 Y.O. girl, a senior at CSU. Tomorrow I’m flying there for a visit. In the 80s I worked at the YWAM headquarters in Lausanne. I joined OM, the Doulos around your age. Nowadays I do work with poor people and do Alpha and other outreaches here in Rio. So, pretty much, I know what you are going through. You are right where God wants you to be and you will do fine. You have edified my life just by being who you are and doing what you are doing now. Press on.

    • erikaearl August 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

      Thanks so much for your awesome comment! It’s always great to hear from a fellow missionary. I will pray for you and your daughter as well as your ministries. Can’t wait to meet you when His Kingdom comes!

      Be blessed!

  5. Mindy July 23, 2010 at 4:56 am #

    Isn’t it amazing when God removes everything from our view that is familiar and opens our eyes to what HE wants us to see! I wouldn’t have been able to keep it together either!

    • erikaearl August 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

      It’s crazy Mindy! God is faithful!

  6. jessiekaitlyn July 23, 2010 at 6:15 am #

    simply beautiful! i’m practically speechless! God is truly amazing and I know he is working wonders in India through you!

  7. Su & Rob July 23, 2010 at 7:57 am #


    I am continually amazed, encouraged, edified, humbled and challenged by your experiences walking obediently with the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sharing your tender heart for those the Lord cares deeply for and reminding us all of the importance to keep open and watchful for the work the Lord is trying to do through us to reach the lost in our lives.


  8. Annette Biggers July 23, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    Thank you God, that Erika operates from your abundant resources. Enough to change an entire slum. Thank you that she isn’t doing religious stuff only, having a form of godliness but denying your power! No, she is inviting your Spirit to flow in power through her. She has been given the power of attorney to usher your authority and power into the slums of India!!! She is operating from abundance, from a cup that is running over, not from the lack of the world. You said, “whoever HAS will be given more….” Erika HAS!!! She has agreed with your Word about her supply….she agrees that she is “seated with Christ.” She is a queen and has the resources of the Kingdom. And therefore you will give her MORE! Because YOU, God, are a generous God!! And You desire to take Erika from Glory to Glory!! AMEN!!!

    Love you, friend!!

    • erikaearl August 2, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

      My favorite role model!! Thanks Annette for your incredible encouragement. God has so much in store for both of us! Thank you for pushing me to agree with God about who I am and what I am capable of doing when I choose to allow Him to work in and through me!

      Love you dearly!

  9. Aida Garris July 25, 2010 at 1:49 am #

    WOW, What can I say? You guys are doing something so great. Our God is a truly amazing God!! And yes, He sends his angels to be with His people. The Holy Spirit is INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!
    Will be prying for you!

  10. Deborah July 25, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Precious Erika,
    Your tender well written account is so encouraging,
    so humbling and so eye-opening. Thank you for being the Hands and Feet of our Sweet Jesus.
    I pray for your continued provision, protection and advancement of the Kingdom.
    Love you, Deborah
    Dont stop sharing…

  11. Linda July 25, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    you are a wonderful vessel.

  12. Mike Bennett July 29, 2010 at 4:06 am #

    Erika, your story gave me a whole new perspective on the “foot washing” attitude Jesus taught in John 13:14-15. What a service of love and sacrifice! Your blog has been inspiring to me. Thank you very much.

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