The joy of a surrendered life
By Nate Thoreson – Regional Director, BSF Field Development
Just over a year ago, I was riding a mower across five acres in Idaho, comfortably involved in my BSF class and enjoying a fairly “normal” life.
What a difference a year makes.
In Matthew 4:19, Jesus called the disciples to, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” He asked them to cast down their fishing nets and surrender their jobs, their security and, essentially, their very identities to follow Christ.
When a full-time position with BSF opened, I honestly wasn’t interested. Taking the job would mean moving my family, leaving behind friends and surrendering those things we clung to for security.
But God confirmed through His Word saying, “follow me.”
Since our move to Texas, God has shown me just how full a surrendered life to Him can be, in my own life and in the lives of amazing believers I’ve met along the way.
This past August, I had the opportunity to visit Bangalore, India, where leaders gathered for a simulcast of the first-ever BSF Summit. There, I met living examples of Matthew 4:19 in a community of men and women who consistently cast security aside to follow Christ.
A world apart
Dodging cows and cars, a BSFer named Joseph drove from the airport to the hotel as I took in the contrasts around me: brightly dressed people in front of buildings in need of repair; sprawling skyscrapers next to tiny shacks; beautiful trees and lots of religious temples.
Joseph and I had never met before, yet it was like a family reunion. Joseph and his wife welcomed me into their home and even their son, Abhishek, who is a food blogger, guided me through a true Indian culinary experience.
God’s people in India were a picture of what it looks like to follow Christ …
Ultimately, God’s people in India were a picture of what it looks like to follow Christ, to be changed by Christ and to be on mission with Christ. Once again, God was showing me the joy of a surrendered life.
Against all odds
This year marks 25 years of BSF in India, and despite opposition and persecution, God has opened doors for classes throughout the country. So many of these believers count the cost of following Christ daily and continue to “cast down their nets” to follow Jesus.
Take, for example, the woman who secretly shares the gospel with her children in quiet moments during the day. Despite fear of retribution from her husband, who forbids her from attending church, she faithfully clings to her hope in Christ. Tearful eyes revealed her struggle, but they couldn’t hide her joy through the curve of her smile.
Another couple, Elango and Joan, along with their daughter, Anukripa, and son, Amrit, faced a difficult decision. While walking through the pain of losing Elango’s father, they had to decide if they would participate in the ceremonial burial rites of his extended family’s religion.
At the risk of insults and scorn from an unbelieving village, this family held firmly to their faith. Their love for Jesus was evident as they shared stories of God at work in their own lives and the lives around them. Even in hardship.
Their love for Jesus was evident as they shared stories of God at work in their own lives and the lives around them. Even in hardship.
Embracing the call
For Stephen and Malini in Chennai, India, a painful miscarriage brought about a challenging season of trusting God’s goodness. But, when Malini heard God’s invitation to “make room” for what He wanted to give her and scale back from the busy-ness of that season, she left her work as a school principal and stepped out of her BSF leadership role.
Little did she know that God was making room for a child. Judah, now 8 years old, is a joy-filled reminder of God’s goodness today, even during the most trying seasons of life. Stephen and Malini are still being stretched to surrender to God’s good purposes as Stephen has endured 10 long months of unemployment. But this family’s deep faith shows how God works in every circumstance to bring Himself glory and to change us to reflect His character.
Acts 1:8 declares that we will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. As Christians, we are witnesses of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Today, despite great opposition, men and women of faith are witnessing in India. I’ve seen it. God is using His people in Europe, the United Kingdom, the Gulf and Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, across Asia, and throughout Africa and North America to spread His Word.
Jesus’ mission to “fish for people” is as relevant today as it was for the early church in Acts. But before we can “fish,” we have to follow. What is He calling us to cast aside? How is He asking us to trust Him?
Matthew 28 declares that “All authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Him. Wherever He sends us, He is in sovereign control. Jesus also promises He will be with us. What great encouragement! Whether we’re in Idaho or India, there is true joy in surrendering to a Savior who loves us deeply.