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. 

His Witness

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. 

397 Comments

  1. Great blog entry and stories of God and the level of surrender by believers in India. I am going to be traveling for business in Bangalore the first couple weeks in February and I will now look to participate in local BSF meetings with my brothers while I am there. Thank you for reminding me that I/we can do that worldwide through BSF!

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    • Thanks Marc! Let me know if you need help connecting with someone in Bangalore! Blessings!

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  2. Thank you for sharing for what God is doing over in India and around the world. Praise God for what he is doing through BSF.

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  3. Having been to India I too have experienced the true joy of those who, despite hardships and true suffering, have a living relationship with Jesus Christ. The sparkle in their eyes and smile on their faces in the midst of those who do not know Christ is often obvious from a distance. Thank you for sharing! Praise God for how He is moving throughout the world through BSF and other ministries who desire to fulfill Jesus’ command in Matthew 28: 18-20.

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    • Thanks Keith! Well said! Thanks for the encouragement! Praying the Lord blesses you as you continue to follow Jesus wherever He leads!

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  4. Praise God for your willingness to obey the call!
    We are all called, some in a foreign land, some in the USA and some right where we are! I have been on 7 mission trips to third world countries to share the gospel! What an honor, what a privilege! I felt sure God was calling me to full time missions. When I didn’t get His call to go to a third world country or any country, I realized He was calling me to continue spreading the gospel right where I was! Right here, right now…wherever I am. He opens the opportunity everyday!!!
    That call is for every Christian in Mathew 28:19-20. Thank you for your inspiring story! God Bless you!

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    • Amen Nancy!! So true! The power of the gospel to redeem every experience and place. Well said and thank you for the encouragement!

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    • What an inspiring article! It lets us see how true unconditional love for God and God’s word is alive and well around the world. The article encourages us to be that light everyday! Planting that seed! Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us all, Nate!

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  5. Your experience strengthens my faith. Thank you.

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    • Praise the Lord! Encouragement is a two way street!

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  6. Wow . I have been witnessing to my therapist from India for two years now.
    I finally ask him what he would do with the fact that Jesus said he was the way truth and life.
    I became friends with his family and still often pray for them.
    His wife came for a while to BSF but quit when she said it was only for those who believed.
    This gives me hope

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    • Thanks for sharing Penny! I hope BSF is a place where believers and seekers can find answers! Stay connected! Praying for your friend to experience the love of Christ through you.

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  7. To God be the glory for the miracles He is still working today! No boundaries can stop Him! Praise God! Enjoyed this beautiful story of God’s faithfulness!

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    • Amen! Thank you Doris for the encouragement!

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      • I’m thank you Nate for this wonderful story. It brings tears to my eyes as I close them thinking of what can do to surrendering my self fully to our King. Everyday I let Him know that I truly believe!

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        • Thanks for the reminder and encouragement Nanci! Praying for you!

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  8. Thank you for sharing! When Compassion International was forced to leave India I was very sad but trusted that God would provide for His people there in others ways. So glad to hear that BSF is there meeting the needs of His people! God bless you and the entire BSF Staff as you lead this ministry in this new decade and beyond!

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    • Thank you Debra, and I pray God’s richest blessings in Christ for you as well. Matthew 16:18 reminds us that God builds His church on the rock, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it!

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  9. It’s very Inspiring to hear about fellow believers in Christ. I started with BSF recently but it’s an amazing experience of sharing our God’s love with each other.
    May God continue to use each one of us to build His kingdom.

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    • Binu, welcome to BSF and I pray you will continue to grow closer to Christ through studying His Word in community. Amen

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  10. We serve an UNSTOPPABLE GOD!

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    • Amen!

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  11. Thank you very much for the amazing story of Indian Christians. It is four years now since I joined BSF and my life will never be the same again am praying and trusting God to guide me this year as I continue to study His Word . I salute the BSF for their commitment to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ

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    • Thank you Susan! Praying you are blessed this year in BSF as you grow closer to Christ through His Word!

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  12. Ihave surrendered all my pain sicknes .bussines ,myfamily especial my alcoholic son tBrian to jesus tochange him accept jesusJ

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    • I am so encouraged and inspired by your beautiful sharing of your experience of how God is moving with the people of India.
      I have heard stories and seen horror video of a girl who was literally buried alive after she came back from a Bible study in front of a throng of people and other Christians been persecuted in various ways in India.
      They are the ones who pick up their cross daily and follow Christ. These incredible followers of Jesus Christ has witnessed their strong faith in Jesus and taught me a great deal of how to surrender my all to Him, focusing on Jesus and stay true to my Faith.
      I myself was born in India (from Chinese origin). Gave my life to Jesus at the age of six, studied in Christian schools from kindergarten to high school. In the sixties, things were peaceful in India, never heard or experienced persecution. I realized now that the devil is working hard because his time is coming up soon when Jesus will destroy him and his Kingdom once and for all.
      I have learned so much from BSF. This is my fifth year in it. I’m thankful and ever so grateful to those who put together and prepare the notes for us who are so hungry and eager to learn more about our sovereign Lord. These past five years have changed me and made me a better person.
      Thank you, Nate, and your amazing team for keeping this BSF lessons going.
      I so enjoyed my study and will continue to do so.
      May our Glorious Lord Jesus Christ bless you and All, richly as your continue to serve Him diligently.

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      • Thank you for the prayers and support Melinda, we love to see others grow in their trust of our Lord!

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    • Joining you in prayer for you son Juliet. Praying for Christ to set him free.

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  13. This serves to firmly confirm that nobody, nothing can ever stop the spread of God’s word in Christ Jesus crucified and resarected.

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    • Amen to that Kamau! Our God is Unstoppable!

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  14. To God Be The Glory for the marvelous things that He has done both in and through you to bless, encourage, and equip souls for the Kingdom.

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    • Amen Toye, to God be the glory!

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  15. Nate,

    I was blessed by your report and am privileged to serve with you!

    Ron

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    • Brother Ron! The privilege is mine to serve our great God with you. Thank you for the love and faithfulness, excellence, humility, and integrity with which you serve the men in your area! Thankful for you!

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  16. Praising God for the awesome work He is doing. Thanking God for the wonderful testimony. God bless and protect you and His people.

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    • Thank you Carolyn! Praying with thanksgiving for you as well!

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  17. I remember praying for Chennai, India about 25 years ago in Leader’s Meetings!

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    • God answers prayers Pam!! People are coming to Christ and growing in the knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ.

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  18. I am thrilled to learn BSF has been in India 25 years. I was under the impression BSF was not in India yet.
    I can’t wait to tell an Indian pastor and brother this news. He has not heard of BSF but is interested.
    Thank you for your blog. There truly is Joy in Surrender. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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    • Please have your pastor friend get in touch with us at BSF HQ, we would love to introduce him to other brothers and sisters in BSF in India. Thank you Laurie!

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  19. Yeah Father God! Oh the places Father God takes in this journey of faith! Thanks for trusting HIM, Nate

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    • Amen! Thank you Jane for being a part of this journey with us!

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  20. How good to hear about Elango. I’ve followed him on social media, just because of his BSF connection.

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    • Elango is a dear brother in Christ! He is also has a wonderful way with words and a great sense of humor!

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  21. THANK YOU NATE. A thread, including yours, of encouraging testimonies about India have been a joy for me for a number of years.
    I THANK GOD for your vision and ministry to the people of that land.

    I was on a short fruitful mission trip to India in a number of years ago working with Southern Baptists.

    Fast forward: In 2017 I joined BSF as a student, my previous spiritual growth was rooted in the excellent Precept Ministries who guided me in learning to study Scripture. After coming to the pioneer online Romans BSF study I knew I was in the place God wanted me. As of now I’m in my second year as a BSF online group leader. I AM HUMBLED AND GRATEFUL.

    One of my group members is Indian, her mother and father were born in Indian and were Christian ministers there. After these parents moved to the USA my dear GM was born and now has a family of her own. She and her daughter visited in my home January 1-4, 2020. A DIVINE APPOINTMENT! Ephesians 3:20,21

    God’s thread is eternal.

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    • Wow! Thank you for sharing this story Mona! What an encouragement to all of us 🙂 Thank you for serving as an Online group leader, what a great privilege to connect with others around the world. Isn’t it amazing how fast and authentic the relationships can form through an online group? ! Praise God!

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  22. Loved hearing your story and seeing familiar pictures of Bangalore, India! I’ve taken part in 3 mission trips to India in the past 10 years including Bangalore where we worked with Happy Home Orphanage and in Velore where we worked with the Lutheran School for Deaf and Blind. We also held a mission seminar with church planters in Mumbai who shared their testimonies of powerful conversion from Hindu and Muslim beliefs to Jesus Christ! The spiritual darkness of India is heavy and oppressive but the believers are radiant and joyful as they live out the love of Jesus and share His truth with unbelievers, even when at risk of persecution. What a blessing to hear about BSF groups for 25 years in India. Praying for abundant fruit among the billion people of India, most of whom are lost in darkness.

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    • Thanks for sharing Mary Kay!

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  23. Nate, your story of India and its people reminds me of the critical need for rebirth and reawakening in our country. I pray that I surrender the things that make me comfortable in this land of plenty. I rejoice that there are people in all nations wanting the same.

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    • Thanks Julie, that is my prayer as well. Amen!

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  24. I am very happy to see how Jesus uses his beloved peaple in his purposes.
    He is soveregn an knows everythings.
    Glory to the Lamb

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    • Amen Antonieta!

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  25. Praise God for you open ear and eyes. You are making a difference.
    It’s Amazing how our Awesome God uses us when we listen.
    May God continue to use you for His purposes as well as me!!

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    • Amen Margie! It’s amazing how He uses us when we don’t listen as well!

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  26. The study, the Lessons and the teaching that the Lord provided through BSF is a continuous process of maturing my personal relationship with the Lord. I shared my study with my husband and read and study it every night. I invited friends to BSF. So thankful for the privilege of being a part of BSF faithfully for nine years. Thank you Jesus.

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    • Thank you for sharing Ligia! I bet your discussions with your husband are rich and inspiring!

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  27. I have been a “friendship partner” with a Computer Science Grad student from Bangalore, who is attending Wichita State, and who is a Christian. We have been friends since September, 2018. Since my friendship with Silvia, I have learned a lot about the Christian life in India (at least, in Karnataka). I have also been praying thru the Indian states, using a prayer guide provided by India Gospel Mission. There are only 29, of widely different sizes (as are our states).

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    • Wonderful Lorraine! Karnataka was one of the places I visited! Crazy traffic and wonderful food 🙂 Praying your friendship is a real blessing!

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  28. Churches had been planted at each one of the Nepal’s 77 districts now. A couple years ago, pastor Reuben in Nepal learned about BSF and thought it would be excellent BSF is available to benefit their people at all of their Nepal’s 77 districts. He expressed interests to visit New Delhi BSF. Praying God for you to establish connections.

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    • Thank you for your prayers and one of BSF’s goals is that we are serving the churches in India and raising up leaders in their communities!

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      • are you only serving India? what about Nepal, the country north of India.
        All 77 districts in Nepal are now with christian and churches planted.

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  29. Nate,
    The realization of our conversations and your passion for the Gospel.

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    • Cheri! You are a wonderful sister in Christ and a living testament to His powerful Gospel! I miss our conversations! Give Dave my love and enjoy the grandbaby!

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  30. Nate,
    Just read about your Dad. I am so sorry, but he IS in Glory now. God love ya. Hi to Barb, the kids and Kona!

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    • Thank you Missy! We are doing well, including Kona 🙂

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  31. Thanks for sharing this amazing opportunity to see Christ followers in another culture. My granddaughter, husband & 4 boys live as missionaries in India (for the last 7 years). They are with a group called YWAM. They love the Indian people and are committed to stay indefinitely there. I pray for them everyday because I know persecution is becoming more common against Christians & Muslims. We all must keep these beautiful people in our prayers because many of them have difficult lives because of persecution. I hope to go to India myself to visit them. God bless

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    • Thank you Kris! I encourage you to visit them :-). God is at work in every culture!

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  32. It was so good to see Nate where his heart has always been; just took a bit if time for Jesus to work it all out for him. 🙂
    Keep the messages coming as we always love to know what is going on in places we can’t be.
    Love to all,
    Frank & Missy Coeur d’ Alene, ID

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    • Thanks Missy! Give my love to Frank as well, Barb and I miss you. Let Frank know that the cross he made is in my office! A great reminder of love!

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  33. It reminds me of Paul and his struggles to bring Christianity to the people of his land. So many believed in false god’s and it appears so in India.

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    • Our hearts our idol factories and we can all manufacture idols. Thanks Betty for the reminder that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to change and transform and sanctify our hearts to keep Him first in our lives!

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  34. Thank you for reminding me that God is at work everywhere around the world!! Praise the Lord!!

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    • Thanks Judy. I am encouraged by this too! He is faithful

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  35. Amen! I hope your family has been as “on board”
    as you are. It was a lot of changes for them as well.
    God bless and keep each of you!

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    • Thanks Cindy! They are and have been! Part of God’s leading and confirmation was through my wife and children! He provided the certainty and peace that passes understanding. Not that it hasn’t been challenging! But God is faithful and has grown my family through this transition as well. Thanks for caring. Blessings to you.

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