Lesson 4: God Uses Even Our Worst

(This post was written in conjunction with an Encouragement for Today devotion that was posted that day, so you may like to read it as an extra resource. Click on the devotion title to read it.)

During our P31 International Initiative team’s trip to India, our hosts, Mission India, took us to visit many of their life-transforming literacy classes. We got to see lives changing right before our eyes as men and women learned to read and write, but the day we visited Raju’s community was the highlight of my time.

Let’s let the pictures tell the story.

It was a hot, Indian spring day.

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Our team left the city and drove to the rag-picker village where Raju and his community live, sifting through a nearby dump for recyclable materials to sell for about $1 a day.

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Our gracious host and leader of the community, Raju, invited us into his home which is also the church and school for a group of about 20 families.

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As I described in today’s devotion, Raju led us in prayer and worship, and I experienced God’s powerful presence as I have never experienced it before.

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Seeing how God’s Spirit is alive and active in Raju’s life has taught me a critical lesson. Even when we don’t have much, our desperation for God is enough.

The man Raju is today is a Spirit-filled, inspirational leader. It’s hard to imagine him being any different, but just like us, Raju has a past. Before he knew Jesus, he was passionate but angry. Hungry for justice but belligerent. Ready to fight for what was right… with his fists.

After Raju came to know Jesus, he started to live out the truth that has captured my heart. God is using the very flawed characteristics of the old Raju to gain true justice in the new Raju.

That passion for justice and what’s right that used to get Raju in trouble? Now it’s fueled him to get a well for his community…

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And food ration cards…

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And land rights…

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The good news is that we don’t have to despair over our flaws IF we’re submitting them to God to redeem them. They may be the very parts of our personalities that He wants to use. He can take what seems to be our worst traits and turn them around for good.

Our Flaws + God’s Redemption = Our Usable Strengths

Reforming perfectionists, have you felt crushed by your natural wiring and hopeless that things can change? Submit those traits to God. Let Him turn them into the beautiful center-pieces of your soul. Your work ethic, the desire to do well, and your craving for love may have worked against you in the past, but God can use those very things for His glory. Change is possible.

Our surrender is all that’s required to experience God’s power.

Question for you: What personality trait that has been negative would you like to see God redeem? OR How have you already seen God do this work in your life?

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To watch a powerful video of our hero Raju telling his story, click here or watch below.

Make sure to visit Mission India’s website by clicking on the last slide of the video or by clicking here for more compelling stories of God’s power and to learn about getting involved in the amazing work of Mission India.

 

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This Week’s Assignments/Activities for the Online Book Study Group:

  • Read the Chapters 2 & 3
  • Do as many of the extra activities for these chapters as will benefit you–Transformation Points (at the end of each chapter) & Going Deeper (at the end of the book). Both are in the Participant’s Guide.
  • Choose and complete at least one action step this week from 50 Ways to Leave Your Perfect which starts on p. 197. You can create your own activities too. 🙂

 

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Comments

  1. The story about Raju opens up our eyes to see how God uses the most unlikely of circumstances for His glory. He moves our spirit even when we don’t understand the prayer. Praise the Lord for not even the barrier of language and circumstances keep us from experience His presence.

  2. Inspirational! Love in action from a true leader in touch with his God. Thank you for sharing this brief story of Ragu’s life.
    Can I share it on my FB Timeline?

  3. I would like to, like Raju, to have my righteous anger for justice and whatever is right to be channelled in a positive and productive way and be a blessing to others, helping them grow and thrive. I have a serious anger issue that I need Jesus to change me from for something good and for me to cultivate patience, tolerance and wisdom to be more effective and bless and love others than react negatively and speak degradingly, hurting them. A spiritual healing of the mind and tongue is much needed. Please pray. This is one of the warfare I face daily and need to be delivered from.

  4. Amy, I am speechless and in tears. The story and life of Raju is convicting and beautiful wrapped up together. Thank you for sharing His story. The passion of Raju, his love for our Savior and his community is a huge example of God’s goodness and faithfulness. This community doesn’t have much, but they are richer than anyone I know. The richness of Christ.

    I look forward to start the Uninvited BS with my small group in September.

    Thank you Proverbs 31 for you passions for others and spreading His love.

  5. I would like God to take my jealousy and insecurity and use it for good. How, I don’t know. I’m hoping to see His answer in my life.

  6. So so couragi g, How God uses the ‘least of these ‘ in the worlds eyes to accomplish and grow His Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven. Very humbling and inspiring

  7. Wow, what a powerful message. I pray God will give me the courage that Raju has. I’ve always beat myself up about my flaws but it would be amazing if God can actually use things I dislike about myself in a way that glorifies Him.

  8. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It is always humbling when God shows up and refocuses our attention back to Him -Love this.

  9. Thank you for sharing India with us! As the mother of 5 boys, it is not my season to work in the mission field. Hearing about your experience inspires me to work harder at home to share the gospel (even if it looks a little different).

  10. Thank you for being a servant of God and sharing this story. I’m so inspired to hear and see what our God is doing and how He is using Raju in mighty and powerful ways !!!! Praise God!!!!

  11. Thank you for sharing this amazing testimony! I have been blessed to work in India three times over the last five years on short term mission teams. The faith of the Christians there convicts and humbles me. Thank you for reminding all of us here in America how we should be living out our faith. God bless Raju and his ministry.

  12. Thank you for the reminder that I’m invited and set-apart! Your messages of breaking up with perfect and remembering God’s plan are just what I need. Thank you for listening to Gods will and pulling us all with you on your God adventure!

  13. I couldn’t get the video to play! I’ll try later. What one personality trait do I want God to change? Can I really only pick one???. The part where I expect everyone to criticize and tell me I’m not as good as or good enough. I live in the defense zone! It’s not pretty and I’ve lost so many friends that way. Help Lord!

  14. What an amazing story! If God can use someone in that circumstance makes me believe that he can certainly use me. Thank you.

  15. This is an amazing story! Thank you for sharing it. I feel the Spirit moving and wonder where He will take me and my family in mission work. I pray God will continue to pour His blessings upon you and all of the Proverbs 31 team as you impact this broken world we live in.

  16. We visited Africa a few years ago, including some of the islands on Lake Victoria. it is difficult to take in the cultural changes. What to us appears to be poverty, children with runny noses, dirty, torn clothes, without shoes running in animal droppings, men mending fishing nets. No schools, no medical facilities, no hope.
    Due to circumstances, we had no one to talk to afterward, no way to make the transition from a squat toilet (at Nairobi airport) to the family festivities waiting for us immediately on arrival. In fact, we still have not had that opportunity.
    Your blog helped us see. Thank you for this.

  17. Thank you for sharing about your experience in India. Your testimony of God’s power there challenges my thinking. I often think ” If I only had more resources, we could do so much more for the Lord.” “If I didn’t have to put so much effort into employment to just get the mortgage paid each month, I could be so much h more available for God’s work.” Raju blows that thinking completely out of the water. Wow! And his house, with those old broken chairs! I think we Americanize our Christianity and begin to measure with materialistic eyes rather than spiritual eyes. What we often think qualifies us for ministry is not necessarily what God thinks. Our thoughts are not His thoughts….. Thanks ks so much for this powerful reminder.

  18. To put yourself in these people’s shoes and see how they live their life and worship and learn, is a very humbling experience! They have so much less resources than we do, but use what they have to honor God! The transformation of in their faith must have been very scary, but they have Jesus in their hearts, and KNOW without a doubt that God is the ONE AND ONLY GOD. Thank you for sharing this with us. I can’t imagine the intense heat of 111 degrees!
    God is awesome! He transformed Raju because Raju surrendered his all to Him. I am so emotionally moved by your experience in India.

  19. I was really touched today by reading about your trip and meeting Raju. What an inspiring story! Alos, the part where you talked about how God can change us really spoke to me today too. Thank you for sharing & may God bless you!

  20. I just came across your blog and todays post. As one who just returned from Ethiopia and going through a similar experience there.. so hard to express all that we saw, felt and experienced but you worded it so nicely. Simple things, that is all we need, and our heart is all that Christ needs from us.

  21. this is a beautiful story of one man who listened to God through his grief and anger and heard the voice of love , peace and grace. how beautiful to see how God transformed Raji and the affects of his transformation brought the love of Jesus to a community.

  22. I needed to hear that God can redeem my flaws and imperfections for His good. The story of Raju is very inspiring to see that God can do great things with anyone who is willing and able to offer what they have.

  23. I personally feel hyper critical . I feel like I have an unrealistic idea of what reality should look like.
    As in how my step- kids should behave in public, what they should eat, etc
    They have no rules or boundaries at home, so when they come to visit….. I can’t seem to just go with the flow.

    I don’t want them perfect, just to comb hair, put on clean, modest, semi matching, both shoes, wash your face kind of idea ( they are 10 and 13)

    I don’t even expect them to do it completely on their own, but when I say…brush your teeth, put on this outfit, grab your shoes… I expect it to work.

    My husband doesn’t care what they look like when we leave, if they are in the car… He’s good to go.

  24. I came over from Proverbs 31 this morning to see your video. Thank you for sharing! What a wonderful example & encouragement for all of us!!

  25. My first tim reading your blog & an absolutely life-changing post! What an amazing story…I am always focused on my limitations and rarely consider all the ways I can serve God just as I am. Such truth..thank you Amy.

  26. A personality trait that is negative that I would like Jesus to redeem is that I tend to worry too much even when things arent important. I need to give it to Him & trust Him & give whatever is bothering me to him. The story about Raju was very powerful. It was nice how God changed his life & everyone around him. God please h

  27. “…making something marvelous out of modest means.”

    I heard this beautiful string of words the other night while watching the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. They have stayed with me ever since. I see them amplified in the Bible…I see them revealed in Raju. They tug at my heart and stir my will. May God give us all the courage to go out into the world and walk in love as Christ loved us. And, by his grace and for his glory, may we make something marvelous out of modest means.

  28. Amy so precious and transforming. Thank you for sharing! I love your transparency. Prayers for Raju, his family and his community. God bless!

  29. What an inspiring story! I am encouraged to see how one man has made such a difference for so many people because of his love for Christ.

  30. I am a reforming perfectionist. Thank you for reminding me that my natural wiring can be a gift in God’s hands. Currently God is using my organizational skills to help me form a women’s ministry at our church. I am coordinating our very first event to be held on Sept. 17. I am watching God use the talents of our very small church (50 people) to do a great thing! God is so good!

  31. Question “what trait”: My resistance to surrender. He gently led me to understand that sometimes all I have is a resistance to surrender so to just surrender ”my resistance to surrender.” And then watch Him do what only He can do.

  32. A beautiful reminder that we need to take our eyes off ourselves and our inadequacies and start looking at those around us to see their needs.

    God give me the heart of a servant and the revelation that with You, one person can make a difference in the lives of many!

  33. I loved to hear stories of every day people with a heart filled with love for God making a difference in the lives of those around them. So many people think that to be a missionary, you have to leave your home and travel far away, but as Raju demonstrates and Anne Downs will tell you, you just need to be brave and listen to God’s urgings.

  34. What a wonderful reminder of how God can transform us for His glory. Raju was uninvited, but he allowed God to transform his life and through that transformation God is using Raju to transform others lives and invite them to God’s open table.

  35. Love the story of Raju. Makes me see how blinded we can be because of all the “stuff” we have in our comfortable lives. God help take the blinders off so we can “see” You & “experience” You as Raju has. Bless this man & his ministry.

  36. Wow Gid bless Raju and all who he attends and ministers to! What a very inspiring story of how Gid takes the poor and needy and lifts them up to do mighty things! This is so wonderful to see and to know about.

  37. Wow, what a beautiful story. God is so good and we are so blessed in our country. My heart goes out to the people in India. I don’t want to ever take anything for granted…

  38. What a beautiful wake up call in Raju’s story. Its so easy in many ways to lose sight of that perspective.
    I have often been called too nice or too sensitive. In my world sensory data about the people around me at times can just flood my senses and my heart. I have been told I am weak and too easily distracted. I had often thought I was just crazy for all the emotion that would well up inside of me. Its not as tangible a gift as intelligence. God has taught me how to use this gift and it blesses me so. I can show compassion to a perfect stranger in a grocery store or just sit with a friend for as long as it takes. I can do this because it God who is flowing through me to this person. My job is to not get wrapped up in the emotion of it but be still enough to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit.

  39. Thank you. So convicting of the shallowness in our culture that is so easy to fall into…
    Blessings to you.

  40. With each testimony, each blog post, each picture shared Mission India is slowly trickling into our hearts! I am excited to see this mission unfold and witness what God is going to do! Praying for “off-the-chart” sells of Uninvited to support Mission India! Bless you, Amy!

  41. Wow! The story of Raju shows how God can use the weak to display His glory. The only requirement is that our hearts be fully surrendered to His will. It is through such a vessel that God can display His power and wisdom. I am inspired by this story and the people who have been positively impacted by one man’s commitment to share the love of Christ. This book will bring many people the same desire to be light for our dark world.

  42. Such a powerful story of God’s grace and a great reminder that He can transform our flaws for His glory!

  43. Thank you Amy for sharing the story of Raju. I was numb scrolling through the pics and reading the story. The picture of Raju praising God is priceless. The world we live in today needs more people like him. I have been going through a personal trial in my life for the last 6 years which has no comparison to what Raju’s family and friends are experiencing. However, during this “waiting period” in my life, I made a commitment to myself to pray “more for others” and less for myself. I will add Raju, his family and community to my list. I couldn’t get the video to play however, I will try again later. Thank you again. ~Lisa~

  44. I’m invited.
    I am so looking forward to reading this book.
    God has brought many people into my life these last five months, to speak life into me. To let me know, I am loved. I am His!
    My parents divorced when I was 4. I left home when I was 14. I have struggled with feeling loved and not feeling beautiful.
    I am married now for the 2nd time. First marriage was abusive. My husband now is a good man. Good to me. We have one son. I have the life I always wanted, and still have struggled with these feelings because of my past. (There is more to my story….including running away; molestation and rape.) But, the other day I was sitting in our back yard, watching the sunset and talking to God. The sunset was spectacular. I told God his creation was so beautiful. And I felt Him tell me, YOU ARE MY CREATION. I sat there sobbing.
    I am learning, day by day, just how much God loves me. How much he loves each one of us!
    Thank You for what you ladies do. You speak from your hearts and speak directly to mine, and I’m sure so many others.

  45. Thank you, Amy, for sharing the beautiful and powerful story of God being on the move in India. He’s on the move in many places around the world and it always touches me to see evidence of His work. God bless Raju, his community, P31, and you!

  46. What a powerful devotional! Just what I needed to read. Thank you for sharing & letting God use you. I’m invited 🙂

  47. I’m invited! what an inspirational story! Thank you for sharing and reminding me that anyone can open their heart to others

  48. An inspirational story. Thank you for sharing Raju with us! I look forward to more!
    I purchased Uninvited last night at the live webcast, but I will give the prize copy to my sister.

  49. Wow! Praise God! Thank you for sharing this amazing testimony of God’s love and graciousness shown in Raju’s life. I kept wondering as I watched the video, did Raju get back to his family – mother, siblings? It is hard to imagine such a thing in a person’s life. May God continue to bless Raju and his little community, as well as you, Carroll. Praise God, I’m Invited!

  50. Amazing what people accomplish even with so few resources! Thankful for them and the missions they serve!

  51. Sometimes I think God can’t use me because of my anger issues. I love this story. I want to be redeemed. I am invited.

  52. Thank you, Amy! What a great reminder of how God can use our brokenness as a voice, if only we allow God to do His work in and through us! Oh, I am so invited!

  53. Love the truth that God takes our weakness and adds HIS redemption to create a strength. How perfect to share Raju’s story to illustrate that in 3D!!

    • Thanks, Jennifer! I’m glad I got to live one of life’s most memorable meetings– our time with Raju– with you.

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