This post is by a former Institute student who is now ministering in his home country!
I have been asked to do a very difficult thing – to write about how the Institute has impacted my life and ministry. The impact of the Institute is so huge that it is difficult to keep it short!
The very first thing that happened to me was quite humbling. In India, the teacher is usually older than the pupils, and here I was a 33-year-old guy (in Jan 2005), seated before a young leader (Keith) who was almost six years younger than me! – something I was not used to. I realized there was something God was purposefully teaching me: humility.
In other words, God was confronting my ‘WORLDVIEW’, which happened to be the very first lesson at the Institute. Banaange (the Luganda for ‘my friend’), worldview got me right there where I had been sincerely wrong. Many of my beliefs and values that were not Biblical stood exposed to me. It was a matter of huge concern to realize how I had, for the most part, failed to understand the big picture of God’s plan of Salvation that had to do with the Whole of Life – my family, my education, my job, my finances, my ministry and everything else that was a part of my life. Getting to realize that the ‘Ultimate Purpose of My Life’ was the GLORY of GOD was a huge, huge worldview shift. And, what made the whole point come alive to me was how the GLORY of the FATHER was JESUS’ ultimate purpose of every aspect of HIS Life, even the Cross! It was an overwhelming experience to realize this, which slowly, began to sink down into my life.
However, these were only the beginning of a series of eye-openers. Getting to see the depths of the glorious truth that the GOD whom I had been worshipping for all these years as simply God is also my Eternal FATHER was a great thing! Learning that I actually am a son, adopted into HIS Family, was incredible. As a result, a number of things happened: with my own Orphan Heart coupled with many of its signs and symptoms being exposed, my relationship with God began to be transformed, and my relationship with my biological parents began to change. It was no longer difficult to treat them with honour, despite every seemingly genuine, negative reason against it. I can’t forget the day when, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I felt compelled to talk with my parents over phone, from a long distance, in order to ask for forgiveness from them for every wrong thing I had committed in the past, whether they remembered those or not. And, till today, hearing such a thing from me, I remember my father say, ‘This surely is the work of the Spirit.’ So, I give credit to the Holy Spirit to Whom it belongs. So the FATHERHOOD of GOD and our Adoption as sons and daughters has been an integral part of our sharing wherever we go. And here, I would like to say that there have been some encouraging testimonies which we have heard over the years. GLORY to GOD!
Now, there were a few other significantly important teachings that radically changed not only my worldview, but also the course of my life. One among those was the teachings on Manhood-Womanhood differences. It truly enabled me to understand God’s Creation better. Otherwise, being a man belonging to a male-dominated society, I could easily live my life looking down upon my wife and every other woman, and treating them as second-rated humans, only to end up despising God’s Own image.
Now, what the teachings on Manhood-Womanhood began to do in my life, the teachings on Marriage and Family took that beyond I could have imagined. Oh, my! I was literally blown away by the teachings on this crucial subject. And, honestly speaking, I have no words which can fully express what a blessing the teachings on Marriage, Family & Parenting have been to my wife and me. True, this has enabled us not only to understand and face marital life challenges that are part and parcel of marital life but also to grow in our love and appreciation for each other. However, to be more specific on how as a husband I have been impacted greatly, I can personally say that it doesn’t take me longer than a few minutes to get reconciled to my wife; I am also able to help her with household chores or even serve her in times of sickness without feeling irritated inside; I could go on and on. What is important in relation to this is not what great character I have developed, but, what the Word of God has accomplished in and through me. But, this is just one side of the coin.
With my wife and I both having come from greatly disturbed family background, this teaching has become the driving force behind our service to our homeland. We see that there truly is hope for the many whose families have suffered severe breakdown on account of lack of knowledge of the Truth, which is found in God’s Word that has a lot to speak about marriage, family and parenting. Therefore, with conviction that God’s Word is powerful and life-transforming, we have been sharing the blissful Good News of Marriage and Family and Parenting. And, Glory to God! We have had encouraging reports from every program we had opportunity to conduct.
Even as we share with others the Good News, I just mentioned, we are very much grateful for some other crucial truths of God that have helped us as a source of great strength and encouragement. One of those, obviously is ‘Suffering of Humanity and God’s Sovereignty.’ I fall short of words to express how greatly this great truth has built us into who we are today. It has not only helped us in different situations as a family, but also enabled us to encourage the body of the Christ in trying times.
Finally, I was deeply touched by what the Word of God says about caring for the Orphans and the Widows. Having been a part of a children’s ministry for a couple of years, all I thought was it was a good thing, or at best a Godly thing to care for the needy as such. But, now I realized it was more than just Godly; I could now feel how the Heavenly Father’s heart ceaselessly beat for them. Yes, the Word of God in our hands had always been replete with scriptures that spoke about it; only that I had never been aware of it. However, as they say, it’s better late than never, I am grateful that my view of the whole thing has radically shifted – from a more general, humanitarian perspective to a specific, divine Gospel-perspective. Therefore, now it has become an inseparable part of our vision to help the body of Christ realize her divine mandate to care for the needy, the poor, the orphans and the widows.
I have many other things to say, but, to keep it from becoming lengthier, I just want to say that had it not been for the Institute, I would have been deprived of such amazing truth, which I consider the essence of Christian faith. Therefore, I am truly and sincerely grateful for the wonderful opportunity of going through I4GT, where I was mentored and groomed for serving in the kingdom. I am very much thankful to all my teachers for their valuable guidance, inputs and encouragement. We pray for divine blessings on each of you even as you continue to build up many like me for the kingdom of God.
Glory to God!
Praise God with us for this example of transformation!