Part 1

India Corner photoIf without a vision people perish, Prov. 29:18, then with a vision—God’s people flourish. I have been asked on more than one occasion to unpack my trip to India, and with my school year at an end, I am going to do just that—share my takeaways and major bread crumbs for others to partake. It was a trip of a lifetime and much more profound than the gathering of souvenirs and the posting of great Facebook photos.

I John 3:8b says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Other translations say “revealed,” the fact that Jesus was revealed for a purpose. While I was in India, God “revealed” me, my purpose, which has always been to glorify the Son of God; but now, I knew the vision He’d given me in January meant He was sending me to the nations. So, let me back up a little bit and explain.

Around the Summer of 2015, I got invited to do a women’s conference in the month of April in Mumbai, India for 2016. I’d only been overseas to Israel at that point, so the idea sounded intriguing and new. I hesitated, however, because it was during a month of major testing in my field of education. I knew I couldn’t take off during testing, but I would check the dates and go from there. I ended up finding out that the TEA (Texas Education Agency) had moved the testing dates to the month of May—a major bread crumb. That Fall, I asked for 7 days off from work (2 of which were docked), and my webmaster helped me by preparing a fundraising campaign. This was all done by December of 2015.

I am a dreamer of dreams (Deut. 13:1), and in January of this year, I had a dream and a vision about India. What’s interesting is that I normally remember my dreams, but on this Sunday morning, I didn’t. I still don’t know what I dreamt about India to this day—but I also had a vision on that same Sunday morning that is indelibly stamped in my being. I started having more open visions in 2014, and the month of January’s vision was the 2nd biggest bread crumb towards my trip to India.

In the vision, a large projection map appeared before me. Countries began to be highlighted from the Eastern hemisphere to the Western hemisphere, twice. Then, all of a sudden, a country in Asia was zoomed in on. It was India, and I thought, “God! Is that India? India looks a lot like Texas! It looks like Texas!” I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know what India looked like, but when the vision ended, I got my smart phone and googled “India” … and there it was. The country I wanted to go to on my 1st missionary journey just 3 months away.

This entire time, I was working with a team leader, the person who’d invited me to go. We were told how much money to raise, when to apply for our Visas, and what immunization shots to get. In the doctor’s office, I chirped on and on about my trip, although, in the pit of my stomach, I had doubt. I didn’t go around voicing it, and my weekly prayer partner and I started praying months before about the potential of it all. The fundraising campaign was slow. Donations trickled in here and there, and I’d heard horror stories about how prominent preachers had their Visas denied, including one minister whose trip I donated to. I was even told that sometimes people with brown skin had their Visas granted. I do not know if this is true. This was all new to me.

One morning in March, I told my husband that I was going to the altar after the service to pray about the trip. I’d prayed during my devotional time, I’d prayed with him, and I’d prayed with my prayer partner. On this Saturday, though, I was going to the altar at church to pray the prayer of agreement with some faithful volunteer. For some reason, I was excited about it, and I didn’t know why. So, when we got to church, I listened to the sermon but I couldn’t tell you what my pastor preached on. All I know is that during the invitation for prayer, I stood up and I saw a woman who’d prayed with me before. I didn’t know her name. I just remembered her faith, so when the usher pointed me in a certain direction—I whispered to him that I’d already had someone singled out.

As I stood before her, I told her all that was on my heart: The fact that I was going to India in April, but I was discouraged because the money was coming in very slowly, I hadn’t applied for my Visa yet and I felt doubtful regarding it. I admitted I felt out of sorts about the whole thing because I didn’t quite believe things were going to work out. She looked at me, smiled, and said, “I am very encouraged that you have come to me today. I, too, am going to India in April, but my Visa has been denied. I fly out tomorrow to go to the consulate in Houston to ask for it to be reversed. We can pray for each other.” And we did, with girlish humility and faith, marveling at the goodness of God to connect us that Saturday evening. This was the biggest bread crumb of them all. Even bigger than my Visa being granted (which I’ll get to), was this non-coincidence, divine appointment, with an altar prayer volunteer who also needed encouragement. (I have looked for her for several Saturdays since I returned from my trip. I haven’t found her yet, but I will.)

On my Spring Break from school, I set out to apply for my Visa since the trip was only a month away. I usually do not have a lot of patience when it comes to paperwork, and this time was no different, although, this time—it was worse. I had been informed by the team leader that India had a new form called an eTV (Electronic Tourist Visa) which streamlined the process for short-term trips for tourists and visitors. I had looked at flights to Mumbai, and I knew the time was short, so once I was informed about the eTV, I set out to apply. FOUR HOURS LATER after contacting friends, posting a question on Facebook, and even calling CVS photo department, I was still trying to upload my passport photo to the online application. I could NOT get it to post, and it was early evening. I wanted to give up. Here I was supposed to be this Woman of Faith & Power for the Hour, and I couldn’t get my passport photo uploaded. Four hours felt like 24 hours, and I needed a nap. I sighed, gave myself several pep talks, kept trying, and eventually, I figured it out.

I got it uploaded and it didn’t take my entire Spring Break. I was elated, tired, and proud that I’d kept going. This was on a Tuesday night, and with India 13 hours ahead of me in time, I hit “Submit.” I sent in my Visa application fee, the completed application, and the laboriously successfully uploaded passport photo. I slept well that night, but I woke up even better. I received an email that morning that my Visa was granted. I was going to India! I was going to INDIA!

Carmen Aiken-Isaac

Stay-tuned for My Trip to India—Part II