As the Gospel team portrayed the desperately lost condition of the rest of the country—500,000 villages without a Gospel witness—I felt a strange sorrow for the lost. That day I vowed to help bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those strange and mysterious states to the North. At the challenge to “forsake all and follow Christ,” I somewhat rashly took the leap, agreeing to join the student group for a short summer crusade in unreached parts of North India.
My decision to go into the ministry largely resulted from my mother’s faithful prayers. Although I still had not received what I later understood to be my real call from the Lord, my mother encouraged me to follow my heart in the matter. When I announced my decision, she wordlessly handed over 25 rupees—enough for my train ticket. I set off to apply to the mission’s headquarters in Trivandrum.
There I got my first rebuff. Because I was underage, the mission’s directors at first refused to let me join the teams going north. But I was permitted to attend the annual training conference to be held in Bangalore, Karnataka. At the conference I first heard missionary statesman George Verwer, who challenged me as never before to commit myself to a life of breathtaking, radical discipleship. I was impressed with how Verwer put the will of God for the lost world before career, family and self.
Alone that night in my bed, I argued with both God and my own conscience. By two o’clock in the morning, my pillow wet with sweat and tears, I shook with fear. What if God asked me to preach in the streets? How would I ever be able to stand up in public and speak? What if I were stoned and beaten?
I knew myself only too well. I could hardly bear to look a friend in the eye during a conversation, let alone speak publicly to hostile crowds on behalf of God. As I spoke the words, I realized that I was behaving as Moses did when he was called.