Retreat. To some it may sound like we are running away from something.
This year we had our JSK staff retreat right where we always are - in the training room of the Jeevan Sahara Kendra Community Care Centre. The place where we meet every morning for prayer before the teams go out to see people in their homes, the place where we train local church members and interns, the room where each month our positive friends come for a support group meeting.
We held the retreat here because we now have a 24 hour care centre going. We are looking after 3 very sick patients through this whole time. We do not want our nurses and doctor to miss out on this time - and so we had our speaker Sam Thomas come all the way from Dehra Dun to minister to us - while we remained here.
By God's grace Amy and Kerstin - visiting American nurses - helped cover some of the shifts which allowed our on-duty nurses to attend.
We also had 3 mini-outings. On Friday into the edge of the Borivali National Park. On Saturday over to our place for pizza and a movie night. And on Sunday afternoon we went as a team to the Tikujiniwadi Amusement Park for lots of waterslide action (thanks to the generosity of some close friends of ours).
The retreat, however, was more than just fun. There was deep stuff to walk through. We delved into the whole idea of 'living out your dream' using a man who had done so 5000 years ago. Walking through the life of Joseph, son of Jacob took us through a remarkable set of experiences. Sam Thomas helped us examine our own dreams - and realise that the great things in life - the things that really matter are not just a product of our own - but are actually stirred by the Spirit of God himself!
We then looked at the challenges of dealing with challenges - the very hard times that we go through - and what we do with it. For Joseph it was all about being faithful - and the lessons he learned stood him in amazing stead. Over and over again the words 'the Lord was with him' ring out. Would that this would be true for each one of us.
Prosperity? Great responsibilities? Its all part of God's plan, part of the dream - but it is not for ourselves. Joseph's rise to be the prince of Egypt was not to get himself a mansion on the Nile (though I am sure that came with the pay-package too). Rather it was all about the saving of many lives - and bringing healing and forgiveness into a very, very fractured family. Would that this would be true for us too!
And along the way we see a man of integrity. One who ran - presumedly unclothed - away from a situation that most men would willingly fall into. His integrity was intact - though he had to suffer more humiliation in the process. Being faithful in these areas - God gives him greater and greater responsibilities - which he fulfills - and for a long time too. His 80 years after being made Prime Minister of Egypt at 30 have no hint of scandal, no stain of self-aggrandisement, no abuse of power that so clogs our leaders of this era (and most eras before and after Joseph for that matter).
And what a man of forgiveness. Instead of nursing his hurts, tending his bitterness, and then extracting the most painful revenge that he could (and to whom all power was given at that point), Joseph takes a totally different route. He loves his brothers. Forgives them. Saves them. Comforts them. Brings them to a new place of safety. Heals them. If a man who was almost murdered and sold into slavery - despite his pleas for mercy - can do that, then surely you and I - with God's help - can forgive too? We don't need to hold on to the bitterness inside. Jesus has shown us that as He was being nailed into a twisted piece of wood. Choosing to love instead of take revenge, Jesus prays 'Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."
There were of course many, many other insights that we were blessed with and are still mulling over - but just to finish off ... Sam urged us to finish well! We are great at starting things off with a bang - but do we finish them? Joseph did. And so can we. We have been placed where we are to make an impact - and to prepare ourselves for the next bit. Both in the here-and-now and in the world-to-come.
Lots and lots of good things. We are blessed. A treat. A veritable feast of treats. Such was our re-treat.