Why Are You So Happy?
I met Daniel twenty years ago when he was living on the streets. At this time, leprosy was even more prevalent in India than it is now, and we were reaching out to people with leprosy by providing regular meals and medical care. Daniel started coming in to get food, and that’s how I got to know him. Of course, sharing the gospel was woven into everything that we were doing, and we regularly talked about the gospel message during the meals. Daniel heard the message, and the Lord captured his heart. From then on, we became close. Daniel never asked for anything. If I asked what he needed, he would say, “I don’t want anything. I am happy now because I have Jesus.” Even so, he was one of the first people for whom we built a home because he had been living on the streets.
Daniel and his wife set up house, and three times a day, they set aside time to pray together, sing, and worship the Lord. The homes in Indian villages are very close to one another, and they don’t typically have windows or doors that close tightly. Indoors and outdoors, private and public, blend together. Neighbors hear and see everything. Daniel’s neighbors were hearing and seeing. And pretty soon, they started asking questions.
“You have nothing in life,” they said. “You are a leper. Why are you so happy?”
Of course, Daniel was thrilled to have an opportunity to answer that question, and as he answered, he led several people to the Lord. None of these new believers were lepers. None of his neighbors were. Purposely, we’d built Daniel’s home, not isolated in a leper colony, but in the middle of “everyone else.” And people were intrigued.
The next time Daniel came to get a meal, he said, “Pastor, thank you for building this home for me. Several people have come to the Lord!” This was wonderful news! “Praise the Lord!” I said. We prayed together, and he left. At the next meal, Daniel said, “Pastor, thank you for building a home for me. But now I have a problem.” My heart sank. What could have happened in such a short time? Daniel continued, “Now there are sixty people gathering in my home to learn about Jesus, and we have run out of room.” Then, for the first time, Daniel asked for something. “I hate to ask you,” he ventured, “I don’t like to ask,” he went on, “but would you build a church building for us?” Once he had gotten that first request out of the way, another quickly followed. “I’m sharing everything I know about the Bible. I’m telling them anything I’ve learned from you, but we would like someone to come and teach us more.”
The house of Daniel the leper was filled beyond capacity by neighbors who had heard and seen Jesus in his life. Daniel and his wife were praying for the people who came in needier and broken on the inside than Daniel the leper was on the outside. They prayed for healing, and people were healed—inside and out. And yes, Daniel got his church building. As a matter of fact, an American church got to participate in this work of God. They had provided the funds for Daniel’s house, and when asked, they eagerly gave again in order to build a Life Center and to bring an indigenous pastor into Daniel’s village. Daniel got his wish: he was being taught and discipled, and he was able to teach and disciple too.
Today, Daniel himself has planted over fifteen churches. The people from that church have planted three or four more churches in neighboring villages. God took what Daniel had—a small home and a huge heart, brimming with gratitude for Jesus—and used them powerfully.
He had nothing to give people but when He shared Jesus with them, he gave them everything.
By doing this one simple thing he loved BIG.
Let’s ask God to give us eyes to see where he is working and in whom he is working, and how to love them to Jesus.
This excerpt is taken from Unleashed, the newest book by Samuel Stephens.
To read more stories like Daniel’s as well as stories of God’s Spirit moving in India, get a copy of Unleashed at IGLWorld.org/Unleashed