Oct 20, 2010

The Healing Power of Listening

This message is an e-mail that I received from a new Facebook friend, Ravi Kapoor. I was so touched by this display of love, I asked if I might post it here and Ravi agreed. I hope you are blessed by what you read. Ravi's Facebook page can be found here.

One day I received a call from a woman who said her younger son is under deep depression and he has locked himself in a room and is not letting anyone in. I could feel the anxiety in her voice. This woman had got my phone number from a dear friend of mine who had shared about me and my ministry with her. The family desperately needed help and prayer. They wanted me to come in and do something about his son’s situation.

I said, sure I will be there soon. On reaching their house, I sensed the commotion. The parents told me that their son might get angry if he came to know they had called me to help him out. They were not believers. I asked them what their son was good at or was fond of. They told me that he was very good with the computer.

With much prayer, I knocked at his door and kept knocking and calling out his name. After persistent knocking and calling, the door finally creaked open. The young man, Rahul, looked at me warily. I told him that I was working for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and was very interested in learning about computers. He looked at me, rather strangely. I told him that I had heard he was quite gifted in computers and I needed his help. At first he said, I am not free. I told him that I could come another day but then I really needed his help. I reminded him that to get someone as good as he was quite difficult and therefore my urgency. I explained to him that I have been trying to meet him despite his parents telling me that it was not possible to see him. As soon as he heard me say this, he felt needed and asked me to come another day. I came away praising the Lord!

I know I had to tell a lie to meet with this young man. I had to know first what his interests were and then attempt at encouraging him by appreciating his gifts. There was no other way that I could connect with him. He would definitely not been open to counseling or prayer. So how does one get through?

I met him the next day and saw the amazing work he had done on his computer. I appreciated him very much and he loved it. I saw that he needed appreciation since he felt so rejected. I asked him to teach me and he began to teach me. I really had no interest in computers and was finding it difficult to understand since my mind was not on computers. However, I continued to visit him and learn from him. I just wanted to build friendship with him and wanted somehow to get the message across to him that that I cared about him. During those few days of my visit I never once told him about God and His love or my testimony or anything related to Bible. I just spent time with him. I let him get acquainted with me. I just spoke words of encouragement to him.

I was simply trying to get to know Rahul.

After a few days, in the middle of our conversation, I looked at him and said that he looked very lonely. Hearing me say that brought blobs of tears from his eyes. He was so moved that he asked, “how could you see it?” “Yes, I am very lonely and I have no friend” he explained. I asked if I could be his friend. He wept and said, “yes you can be my friend”

I could see the hand of the Lord. The Lord had worked in his heart and prepared his heart to open and share his loneliness and pain with me. He told me how he had gone through rejection. He went on to share about his deepest hurts and wounds. When he finished speaking I sat in silence, knowing I had no great words to offer. After sharing about his pain, he became quiet. We both sat in silence for few minutes. Then, Rahul began to cry. I sat with him, keeping company in his tears, and still said nothing. After few minutes passed, Rahul said, "I have kept all my pain and hurt deep inside my heart and this is the first time I've cried along with someone. I could never be myself with anyone" And with tears he said, ““You've helped me so much. You touched me so much. Thank you, thank you."

The silence had changed something for him. In my ministry I make it a point to listen to people. There are times I say nothing but inwardly I will be praying for the person. I simply listen to what they have to say and let the Lord speak to them.

I love the words of the author Bonnie Grove, “There are astounding lessons to be learned from the act of listening. I have learned that listening is an act of love. It is not passive; it is intentional, engaging with the heart and mind of another person. To listen you must turn off all outside distractions; say "no" to the world rushing by you. A sacred act of deliberate silence and meaningful pause, listening helps people clear a space in their life, heart, and mind in order to simply "be." Our listening is an important gift. I am learning to make it my first response. Through listening I want to provide the stillness God speaks into.”

The words of Henri Nouwen come as another reminder, “True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully and even dare to be silent with you.”

That's the ministry the Lord has trained me for. To be a listener. Henri Nouwen said, “The Spirit of Jesus in us listens in us to all who come to us with their sufferings and pains.”

A New Friendship
I saw true healing occur when I attentively listened to Rahul and sat in silence with him. I was fully present with him. All I say to a friend in deep pain is, “I AM HERE WITH YOU, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I UNDERSTAND YOU AND YOUR DEEP HURT AND PAIN. I AM HERE PRAYING FOR YOU.”

There began a friendship with him. Rahul was so touched by my love and care for him. I had yet to tell him that this is the love of Christ that accepts, understands, listens, heals and satisfies. I checked what food Rahul is fond of and I used to call him out for lunch and make him happy by whatever he enjoyed. Rahul would call me and ask if he could meet me. Even though I would be far in some area busily ministering to someone, he would insist, “I will come wherever you are. Distance does not matter. I want to see you.” And he would travel far to see me and just BE WITH ME. He was a person who had isolated himself, not seeing anyone but now He began to look forward to seeing me and spending time with me.

In the beginning this young man was not willing to open the door and talk to me and now he loves to spend time with me. How did this happen. It’s HIS LOVE that can penetrate any and every heart. He has the key to all hearts and we need to be available for Him to work through us. Love is very powerful and it will melt every heart." We are to BE His love, GIVE His love, LIVE His love..." like Kathy Troccoli says.

There are many times when we fail to love, when we fail to care about the ones God brings on our way. We tend to be super spiritual, ready to give our advice, impatient, ready to judge and not be people who would listen to the ones who are deeply hurt and wounded. They just want us to be with them. Listening to them. That's what I do and love to do. I hardly speak to the ones in deep pain...I have no explanations.

Henri Nouwen said, “True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully and even dare to be silent with you.”

In one of their books, authors Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli say, 'If the church were a heart, its current failure to love is like a massive heart attack. We, as arteries, get clogged with judgment, hate, pride and gossip. How can His lifeblood flow through us toward each other, let alone into a world so desperate for the love of Christ?'

The Night of Depression
I remember, one night at 2 AM, Rahul was undergoing deep depression and I got a call from him and he said “I am much depressed and I can’t take it anymore so I have decided to die. I feel very lonely. No one loves me. I am good for nothing. I don’t want to live anymore. I thought I would speak to you before dying and now I can die.”

I told him, Rahul, the Lord Jesus loves you. You are precious in His sight. He has carved you in the palm of his hands. He replied, “I am tired and I don't want to live.” I could sense he was at the end of his rope. I tried all I could to encourage him. I told him how deeply I loved him and how dear he is to my heart and asked him not to take this decision of committing suicide. He refused to listen. I kept praying asking God to give me words as I spoke to him and God to touch his heart in a way He alone can. After a long conversation, I saw he was not willing to listen. I told him that he can go ahead with his plan and I will not stop him but I asked if he loves me and he said, “I do”, “You know brother I do love you. You mean so much to me and that’s why I am calling you. I asked him if he could do me a favor before dying. He said, I will.

I told him that I wanted to meet him only once and after I do then he can go ahead with his plan of dying. He said, 'ok'. I told him I would be visiting his house in the early hours of morning and spend just few moments with him, after which he can go ahead. He said,'ok'

Saved From Suicide
I thanked the Lord for this and prayed with much burden and tears for Rahul the rest of the night. Early morning I went to see him and he cried and cried on seeing me. I allowed those tears to flow. I too cried with him. I said nothing. I was just with him and the Spirit of God touched him and brought healing and deliverance. The Lord rescued him from the spirit of death. I asked him what had happened to him at night and why he was talking like that. He shared that he was so down and felt so helpless and hopeless. One thing that he spoke touched me. He said, “you told me brother that you are there for me and you always understand how I feel and to share my heart with you. You will always accept me as I am so I thought before dying, let me call you and share my heart and tell my brother how hopeless I feel and then I will die.”

I was happy and I told him that he can be honest with me and share whatever he felt. I encouraged him, “I will understand and will be there for you. To accept, care, encourage and lift you.”

People are hurting and they have no one to open up and share their hurt. No one they can trust with what they feel and our struggling with. And Satan takes advantage and traps such hurting and depressed people and they lose control and give in to Satan's plans.

We as believers in Christ should be there for others and speak words of encouragement to them in their hour of need.

I believe when we show purity of love, it is hard to resist. I just wanted Rahul to sense and know I cared for him. I was just by his side. And I think my presence with him brought healing and gave him comfort. The Lord touched him and made all things new.

I read these words somewhere, “Sometimes we give our thoughts on salvation and that's good cause we want the person to know about the Savior who alone can make all the difference. But if we don't care about the person’s state of mind and heart and be wise as to what to speak and allow the Lord to work.”

I have seen in my experience with many people that we will get a lot of respect when we really show we care and we really listen. The more we love our brother, the more we will show His mercy.

I loved Rahul and my love for him made me to speak to him for a long time over the phone at midnight. I forgot my sleep. I prayed the rest of the night for him, knowing when I see him in the morning; the Lord would have worked in his heart. We are to have His love and be His love. It’s easy to speak few words of encouragement and then pray over him on the phone and go to sleep, knowing one has done what was required. But it is difficult to be His love cause to be His love; one gets involved, burdened and doesn’t think of sleep, one's comfort but the other person in pain. I wanted to reflect the heart of Jesus to Rahul.

One is so filled with His love to not let the person go without making a difference. If I had just spoken a few words and prayed for him over the phone and then slept off, I believe the next morning I would have got the news that Rahul committed suicide. Love sacrifices and if we have His love, we will sacrifice our comfort and make a difference. God has brought Rahul on my way and if I am not able to help him out, there is surely something wrong with me.

God brings people on my way and I just love on them. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” John 15:12. I pray that we may live lives full of the love of Jesus.

I love the words of Kathy Troccoli when she says, “We must not settle. We have access to His power. We can continually drink from the river of His love. Why don't we take advantage of this? He will take us to higher and greater places if we would trust Him to do so and make ourselves available to Him.'

Praise God, I could share with Rahul about the One, who loved him so much that He gave Himself for him on the Cross. Rahul accepted the Lord Jesus as his savior and today Rahul is a new creation in Christ Jesus, old things are passed away. Behold all things are new. I led him to a church, where he faithfully fellowships and God has blessed him with a good job and he is happy and joyful in Him.