A Vacuum that Birthed a Church
Welcome to Church Talk. In todays Church Talk, we have Pastor Sapna Augustine from the River Church Delhi sharing how she encountered Jesus in her life and her journey on pastoring a church. Do listen to this amazing testimony.
Pastor Priji: Good morning in Jesus’ name. Welcome to Church Talk. This podcast is meant for pastors, worship leaders, lay-leaders, volunteers, for those who believe in the vision of the church. Today we have our very own Pastor Sapna from the River Church, Delhi.
Pastor Sapna: Thank you Dad for giving us this wonderful opportunity so that I can share what the Lord has done in my life. I’m glad to be a part of this. I greet everyone in the name of Jesus.
Pastor Priji: How long have you had this church?
Pastor Sapna: From May, 2018. It was not a church at that point of time. God has put certain things in my heart and I started seeking Him. At that time, I had a vacuum in me and I was desperate to seek the Lord. God gave me a verse that I will make a church over you. From that time God started sending people into my life. And that’s how the fellowship in 2018 has grown as a church.
Pastor Priji: So, it was not that you decided to go and start a church?
Pastor Sapna: No.
Pastor Priji: Wow! It was more organic in nature; where just like a child grows up to become an adult, your personal time with God led to fellowship and eventually became a church.
Pastor Sapna: Yes.
Pastor Priji: This is so amazing. Usually, we think that church has to be very strategically planned and prepared, although, strategy, planning, budgeting is important; but I love how God has organically brought this about. So, to begin with, I would like to know about your encounter with the Lord, how did you experience God’s love in your own personal life; I would like to know on how you decided on that it is not that I receive this love but also others to experience His love. How did that transition happen?
Pastor Sapna: I am from Hindu family. I want to say, ‘I was’, since I am a new creation in Christ now. For me going to church and reading word was more of how the world has stereotyped it. One day my sister asked me to come to church; it was a moment where I was continuously denying her not to go to church because of the cultural system and the stereotypes about the church. But One day I decided to go to church and at that time I was doing my 1st year MBA. I didn’t know Jesus at that time, I had some vacuum within me which was telling me that I was not complete. It was a vacuum that was tormenting me, I used to cry, my mother was trying to do a lot of things but nothing worked; I remember going to the terrace and looking at the sky I called out if some God is there, please come and save me. Things changed after that and God did hear me. In the month of June, I came to Delhi, and in the month of October God saved me. I remember going to the church and listening to this song, ‘He knows my name, He knows my thoughts, He sees each tear that falls and hear when I call’; At that time tear was rolling down my cheek and heard this one sentence, ‘I AM HE’, I wanted to know who is ‘HE’. From that time onward I started reading the bible, explore about God and in the month of October I came to know that through Jesus I can receive life, there is no other way. Jesus is the only way. The moment I accepted Jesus, there was no vacuum anymore, it was filled with His love.
Pastor Priji: Wow! So, I wanted to know that how did the transition happen once you were satisfied in your heart that now you wanted others to experience this?
Pastor Sapna: The only thing that pushes me to tell people about Jesus is the love of God. His love has healed me, his love has given me sense of acceptance, I am worthy, I am complete, I have been made in the image of God. Only I understood that Jesus is the only solution to the torment I was going through. Whenever I meet people who do not know Jesus, I tell them about Jesus that He is the only way.
Pastor Priji: So, Pastor Sapna when you started telling people about Jesus, it was more of an evangelist in you, how did that transition to becoming a pastor?
Pastor Sapna: So, the church where I began to experience Jesus, I was serving there for 8 years and I also became a director and had a lot of responsibility; all these responsibilities did not come from knowing God’s heart. The one statement that was coming in my heart was that I was forgetting my first love and God was convicting me; God was telling me to come back to the first love; come back to me. My heart began to seek His presence, to seek Him and know Him more. When I was seeking God’s heart, God started to reveal His heart to me. He spoke through this word, ‘I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry, all who dwell in deepest sin, whom shall I send? Here I am Lord! Is it I Lord? I will hold your people in my heart!’ The word holding His people in my heart was a burden that I don’t just have to tell them about God’s love but what kind of life does the Lord wants them to live. This is how the journey began.
Pastor Priji: Did you find yourself falling short of things that you needed to know as a pastor? How did you train and strengthened yourself?
Pastor Sapna: The most important thing is to be connected to the word of God. In 2018 when fellowship started growing, a fear came as to whether I know sufficient to teach people! I should also have a mentor or a teacher and I should also learn the word. I started reading from different authors, I started reading the scriptures. God is faithful and He knew that I needed someone who would guide me in the journey of life; that led me to bible college where I met my mentor Christine mam where I started to learn. As a believer we have to know the word of God. The enemy attacks when we lack knowledge. The bible says, “My people perish because of lack of knowledge.” I push myself to not be away from the presence of God and keep seeking Him. I wanted someone to father me and God connected me to you through Pastor Augustine.
Pastor Priji: Anytime we are in the fellowship with right people, we are being promoted in our spirit, in our abilities to host God, abilities to represent God, and ability to teach about God to people. I am amazed how the Lord has been using you from such a young age, you have been mentoring people and planted a church though you; even though you have reached so far you are still desiring for accountability, you are desiring to submit under a covenant leadership; now that is something that is missing in most of the churches. It is important that we seek help, accountability, a leader who can enforce that help. What are all the challenges that you faced? How did you depend on the Holy Spirit to help you build this church?
Pastor Sapna: I did not want the previous influence to affect what the Lord was doing in this church. One thing I have learned is that forcing someone to do something will not help, it will be more of a burden. If I want someone to speak about Christ it should not be that I asked someone, it should be their personal revelation. I want everything to be driven by the Spirit of God, to be controlled by the Spirit of God. Also, as a woman, I just didn’t have a heart only for woman but for everybody. I dint want being a woman to be a limitation. I said, “Lord I just want to be your instrument, how it will happen I don’t know. When I am standing here it should not be that I am a woman but a servant of God standing here.” I always push myself to be an example.
Pastor Priji: That’s amazing. What were some of the things that you experienced in that church because of which you were very convinced that this is not the model that I should use in this church?
Pastor Sapna: The only word that comes in my heart with respect to my previous church is ‘freedom’. God has given us freewill and we cannot take away anyone’s will. I do not want controlling others to be a part of this church. Freedom reflects that we are the people of God.
Pastor Priji: We can help people, but it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convince them. We cannot force anyone. What advice would you give to young church planters?
Pastor Sapna: One advice is not to start with ambition but start with the Spirit of God. When we seek the presence of God, seek Him in His word is when we are strengthened. We have to follow the heart of God. It’s not always that the Lord will lead you to big things, he might start with small things. I have this that God is not a God of mushrooms but He is a God of oak trees. Oak trees do not grow overnight, they take a lot of time. We should go through the process. Wait upon the Lord, seek Him and that is how we will have success in Him. God’s promises are like rain, they will come from heaven, drench the ground but will never return back. They will satisfy us.
Pastor Priji: Would you pray for our listeners?
Pastor Sapna: Father we are so grateful that you are the living God. Father, we bless the people who are listening. Today they might be in a difficult circumstance or maybe facing problems or discouraged. Lord, I pray that You would strengthen them and that they will seek your heart. Bless them Lord in every area of their life. Teach us, enlighten us. Amen.
Pastor Priji: Thank you Pastor Sapna. What are the ways to connect with you?
Pastor Sapna: We have offline service as well as zoom meetings. We have youtube channel and instagram page named River Church.
Pastor Priji: We are blessed to have you and see how God is using you and Pastor Augustine here in Delhi to build His kingdom.
Pastor Sapna: Thank you Dad. We are glad to host you here in River Church.
Pastor Priji: Friends if you are blessed share it with your friends and church who can be encouraged and receive inspiration on how to pioneer a ministry. We will see you next month on church talk podcast.
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