A Tabernacle of Trash

A Tabernacle of Trash

August 8, 2016

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NIV)


Looking around, I can scarcely take in a home so different from my own. I am at Raju’s house, a man who has spent his whole life as a rag-picker in India. Along with the rest of the community he leads, he spends his days sifting through a local dump, looking for materials to retrieve and recycle.

His house is a hodgepodge of things he’s salvaged. The walls are draped in plastic, old blankets and sheets. Metal bicycle rims, tires and rusty car parts secure the tarp roof of his large tent home. Thin blankets on the floor are seats for children and adults who come to meet with me and the rest of our Proverbs 31 International Initiatives team. We are given plastic chairs of hospitality and honor.

Raju circulates in the midst of the gathered crowd, smiling and greeting his guests. There are families that he not only loves, but that he pastors and teaches in the church and literacy class that meet in his home.

When everyone is gathered, Raju stands and greets us through an interpreter before he prays. He bows his head and starts a stream of words I can’t understand. Later, we learn he prayed a blessing over us. All I know is I am suddenly overcome.

Unbidden, tears stream down my face, and I steal myself against the sobs threatening to wrack my body. Through the sweep of emotion, I ask myself, What’s going on here? I can’t even understand what he’s saying. Why do I feel such awe and broken-heartedness?

The weight of God’s Spirit fills the room. I can hardly explain it. It’s the most powerful, tangible presence of God I’ve ever encountered. As Raju prays, it’s truly as if God is sitting in the room with us.

Suddenly, a tent made of trash became a tabernacle for the very presence of God.

It’s been months since I sat in Raju’s house in the cloud of God’s power, but I’ve been reflecting on it ever since. Raju isn’t a man our world would consider wise. He barely has a fifth-grade education gained through one year of attendance in literacy classes, yet he has partnered with Mission India to teach others to read.

He isn’t physically strong, yet this man leads his community with a fierceness and joy that none can deny.

He might not be a man of material wealth, but as a pastor, he daily leads his congregation to the greatest riches of the King of Kings.

He’s found the secret to joining Jesus in life-changing, Kingdom-growing work: God wants you to give Him your all, but all that’s essential is your heart.

So often, I mistakenly think the essentials to having a life that counts is more Bible knowledge, more financial resources or more influence. But both Scripture and Raju’s life tell me differently. Our key Scripture tells us that God doesn’t just tolerate the foolish, weak and lowly. He chooses them. To make a difference, I don’t need more. I need a willingness to give more.

Though the world may tell us we’re unworthy or unqualified, or that our very lives consist of “trash,” God can take a heart like Raju’s — or yours and mine — and change the world around us. All that’s required is our surrender and His power.

Lord, I surrender my whole self to You for Your work. I know what I’m offering is completely insufficient, so I trust and find joy in Your sufficiency. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

James 3:13, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (NIV)

Click here to purchase Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. All sales from the purchase of Uninvited will be used to help various Christian non-profit organizations. One of the ministries we are so honored to help is Mission India, an organization that’s reaching women labeled as “Untouchables” and teaching them to read, using the Bible in their language.

Visit Amy Carroll’s blog today to see a video of our hero Raju, learn more about the work of Mission India and enter to win a copy of Uninvited.

What have you felt is a limitation to you serving God?

How does Raju’s story and today’s Scripture change the way you think about that limitation?

© 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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  1. Hello Amy,

    I have to tell you while I was reading this I felt the Holy Spirit come over me. Your experience amazes me and inspires me to continue scripture engagement and fellowship with other Christians.

    Thank you so much for sharing this story,

    • Thanks for sharing, Lillian! This story is such a great reminder of the path we are to walk on. I truly need to be more ‘intentional’ of the time I need to spend with God as well as other. I feel like I’m comfortable at times and with that I hace left the circle of going to church or stopped going to bible study. Please pray for me! Thanks.

  2. Leslie Yazzie says:

    I have been in this relationship with my husband for 31 years and I have made my husband a limitation because of his actions and behavior. I need to surrender completely. After 31 years of infidelity and unfaithfulness I am still hoping that one day my husband will surrender to the Lord. I want to do the will of the Lord as a wife, mother and most of all servant. It’s been hard and God has shown me so many things that I need to apply in my life. Please pray for me.

    • Leslie, I’m covering you in prayer right now. I pray in the name of Jesus that he would transform you and your husbands life. I pray that he would bring healing, redemption, reconciliation, joy, gladness, hope, and peace. I pray that you would be encouraged and that the Holy Spirit would be with you always. In Jesus Name Amen

    • Lord God, grant Leslie the wisdom and strength to live within the boundaries you draw instead of the boundaries she imagines. Tune her heart to hear your whispers of encouragement instead of the enemy’s limiting lies. Give her eyes to see your opportunities instead of her husband’s failures. Take Leslie’s sweet spirit and wrap it in the power of your Word and the comfort of your love. Amen.

    • Praying for you Leslie. A Christian counselor gave me a book “The Power of a Praying Wife”, which includes prayers and scripture for most emotions, sins & situations a husband can go thru. The power of prayer has helped us thru some very difficult days. God bless you.

      • “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian is a wonderful guide in learning how to be a prayer warrior your spouse. I wish every woman would have one. Our prayers for our husbands are so very important and knowing how to pray in different areas is key. I will be praying for you, Leslie.

    • Sweet Holy Spirit come wash over and refresh L., let her mount up on wings of eagles and run on into her destiny. Deliver and sanctify her of the wickedness and divisive spirit working in her marriage in Jesus Name, I command it to leave right now and for freedom and peace to be loosed. Cover her and carry her Holy Father. Your hands are stronger than the enemy’s grip today and forever! These things I speak out and decree in the name of Jesus! Amen

    • Amy Carroll says:

      I’ve prayed for you, Leslie. My heart stands with yours for surrender and freedom.

    • Oh, Leslie, my heart goes out to you. Sending prayers!

  3. Oh Amy, I read this with tears in my eyes. I know I have missed the boat many times, when I have looked at the ‘outward appearance’ of someone or something…and failed to see how God is using them or it for the Glory of His Kingdom.
    This was beautiful…

    • Diana Yarde says:

      Oh Susan like you I felt a bit emotional as well and realized even more that God uses simple people and places not of interest to get the Word across to this dying world. God allowed Raju to look pass the condition of his home and reach the hearts of ppl.
      I thank you Lord for warm hearts that receive and ask that you all pray for me and my church family as we prepare for for missionary. We should be going out in the field soon

    • Amy Carroll says:

      I felt the same as you, Susan! We live awash in Americanized Christianity where we view MORE as more blessing from God. Seeing God’s blessing in the midst of what we would consider LESS realigned my heart with His truth.

  4. Proof once again that His ways are knot our ways.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I truly was touched by this video and knowing the background of this ministry has made me eager to find out more. Do you have the need for short term missions trips by those who could volunteer to help in India? I’d be very interested in knowing this.

    Thank you so much!


  6. Beautiful devotion. My limitation is myself, my thoughts, my lack of self-worth. Praying over this. Blessings.

  7. Deena Maga says:

    Thank, you Amy this just makes me feels so good to know that I am loved and valued by the father much thanks I needed to hear this today, thank you!!!. :).

  8. Beautiful story. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this!

  9. I just watched your video of your trip! I can’t find the words to describe what my heart is feeling. It was BEAUTIFUL. It made me cry, not for Raju so much as for those of us that are so caught up in “gaining”. Serving,loving, living for the Lord is really all that makes sense. Surrender what a beautiful word that offers so much ” gain”.

  10. Barbara Kennedy says:

    I could accomplish more in doing God’s work if I was not afraid of “much is required” I have got to let the fear go and pick up boldness for Jesus’s Word.

    Raju is an example of what a true vessel for God should be. Less is more in the eyes of God. Raju will be blessed and I am sure God is truly preparing a mansion for him in Heaven.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Yes! Won’t it be amazing to stand around Jesus’ throne with our brothers and sisters of every nation, tribe and tongue. Better than the Olympic procession of nations! 🙂

  11. It is very humbling to watch and listen to a man’s passion to tell others about Jesus living under the conditions of Raju.. Turning our eyes to Jesus changes everything. Lord help me to keep this humble servant in mind as I live everyday. In Jesus’ name amen.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      So true, Yvonne. My first impulse was to want to air-lift all those people out of their difficult circumstances, but God has a better plan. If Raju wan’t there, what would become of His community? Jesus is bringing justice and a better life to them right where they are (with the help of Mission India) so that they can share Him with the people around them. I’m so inspired to follow Raju’s example!

  12. Thank you for sharing this story. It is truly beautiful and awe inspiring. I was completely moved and felt God working in Raju Joseph. Thank you God for showing me this story today.

  13. janny holder says:

    In many circumstances we are led by people who has less then we do in every aspect of their lives. But God uses the most unprepared souls to tech the word or make a difference in the world. I don’t judge but I do like to know people stories and how the lord did marvelous works in their lives. I rather have nothing but be filled with the holy spirit and knowledge of the word of god.

  14. I am one that likes to hang out and learn from those that have less, far less than myself. I am learning about a country in africa right now and the government. I am learning what they have done by destroying the boutique she so tirelessly built up. I am learning that her husband and children are in hiding, all living separately while she is in the US seeking asylum. God’s presence is so heavy when she prays for our meals together. God, will continue to open up my eyes, ears, and heart to those around me that I may learn more of You through them.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Dot, thank you for sharing. You’ve learned the truth that I’m learning. Often God’s people with less material things are much richer in spiritual things. We have so much to learn from them, and it’s both humbling and convicting.

  15. Beautiful! I loved your message today.

  16. Yes, I just returned from a mission trip and again was blessed beyond belief. I know deep down less is more when it comes to stuff. Then why isn’t my Jesus walk stronger. They in other countries celebrate and Praise Jesus even when they have next to no physical belongings. This is a phrase from my first mission trip in2008 ” Have little praise much, have much praise less”. Our gotta have country needs to learn from them.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Definitely. So many times our “stuff” makes us less dependent on God. That’s poverty not riches.

  17. Thank you for this. I’ve been praying over James 3 for the past few days, asking God for wisdom and guidance concerning a big career decision. I want to be sure that any advancements I make are for His glory and not through my own selfish ambitions. Do I want to pursue these next steps for myself? Is my will in line with His?

  18. This reminded me of the dear people in Jamaica. I have been on several missions trips there with TEAMS for Medical Missions. These dear people have next to nothing but where they lack in material things, it is made up in their love for the Lord. Sunday mornings, in their little churches, the roof raises as they sing to Jesus!

    I ask pray today for TEAMS for Medical Missions today. This is their first trip back down after our dear brothers in the Lord, Harold Nicholas and Randy Henrzel were murdered there. They served the Jamaican people faithfully. The Jamican people are suffering from their lose and the embarrassment of what was done to these two missionaries. Many of these Jamican people need Christ. The clinics that TEAMS offers, also exposes them to Christ’s love. Please pray today, as the clinics open, that Christ is evident and shown to these hurting Jamican people. They are our sisters and brothers in the Lord!

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Oh, Karenz… I’m so sorry for your loss and the loss of the community from the tragic death of these two men. Praying for TEAMS now. Praying that the death of these two martyrs will be redeemed by an exponential spreading of the gospel.

  19. This story touched my heart. I have found that no matter what I’m going through in life, no matter how terrible or desolate or difficult it seems, there is always, always someone who has it far worse than me. I need to be thankful for the struggles that have shaped me and continue to shape me into the person that God wants me to be. I am currently going through the most difficult season of life yet, and when I start to slip into the dark places, it is because I have removed my eyes from God. I need to continue to look up to him, not down on my troubles!

  20. Thank you for blessing my day with this devotional! I love this.

  21. Kitty Coombs says:

    That was sooooo good. Thank you Amy?

  22. Beautiful story of God’s handiwork.

  23. Amy, I was truly touched by your story of Raju. I am doing the Breaking Up With Perfect study with you and I am enjoying it and learning so much. Thank you for all that you are dedicated to doing for Christ. Barbara

  24. I got ready-eyed reading this. Wow! If I just used the resources and talents God has given me, what impact could I make for the Kingdom? This devotional has been a blessing this morning!

  25. I was so I inspired by this story. So often we can’t see past the world we expect to see. How many blessings have we missed by closing our minds to the journey the Lord has orchestrated for us. This Pastor is truly a rich man!

  26. This devotion really spoke to me. I am humbled and inspired by these words. So often I wish I were “smarter” so I could do more for more God’s kingdom. Thank you for reminding me of what is true.

  27. Dasha smith says:

    Raju’s story was very encouraging proving that God can use are brokenness to reach others and he really inspired me through what he went through try a man after God’s own heart

  28. Amy, you are such a blessing to me! Thank you for being so open with your thoughts and for letting God use you to share His love!I am currently reading your book Breaking Up with Perfect and it is a great help to me! Thanks for sharing your heart with us!

  29. I admire Raju because he placed his limitations at God’s feet, which enabled others to be blessed. He could have figured his home was not the best or his lack of education would present itself, but instead he trusted God with his whole heart. This is devotion is a prime example of how we as servants of the Lord are mandated to serve HIM. 🙂

  30. Thank you, Amy! Yes! Starting with myself, my family, my church family and in my day-to-day interactions with others. . . to be more and more like Jesus each day and to reflect His Light! Each one person is important to our Shepherd Lord Jesus!

  31. Awesome word! Thank you, God bless you!

  32. It’s wonderful to know that god always uses a surrendered heart.

  33. Thank you Amy for an amazing humbling story of this precious man and his heart’s desire to worship God. This was a true inspiration for me . ~Lisa~

  34. Wow. Thank you for sharing Amy. I realize living in America I have all this stuff that gets in the way of my focus on Christ and His loves.

  35. Amy, “Thank You” for this inspiring and very meaningful post. “Thank You” for sharing your emotions and feelings. I would so love to read the book, “Unlimited”. So grateful to have read your post.

  36. This devotional was one of the most inspiring I’ve ever read, thank you for sharing this!

  37. A surrendered life releases the power of the resurrected Lord as seen in Raju, rag picker. What a testimony and so inspirational. God is at work. Thanks for sharing.

  38. Considering I am from India (but live in the U.S.), this story was especially meaningful as I have seen homes like this first hand. Definitely inspiring! Love this line especially – “To make a difference, I don’t need more. I need a willingness to give more.”

  39. God have mercy on me. Forgive my pride and selfishness

  40. Wow, Amy! Your description of the Presence of God in the tabernacle of trash is so vivid. I know what you mean as I had a similar experience in Nicaragua. Knowing only a tiny bit of Spanish did not keep God from communicating to me what the people were saying. Their worship, their praise, their prayers were vividly clear, although not in words to my ears. The words were in my spirit! One of the men in our group who had not had a full encounter with the Lord was so overcome he wept openly in the midst of the service. That continued for hours after we left church. God knows no boundaries of nationality or language. His Holy Spirit communicates regardless of who or where we are!

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