A Purpose Greater Than Myself
By John Ridgway, first printed in “Compass” Autumn 2003
God’s purposes and plans are brilliant, extensive, unique, lavish and exceedingly glorious beyond our comprehension.
As a young teenager growing up in Sydney, my parents brought me up in the ways of God and we attended church every Sunday. At that time I heard Billy Graham preaching and his central verse was John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son . . .
For the first time I sensed God’s great passion for the world.
My home church emphasised world missions, and the ministry of God’s work in India was highlighted.
At 21 years of age, I was undertaking graduate studies at UNSW. There, Jack Griffin helped me gain assurance of my salvation. The “whoever” of John 3:16 was now definitely me. Jack shared with me that God not only wanted me to know Him but also to make Him known. Jesus said, “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .” I was amazed that God would want to use me in His purposes for the world.
Then, for the first time in my life, I won the lottery! My birthday was selected for National Service and I was trained as an infantry officer for combat in Vietnam. However, God had other plans and I was transferred to Army Headquarters in Canberra, and later to Papua New Guinea and to Thailand (for diplomatic service). This exposed me to different cultures.
In 1972, I worked with Waldron Scott, the former Pacific Area Navigators Director, on a Global Strategy for the Navigators in Colorado Springs. When I walked into Scotty’s office the four walls were covered with a giant world map which stretched from the floor to the ceiling. It was immediately obvious that this man was caught up in God’s purposes and passion for the world.
Scotty asked me where I wanted to be involved in God’s purposes. My response: India. Scotty enthused me with a passion for the world and later Warren Myers enthused me to pray for the world which we did using the Operation World book.
In 1973, I gave a visiting lecture at the India Institute of Science (India’s premier graduate Institute) in Bangalore. I returned to live there in 1976, sponsored by both the Australian and Indian Governments.
Being frequently in and out of Singapore, I met Ruth Hartman at the Navigators South East Asia Office. She had wanted to serve the Lord overseas and was very committed to the world. She also had a desire to serve with the Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission in Pune, India. We were very much attracted to each other.
In January 1983 we were married at Christ Church, St. Ives by Rev. Dudley Foord. Dudley had been a great inspiration to me in terms of WORLD VISION and I had the privilege of being part of his staff team from 1974-1976 and then commissioned by the church in May 1976 to go to India. At our wedding, Dudley preached Isaiah 61:10-11 and clothed our marriage in the context of “all nations.”
On returning to India, our daughter Ranjini Ramabai was born in March 1984 and named after the famous Pandita Ramabai Saraswati who touched the Hindu community of India with the Good News. Our son Raja Sundar was born in May 1985 and named after the famous Sadhu Sundar Singh who also touched many thousands of Hindus with the Good News. These heroes had a passion for the lost world.
In 1994 we were asked to be involved with the Frontiers of Asia. Our family eventually relocated to Malaysia, where we are now. During these eight years, our understanding of God’s purposes has developed as we have related to the major religious mainstreams of the world in Asia.
God wants all of us to be involved in His great purposes. We need to be praying for relatives, friends and neighbours and also for those Asians who are studying in Australia, but have tremendous potential to impact another whole community in their own country. We need to think and act and pray in the light of God’s wonderful purposes for the world.
Many people see their “parish” as their world, but John Wesley said, “Let the world be your parish.”
The Message expresses Ephesians 3:7-9 this way:
“This is my life work: helping people (the world) understand and respond to this Message… When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way (the bulk of the world), I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians.”
(Parentheses added by author)
This is also my lifetime desire and I trust it is yours too!