SAGE Sees Miracles en Route to India

March 21, 2017 | Heidi Baumgartner

Two weeks before the SAGE (Seniors in Action for God with Excellence) India trip, someone asked Bob Grady, SAGE president, how were things going. "Great," he replied. "Everything is well-oiled and ready to go."

And then he thought, "Things are just going too smoothly. By experience I know the devil hates mission trips."

Mission trips are a key time to see modern-day miracles, as 34 SAGE members from Washington, Oregon and Colorado recently experienced en route to India. This is SAGE’s 18th mission trip with Maranatha Volunteers International in 20 years.

Winter snowstorms in Portland and Seattle delayed travel by two days. SAGE seniors prayed their way through setbacks as travel agents in multiple airports made necessary adjustments.

With all the travel changes, their visa applications for India would expire a couple hours before they landed. “Everyone was praying earnestly,” Grady remembers.

The group waited for four days for their visas in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The travel agent, acting upon the group’s faith that the visas would arrive in four days, booked continuing flights to India.

“If the volunteers’ faith was rewarded, we would still have about four days, instead of eight days, to accomplish all our planned mission tasks,” Grady says.

While waiting in Abu Dhabi, SAGE volunteers traveled two hours by bus to Dubai to worship with a 500-member Adventist church where members come from 80 countries. En route, a smartphone notification announced their India visas had arrived. The waylaid volunteers rejoiced in the prospect of continuing their mission travels the next day.

But not all of the visas were included. Three were missing. With two frantic calls back to the United States, the three missing visas were emailed and printed out at the hotel with just enough time to spare.

SAGE volunteers flew into Delhi and awaited the final connecting arrangements to Shillong, India. Later they learned a Maranatha representative, with only 15 minutes to spare the previous Friday, had changed their tickets in good faith.

“With so little time left to work, our volunteers agreed to a 5:30 a.m. start time,” Grady explains. “The framing and roof of a One-Day Church were quickly assembled in one day, nine courses of brick were laid the next day, windows installed the third day, and bricks to the roof were finished the fourth day. Another team painted a neighboring church.”

The medical clinic team was equally busy treating 973 patients in four days and giving away nearly 300 pairs of eyeglasses. The Vacation Bible School team averaged 105 children each day and brought the children much delight. The paint team finished their task in just three days.

On Sabbath, the volunteers attend the freshly painted Mawphlanga Church. The church was dedicated to the memory of long-time SAGE member Marguerite Anderson by her three children: Karen, Tom and Dan.

“The devil threw everything at us he could to stop this valuable trip,” says Grady, “but we had a persistent group of prayer warriors on this trip and at home.”

To get to know some of the SAGE volunteers, watch a 30-minute behind-the-scenes Maranatha mission video story.

Heidi Baumgartner, with reporting by Bob Grady and Virginia Gonthier