I arrived in Ongole July 4th, 2013 to start my 5 month volunteer trip at ICM. I didn’t know what to expect as I depart from Oklahoma. I was ready, open, and willing to accept whatever was given to me. I am a graduate from a technology school with skills in all types of media. I was given the task of updating and gathering content for icmin.org and update social media. The website was recently updated and needed content added to it. It took me weeks to finally understand all of ICM’s numerous departments and to meet the staff. I started to add content to the website using WordPress, which I had only played with before I came to India. I was unexperienced to say the least. But I was willing! After much frustration, tinkering and prayer, I was able to do what needed to be done. I was able to use my own photography on the site and some graphic design work. I am praying for the next person that takes my place; that they will far exceed my work. It was hard being this far from home, working every day, and being challenged to accomplish tasks I had no idea how to do. I failed in a lot of ways in helping ICM, but I grew in so many ways by being here. But all I can do is take what I learned and move forward with what God is leading me to.
I met so many great volunteers through ICM. People I will never forget and hope to see in the near future. It is awesome that this far from home I can meet people like these, and I am so thankful for it. The people who live are fantastic as well! So many friendly faces, kids waving and the occasional scream of “America” as go by. It was a blessing to meet all of them.
My prayers are with ICM and the family that is the staff. They have taught me so much and have been so warm and welcoming.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 10:31
This September I came to India Christian Ministries through one of its branch organizations Sarah’s Covenant Homes. Being apart of SCH has allowed me to put my skills to use to advance the organizations ability to grow virtually. Recently I have graduated with a degree in photography and media studies. After finishing this degree my goal was to be able to advance Non-profits and NGO’s in their ability to have a stronger virtual presence. Allowing them to gain more growth and funding by connecting with people all over the world.
Right now my main goal for SCH is a bigger audience. Allowing people around the world to see the heart of the organization and what it is doing here in India. At the moment I am working on promotional material for SCH to allow the virtual community the ability to be see /connected with the needs of the organization. This will allow for better communication on what the true needs are of the organization and what people can do to help. By building SCH’s social media it will allow for the people here to continue to have a presence online and build relationships with people all over the world. Being a part of this growth is what I have always dreamed by degree would allow me to do.
Over the last 5 weeks I have been here with Kingdom Journeys to serve ICM with their vision and strategy. The team and I are supporting one another in our projects while focusing on a primary deliverable for ICM based of our professional experience and skill-sets. My project has been to research and design a program for a new ICM operations center in Hyderabad. Our goal with this project is to assess the land and design ICM’s headquarters as the centralized location to run all of their operations, host volunteers, and serve as a collaborative space for ICM staff. My background is in Industrial Design and over the last few years I’ve worked for Adidas, New Balance, and Reebok (most recently) designing athletic shoes. Much of the design approach we use to design the form and function of a shoe can be carried into the humanistic approach architects use to define how we interact with space and light. I’ve done my best to discover ICM’s needs and fabricate this data into a design that fills the need of its staff and organizations growth.
Working with James and his management team is a blessing. They work around the clock to build God’s Kingdom. And the reason they have had such great success is a result of their hard work and late nights serving their staff and the needs of their organization. It’s amazing to see how God has blessed James with the capacity to run an organization that with mutliple growing programs and still allow him to maintain relationships with his volunteer staff and community – truly, James is an apostolic leader and the heart of this organization.
The future of ICM looks bright and – I hope – even brighter as more talented missionaries come to serve India, one of the most unreached and neediest countries in the world.
I was a consultant and graphic designer for ICM’s visual communication strategy and “brand” platform. My job was to assess their current situation with communication, graphics, and marketing material and see where I could fill needs within the short time I was here. I’ve completed my assessment and now II can pass along any insights generated to future volunteers and visual communications staff changes to me made and updates to these areas. I also had the privilege of visiting local villages and the children’s homes, which is always a huge blessing and refreshing encouragement as a believer. Having other young volunteers around and being able to interact with them, get meals with them and hang out was definitely a huge plus. This part of India is definitely not the easiest place to live, but having peers around me has made it definitely a more pleasant and comfortable experience.
ICM is on the verge of even more expansion, through God’s help. It’s inspiring to see how many children and villages they have impacted and how it’s still all held together on common values and high standards. I personally did not get the chance to really interact with many of ICM staff but everyone has been super accommodating, clearing out desks to make space for me in the office, serving our team tea, and James especially, has gone out of his way to make it the best experience and work environment possible for us. ICM’s going to grow big and be a huge driver for good transformation for India. I see them being more involved with even community development and hosting hundreds and hundreds of volunteers.
India is definitely a unique place. The food is intense but delicious. The people are very communal and the kids are very cheerful, always greeting us in the streets. This part of India is particularly difficult for me to adjust to, because of the humid climate and dust. Seeing the faith of the people at the churches we visited was incredibly inspiring. They came up to us, with full faith that God could heal them through just our touch and prayers.
I have recently visited India Christian Ministries and volunteered with them and Sarah’s Covenant Homes. My favorite memories from my time here in India would be the preschooler and how loving and caring they are. One of the preschoolers, Max, fell asleep in my lap and that was so precious. Another great memory was of the SCH Girls. They were bundles of energy, they were crazy, and each had a totally different personality! It was such a new experience. One night we visited a village to stay the night and worship with them. It was great meeting those people and seeing their hospitality.Seeing these children with disabilities had made me seen them as still being perfect. I do not see anything wrong with them because they are kids who are genuine and they love their life. They are beautiful in my eyes and I will never see them any different than that. They are so sweet and kind and have stolen my heart! Given the opportunity I would love to comeback and even bring my mom who works with special needs children, I think she would love it!
– Lauren Bedola
Being here working with India Christian Ministries and the work they do with special needs children has made me fall in love with Christ even more! I see Christ’s character all throughout these people and the love they have for others and serve them. Even in the towns and villages that have been reached with the Gospel, it is so easy to see Christ through those people. Some of my favorite memories from this trip would be working with the school girls and coloring with them. So much fun! It awesome to see how smart and humble they are and how they love each other. Being in the villages has really shown me true hospitality. People that I met would in these villages would open up a Coke and hand it to me, it was so nice. That is not something that is seen very often.
When I first came here I had little idea how large ICM was and their vision. I came to realize how large the dream of James is how well it is being accomplished. His vision for building schools and reaching villages throughout Andhra Pradesh is great. I would definitely come back to help out more with this vision. It has been a great experience.
– ICM Team
My name is Mike Glenn and I would love to share with you my recent scouting/mission trip to India. I went to breakfast at Panera a few months ago with my friend Dr. Scott Lee (M.D.) where he revealed to me he was considering a career transition to full time missions. India is what he said, and I got really excited because India consumed my thoughts the previous 6 months and I thought this might be a God thing. Scott, knew the nations were my passion and wanted to get some feedback, prayer, encouragement and strategy from me, so we decided to just go to India together and continued to meet at Panera almost every Saturday planning it out.I am a former National Missionary turned businessman and vacationary (part time missionary). With a population of 1.3 Billion people, India is the most unreached country in the world, there were a lot of ministries to choose from. I was drawn to one in particular though because of their holistic approach to humanity after looking at their website, called India Christian Ministries (ICM). Independently and for different reasons, Dr. Lee came to the same conclusion to visit ICM because he was drawn by their love and commitment to rescue, abandoned special needs children. We took this “coincidence” as a sign and confirmation.
ICM is located in the State of Andhra Pradesh, one of 28 states in India. The founders James and Sarah Rebbavarupu arranged to pick us up and greeted us with sincere hospitality. They were genuine, authentic, and transparent and welcomed us into their lives and home. We had dinner with them and visited James’ parents as well. It took me about five minutes to realize that I wasn’t visiting a ministry, but participating in a move of God. James and Sarah weren’t the kind of people to emphasize titles, but they were operating as Apostles.
As impressive as that is, what struck me is how they accomplished it by meeting both spiritual and humanitarian needs.They had big numbers but emphasized the value and identity in the individual. They developed villages and communities regardless of faith with sanitation, water filtration, medical and dental clinics. They committed themselves to the discipling of tribal and at risk children and care of abandoned children with special needs. They emphasized and trained worshipers resulting in new songs being produced and recorded on CD’s in their own studio.
The most impacting experience for me was visiting Sarah’s Covenant Home (SCH) who emphasized the value and identity of the abandoned special needs children having physical and mental handicaps. I spent several hours holding and loving them while talking with the volunteers and staff about their experience and hearing their hearts. The tangible presence of God was undeniable in that room and Dr. Lee and I both commented on it. Each child was cared for in such a way that security and joy was the common manifestation.
James and Sarah and all their 100 plus staff live by faith. They don’t go on speaking tours to raise money, God sends people to them and every month the needs are met even though they have commitments for less than half of what they need for budget. The multiple teams ( mostly young people) that come to ICM to serve, receive the blessing of seeing true apostolic ministry in effect and are mentored in their own calls as well. I was super impressed at the administrative detail and high tech of the staff office and the quality and training of those who followed up on every detail. The financial integrity is manifest in complete computer access to all funds donated and the fact that James and Sarah live in a modest rented apartment, choosing rather to use funds for ministry.
As in every move of God, the highest emphasis is placed on worship and making the written word, the living word, resulting in transformation. It is no different at ICM. They have developed the covenant school of worship and covenant school of apostolic ministry as part of the curriculum for every new National Missionary. I toured the impressive newly constructed church and regional conference center surrounded by plots of land that are in the beginning phases of construction for medical clinics, housing, bible college, visiting minister lodging and store fronts for micro-enterprise.
I left in a state of pleasant shock, full of hope and faith and a determination to be a part of what God is doing in India. I was really honored that James invited me back to teach for National Missionaries conferences and in the meantime my wife and I are going to sponsor some of the special needs children through our own non-profit ( dandelionwishes.org) and be a part of saving their lives. I don’t believe it was a coincidence either that my friend Dr. Lee was there to minister in his field of expertise and see the beginning stages of a hospital that he can be a part of in the future. I know he will be back too. You can be a part of it too.
The most memorable night of this trip was when we stayed the night at a church in a village. It was a really hot night and being in the church was even worse than being outside so we decided to sleep on the roof to try and stay a bit cooler. Well that went downhill fast because right after we moved up there it started to rain and we had to go back inside. We all slept in a tiny room with a single fan that was nowhere near me. I didn’t get any sleep that night and on top of that had to wake up early to help with church. It was a frustrating but rewarding night none the less. The church service was great because it was beautiful to see all the different cultures and languages come together to worship the one true God.
Coming here I had never worked with special needs children so that was different. It was challenging but rewarding to learn from those kids. They show Gods love and his relationship with us because of how they do not care who we are or anything; they just want our love and affection. After these experiences I would come back again for a short term to help with James and Sarah’s ever expanding vision. It will be hard to leave the kids but I will take so much away from them.
– Savannah Coop
Murali lives at Victory home where we’ve been serving for the month of April. He is 10 year old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy. When I first met him he was awake laying flat on his back and he made little eye contact with minimal movement. He can’t walk. The first few days were spent talking and singing to him to stimulate his listening skills.
It worked. He started grumbling, he was communicating with me! I’ve spent two weeks working with Murali and he’s improved so much. He knows who I am now! Every time I walk into his room, he smiles and starts kicking his legs. He is able to roll over on his belly without help. He also extends his arms when he wants to be held. I worked diligently with him to strengthen his neck muscles. In the beginning he couldn’t hold his head up without help and now he lifts his head on his own and holds it for roughly 20 seconds.He has been surprising me with his drive to become stronger. Murali doesn’t know how much he’s encouraging me. This baby was abandoned, unwanted, and unloved for most of his life; yet he still finds joy in being held and gets excited with simply going outside.When was the last time I actually enjoyed being outside? Then was the last time I truly appreciated a simple hug?I only mention a couple of many, many moments we’ve shared together. But these two things have shifted my appreciation for the simple things I take for granted on a daily basis.
– Christina Garci, The World Race