Here is an excerpt from a World Racer, Sophia Nalty, on her experience working with a CCC pastor in his village. Read the full blog here.
This month my team and I are guests of a village pastor and his family of 14. His two teenage sons, 13 and 14 years old respectively, serve as our translators. His wife and the 10 orphan girls they house (aged 6-9 years old) make our stay as comfortable as possible. The concrete house is divided into two stories, one large room on each floor. We sleep in tents on the second floor and their home is on the first.
We share an open bathroom in the back of the house on their floor. We flush and bathe with buckets. The food is jam-packed with flavor, spice, CARBS, and unusual textures…diarrhea is inevitable. There’s nothing quite as humbling as doing the “doo” in a house where the inside dividing walls are only about 6 ft tall…or outside in the middle of the night when you don’t want to disturb the family. We wake up at dawn whether we want to or not because the whole village comes alive as the sun rises. And in such a communal culture, privacy is not common. We’re often prone to spontaneous visits from the locals or the children, some of whom who have never seen Westerners (especially those with paler skin), who may enter our room at anytime to take pictures with us or just peer at us in our tents. We were even featured in a local newspaper when we visited a neighboring village for miscellaneous shopping.
Despite all these adjustments, I know that this is the best place for me to be. It’s hard to explain even as I sit and write about it, weighing the pros and cons… There’s just something about the “bush”. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The peacefulness of open air. Nights just filled with stars like the Lord showed to Abraham in the Old Testament. Here we have the time and quiet to seek the Lord individually and as a team about everything from ministry (which is so AMAZING, I’ll have to write a separate blog about it), our own faith-walks, and preparing to come back home. Not that there wasn’t time before, but the distractions are simply way less weighing. Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I planning on heading for the boondocks when I get home, but I’m definitely thanking God for this change of pace.
A recent team of World Racers had their parents come visit while they were with ICM. Here is one WR mom’s experience in the village. Read the full blog here.
Our first day of ministry with our kids was at one of the slums, basically a small 10 or so family neighborhood that was literally built out of “trash” in the middle of the trash dump. When we walked in I saw two young boys playing a game with rocks, they were so happy, just playing like any other little boys their age would be, and God quickly told me to love on these people, but not to pity them. He continued to show me how happy these people were, with nothing, they were happy, this was their normal and they knew nothing different. They were so hospitable, they brought out their beds and best blankets and mats for us to sit on, they so wanted us to join them and they wanted us to be comfortable. Their homes that were made of trash were so very clean, they took great pride in their homes, the children were clean, wearing clean clothes, with clean hair that obviously had been styled. It was a joy to see how little these people had but how hospitable they were to us. We prayed with them, gave them rice and toothbrushes, told them testimonies and played games and sang songs with them.
Testimony from a World Racer, Christina Kehres, on the unexpected experience of helping a pastor and his family re-build their house. Read the entire blog here.
We were headed to the house of a pastor that recently caught fire and needed cleaning from smoke damage. Pastor Binny runs a church in his home for people who live in the slums and gives free guitar and piano lessons. Pastor’s wife was uncomfortable with slum ministry and didn’t understand the calling that Pastor has and chose to abandon her family. Pastor and his two daughters were asleep when God shook him awake to see the fire in their living room.
Princey is the oldest of the two girls who has taken over many motherly responsibilities in their household. She is a fantastic cook and served us tea several times during our visit. She is 14 years old and the only Christian (besides her sister) in their Hindu school. Princey reads her class a story from the Bible every single day for three years now and although none of her classmates have accepted Jesus as their Savior they all believe in Him and pray to Him. Can you imagine being so on fire for God at age 14?
The youngest girl is Pinky; she is passionate, spunky, and full of joy. She helped us clean and took our pictures and made all seven of us leave our autographs. The girls collect money all year long to fill their plastic piggy bank to give gifts and school supplies to the slum children. They are going through so much themselves at such a young age and still carrying around God’s heart for others.
When Pastor went to pick the girls up at school our contact, Ravi, told us that while part of our group was getting chai tea this morning his sister called about Pastor and the house fire. Ravi hadn’t heard about the fire that happened weeks ago but said he had a team that could come immediately; our ministry for the day changed that quickly and that last minute. Pastor said he asked God to send someone to help him and we were who God chose to send – an answered prayer.
The girls walked in the door saying, “praise The Lord, praise The Lord!” Their father had told them visitors were at their house and they worried but he reassured his daughters that the visitors were angels. “It’s true, you really are angels,” they told us.
God told me again, “It’s not how you serve but who you serve.”
Before we left the house I had my seventh cup of tea for the day and Princey and Pinky gave each of us a necklace from their personal collection. They might have been praying for us to arrive but they were the angels I needed.
It’s not how you serve; it’s who you serve.
I am so glad I get to serve Jesus.
This came from a recent World Racer working with ICM, Jenny Kuehn, on what India was teaching her. You can read her entire blog here.
Counting the Cost.
When your feeling uncomfortable or things don’t seem to go the way you had imagine them, just remember: those are the moments that reveal where we need to grow.
“And you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” Hebrews 10-34
When we realize the reward it doesn’t seem like sacrifice.
As I write this, it is the 8th of March, International Women’s Day. However, as far as our nation is concerned, it feels like a huge farce. Appreciation for women rings hollow in a country where girls are killed inside their mother’s wombs simply because of their gender; where, even if they survive, they are abandon somewhere; where every moment they are treated as second class to males and receives less food, education, medical care, and still does the majority of the work. All her life, an Indian woman is told she belongs to someone: her father, husband, or even her son. And this doesn’t even include the horrific abuses like rape, acid attacks, honour killings, and other forms of abuse that stalk every woman in India.
Survey after survey has revealed that India is still one of the worst places in the world for women. Despite attempts at modernization and equality, sexual violence and extreme gender inequality are some of the worst in Asia.
ICM celebrated International Women’s Day with a rally and city walk to honor the women of India. They also distributed 30 sarees to poor widow women. It was held in Ongole, Prakasam District, under the leadership of ICM Director James Rebbavarapu on March 8, 2014. DTC-DSP Mr. Ashok Kumar’s wife, Sneha lata garu joined us as the chief guest, speaking about women’s rights. She said it was about time we stopped accepting abuse as a way of life, and that until we can treat women with dignity, India does not deserve to be called a democracy.
Indians take great pride in their so-called values, where women are expected to dress and behave in a certain way. Sneha said, however, that these expectations are not Indian by any stretch of the imagination, but 19th Century Victorian English values, known for their narrow-mindedness and conservatism. She called for India to move into the 21st century, where everyone is treated as equal, as the Indian Constitution promises, irrespective of their gender, religion, caste, skin color, or creed.
Sneha also appreciated ICM and its leadership, saying that ICM is the best social service organization for the poor and needy people in Ongole, Prakasam.
ICM would like to sincerely thank all of the great women who have helped advance God’s kingdom, especially those in the office staff, volunteers with our CCDC, SCH and international volunteers.
Because of heavy rainfall and floods during the rainy season, water tends to stand and stagnate. Poor drainage and bad roads contribute towards a very fertile environment for deadly mosquitoes. During this season, a lot of people are attacked with Malaria, Chikungunya, Dengue fever, etc, because of the mosquitoes.
ICM conducted awareness training in the villages during the season, encouraging people to use nets, coils, liquids, and creams. It included the proper clothing to wear. They also gave training on how to discourage mosquitoes from breeding by clearing out stagnant water pools that are near the home. Pamphlets were also given out at each of these seminars.
This was a part of awareness training given to all ICM volunteers in 2013. This series of posts will focus on the demons that India is facing, and has been facing, for many years.
Especially in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, daughters are viewed as a burden, not a blessing. The dowry system forces a girl’s family to pay the boy’s family a large price at the wedding. Horrible, horrible things can happen if the girl’s family refuses to pay. Also, girls are never a good source of income. They cannot support themselves, and, until marriage, are completely reliant upon their families. Especially in the villages, modern ideas like a woman working respectfully and even literacy haven’t caught on.
As a result, women are actually afraid to give birth to female children. They will often kill them. Oftentimes, this is encouraged or even forced by the mother and father-in-law. Because of this entire attitude, India’s female-to-male ratio, especially in rural areas, is as little as 6 to 10 (only 6 females for every 10 males born), according to the 2011 Census.
In 2013, ICM campaigned throughout Andhra Pradesh among the volunteers, villagers, and especially those who help with birthing. ICM tried to bring awareness of this issue and why it is wrong. We will continue to educate, bring awareness, and show the love of Jesus to these areas. It is our hope and prayer that one day the killing of girl children will be stopped altogether.
On the 26th of January, India Christian Ministries was recognized for its work for social justice with an award for the Best Social Service. The award was given by the Prakasam District Collector, a division of the government of A.P, India.
ICM Director Mr. James Rebbavarapu accepted this award on behalf of ICM and all the staff, partnerships, and volunteers who made it possible.
The Inheritance Scholarship Awards Programme was held at the head ICM office in Ongole, under the leadership of Mr. James Rebbavarapu, ICM Director, on the 18th of February. Thirty-seven children and their guardians attended, along with the chief guest, Mr. I. Prakash Kumar, Assistant Joint Collector for the Prakasam District.
So far, ICM has distributed 492 scholarships to poor children, who earn them through exceptional performance. Each student is given 3,000/- rupees (around $50 USD) annually to help give them access to an education that would be impossible without this scholarship.
Education is vital in stopping the vicious cycle of poverty in India. Many rural and persistently poor do not see the value in education. It is expensive and doesn’t put rice on the table today. Many simply cannot afford it when they are struggling to feed their families every day. However, an educated child can not only make a more reliable income in the future, but they can also feed their entire families through this income. Instead of simply repeating the life of their parents, they can change the entire status of their family line.
Mr. Prakash Kumar encouraged the children to use the scholarship properly and only for their studies so that they will come up with a bright future. He also commended and thanked ICM and Mr. Rebbavarapu for their support of child education.