While in India I met S-. She is a friend who inspires me to live outside my own safe world.Our Mountain Christian team arrived in Delhi early on a Wednesday morning with the purpose of seeing Genesis of Hope in action. Within hours, jetlagged and sweaty, we entered a room of women and girls with whom I was expected to share a message. A solemn sari-clad woman - my future friend - would be translator. But my words were awkward and the audience restless. It was a humbling experience and I decided it was safer to...
While in India I met S-. She is a friend who inspires me to live outside my own safe world.
Our Mountain Christian team arrived in Delhi early on a Wednesday morning with the purpose of seeing Genesis of Hope in action. Within hours, jetlagged and sweaty, we entered a room of women and girls with whom I was expected to share a message. A solemn sari-clad woman - my future friend - would be translator. But my words were awkward and the audience restless. It was a humbling experience and I decided it was safer to watch the “experts” than to engage.
The opportunity for observation came in the next two days as our hosts brought us to several of the ten GOH children’s centers throughout Delhi. One neighborhood in particular caused each member of our team to see that we should not be content with passivity.
The police have labeled Shahabad Dairy one of three Delhi locations that are “unsafe for children” due to the overwhelming number of abductions reported each year. In the 6-block area live about 21,000 families. Children are left alone and vulnerable by parents who have no choice but to leave the slum in search of work. Even when work is found, the average monthly household income is around 7000 rupees (about $100 USD); not enough to provide even two meals per day for the typical family.
We walked through the narrow alleys of Shahabad Dairy, noticing the open sewage and the searching eyes of beggars. Then, to our relief, we stooped inside a doorway and saw S-’s familiar solemn face in a simple classroom packed with smiley children.
Forty children ages 3-12 leave their worn shoes at the door of this and other GOH children’s centers each morning and another set arrives in the afternoon. Teacher and students crowd into the tight space to learn, joyfully retell Bible stories, and practice a bit of English. In this setting, there is hope.
Simply meeting and observing S— was not enough to make us friends, though. It was teaching in a classroom together the following week during GOH’s yearly Vacation Bible School that tied our strings of fellowship.
The day began with S- calmly gathering our 30 girls from the nearly one thousand children gathered for VBS... while I stressed about the disorganization of it all. Once in our classroom, though, side by side, my friend and I delved into the VBS theme - Jesus is my Superhero. Together we sang loudly and danced and laughed and got silly with those students; which is how I know that she is a teacher of the best sort. When I announced in front of the class the last day of my visit, she paused before translating for the students. She went back to being solemn for a moment and said, genuinely, “I will miss you.”
Since that trip to India S- and I have continued to send notes to each other, often several times each week. Below is one of her most recent notes. May it inspire you to do more than simply observe…
"I have been teaching here [at Shahbad Children’s Center] since 2008…Drawing, stories games works very well with center childrens. I faced many challenges like most of the family are like in which both parents are working so there nobody at house to send children to center so many times I used to go in field and gather those childrens to center. Many childrens who are at teenager age are quickly attract towards bad things and they immediately divert to that way instead of coming to center so at that time I use to notice them and counsell them and also tell them the right way. It is very very difficult because at this age childrens sometimes don't listen to their parents also. So sometimes I get success in doing this and sometimes not but I keep on trying and trying. And there are many more [challenges]. If you want to know more I will let you know."
During a trip to India last year with Genesis of Hope we visited a children’s center called Shahabad Dairy. That evening after returning, I reflected on what I saw and decided to look the community up on the internet. What I read was alarming. It described a community of violence, crime, and unrest; a place that even the police did not like to go and would only go into as a group. It is an area where children are said to be especially vulnerable as the number of abductions is unusually high. Many of the homes do not have their own bathroom and so they are forced to use public bathrooms where groups of violent people reportedly wait with bad intentions. One article...
During a trip to India last year with Genesis of Hope we visited a children’s center called Shahabad Dairy. That evening after returning, I reflected on what I saw and decided to look the community up on the internet. What I read was alarming. It described a community of violence, crime, and unrest; a place that even the police did not like to go and would only go into as a group. It is an area where children are said to be especially vulnerable as the number of abductions is unusually high. Many of the homes do not have their own bathroom and so they are forced to use public bathrooms where groups of violent people reportedly wait with bad intentions. One article described that parents would often withhold dinner from their children because they did not want them to have to use the public bathrooms in the dark hours; afraid they would end up missing. But sadly, both parents often work outside the home in order to have sufficient income, leaving children without a safe place to go or an adult to stay with; making them even more vulnerable.
Can you imagine living in this place and raising your children like this? The living conditions alone would be unbearable, but imagine that this was also a society where there is a system that dictates, from birth, what class of people you are in and you are at the very bottom. You are one of the forgotten ones. Although the caste system was officially abolished from India many years ago, it is still deeply ingrained in the culture and society. Your parents were at the bottom. Your grandparents before them also. In this system you are forgotten because no one believes that anything will become of you. Based on certain belief systems people may not even think you should rise higher in life.
Now imagine that you are a mother with children who are destined by this same society, in the same community, to share this same hopeless fate. Your entire community is overlooked and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for you or your children.
It’s hard to fathom because here in America we choose how or where are children are educated; at the school of our choice, at home, or some other kind of program. Ultimately, we all want our kids to have a solid education so that they will have the possibility of a successful life in the future. We consider school ratings, test scores, the school’s reputation, the quality of the facility, the diversity of programs offered, the quality of teachers, and the list goes on (and on). But this is actually a luxury that we likely take for granted. For the families in Shahabad Dairy, families simply want their children to receive an education, period. They want their children to be safe. They do not have the luxury of choices. Often, they are forced to go without any education. Although the government provides free schooling, there is a required uniform to attend and many times this expense is to great.
"Genesis means beginning,
for these families Genesis of Hope
is truly where hope begins."
Genesis of Hope bridges these gaps and offers a light in these communities in several ways: they provide a school uniform once a year, they tutor children in core subjects so they might succeed in a typical classroom, the provide one daily meal, and perhaps most importantly they offer children a respite from the rigors of daily life, giving children a chance to thrive under the encouragement of GOH teachers. Genesis of Hope centers are intentionally placed right in the middle of the community, allowing children to receive instruction right in their own community.
Genesis means beginning, for these families Genesis of Hope is truly where hope begins. Genesis of Hope offers an oasis for kids who may otherwise be unable to have their mental, physical and emotional needs met. It gives them a chance to believe that they could have a bright future after all.
Click here to learn more about Genesis of Hope and get involved!
In 2006, I traveled to India for my third time. I had volunteered in South Asia with various mission organizations in 2003 and 2004 and kept coming back because I was captivated and heartbroken by the region, its people, and the cultures I encountered. From the bustling city of Delhi to the remote jungles in the foothills of the Himalayas, my heart was broken by the depth of poverty and the countless numbers of idols and false gods being worshipped in sacrificial devotion...
In 2006, I traveled to India for my third time. I had volunteered in South Asia with various mission organizations in 2003 and 2004 and kept coming back because I was captivated and heartbroken by the region, its people, and the cultures I encountered. From the bustling city of Delhi to the remote jungles in the foothills of the Himalayas, my heart was broken by the depth of poverty and the countless numbers of idols and false gods being worshipped in sacrificial devotion.
During that third trip, I traveled with my church from Grapevine, TX. It was a vision trip to seek-out partners to minister among the lost in North India. Cooperative Outreach of India (COI) was one of these partners.
Ramesh Landge, a field operative with World Vision, had accompanied many American workers to the remotest parts of India. On one particular trip, he felt challenged by the Lord to pursue the least-reached in his own country. This led him to found COI in 1991. Since then, the home-grown mission has grown exponentially and now includes 10 children’s centers as well as vocational training centers throughout North India, mainly in poverty-stricken slums.
Their work in the slums resonated with me. COI was providing educational opportunities for children living in some of the poorest conditions. They also offered life-changing skills training for women through sewing centers and computer training. But they were doing so much more, they had church-plants and pastor training, as well as micro-enterprise endeavors and well-drilling projects. Additionally, COI produces a TV broadcast that answers the forbidden questions Muslim have about Christ. By 2016, COI had formed Genesis of Hope (GOH), a distinct organization, to encompass their children’s center ministry.
During that whirlwind trip in 2006, my team visited a site called Shahabad Dairy Center. I did not know then the plans that God would lay on my heart, and the hearts of many at MCC, for Shahabad Dairy.
In 2018, I returned to my beloved India, in faith and friendship, to assist Jake and Emily Gray with the final aspects of the adoption of their son Ravi. While there I was able to introduce the Gray’s to another ‘Ravi’, on fire for God and orchestrating many of GOH’s efforts. We also visited one of their many children’s centers. The visit eventually led to MCC’s remarkable support of a 1,000-child Vacation Book School in the heart of Hindu and Muslim slums.
"While there is still heart-wrenching poverty
in this slum, within the walls of the center
there is an undeniable joy and peace."
Bolstered by generous donations at our local Vacation Bible School, we were able to provide many board games to several of the centers. As I helped deliver those games and gifts, I was awed that one of them was my Shahabad Dairy.
To me it felt like my journey had literally come full-circle; something wonderful and exciting had begun. The impact of GOH in this area is undeniable. While there is still heart-wrenching poverty in this slum, within the walls of the center there is an undeniable joy and peace. One of the same pastors I met so long ago continues to labor here and the effects of the gospel are apparent in the smiles and laughter ringing through the halls of the Shahabad children’s center.
MCC’s recent partnership with Shahabad Children’s Center comes at a much-needed time for GOH. GOH was receiving much of their funding for the children’s centers through an organization no longer allowed to operate by the government. That organization did many extraordinary things and the loss of support meant that GOH had to cut many services they offered. Thankfully, GOH has been able to continue to serve the children.
MCC’s partnership will fill in gaps in funding for the Shahabad Dairy center to:
• Tutor children in English, math, science, and history
• Serve a mid-day meal
• Celebrate birthdays, festivals, field trips and events such as VBS
• Perform health check-ups
• Provide school uniforms once a year
For me this journey has proven to be circular. My prayer is that it will become so for our church, as well. We look forward to bringing opportunities to minister to these precious children and teachers in Shahabad. You can do that now through the Hope Campaign. Visit genesisofhope.org to assist.
** Due to certain cultural, political, legal, and logistical complexities, we have chosen to provide this personal narrative with the utmost sensitivities to real-world concerns expressed by our partners and within the media policies of Mountain Christian Church.
I walked through a door one day that changed my life forever. It was at the top of a flight of wooden stairs that hung off the outside of the feed store. I was sixteen and searching for something far different than what I found...
I walked through a door one day that changed my life forever. It was at the top of a flight of wooden stairs that hung off the outside of the feed store. I was sixteen and searching for something far different than what I found.
I had spent the summer between my sophomore and junior high school years on Grandpa Harry’s ranch in North Idaho, fencing. Not with foils or sabers, but with pliers and stretchers and sweat. I came home with an education in the vernacular that accompanies barbed wire; and with the desire to learn the old cowboy arts of leatherwork and braiding. My great-grandfather had been a rawhider. In Harry’s barn I found his long-forgotten tools, books, and notes; then began to ply my hand at the ancient art.
I was not good at it, and on returning home, quickly ran through the raw materials I’d brought from Idaho. That fall day, at the top of the wooden stairs outside the saddle shop, I hoped I knew just enough to appropriate the right leather and leave, without appearing as ignorant as I knew I was.
Ian Tyson was on the radio and a scrawny guy with big mustache looked up from behind a saddle-stand and studied me. He would have had to stand twice to make a shadow, but the knurled hands that held the carver belied a strength of character and iron poise that the years would allow me to later appreciate. This was Joe. He was a craftsman. And Joe had his ways.
On the third trip to his shop that fall, Joe offered me a job. Not really a job, an apprenticeship. A true, old-school apprenticeship. I would not be paid until I could produce something worth selling. Then I would be paid only in the leather I could use to educate myself and make myself better in the art. By this time, I had learned that Joe had three beautiful daughters and, despite the non-pay issue, I agreed to give it a try.
“For what it’s worth,
"...I think Heaven is riding stirrup-to-stirrup
with your best friends, through belly-high grass,
on your best horse, forever.
Jesus and I think you ought to be there.”
That singular decision, regardless of motive, turned out to be the best I ever made. Joe was more than a craftsman: he was a horseman, a farrier, a father, a philosopher, a teacher, a mentor, and a profound Christian. My education expanded beyond the saddle shop: eventually he agreed to teach me how to ride saddle-bronc horses and then to shoe horses, again as an apprentice all the while showing me what it meant to walk as a Christian.
Joe had his ways. Even now, the kernels of wisdom he imparted ebb and flow into my life as sage gems. As our relationship grew beyond friendship and mentorship, he taught with patience, love and respect. Everything had a double-entendre. Speaking of horses, he’d say, “You have to give to get.” I understood it to apply to horses, humans, and Christ. He taught me “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”; patience and diligence and effort, in waiting for the Reward. He’d say that he was alright to not be wealthy, because he was as rich as he ever hoped to be. This was just his way. He expected me to understand and he expected me to grow. In life, in manhood, and in Faith.
I worked for Joe for about three years. Somewhere in there he started to pay me, or at least he would sometimes let me bring in my own business. I spent more hours with Joe in the shop, in the truck, or bending over underneath horses than I have spent with any other man outside of family, before or since.
Joe loved me and I knew it. What I didn’t know then, was how he groomed me into the man I became. Gently, never harshly, never rushed, and always measured against what he thought I could handle. Between my first and second year of college (freshman and sophomore years denote a successful passage from one to the next), I came home to shoe horses with Joe, again.
That summer, I thought I would marry an Idaho rodeo queen but when she showed up with another guy’s truck and his ring on her finger, I lost it. I’ll spare you the details. I drove across four states for two weeks before I drug myself back around to silently (and smellingly) climb into Joe’s truck at 4:30 one morning for the day’s work; as if nothing had happened and nothing had changed. He took it all in stride. He didn’t pry. He didn’t judge. He was just there.
About a week into my silent brooding he finally looked at me over a bologna sandwich and asked, “Dave, what does Heaven look like to you?” The simple question rocked my shaken world. At that point, I was beyond recognizing normal, much less Heaven. I told him so. He grunted, and half the sandwich disappeared under his mustache. He took a drink of water and told me, “For what it’s worth, I think Heaven is riding stirrup-to-stirrup with your best friends, through belly-high grass, on your best horse, forever.” Then, “Jesus and I think you ought to be there.”
In my worst moment, Joe showed me he loved me the way Christ loves me.
Many things have happened since then. I feel, guiltily, that life swept me away from Joe. Years and miles have churned up between us. Happiness and sorrow; failure and success; the steady drum of time and place have pushed me on. I sometimes yearn for the soft eddies of our companionship: one quiet, humble man tutoring a naive apprentice about life and love; earthly and heavenly. The years make that horizon seem further and further behind.
But Joe has his ways. And Jesus and I look forward to that ride.
I don’t know why she called me. I don’t even know why she noticed me or knew I existed. She called to invite me to join a high school/college girls’ group she’d started. I couldn’t make it on the day and time they were all meeting. So she, with 4 children, a husband, a household to run and other ministries going on, rearranged her whole life to allow me into it. She offered to have me...
I don’t know why she called me.
I don’t even know why she noticed me or knew I existed.
She called to invite me to join a high school/college girls’ group she’d started. I couldn’t make it on the day and time they were all meeting.
So she, with 4 children, a husband, a household to run and other ministries going on, rearranged her whole life to allow me into it.
She offered to have me come over for a couple hours on a specific day. These hours would bleed into dinner time…a time that I now know is rather hectic when you’ve got any number of kids at all.
I often think of how inconvenient a guest I was. And I cringe. I often should have left earlier when kids were sick or she had a ton going on. I should have helped more with her kids. I should have brought dinner for them instead of just partaking in the family meal every week. I should have asked more about her and how she was doing.
But she never, ever made me feel that way.
Her goal was to obey Christ, of course…to make disciples. She did this so graciously and effectively with each of us who met with her. But I always truly believed that she really just wanted to hang out with me. I always felt that she genuinely enjoyed my presence and was glad I came.
I honestly had a very immature relationship with Christ when she began meeting with me. We began working through a Bible study book together….the first of many. I had so many wrong ideas about God, His word, and “truth”. She gently and skillfully corrected me in a way that made me want to seek out more and more Biblical truth. She was patient.
She welcomed me warmly and listened intently, affirming my feelings while pointing out truth…she was kind.
She hardly ever spoke about herself. If she did, she confessed her own sin to me. I’ve never known anyone who confesses so much and so often. She was always so aware of her sin and so repentant of it. She never bragged, was never arrogant, and never acted unbecomingly.
She made our time about Jesus and about me and whatever was going on in my life on any given week. I cringe again as I think about some of the things I said…sometimes silly or trite or just typical American twenty-something chatter. She placed importance on the things that were important to me. She prayed for me in those things. She didn’t think her opinion was something valuable enough to dwell on…she sought out Jesus’. She taught me how to pray scripture. She did this in the midst of parenting 4, then 5, then 6, then 7, then 8, then 9 children. She’d apologize for times she’d have to stop our discussion to discipline or comfort or direct a child. I was grateful for the instruction, and still am. The magnitude of the time, peace, and so much else she sacrificed to pour into me is completely humbling. She did not seek her own and was not provoked.
The magnitude of the time, peace,
and so much else she sacrificed
to pour into me is completely humbling.
I lied to her once. She asked me a question and I lied right to her face. I thought I could shake it off and forget it, but called her in tears an hour after I left her house. I was so ashamed. Her response was completely gentle and gracious, and soothed my broken heart that just yearned to crawl in a hole and disappear. She prayed for me on the phone and reminded me of the mercy bought for me through Jesus’ death. She did not take into account the wrong(s) she suffered at my hands.
She was there, in the dressing room, at my wedding. “You are stunning”, she sweetly said. She knew Matt and I had decided not to even kiss each other for months leading up to our wedding. She’d kept me accountable concerning the purity of our relationship for almost the entirety of it. She’d reminded me sternly at least once that Satan did not want to “mess” with us…he wanted to kill, steal from, and destroy us. She prayed fervently for our protection and resolve. And on our wedding day, she celebrated and rejoiced more than most of the guests present. She did not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoiced with the truth.
I called her right after I called my mom when my first son died. She sobbed on the phone right along with me. She visited me that evening in the hospital. She held my hands as I sobbed at her kitchen table. She wiped tears away when she saw me crying in church. She continued to pray, continued to encourage, continued to spur me on to seek the truth as she sought Jesus right along with me. And when my other children were born, she was there…to counsel me through the hard first weeks, the problems with nursing, the first illnesses, the puzzle of intense shyness, the potty training, the school decisions, and so much more. At my worst and my best, she was there at every step to lift my eyes, mind, and heart to the Author and Perfecter of our faith. She bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’ll say it simply: she loved me. And that is the way I always left her house…feeling loved. I left feeling confident in what God was doing in me, glad He made me the way He did, hopeful about the future, convicted about my sin, grateful for God’s grace, and empowered to walk the path He’d marked out for me.
This, my friends, is true discipleship. It is painful and trying and messy and beautiful. I can’t ever hope to repay Molly Malizzo for the way she loved me. I pray that she sees some of the fruit of her actions, as I learned to disciple others (my own children included) by being discipled by her. I learned to invite others into my life (though a natural introvert…like Molly) as she invited me into hers. She showed me how to love others in their mess by loving me in mine…over and over and over. She’ll never know all the ways those hundreds of hours impacted me. God used her mightily in my life; and through her love, I experienced His.
Discipleship is costly.
But if you and I are willing to
open up our schedules, our homes,
our lives to those God puts in our path,
we will be utterly shocked at all that God
does through our sacrifice.
Discipleship is costly. But if you and I are willing to open up our schedules, our homes, our lives to those God puts in our path, we will be utterly shocked at all that God does through our sacrifice.
To Molly and all those who have done the hard, glorious work of discipling (loving) us:
Thank you for picking up the phone and calling us. Thank you for making room for us in your lives. Thank you for loving us. We thank God every time we think of you.
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MCC’s Annual Thanksgiving Potluck is Sunday, November 24 from 1:00–3:00 pm at the Los Vecinos Community Center in Tijeras! This year we will have a fun photo booth AND an ultimate frisbee throw-down! It is going to be an afternoon of fellowship, thanksgiving and fun! We need people willing to cook turkeys, sides, pies and all your other Thanksgiving favorites! Sign up forms are in the foyer. Volunteers begin set-up at 12:00 and clean-up is from 3:00-4:00pm; help is always welcome!
The Women’s Serving Team is hosting a Christmas Celebration on Saturday, December 7th from 3:00-5:00pm at The Kenney’s House. We will have hors d'oeuvres, apple cider, a white elephant gift exchange and lots of time for great conversation! We hope you will join us! Contact Jodi Kenney with questions.