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.
As your MCC Missions team, we are thankful for your continued support, resources, interest, encouragement, and most especially your prayers. We are also thankful that God opens hearts and minds, that He guides us in what He wants us to do and where He wants us to do it. During the first half of 2019 the MCC Mission’s Team has seen and felt God at work, especially opening new opportunities for us to spread the Gospel throughout His kingdom! Here are a few highlights from the first half of 2019.
As your MCC Missions team, we are thankful for your continued support, resources, interest, encouragement, and most especially your prayers. We are also thankful that God opens hearts and minds, that He guides us in what He wants us to do and where He wants us to do it. During the first half of 2019 the MCC Mission’s Team has seen and felt God at work, especially opening new opportunities for us to spread the Gospel throughout His kingdom!
Here are a few highlights from the first half of 2019.
First, we are still at work in Ethiopia, locally with ISI at UNM and Juntos in the international district and have a number of upcoming opportunities with ISI and Juntos as a new school year begins. Watch for information about these ministries in the coming months.
Next, we've had three significant mission trips during the first half of the year to Bolivia, India and Peru.
In January 2019, MCC sent Vince Tidwell to visit our Asociacion Ministerios Fuentes de Agua (AMFA) team in Peru. During the week he was there, Vince helped drill a well, visited indigenous churches, and connected with the local missionaries we help support; Jorge and Victor. Vince was encouraged by the strong relationships Jorge and Victor have developed with the isolated and marginalized Indian communities and was blessed to see how wells drilled over the years have improved lives in these impoverished communities.
Moving forward, MCC is hoping to begin sponsoring indigenous couples to attend local Bible Seminary for three-years of intensive study. The plan is for Jorge and Victor to identify couples from communities where wells have been drilled whom MCC can sponsor. These couple will attend Bible seminary and upon completion return to their village, establish and pastor a new church. Our goal is for the first couple to begin seminary January 2020!
In addition, Pastor Victor continues to evangelize in the communities where wells are being drilled and follows up with villages where wells were drilled in the past. Since January, Victor has held week-long meetings in seven different communities, reaching 50 to 100 Indians in each village with the Gospel Message!
Read Vince Tidwell's blog for more on this trip and join us in giving thanks for the work God is doing in Peru!
Watch for Part 2 of our "Missions Mid-Year Update" next week for an update on the India and Bolivia mission trips.
Think back to your first day at college. For some of us it may be longer than we want to admit. It was a time of big changes in your life. You were no longer the “big” person on campus. There was a whole new schedule and vibe to college. And, to make matters worse, they expected you to study. For those that went off to college, you had the added challenge of a new city to navigate and no mother to cook your meals or do your laundry. Now consider what it would be like if you were studying in a different country...
Think back to your first day at college. For some of us it may be longer than we want to admit. It was a time of big changes in your life. You were no longer the “big” person on campus. There was a whole new schedule and vibe to college. And, to make matters worse, they expected you to study. For those that went off to college, you had the added challenge of a new city to navigate and no mother to cook your meals or do your laundry.
Now consider what it would be like if you were studying in a different country. You would have the extra challenges of having to adjust to a whole new culture, new foods and a new language. All of this with your support group thousands of miles away. You are particularly reminded of this as you step off the plane, sleep deprived, needing to find the campus and a place to live.
This is why International Students Inc. (ISI) exists—to share Christ's love with international college students during a time when they need it most.
Since 1953, ISI has been training Americans to meet international students' needs. These Americans befriend international students and help them adjust to American culture. ISI staff and volunteers are working on 677 campuses across the country, including the University of New Mexico, to orient and acquaint international students to their new home and cultural experience.
In fact, many universities encourage students in their acceptance letter to reach out to ISI for assistance in acclimating.
In 2018 alone, the UNM ISI Team:
- Served 1,600 lunches,
- Picked up 120 students from the airport,
- Hosted 105 students for temporary homestays,
- Helped 65 students find housing,
- Helped 190 students get furniture for their apartments, and
- Hosted almost 300 students at the Welcome center.
ISI is touching the lives of countless students, helping them to settle into life in Albuquerque. But ISI’s reach does not stop there. Seventy students participated in hiking and sightseeing groups. Over 125 students were paired with Friendship Partners who meet at least monthly with the student to have fun and assist with life’s little challenges. Additionally, twenty-five students participated in Bible Studies, fifty students attended Home Groups and four made a profession of faith.
The impact of this work is multiplied when these students return home to share their faith, literally all over the world.
Maybe the coolest part of it all is that God lets us be a part of what he is doing. There are so many opportunities to get engaged, all with the opportunity to have some fun, meet some really interesting and energetic students, and to do something eternally meaningful. In fact, ISI will be looking for help in a number of ways, including:
- Picking students up at the airport,
- Hosting short-term home stays (2-5 nights) where you simply need to get the student to the Welcome Center each morning and pick them up a the end of the day,
- Assist student’s in finding an apartment,
- Picking up and delivering furniture,
- Organizing and leading hiking and sight-seeing trips,
- Become a Friendship Partner (monthly activities with the same student throughout their stay at UNM)
- Assisting with English classes,
- Donate meals or furniture, and
- Most importantly, you can pray.
All of this is starting now! Stan Schug and I get constant requests for volunteers. If you can help just let us know your interest and when you are available, we will help get you connected. If your not sure bring your questions to us, or better yet, join us on an ISI event—you won’t regret it.
"Walking down a dirt road in a poor Village on the outskirts of Sucre, Bolivia, a woman opens the door and invites complete strangers to walk into her home. Yes, they are Food for the Hungry volunteers; yes, she needs help; yes, she needs prayer and the peace that only God can give. But Marta had to open the door when every..."
Walking down a dirt road in a poor Village on the outskirts of Sucre, Bolivia, a woman opens the door and invites complete strangers to walk into her home. Yes, they are Food for the Hungry volunteers; yes, she needs help; yes, she needs prayer and the peace that only God can give. But Marta had to open the door when every wordly-thing about her told her not too. God helped her set aside her pride, fears and hesitation. Or maybe she did hesitate? Only she and God know what happened on the other side of that door while we waited for her to answer. Ultimately, God gave her the strength and courage to seek Him, our being there was simply a testimony of her desire to seek the Lord. I had tears in my eyes as we listen to her story. She spoke of her pain, the pain of her children and the pain of her husband. So, we did the only thing we could; we prayed. As we did, peace replaced doubt and hope shown on her face.
I walked away from that experience with humility and wonder and it was not the first, nor I am sure will it be the last, time God humbled me through an experience like this in Bolivia. I wondered about how someone could set aside pride and fear and allow God to take the reins. Could I do that? Why can't I open the door for God? It was humbling to see God work when pride and fear was removed.
When God brought me the opportunity to serve on a short-term mission team in Bolivia, I honestly didn't hesitate to open that door, even to run through it. As a nurse, God has graciously given me the gift and the heart to help people. Little did I know at the time, saying yes to a short-term mission trip wasn't the only door God was asking me to open.
After that experience with Marta, (this was on my second trip to Bolivia) God showed me the door to open. My closed door, the one I was meant to open and experience, was to serve God. Being a part of the Bolivia ministry has shown me what it truly means to serve God, for God's glory. Not my own. We live in a world of instant gratification. We live in a mindset of "quick fix". This ministry taught me to be patient and there is never a quick fix.
Serving God for His glory is to build up His earthly kingdom. In Bolivia and with the teachings of Food for the Hungry, that means to make those in poverty self-sustaining. To teach, to pray with, to bring biblical principles to others and to build relationships. None of those things are easy, quick or instant. They take time, prayer and hard work. My instinct was not to open this door. God called me to follow His lead and serve Him. Therefore, I had to get out of the way. I had to throw away my instincts of "Me" fixing it. I had to forget that I always have to have the answers and I knew God would show me my own poverty.
I had to admit my pride and repent. I prayed and prayed. I repented. I asked God for the courage and strength to open that door. I am so glad I did! My heart was transformed. My eyes were truly opened. I saw God working and I saw how I was to be used. He showed me where I had poverty in my own life. I saw that I had a gift to bring to the ministry and the gifts others gave me. With God’s newfound sight for me, it changed my own relationships positively and strengthened my faith. The staff members of Food for the Hungry Bolivia and the people from the community were also teaching me. They all have given me the gift of lifelong friendship and they have prayed for me in my walk with Christ. I would trade my sinful pride and fear for what I have gained and learned anytime! Praise God for putting that closed door in front me and giving me the strength to open it.
Serving in the Bolivia ministry and given me the opportunity to serve God, serve others and strengthen my relationship with Jesus. God has many closed doors for all of us to open. Which door has God asked you to open?
All MCC Ministry in person meetings are suspended at this time BUT many ministries are reaching out through phone calls, emails and digital platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Googlemeetings. Contact your ministry leader to see if this is an option for you!