In January 2009 – there abouts, anyway. Might have been December 2008. Pastor Pete and Ryan announced from the pulpit that Cross Point was going to start missions in India. Without any further details, I went to Ryan after the service and said “I’m going.”
Pastor Pete went as a blogger with Compassion International. Cross Point began to partner with the S.E.E.D Project which is working in one of the slums. With funding from Cross Point, they built a school. Then the government tore down the school. They rebuilt the school and added a generator to keep the space cool so the kids stopped passing out in the heat.
I am going with Cross Point on its first organized mission trip to Kolkata in 2011. I have that great missions fundraising letter which I’ll post but there wasn’t enough room on that single page to give you the full breadth of my heart for India and the people.
By all accounts, India is a land of tremendous potential and contrasts. Cities like Mumbai and New Delhi house great wealth (perhaps not by Western standards but certainly by Indian standards) yet the rural areas, which are still quite populated, people eek out a subsistence living with little access to clean water and education.
The movie “Born into Brothels” wrecked me. It is still one of the movies that when I think about, I get very emotional. Kids growing up in a environment where the cycle of abuse, prostitution, and violence continues generation after generation. Sometimes, even with a way out, people return to what they know and find comfortable.
The big question is – why am I going? Is it because it’s exotic? I mean… the missions to the Dominican and Honduras never appealed to me. To the Western mind, India is filled with mystic – a land of spiritual connections… ‘the other.’
I am going, first because I was called. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Ends of the earth and all. When it was announced 18 months ago – I knew. I’ve not waivered (but for a little while when the trip was actually presented and I had to apply).
I am going because I want to share God’s love and mercy with people and support the local church in its mission.
There is a guy I ride the bus with from Ethiopia. He is also a Christian. When I mentioned to him that I was going on this mission trip, he immediately launched into a 5 minute rant on imperialism. I tried to explain to him that we were going to support and serve the local church – not to bring Western ideas of politics or culture… but that of the love of Christ. It’s in Christ that we find freedom and lasting change. Nope. Only if I were going with a secular organization to do social justice work would he approve. I started to argue about their points of view and how they are different but in the moment, it was not a battle to fight.
And because what is small to us, means the world to someone else. I recently received a note from Compassion on behalf of Prachi. Last year, I gave some extra money for a family gift. They bought the family a bike. It cost $55USD. In a part of the country where the average family makes $30-40USD a month – that is a nearly impossible sum to save. What cost me so little, changed Prachi’s life. She now can ride her bike to school instead of walking for nearly a half hour. She has a basket to put her book bag in. Because it is easier for her to get there, she is more likely to attend. Learning to read and write will change most of her future prospects and expand her opportunities.
I am asking now that you be in prayer for me and the team over the next several months. My next post will include how, if you are so lead, that you can support this mission trip financially.