This month's Monthly Missions Focus is on India. At the end of September, three Ethos staff members got to visit and spend time with our seven Ethos India churches. Over the next few weeks, as we head towards Birthday Sunday, we'll hear from each of them about their experiences and how they saw God at work. Up first we'll be hearing from Brandon Steele...
"Our time in India overall was such a blessing. We saw the brightness and the goodness of the gospel, of Jesus and His people shining so beautifully and it challenged and stretched me immensely as I think about what our brothers and sisters are doing to advance the Kingdom in East India. The truth is though, we also saw and heard a lot of hard and dark things as well. I’m still processing many of these things and asking the Lord what to do about them and how to help.
I wanted to share one the most influential parts for me, which was visiting the slums in Salt Lake. Piyas and Jaisharee are the two Senior Pastors of our partner churches in India. They met while working at Compassion International and have been kingdom advancers for a long time. They were aware of the slums and the sadness that was all around them and while working at Compassion, the Lord urged them to not just give their money, but gives their lives to serving these people. The people in the slums are the poorest of the poor, they live on government property where they live in fear of their make-shift homes being destroyed by the government. Their homes are made of tarps, bamboo, really anything they can find. Piyas and Jaisharee started loving on these people and identifying how to help them and the word “holistic” is the way I would describe it. They feed 750 children one meal every day. The kids would not eat a healthy meal if they didn’t get this. They would eat the leftovers that are found in the dumpsters or sometimes their parents are able to make enough money to bring home food, but if P & J didn’t feed the children, they wouldn’t eat. The food was simple: a small bowl of chicken and vegetable soup, two slices of white bread and a banana. They make the kids eat the food in front of them so that the parents can’t take it from them. We got to serve the food one day and every kid said thank you every time we put something on their plate.
So, our people there are serving the children by feeding them, but they are also sending them to school. Since education is not free like it is here in the U.S., many of these kids can’t afford to even go to school. Our churches pay for all of these children to receive an education. They also hire tutors to come to the slums in the afternoons to help teach computer skills and english, because these are not taught well in the schools and if the kids want to get jobs one day, these two skills are a requirement. But, what they’re doing is bigger than just the children. One of the sad realities is that the parents of children in the slums have to leave their children unattended and unprotected during the day while they go to work. This means that many of the girls are taken advantage of and the boys get into trouble.
The churches decided to hire seamstresses and beauticians to go into the slums to train the women how to sew so they could make money. But, they also can do this from their homes, so they don’t have to leave their children, but they can raise and protect them themselves. It’s holistic. They also planted a church in the middle of the slums, dug a water well and brought in some toilets for the whole community. All three of these things are improving the people and their quality of living. They are being fed, trained and taught the scriptures. One day Nana taught the children the story of Jesus calming the storm and every kid knew the story. We realized everything about their lives were being cared for. This is one project, the Salt Lake Slums. I saw and felt the goodness of Jesus in that place and realized how much our simple generosity is changing lives. We are literally, just by giving our money, feeding kids, protecting and educating them, empowering women and sharing the gospel. Talk about an investment that pays 100 times!"
To read more of the India Experiences written by our staff, go here.