I’m pleased to report that Jo and I have returned safely from India this week after a great time with friends from some of our Commission churches. It was a very worthwhile trip and we will tell you more as time goes by. First though, we want to say thank you Grace Church for your prayers. It was a joy to be there and we remained healthy throughout, although it is monsoon season so we got very wet! I am trusting that we have been a blessing to our Indian friends; certainly the trip was a blessing for us.
Time with friends
Without going into too much detail, the first six days were spent with Sydney and Cheryl, based in Bandra in the south of Mumbai. Sydney is lead elder at Living Word Church, and it was our privilege to meet people from the church, making some new friends, and to spend time with some of the church leaders too. Sydney also invited me to speak at their two Sunday morning meetings. It was such a joy to be with Sydney and Cheryl again – they are great friends to us – and also to revisit this church which I have been to once before in 2014.
In the middle of our trip we caught up with our friends Praveen and Jennifer. Praveen leads a church called ‘The Life’ which is also in Mumbai. As a church they do some incredible works among the poor in the slums, one of which we visited.
The final leg of our trip was spent with Vinu and Julie, based in Borivali in the north of Mumbai. Vinu is lead elder at Living Hope Church, and also leads the Commission churches in India. Once again we were privileged to make new friends, spending time with leaders and being invited to speak in various contexts, including at three different Sunday morning meetings. Vinu and Julie are already good friends, but this was the first time we have had the chance to visit the church.
In addition to some excellent times with these friends and their churches, Jo and I also enjoyed seeing various tourist spots including the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the Khaneri Caves in the Sanjay Ghandi National Park. We enjoyed meals out and time with friends old and new, trying new foods and experiencing a different culture … and Jo enjoyed a fair amount of shopping too.
The most impacting thing
The most impacting thing for us though was the opportunity to visit some incredible works among the poor being run by some of these people. These works included:
- The Krupa project – caring for abandoned elderly women in Nashik
- The Chaiim project – rehabilitating female victims of human trafficking, rescued from sex work
- The Raah street kids outreach – an incredible work to teach and feed street children
- A project in the slums to provide nursery education and day care to slum children
I’ll write bit more about these projects in subsequent blogs, but I do want to write a few words about the Krupa project first.
This amazing work was set up by a woman called Clara, from the church in Nashik, to provide dignity and care for elderly women who have been abandoned by family and friends. This is the church where John and Molly from Grace Church were based for some years; it is a church they helped to plant with Sydney and Cheryl.
On the wall of the Krupa home are photo boards of some of the elderly women who have entered the home, listing their name, their date of arrival, their age and the day they died. These are women who had nothing. They have been rescued from begging, or from extreme poverty. Some have experienced violence or rape. One lady, who is both blind and deaf, had been left to live in a sewer pipe, surviving on food left by strangers.
The Krupa project has taken these women in and given them a bed and food. They are washed and cleaned. They are fed and clothed. Their hair is cleaned and freed from lice. They are loved and prayed for. Birthdays are celebrated. They are given the care and dignity they had been denied. This is God’s church in action!
I was struck by the joy and gratefulness these women showed. Most smiled; one sang for us; one just sat quietly on her bed and wanted to show us the small photo that she treasured of her dear friends from England – can you see who they are?
God’s church in action
It was certainly impactful for Jo and I to visit this project. It was inspiring to see God’s church in action, providing such direct love and care to people, and there may be some things we are able to do to help this project in the future – we will let you know.
One final thing I noted is what Sydney said to us afterwards, “These women are not all what we might call deserving.” Some of their life stories are certainly sad, yet others are somewhat mixed – but all have been abandoned and needed help and grace. In that way they are a just like us: none of us deserve God’s love or favour; all of us need grace.
Here is the church, showing the love of God to those in need. And Krupa is the perfect name for this project.