By Sarah K. The morning is in full swing at Kiran. Sitting in the middle of the room, Kashvi is crocheting colorful yarn into egg-shaped balls that will become owls and octopi. Next to her, Eva is sewing a handbag from cloth with a delicate floral design set against a white background. Near the window, Anaya has stopped sewing a pocket into a handbag to examine the design of a layered necklace made from recycled sari cloth. Her fingers run the length of a strand of cloth beads before stopping to prod at an individual bead. “There must be something wrapped inside of this,” she observes aloud before passing it on to the next seamstress for consultation. In their own casual – but expert – way these women are reverse-engineering products like this necklace all the time. Kiran is a not-for-profit business started by the staff at Shalom, an NGO … Read More
by: Sarah K Lent begins on March 1; in the weeks leading up to Easter, Christians around the world spend extra time fasting, praying, and reflecting. This year, SIM Stories invites you to journey through Lent with Chetna, a community health, and development program in North India. May their work inspire you this Lenten season. When Madhu studied community development, his university professors said it was a job that would take a lifetime or more. Perhaps back then, he didn’t feel the weight of that as he does now, twenty-five years later. Jolting along the unpaved dirt road, Madhu goes through a list of unusual things he’s seen while driving. Once there were two men with a long metal container precariously balance on their heads as they zipped down the road on their motorbike. “People here have a lot of creativity,” he laughs. Bihar isn’t a place usually lauded for … Read More
Driving through a city in India, we turned suddenly onto a narrow lane with three-story buildings towering overhead. There was normal commerce at street level, but from the upper stories young women were leaning out the windows, casting alluring gazes on the men below. This was the red light district. We parked and walked past the crowds into the Beauty for Ashes Restoration Home (B4A)—a haven of safety where women escape the bondage of prostitution and addiction. Inside, the women were going about their lives in peace and dignity, laughing and working together. But there was something else that stabbed my heart with pain. Because I suddenly realized they were not grown women at all. They were young girls—nine, ten, eleven years old. Their childhood had been ripped away, replaced with a life of bondage and abuse. And that was all they had to look forward to—until now. It made … Read More
by Sarah K. Sitting behind the desk in her hospital office, Dr. Vandana points to a faded picture of a mousy girl. The girl’s clothes are slightly too big; they seem to swallow her, like the timidity clinging to her features. “No one wanted to be my friend,” Vandana recalls, laughing ruefully. She regularly failed exams and often found herself on the bench in class reserved for the worst performing students, which didn’t help her shyness. When her parents announced to relatives or neighbors their plans to make her a doctor, Vandana would look for a place to hide. It’s hard to find a trace of that girl as Vandana, now actually a doctor, bustles down one of the hospital’s outdoor corridors, her arms full of papers. She’s moving so quickly that her green dupatta (long scarf) and dark shoulder-length hair flutter out behind her in the morning breeze. It … Read More
by Suzanne Green, India Effervescent, 18-year-old Pooja loves to dance and lights up the room with her smile. But, her laughter hides a heartrending story of abuse by those who should have protected her. Pooja was a happy, carefree little girl until the day her father started to see her differently, and subjected her to treatment she did not at first understand. She had no knowledge of what was happening to her, rape and sexual abuse. Pooja told her mother, who turned a blind eye to the situation. And no relatives came to her aid. As time went on, things got worse: her father and mother began acting as her pimps. Soon other men, not just her father, regularly used her for sex. She was taken to live with her father in Delhi on the pretext of being sent to school. There besides sexual abuse, she endured her alcoholic father’s … Read More
One of the Biblical Counseling Trust of India (BCTI) trainers was coaching a local leader who is gifted in the area of preaching, discipleship and the knowledge of both English and the local language. The potential for effectiveness of this leader in the area of Asia we work in is exceptional. As he was listening to this leader, it was obvious they were weighing whether to stay in Asia or work in another area of the world almost solely based on the evaluation of their “personal effectiveness”. As they talked the leader shared how they had made sacrifices, and came to this place partly based on the assumption of how effective they would be. They felt torn between God’s obvious calling and blessing on them here and “missing the mark” of what they had hoped to accomplish in this place.
For the last 23 years, Pastor Tommy has committed his life to serving in Delhi. Pastor Tommy and his family have worked faithfully with God to grow a church out of a small slum school. As they invested in the lives of the people in their church, they came across many issues, which he found difficult to address with simple pastoral care techniques. And as he came alongside others, he noticed many of these issues mirrored in his own life. He began to openly share about his struggles and confess to fellow church leaders and realized that it seemed none of them had ever dealt with the root of their problems. This realization and the growing number of problems that his church members encountered gave birth to the thirst and hunger for counseling ministry.
Our pastor stopped his explanation of the interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. There had been increasing disruption from the back of the church, and though I couldn’t distinguish the words it was distracting enough that it could not be ignored. “Auntie ,” he addressed an older lady in the back, “please speak to Bharti.” Auntie stood to go to the young woman sitting near the aisle. Bharti (not her real name) was rocking back and forth, clothes unkempt, hair unusually tangled and matted.
On days like these, I wonder who thought it was a good idea to approve me for ministry – let alone in a foreign country. When the weight of the heat and the weight of what it takes just to live here presses in harder than usual. When the only reaction that seems possible for my homesick heart is frustration and anger.
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