NARROW RESULTSby Month:
Our Staff Blog
We arrived at our first Sunday church service and I witnessed God’s perfect, with a capital P, timing. With all these new emotions and thoughts, I sat down in the second row in front of the worship band and preacher. The songs were a mix of Hindi and English, the English songs being ones I knew from the states, so I instantly felt at home and was eager to hear whatever God had to say. And boy, did He speak.
The sermon was solely focused on God using anyone, no matter their weaknesses or
their believed limitations. The preacher introduced the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, a story I had heard many times before. Being the King’s first appearance here, many would have thought that He would ride in on a strong stallion. But as always, He had a better plan. He chose a donkey. He gave the donkey a purpose, and with Jesus on his back, that donkey was steered down the most important path of his life. When the donkey (us) let Jesus take over, he received the greatest purpose one could ask for. All he had to do was submit to Him - and it can be the same for us.
I knew that God was saying that my time of service in India wasn’t even about me and my contribution, but about Him and what He was going to do through me and in me. Armed with this truth, I could be at peace, expectantly watching how God would use me and our team during our time in Goa.
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.”
1 Corinthians 1:27
-C., US staff, Goa intern
Posted: September 8th, 2015
Piya is the daughter of a farmer, born and brought up in Bangladesh where she had three brothers and one older sister. After her older sister married, Piya was required to work on the farm and in the home, but she wanted to do more to help her parents. So, she went to seek help from one of her cousins, who had just arrived from Mumbai. He promised her to get a good job in Mumbai, and took her with him when he returned. Instead of helping her, though, Piya’s cousin sold her to a brothel and disappeared. Of course, he had not told her what kind of job she would have to do but abandoned her to be forced into sex work.
Posted: May 18th, 2015
So what is the “slum” anyway? Let me tell you about it. I was curious before I went (I was also afraid...a little bit). The word slum tends to carry with it an ominous reputation and frightening unknown. But I wanted to know who was under the blanket of tin roofs and feel their sense of community, even though I couldn’t fully participate. When we walk in, the paths are made of bricks and usually have some garbage or water residue over part. If you’re really curious to what it smells like, go stick your head in your garbage can (really, go do it). The smell sometimes makes me want to choke, but if we keep walking we can also smell some food cooking in turmeric, ginger, or masala spice. People pass time on their front steps talking or playing a game on the ground or picking head lice out of each other and wave as we pass, or just watch. I don’t expect everyone to be friendly. Sewage ditches run under the brick and open into troughs that wind their way in between the houses. Women do laundry outside their doors by rinsing clothes in a bucket and fiercely rubbing them on a rock or clean piece of ground. Goats, dogs, chickens, and cats dart through the streets and when one dog had a new litter of puppies it seemed like every home had a new pet. The babies don't wear diapers because they are too expensive, so when they need to go, they just...go (wherever that may be). We walk all the way to the bottom to get to the ministry place, and arrive with a child or two holding our hands, kids that know us. Once as we walked down we heard the children singing “Rejoice in the Lord Always” (a song we taught them several days before) with each other, unprompted. That was the best sound to welcome us.
— Charles Spurgeon
100% of the kids below don't have toilets in their homes. They walk into the fields above their house to use the bathroom and have to go with a partner, because rape is common in these scenarios. They don't understand manners or personal space, because the slum community is one of walking into each other's homes without permission and children being taken care of by whoever is around. They play roughly with each other. Once I glanced outside and one of the girls was choking a small boy against a wall until I told her to stop, and then she laughed. They learn this from the way their parents treat them. Some of them spend their mornings at the stitching center location because of child molesters who prey on children left unsupervised for hours while their parents work. Five girls have disappeared just this year. I know a girl who is just thirteen, raped by her uncle four months ago, but they never reported the crime because it will make arranging a marriage for her too difficult. We teach a bible lesson each week for a group of children where it seems any child who is at least six years old is taking care of a baby (even if a one of the girl's arms is broken and in a cast, and she winces each time she picks up the infant she is responsible for). In America we barely leave children with a friend from church but this is normalcy in other cultures.
— Isaiah 54:4-5
It's easy for people to become objects of bewilderment or pity, and it's easy to feel sympathy and sadness. Our hearts will break. That's okay. What's more important is to remain aware of the differences and THANKFUL for our circumstances. Even better -- give. I even don't mean financially, although that would be great too, but learn to be a servant in the ways you can in the life you live now. Almost every time I walk into a home here they offer me chai or a piece of fruit and immediately find a chair for us to sit on. Even with a ditch of raw sewage running outside their door I feel taken care of. I feel honored and worthwhile. Can you imagine the lives we could impact if we used our resources in the same way? Take a glimpse into their life, not even as far away from ours as we think. Circumstances are the only separation.
- Rachel, Goa intern
Posted: May 12th, 2015
What comes to your mind if you hear someone say they earned good money when getting paid? To a woman from a red light district it means dignity! We began a vocational training program in January in one of the red light areas teaching a simple bracelet. The bracelet is made from many colored glass beads. When they were paid for their work they were so excited and said to our Director, " This is the first good money we have ever made." It is amazing how God can take something that we think is so simple and turn it into something that has so much meaning and dignity. The bracelet comes beautifully packaged in a bag made in our prevention program.
Posted: May 11th, 2015
Our team had been asked to perform some songs as well as a skit, so we had spent the previous day and that morning preparing a small act based on the story of Zaccheus. I had the extreme honor to take the lead role, since I was the shortest of all the team members. The children especially appreciated the performance, and we tried to make the most dramatic and silly facial expressions in order to keep their attention. They were seated just below the stage so they could see and hear us easily and they liked it more than anyone else in the audience. So we considered our mission in that respect accomplished.
I was very impressed with how organized and well behaved the children were. The volunteer girls placed them in rows on mats on the floor, and when it was their turn to go up, there was barely any confusion. To see their small figures dancing and singing on the stage, the girls’ little ankle bracelets like tiny bells on their feet, was a sight that brought joy to all of us. Most of the acts were songs or dances, although there was one contest to see who out of seven women had the longest hair. It was really interesting to watch all these women, dressed in beautiful saris, with shy and happy smiles, letting down their hair. I was too far away to see what the prize was, but the winner looked delighted to have won, and she was certainly beautiful with extremely long hair.
It was also wonderful to witness the sermon spoken in Hindi, because though we could not understand any of the words, we knew that he was proclaiming Jesus Christ to hundreds of non-believers. He was powerful in his presentation, and his words carried throughout the whole building. It was exciting to think about how God may have been speaking through this man to more than one individual present.
After the sermon, there was more dancing. As we had a prior commitment elsewhere, we had decided to leave after the next act, but in the middle of the dance that was being performed, suddenly the music stopped and the lights went out. Mackey said, “Well, the party is over I guess” and we shuffled down the aisle to retrieve our shoes and go home. We left suddenly, because the room was filled with people, and we needed to leave quickly before traffic through the narrow door got too bad. But a few days later, one of our team members brought home gifts from the preschool director for each one of us: Indian sweets. We have yet to personally meet the preschool director, but she was extremely gracious at the party when she was introducing the girls, and it was wonderful how the children reached for her hands and loved and respected her.
We are all so blessed to be here interacting with these people, building relationships, and spreading Christ’s love to everyone we meet. But often times, they give us more love than we could ever have expected.
Posted: January 16th, 2015
After being in the slums for a day, however, it was obvious that we wouldn’t know exactly what to expect at the party. Our host asked us to come at four o’clock, and the program was supposed to start at five, so we waited inside the building they use for their ministry.
We waited. The children were crowding around the door. “Hi Rrrrrruby!” they would say. They always give the R in my name a long roll, which makes me smile. But the husband and wife hosts kept shooing them away. He said we had to stay hidden, otherwise we would attract too much attention, and everybody in the slum was getting ready for the big event. We weren’t even allowed to go see where the party was going to take place. Our host’s mother served us chai and Indian sweets, and I thought at least I had got one aspect of the party straight.
Meanwhile, there was a general air of excitement hovering in the narrow passageways of the slum. Girls were coming in and out of the building, half-smiling, nervous, and utterly preoccupied. Every time one of them came in, they had a new feature added—a fancy dress or a kurta, a different scarf, several pairs of gold earrings in their ears, their hair oiled and pulled back to look shiny and smooth.
And the tinkling—we were always hearing the tinkling sound of silver bracelets draped around their thin ankles. Our anticipation was beginning to build. Some of the children who were not performing were allowed in the room to sit on our laps to play games. I taught one little girl how to play “Slide,” a hand clapping game with countless rounds. Every round a new number is added, so you count: One, one two, one two three—etc.
We could at last sense that everything was almost ready. It was hard to believe we had been waiting for almost two hours. Our host’s wife walked in, utterly transformed by a lovely dress, jewelry and makeup. We all exclaimed at how beautiful she was, and we teased our host that he was a lucky man. He smiled proudly at her, and she laughed shyly at all of us. But we were happy to see them both dressed up and looking their best. They were, after all, the hosts of the celebration.
Finally they let us out. Our host and his wife cleaned up the area where the stage was set up. They had swept it clean and rented three hundred chairs. Everything was neat and in order. Children were flocking, and those who were performing stood restlessly next to the stage. Our host’s wife showed us to our seats. The children had saved the best one in front for our photographer, and then some of the girls from the team and Jon dispersed to sit with the children, who claimed them as “new best friend” or “favorite.” As for me, my little girl came to sit with me, and the “Slide” game continued while we waited.
More people were gathering. The chairs filled up quickly with happy mothers and siblings, and there was a general feeling of sweat, mosquitoes, and excitement all around us. I was still occupied with “Slide”. Well, I thought, at least she’s learning to count in English.
Finally, the generator arrived. Our host announced the first couple of acts, and the slow hum of talk around us died down to a quiet whisper. The girls and boys, shy and nervous and excited, got up on stage and in the proper position for the first dance. It was the first of many dances, most of them Indian style dancing. It was my first time witnessing this type of dancing, and I found myself full of happiness watching them, and constantly fighting the impulse to get up and dance myself. I was also struck by how well and happily the boys danced with the girls.
The highlight of the entire night was when they performed the Christmas story. Our host’s wife narrated from a children’s book about the birth of Christ, while the children acted it out. Some of their facial expressions were wonderfully dramatic and in tune with the story, particularly the little boy who played Herod. He managed to convey a strong air of pomp and arrogance, so that the audience expressed delight at his acting.
It was not difficult to see how proud the parents were of their children, and how happy they were to see them preforming. After the children’s program, our host called us a taxi so that we wouldn’t have to try and navigate the city and bus system in the dark. By the time we left, there were probably about six hundred people present. The men had come and gathered in a large arc around the performance area. Some were even watching from the sides of the road.
~ R, Goa Intern
Posted: January 16th, 2015