Our Staff Blog

Our Staff Blog

When God Speaks

Our first Sunday in India came at a perfect time for me. We had been there for five days at that point and had visited almost all of the programs where we would be volunteering. With the sweet faces of these children in mind, I found myself trying to figure out what it was that I would be contributing to them while on this trip (this, in addition to overcoming the shock of this new and beautiful culture I would be living in for the next month). With only a few weeks, I wanted to do as much as a could to make a difference. Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind.
          
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

Story of Piya

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.

8 years later, she is still in Mumbai, sending money to her parents and brothers.  Through Rahab’s Rope, though, she has now learned to make bracelets and sees that she can earn money doing good work. When she first received the payment for making bracelets, her joy was uncontainable, as she said, “this is the first good money we have earned.”  She then kissed her payment saying, “My heart is filled with joy as I am holding it.

Tears filled her eyes, as she said how much she wished she had known Rahab’s Rope earlier; if so, she would have learned something then.  Now, 8 years after she first was trafficked, Piya has returned to Bangladesh, armed not only with a skill, but more significantly, with the hope and dignity that there can be life outside of the brothels.  While leaving, she whispered to our staff, “I am going to start a new life.”



Posted: May 18th, 2015

THE SLUM (INDIA, POST 5)

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.


“All the nations upon earth are his; the whole world is in his power; yet are his people, his chosen, more especially his possession; for he has done more for them than the others; he has bought them with his blood; he has brought them nigh to himself; he has set his great heart upon them; he has loved them with an everlasting love, a love which many waters cannot quench, and which the revolutions of time shall never suffice to diminish.”

— Charles Spurgeon


Sometimes I still feel unsure and nervous from “what are you doing here” stares from adults, but something changed a few weeks ago. We spent time with fourteen women and their children making photos together and connecting on the, “you’re beautiful, and do you know what? I think what you have here is beautiful” level. It’s amazing to see people open up when they feel valued. I entered their homes, most of them the size of my bedroom, where I noticed none of them had a single photograph on the wall or bed to sleep on (some just have mattress pads). But we connected there in the place they live. A home is always special, regardless of size or wealth inside. Now there’s a different level of familiarity where they smile and wave like friends, give me a hug, or place a hand on my back when I greet them. We laugh together and say through smiles, “I like you.” We have built trust and I don’t feel a bit uncomfortable around them because I know they would take care of me and we have friendship where words are secondary.

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.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
The God of the whole earth he is called. ”

— 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.

“Teach me the wilderness of simplicity.
Help me to point to you, honestly and joyously,
as the threshold of all that really matters.”
                                                                                                                                                                  — Calvin Miller

- Rachel, Goa intern
http://www.rachelclarkephotography.com/blog/2015/2/13/india-post-5






















Posted: May 12th, 2015

Good Money!

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.
Join us in lifting up these beautiful women.


Coat of Many Colors










Posted: May 11th, 2015

Celebrating Christmas in a Goa Pre-School


While we had had the opportunity to connect with the children in the slum ministry and therefore appreciate their talents even more, we had never met the director of one of Rahab’s Rope’s partner pre-school programs or the children under her care.  However, it was still quite an experience.  The director was prepared for five hundred guests, but I estimate that maybe six hundred or more were gathered in that large, airy room.  Out of the windows we could see the jungle stretching out before us, and since it was almost evening, the air had started to cool and circulate, which greatly blessed us. 




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. 

~ R, Goa Intern



Posted: January 16th, 2015

Celebrating Christmas in the Slums of India




Mackey had told us before that we would be going to several Christmas parties during our time in Goa.  In my Americanized head, I wondered how doing Christmas parties could be considered ministry work. I was imagining cookies and eggnog. Oh, it’s India—maybe it will be cookies and tea instead.  And talking—lots of talking.   

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.  



When we were on the fifteenth round and my hands were beginning to feel sore, our host informed us that the generator would not start, so they had to wait for a new one from the airport.  We were slightly concerned about this delay, as our cook back home would have our dinner ready by seven thirty, and it was already drawing towards seven.  But we soon realized that Americans would be the only ones to mind.  In India, these things happened all the time. 

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. 



But when the angel came to announce the birth of Christ to the shepherds, our hearts melted. She came out, waving her little arms gracefully and swaying from side to side in her beautiful white dress.  She is nine years old, but because of a deformity in her legs, she is the size of a three year old. Her height is just above my knee, and I am as short as the average Indian.  Though it was dark outside, it seemed like her face was lighting up the entire stage with joy.  She was illuminated from the inside out, and her smile reached out to all of us.   


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. 

We were sorry to not be able to stay for the entire party, but we were thankful that we were able to see all of the children perform.  What made it so special for us was that we had the opportunity to meet and connect with them the day before, so having already formed a bond with some of them, they were even more proud and excited to perform for us. 

It was a long, exhausting, beautiful day, and when we returned home that night, our cook had left a hot dinner in the kitchen for us.  So we know not only that all things work together for our good, but also that these children were beautifully made in God’s image, and it was our joy and privilege to witness their talents at the Christmas Party that night. 


~ R, Goa Intern


Posted: January 16th, 2015
Copyright © 2011 Rahab's Rope. Internet Marketing Company: Full Media