A bright light in IndiaRich Stigall
GO Project India Trip Report, July, 2014
With 1.2 billion people, a growing economy, a competitive educational system, and a solid labor force where six-day work weeks and a spirit of entrepreneurship are prevalent, India has moved past its history of colonialism and its caste-system silos to establish itself as an emerging power on the global scene. Unfortunately, a rising tide doesn’t necessarily float all ships. An estimated 250 million people in India still live on less than a dollar a day. Inadequate sanitation, malnutrition, prostitution, and HIV oppress the poor.
India is a religious nation, but not all religions esteem caring for the sick, the orphan and widow. Faiths that embrace reincarnation find grounds to dismiss the plight of the suffering as justice for sins committed in a previous life. Believers, who Jesus commands to love their neighbor and to care for the orphan and widow, comprise less than four percent of the population. In fact, the country has more orphans than Christians, and many in the majority view Christianity as an unwelcome backdoor for the westernization of Indian culture. Amidst numerical weakness and periodic persecution, the church in India shines the light of the Gospel.
One bright light is Bethel Gospel Church (BGC), headquartered in Hyderabad, one of India’s five largest cities. With its network of dozens of churches across the state of Andra Pradesh, BGC has been loving their neighbor in the name of Jesus since 1985. BGC had a God-honoring orphan care ministry long before GO Project booked our first airline ticket. That said, we are grateful for the role God has given us.
Since 2011, GO India (GO Project’s sister organization, led by Executive Director, Mary Priscilla and her husband, Paul) has considered it a privilege to help the church in India care of the orphan, the widow, and families in their communities. Their ministry is healthy, beautiful, and growing. Below are some images and opportunities we brought home from our recent trip to India.
India is a striking country, filled with beautiful children served by a committed Church. Dr. Sujay, GO India Trustee, believes that “the Church in India completes the Body of Christ.” Big words, but when considering J.I. Packer’s thought that the church should be “raising its voice to remind the world of what has been forgotten,” then witnessing Bethel Gospel’s sacrificial service and commitment to love their neighbor, Dr. Sujay may be right. Why not come with us and decide for yourself? Visit GO India on a summer 2015 Vision Trip. Exact date will be driven by demand and availability. E-mail Jake at Jake@goproject.org to learn more.
If God is a Father to the Orphan (Psalm 68:5) and the Church is the Bride of Christ, then the Church is to be the mother/caregiver to children who need family. Our church partners around the world embrace this truth, but none more effectively than in India. In the city of Hyderabad, Bethel Gospel Church has been ministering to the poor in the slums of Amberpet since 1985. They have an active orphan care ministry. They operate a monthly HIV Clinic serving 175 and adult literacy programs. They provide the community with clean drinking water, share the Gospel with more than 200 children/1,200 adults per week, and so much more.
Immediate opportunity: Bethel Gospel needs partners to help finish their church building, which serves as a home base from which they launch their ministry to the surrounding city.
Rural Orphan Care
Bethel Gospel in Sarampet is caring for 40 of God’s children at the Father’s House, with plans to add two homes for widows. Currently, the girls are living with Pastor Vijay and his wife, Soni, as their homes finish.
Immediate opportunity: Bethel Gospel needs partners to help finish the girls’ home and the widows’ home later this year.
Urban Orphan Care
In 2003, Bethel Gospel (BGC) began caring for the orphan. Many of the children have grown up, like these teenage girls living at the House of Champions in Amberpet, a transition home helping young ladies work their way through college. If GO Project folded tomorrow, BGC would continue to care for orphans. We simply have the privilege of helping them do more of what the Lord has asked them to do. Later this year, BGC will welcome more children into their family, as they open a second Father’s House to 32 sons and daughters of the king who will live on the floor above the church sanctuary in Hyderabad.
Immediate opportunity: Bethel Gospel needs partners to help finish/furnish the Father’s House at BGC.
Rural Orphan Prevention
In Sarampet, Bethel Gospel Church gives 100 children in the community a safe place to spend the afternoon when school gets out. The kids receive a meal, a chance to play a few games (like cricket), and an introduction to the Good News of Jesus Christ. For many children, this is the highlight of their day; a tangible expression of love that helps keep them safe and helps keep their family intact.
Immediate opportunity: Bethel Gospel needs partners to fund this after school program. $10 per child/total of $1,000 per month.
Urban Orphan Prevention
In an effort to make Hyderabad the first slum-free city in India, the government moved people out of shanties and into clean, high-rise project housing at NTR Nagar. Sounds great. The only problem is NTR Nagar is remote. Jobs are few. Water is scarce. People are isolated. Opportunity is limited. Life is hard. Our partners estimate half of the people who received housing at NTR are now trying to sell it and move back into the city. In the midst of the difficulty, Pastor Gopi and BGC/NTR Nagar are ministering to families and children who are struggling to make it.
Mid-term opportunity: GO India is working with Pastor Gopi to equip and resource his church’s twelve cell group leaders to expand their orphan prevention ministry within the projects.
The Father’s Farm is a 16-acre sustainability project that has the ability to make the Father’s House at Sarampet completely food independent. In its second year of operation, the farm boast a variety of crops and animals that are already contributing to the orphan care ministry. However, without a tractor, significant funds are required each year to rent needed equipment.
Immediate opportunity: John Deere has a local dealership. For $22,000, the Father’s Farm can purchase its own tractor, eliminating several thousand in annual rental fees, as well as capitalizing its own “tractor rental” business on down days. Estimated break-even is four years. Estimated life of a well-maintained tractor is easily 12-15.
Last year Bethel Gospel held a bible camp for previously-orphaned children and their care givers. An amazing week became an immediate tradition.
Near-term opportunity: $3,000 will fund this year’s orphan Bible camp in India, presenting the Gospel in an engaging, life-giving format to more than 100 children and their church family/house parents.