A recent mission trip to India has become just as transformational for the nine members of our Churton Park whānau who went as it was for the people they went to serve. In October 2019, the group, led by parishioner Kishore Govind, travelled to Andhra Pradesh, one of India’s poorest states, where about 40% of its 76 million inhabitants live below the poverty line. They visited and worked with Mercy Mission Welfare Society, which hosts a welfare home for 140 homeless children, an English-medium school with 750 students, a vocational training centre for widows, a medical centre, a Bible school and theological seminary; as well as a mission centre in Nepal with 100 full-time missionaries.
The Parish Chaplain, Roger Ellis, told us that much of their preparation had involved reflection on scriptures about God’s love, and how He uses us as channels of His love. Yet the agenda for the trip was left very fluid until they arrived. “This meant that we had to trust God with the details of each day and prepare as best we could for all eventualities. It also meant we had to trust our fellow team members as we worked together. The amazing thing was that by God’s grace we were able to accomplish far more as a team than we would have expected at the outset.”
The team worked hard preparing church services, sermons, testimonies, lessons for Bible College students, and even running a holiday programme for over 100 children throughout the week. During their stay, they were able to encourage a group who had gathered for a pre-planned baptism service – and perhaps by God’s inspiration – more people came forward for baptism than was originally planned.
Yet in all of their hard work, the missionaries were themselves impacted by their experiences. “On a number of occasions, we discovered that we were the ones being encouraged and supported – by our hosts, by the students and the children,” Roger told us. Another member of the group, Roger Peel, reported of his experience ministering to the children, teenagers and Bible College students: “Their hunger for God’s word and a deepening of their faith were clearly evident. We were inspired by their joy and laughter, by their caring love for each other, and for us and for God. We came to India hoping to impart some things to help them but they have given us so much more in return.”
The group have returned full of gratitude for the “beautiful chaos” of India and for the wonderful hospitality received, trusting that God had used them to impart something of value into the lives of those who were there. If you want to find out more about Mercy Mission, you can visit their website here.