Miriam and Monica are two of the first volunteers to be sent by the Church of the Nazarene in India in many years. They represent a wave of young Nazarenes who are sensing God’s call into cross-cultural ministry and are ready to answer that call.
Last summer’s Eurasia Mission Orientation, held in Bangalore, attracted 21 participants, mostly from India, but included a few from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as well. All were there to find out what it would mean to live and serve God in a cross-cultural context, whether in their own nation or somewhere else on the Eurasia Region, which includes Nazarene churches across Eastern and Western Europe, India, South Asia, and the Middle East. The orientation was held as part of the region’s M+Power ministry, which exists to identify, recruit, train and deploy volunteers into cross-cultural ministry.
In January this year, after raising their support funds, the two young women journeyed to Kolkata to assist a local Nazarene church with overseeing a Nazarene Compassionate Ministries child development center, teach Sunday school, and also after-school tutoring, computer, and English classes. After three months there, they traveled to Samakhiyali, on the west coast, to work with a Nazarene school there to continue in their one-year commitment.
Recently, they reported on how God has been working through them.
"The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24
God has fulfilled this promise in our life and he is continuing to do so.
The day we came here to Samakhiyali, it was a very bright and sunny day and we could not take the heat. According to the people here, it seems that the temperature rises up to 46 C degrees (114 F) and more. We were scared initially, but here is where we started experiencing the provision and care of our Lord. The very next week we could see clouds hovering over the sky, bringing shade for almost two to three weeks — although it did not rain — and we were thanking God for this as it was going to take some time for us to get adjusted to these weather conditions. It’s not only about the weather; keeping in mind the climatic condition, our host, Mr. Solomon, provided us a refrigerator so that we could enjoy cold water as well as refrigerate our things.
One day, after the school hours, we were extremely hungry but too tired to cook and hoped that God would provide food just like he provided [the prophet] Elijah (1 Kings 17). Within some time, our neighbor brought food to our doorstep. It was amazing to know the grace of the Lord in providing for His children, even listening to unspoken prayers.
Rev. DS Gawali (Western Maharashtra District) recently visited the school for the church dedication service and he met us. He blessed us with financial help; this was something unexpected through which we could again experience God’s grace.
Another time we were in need of some notebooks, and at the initial stage it was not possible for us to spend on this need, so we just prayed about it. One day Monica was cleaning the table that was provided by the administration and she could not open the drawer, so she called for the key. She was told the key was lost, so there was no other option than to break open the drawer.
It was to our utmost surprise to see unused new notebooks – almost a dozen of them. Again, we thank God as we have this testimony of God’s provision in our life.
The most beautiful experience of all is having a fellowship, though far away from home, with the children that we teach, guidance from a fatherly figure like Mr. Solomon and many helpful neighbors. Hence, we do not feel alone and left out.
From the very first week, the pastor handed us a responsibility of leading the youth group. We wondered how to lead these youth, as we observed them to be weak spiritually. We thought that we needed to develop them from the ground level, and thus we thought about the Student Alpha course which starts with the question of the existence of God and proceeds to the knowledge of who Jesus really is and why we need to experience the love He has for us in our lives, personally. We are leading them in worship songs and teaching them how to intercede and also pray personally.
Plans for the future
We have a plan of setting up a play/activity room to help the kids to improve their intellectual/analytical ability. We are planning to start this from the month of January 2017.
The place where we are right now is a spiritually dry land; most of the people here follow another faith. Sharing the gospel and using the name of Jesus publicly is not allowed. This school was built after the massive earthquake in 2001 (Gujarat) to benefit the children with education. As we hear from Mr. Solomon there was much opposition from the local people to start a Christian school as they thought the school would focus on converting the children to Christianity rather than educating them. Even at such opposition, he stood strong and started this school.
Mr. Solomon discussed with us regarding many implementations that could be done in the school, which will help the students to develop their abilities holistically. Initially, he disagreed with the plans that we suggested to have spiritual-based camps, considering the political and religious obstacles towards Christianity. So we prayed about this. Later, Mr. Solomon agreed for a camp during the winter holidays with the condition that we should instill Christian values by using the name of “God.” We have planned for the winter camp under the theme “Superheroes.” This camp will be from 13 to 16 November 2016.
We request your prayers for the provision of the materials needed for this camp. We are very few in number and we expected the registrations to be around 30 to 40 students, but to our surprise there are more than 140 signed in for the camp. Kindly pray that we can manage all these children.
Why cross-cultural service
Cross-cultural mission work gives a broader perspective towards doing mission among various cultural groups which have various traditions and customs. Adapting to a new culture is a challenge, but it is discovering how God’s amazing grace is working among the unreached people. Some statistics show the Eastern world is growing in Christianity because of missionaries showing Christlike love and care for the people.
To explore a variety of cuisines, clothes, and different art forms is very interesting as it gives us an opportunity to serve the Lord in a contextualized form. This gives the world to know about the cultures that haven’t been explored yet in missions. Therefore we urge all of us to participate on this platform where you are given a chance to serve the Lord by accepting a different culture than yours.
"The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." God fulfilled this promise in our life and he is continuing to do so. We are grateful to our mentors Sarah and Dheera for their continuous support, encouragement, and prayers.