Today was an incredible day and will be so hard to capture with words and even pictures. We had the chance to visit and participate in several of Harvest India’s outreach programs. I will do my best to sum up each of today’s events with a few words and pictures. Just know that God is moving in absolutely incredible ways here at Harvest India and their incredible organization and strategic planning has created a sustainable, long-term ministry.
A quick recap. Our team of 7 includes Ryan and Danielle Axtell, Marty and Mary McIntire, Heather Nyhart, Kara Cox, and Niall McSheffrey. They will be able to read any comments you leave so feel free to share this experience with us!
Our team helped lead a service at one of the local churches. I played a few songs, Marty and Mary shared their testimonies, and Niall shared a message on how to reach the next generation of Indians…all through a translator of course! Its amazing to hear God’s name glorified in other languages! The congregation also sang several songs in their state language to the accompaniment of a tambourine and pitched drums. Men and women sat in separate areas and their were many more women than men. Suresh told us that getting women to come to the church was the key to getting the families to come to church as they had the “real power” in the household. Christianity is a stark contrast to Hinduism, which worships over 330 million different gods with the highest deity being the cow. The church leaders go to great lengths to communicate that Jesus is THE ONLY GOD, and not another deity to add to the collection. Suresh’s ministry has planted over 1400 churches in India over the last 42 years and train up in their Bible Colleges over 100 new church planters a year!
Food distribution/Medical Center
The team helps the Harvest India Staff pass out food.
Below, Saresh shows us the Medical Center Harvest India runs a Mercy Camp food distribution every Saturday, which provides food to the street children and beggars who otherwise have to beg or steal their food. We had the privilege of passing out bananas, eggs, and bread to roughly 500 people. It was incredibly emotional to stare such depravity in the face, yet be a part of the solution. Additionally it was amazing to see so many joyful and excited faces among the children who lived every day struggling to find food and water.
Harvest India also runs a free health clinic as part of the Mercy Camp, which supplies free medical care and supplies to the “Untouchables” who would be turned away from the government hospitals. Christian’s are part of the lowest caste system along with the Untouchables due to their belief in the “poor man’s God.” Fellow Indians do not normally help others for fear of getting involved in that person’s Karma: they believe that your life situation is a result of your past life and must be carried out until you are reincarnated into a better situation. Christianity is spreading incredibly fast among the lower caste systems because of the love and care the Christian Indians show to the lowest of low who are normally neglected. An incredible example of how God can work through the darkest situations!
The village President helps dedicate the well.
Immediately after our visit to Mercy Camp we drove an hour out of the city to a local village to dedicate a well. This particular village had no fresh water and the villagers had to walk 3 miles to the next village. For $1000, Harvest India constructed a well (far superior to the government ones) that provides fresh water for 300-500 families! Now that is value! The village was so joyful for the prayer from “Pastor Marty” and the blessings from our team members…it was truly a joyful experience, complete with drumming and a ribbon cutting!
The school’s dormitory.
The nursing students. On our way back to Suresh’s house we visited one of two nursing schools in Tenali. This school provides nursing training to the women of the Untouchable Caste System so they can good jobs and stand on their own two feet. The two schools currently house 120 nurses in training, who will graduate in 6 months. Several of the students shared their stories and expressed how thankful they were for the opportunity to study and grow and value in society. Several team members including myself then spoke encouragement over them (translated) and Danielle prayed over them as well. An amazing night with an amazing group of young women! Due to Harvest India’s reputation and recognition of their superior teaching methods, the government helped fund the building of the schools and the educational program. They are still in need of mattresses and fans for the dormitories, nursing uniforms, school materials, and examination fees. You can find out how to give towards these needs HERE.
At the end of the day, the girls were taken to pick up their traditional Indian dress, called Saris, which they will wear the rest of the week when in public. They were incredibly beautiful and the girls were very excited! Thank you for your prayers and we look forward to sharing the rest of our time here with you.
– R. Axtell