Ministry Visits Conclude Delegation’s India Trip

Post a Comment » Written on May 27th, 2008     
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PUNE, IN (May 27, 2008) – Dedication of an expanded high school facility, visits to an area hospital and a vocational training center, and a tour of a water well drilling operation were among highlights that concluded a two-week visit by six representatives of the Evangelical Covenant Church to various communities in India.

A key focus of the trip was exploring ways to expand partnerships with the Hindustani Covenant Church (HCC), especially in areas of alleviating poverty and combating human trafficking. To read an earlier story, see Exploring Partnerships.

KidsA service of dedication for a new wing at the HCC English Medium School in Solapur was led by Mark Olson, dean of enrollment and director of church relations at North Park University.  The school educates more than 1,200 students ages three through 15, most of them coming from poor families.

The Hindustani church ministers to impoverished children – many known simply as “rag pickers” as well as others whose parents work in the sex industry. Delegation visits included “rag picker” children in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), the largest city in India. The lower photo shows some of the children with Debbie Blue, executive minister of the Department of Compassion, Mercy and Justice.

The children scrounge through refuse searching for pieces of plastic and cloth to sell to supplement their family income. Children begin working at age five or six and most never attend school. The children’s parents have given HCC permission to provide two hours a day of non-formal education.

The church also provides health check-ups, food, and family counseling. The goal is to eventually enable the children to get into a regular school.

This year’s Children’s Service Project, co-sponsored by Covenant World Relief and the Department of Christian Formation, will enable the HCC to improve the facilities and services they provide to the children who work in the dump.

DumpThe delegation also visited the red-light district of Pune, where the HCC ministers to the children of sex workers (top photo), providing non-formal education and teaching songs and Bible stories.

Parents generally have been forced into the trade. One effort funded by Women Ministries’ Break the Chains project will enable the HCC to counsel and train workers and provide small loans to help them leave the sex industry.

Other visits included a women’s empowerment training center; St. Luke’s Medical Center (HCC facility serving 40 small villages); Solapur Water Services, a company connected to HCC that bores wells for draught-stricken areas in India; a vocational school teaching small motor repair, motorcycle repair, animal husbandry, and cell phone repair; HIV Aids work among the poor; support group for Eunuchs; several micro economic projects; women’ cooperative savings groups; Truth Seekers organization in Delhi, and an HCC village church.

“I believe there is much that we . . . can learn from the way in which HCC proclaims the love of God in word and deed – addressing spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the villages and communities,” says David Husby, who with his wife, Rhonna, serve as co-coordinators for the Asia region in the Department of World Mission.

Other members of the delegation include Ruth Hill, executive minister of Women Ministries; Walter Contreras, director of mission mobilization and connection for the Department of World Mission; Karen Hallberg, associate director for mission mobilization and connection; and Boaz Johnson, assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University.

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