Posts Tagged ‘Eternal Joy’

Wanna Play?, by Keith Ogilvie, Back2Back India Mission Trip Participant

September 23, 2010

The youth group at Braddock Street United Methodist Church (BSUMC) in Winchester, Virginia has participated in many mission trip projects over the course of the teenage years of my family’s six children. We have been to the hills of West Virginia and South Dakota and the streets of Chicago, New York and Lima, Peru. Over the years, we have helped to rebuild homes and spirits in storm damaged communities in Mississippi, North Carolina and Alabama. We have provided comfort to those whom are homeless in Washington, DC and in our own community.

God has blessed our church family with an abundance of love and resources. Our church’s leadership is equally blessed with a forward looking vision of God’s plan for mankind.

In the summer of 2010, our church’s youth and adults embarked on another mission project. Every three years, we select a foreign destination to deploy our love, talents and resources. Through our new friends at Back2Back Ministries, we chose Hyderabad, India.

We set off on our India mission trip on July 14. Four flights and thirty-six hours later, we were on the ground in Hyderabad. We were first greeted by the warm smiles of Back2Back staff asking, “Are you all from Virginia?” It was obvious that our team stood out in the busy crowd at baggage claim. But we knew that God had placed us with the correct people that would help us deliver our church’s talents and gifts.

Back2Back India is a well-run, organized, and motivated group of God’s disciples. Their goals are simple and ego-less: provide for the basic needs of the orphanages today, so that tomorrow can be better. Whether the goals are working toilets and septic system, reliable and safe drinking water, cot pads to sleep on, or a refrigerator, Back2Back and our group were able to execute with God’s grace and guidance.

However, our greatest gift (given and received) came in a simplistic use of an unthought-of talent. I would imagine that if one was to ask the children of Eternal Joy and Mercy Home, “What do you remember most about the Americans?,” the children might answer, “They played with us.”

While our team taught English and math, dug trenches, laid sewer pipes, and brought school supplies, cookware and toys, perhaps our most well-received gift was the joy of playing catch, skipping rope, painting fingernails, drawing in chalk or playing soccer and Kabaddi, an Indian game.

Only God knew from the onset of the mission, that the simple act of playing with a child would be so rewarding for everyone. Only God knew that clearing a 40’ by 40’ patch of earth on a steamy Indian summer day, and a soccer ball, would yield such great joy for sixty-four boys that same evening.

The brightness of a child’s smile is so renewing for one’s soul. The eye contact and connection made playing catch with a young child is such a blessing. The simple act of playing connects with children no matter their age, race, greed or religion.

God is great. God is amazing. God’s knows exactly what is required.

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Rajeshekar, by Todd Guckenberger

August 14, 2009

I spent some time today talking with the Back2Back directors of our ministry in India.  I was encouraged to hear how they are making a significant impact in a small orphanage of about twenty-two children.  The orphanage can cover the cost of rent, food and the basic needs of all twenty-two orphans for a mere 400 dollars a month.  When Back2Back considers partnering with and serving at a particular orphanage, we consider several factors.  One of the criteria for partnership is that the leaders of the children’s home must deeply value the spiritual growth and development of their children and be dedicated to providing them with the best education possible, as that is their only hope of breaking free from poverty.  The directors of the orphanages must be committed to raising children who make a positive difference in the world around them. The Back2Back field director in India described how the demeanor of the children has become more joyous since he and his wife have begun to consistently serve there alongside the orphanage director to help the home provide for the basic needs of the children.

All the children there have received a full scholarship to a local top-ranking private school, allowing them to receive an excellent education.  I was especially impressed by one particular story that they shared about a boy named Rajeshekar, who was born without hands.  He is one of the top students in his class; he is extremely bright and has an unbelievable potential to succeed academically.  But at the same time I was incredibly discouraged thinking about the fact that his school years would be the best years of his life.  In India, children born into a low-class are treated as outcasts and have to fight severe discrimination their entire lives. Those born with birth defects are even more shunned by society.  His class within the caste system, along with a serious birth defect seemed to leave him doubly disadvantaged.  I immediately commented to him that these might be the best years of his life. After all, his children’s home and school were sheltering him from the harsh reality he would likely face after graduating and leaving the orphanage.  Our director agreed.  We continued talking, discussed our role in helping children like Raj overcome the enormous odds stacked against them.  We concluded that the only way of helping those who are marginalized is to continue to create relationships and partnerships in India that provide us with opportunities to walk alongside the “least of these.”

It does not matter if it is India, Mexico, Nigeria, or another part of the world.  Regardless of location, God has called us to serve widows and orphans.  To Back2Back it is a clear commandment and call in our hearts and by His grace He will continue to lead us to the marginalized.

My prayer for Rajeshekar is that we can come alongside him and empower him to pursue the dreams and goals that God has placed in His heart.  Please pray about getting involved with this children’s home, through our ministry in India.

Below is a video of Rajeshekar learning to ride a scooter with a little encouragement from the Back2Back staff member who was filming.