Posted by: janpierce | March 21, 2014

Uma sampath and children

We met Uma when she was a young teenager living at the orphanage near Jangaon. This is the orphanage we stayed at many times along with many of our friends. Uma grew up there from the age of five and was trained to be a leader among the girls. She learned to lead worship, oversee the younger girls, run the equipment for services and train other girls to dance. When she was old enough, she spent four months in a Youth with a Mission discipleship training class. There she met her future husband, Sampath. Sampath became a pastor and the two married.

Teams India has been supporting Uma and Sampath since they were married. They now have two sons and plant house churches in the Peddipalli area of Andhra Pradesh. They live in Sampath’s mother’s home which is made of some sort of soft cement, nearly like mud. The rains this year have caused serious cracking in the home’s structure. It’s in danger of collapsing. Uma has been trained in English and is working on a formal education degree. She works in the local school as an assistant teacher. She and Sampath oversee six house churches in various villages and also have five public places of prayer where people gather to hear the Word and to worship.

In the course of their work in the villages Uma has gathered fourteen young people who now live with them. Some are orphans, others just come from families who can’t afford to care for them and feed them. It’s Uma’s life dream to have her own orphanage where she can care for those who are unloved and desperate like she was as a child. Uma and Sampath call their ministry Care and Concern and local diplomats visit them to have their pictures taken and encourage them to give aid to the local people. They often distribute food at the hospital or give school supplies and clothing to the poor. They also conduct medical clinics for the local people.

Now Uma and Sampath need a miracle. They need a new building. The good news is they own land near to their present home. Land is extremely expensive in India, but they have a plot just waiting for a new building. The bad news is that even though building materials are of very poor quality in the area, they are still very expensive. The building plans they’ve had drawn up would require over $20,000 just for a building of one floor, large enough to house twenty people.

Sometimes Roger and I don’t know anything to do but pray for the needs of the people. The needs are far beyond anything we can do. Still we know God has resources and lately we’ve been led to begin prayer meetings in support of all the work in India. Who will help Uma’s dream come true? Who will rescue this little extended family of twenty before their ceilings cave in? Who has resources they would like to give to a cause few of us experience in America? Will you pray with us? Spread the word?

You’re invited to join us for a prayer meeting aimed at meeting the great needs of the people of India.

Tuesday, April 15th, 7:00 p.m.
10101 NE 14th Circle
Vancouver, WA
360-892-4634

Posted by: janpierce | November 7, 2013

A Banjara Jathra

A Banjara Jathra

Roger and Bill are with Nehemiah Naik in Anantapur. Nehemiah and his wife Sarah are Banjara people–the original Gypsies. Their people were below caste and were known as makers of alcohol and thieves. Today Nehemiah and Sarah have the respect of their community as they feed and house those with disabilities, widows, orphans and HIV victims. Nehemiah travels widely teaching the principles of the Bible. He is able to teach outside the Banjara group to people of many different castes and tribes.

In this picture you see a Banjara Jathra–a gathering of the people. Jathra is a Bengali word meaning journey or going. Notice the woman in traditional red dress with the plastic bracelets. Those bracelets used to be made of bone. The fabric of the outfit is embellished with many tiny pieces of mirrored material. It’s a very heavy outfit to wear.

Teams India supports the education of Nehemiah and Sarah’s three children. The two girls are high school age and little Roger is now ten years old. Nehemiah’s vision is to become self-supporting and they’ve learned to harvest their own rice crops to feed their people. They live a simple life devoid of the comforts we take for granted, but they’re totally dedicated to their work and take great joy in service to their people.

Posted by: janpierce | November 3, 2013

The Girl Baby Home in Chennai

The Girl Baby Home in Chennai

Russal’s Awareness Program in an Indian Village

Russal and Kumari have taken in fourteen little girls and have made
them family. But in addition, Russal travels to remote villages and
teaches the people the value of human life and tells them about God
who made each of them and loves each of them. In time the people will
learn to treasure their little baby girls instead of killing them.

Roger and our friend, Bill Davis are heading to the Girl Baby Home
right now. They’ll go from Bangalore to Chennai by train and then
stay with Russal and Kumari. He’s taking lots of hugs to share with
the little girls.

Posted by: janpierce | October 11, 2013

Baby 14 A and Baby 14 B

jenita

Several months back Russal and Kumari Raj saved their thirteenth baby girl and named her Zinnia. Many of you know of this ministry in Chennai called the Girl Baby Home. Russal and Kumari love God and they know that the evil practice of killing baby girls needs to end. Russal regularly visits villages where these atrocities take place and teaches the people that killing girls is wrong. He teaches the value of each human life and that the beliefs about girls bringing curses on their families are not true. But then, Russal acts on his beliefs. He and Kumari take these baby girls and make them part of their family.

Just after Zinnia joined the family Russal got another call saying a baby girl was to be born and to come. The family was willing to talk about giving her up rather than killing her. Russal traveled as quickly as he could to the village, but when he got there it was too late. The baby had already been killed. Traditions are difficult to change. Local Hindu priests, extended family members and neighbors all believe the same thing: baby girls are nothing but trouble. They cost the family a great deal of money when they marry and they are not pleasing to the gods. They are of no value and killing them is just fine. Baby 14 A died.

Soon after that trip, Russal got another call and brought home little Jenita. She is baby 14 B and she will live. She will be loved and held and treasured. She will be taught to know God who loves her and values her.She will wear pretty dresses and have birthday cakes when her birthday rolls around. She has a family and will grow up knowing she is loved. Don’t ask me why one baby was rescued and another wasn’t. I don’t know. I only know that the work Russal and Kumari are doing is so very precious to the Lord.

Roger will visit the Girl Baby Home in a few months. He will get to see these little ones face to face. Russal’s dream is to rescue hundreds of baby girls and house them in a loving community. Take a look at his family at http://www.girlbabyhome.com or visit the Girl Baby Home on Facebook. Welcome to a good life, Baby Jenita.

Posted by: janpierce | August 19, 2013

Poised for Action

I met Grace Jogul at a training site near Hyderabad four years ago. She lived at the training center for six months and I arrived during the last few weeks of her training. Grace is a retired banker and is experienced in working with women’s groups to help them learn about saving and investing money. She also makes micro loans available to those who have a business plan.

In India the smallest project can change a life. Women who learn to make something marketable can feed their families and send their children to school. Grace is always on the lookout for a new project and candle-making is one that works nicely. She recently sponsored four different sessions teaching groups of women to make candles in simple metal molds and also to make laundry detergent and phenol which is a kind of cleaning solution. These seminars are as valuable as gold to the women fortunate enough to attend.

Grace is always poised for action in working for the good of her people. She regularly teaches sewing classes, does children’s outreaches in remote villages, and meets with groups of women to better their lives. She is Jesus in action and just waits for resources to do the next project. I often pray that I’ll be as poised for action as Grace.

Posted by: janpierce | March 21, 2013

More Than a Good Man

Image   When people die we search through their lives to sift out the honorable, the memorable, the valuable. We hold those up and examine them. We want to remember the good things. Last night our good friend, Mike Monson, died. He left this life for the room prepared especially for him. He was at peace with dying although he would have loved to be healed so he could tell everyone about God’s miracle.

It took Mike a long time to enter the Kingdom of God. When Roger and I first met him he didn’t know much about God or how to serve him. He entertained a wide variety of belief systems including the possibility that aliens walked amongst us. But, he found good friends among the believers he met and kept spending time with them until he knew he wanted to be part of the family. Still, he didn’t feel he had enough faith. He wanted to be honest– he still had doubts about the things he read in the Bible. Finally he began to understand he only needed to give God a chance– he didn’t need to work up a bunch of faith in his own strength, he only needed to place his trust in God.  That, he decided he could do. He finally said yes to God.

Mike got himself a membership in the Kingdom. Then the fun began.  He realized he could be part of the biggest adventure of all– God’s plan to rescue all of creation. He learned God has good works for every believer to perform and began to search for his assignment. He traveled to India and fell in love with the children there. He became aware of the evil practice of female infanticide, the killing of baby girls, all throughout India. He was troubled in his heart that such a thing is done on a regular basis.

Mike began to pray God would show him a ministry working to eradicate the killing of baby girls. He prayed for two full years before coming across Russal and Kumari Raj’s work to rescue baby girls near the city of Chennai. Once he found the home, just a couple taking rescued baby girls into their home to raise as their own daughters, Mike began making plans to visit them. In 2010 Mike and Sharon traveled to Chennai to meet the children in the Girl Baby Home. Both he and Sharon bonded with those children during their visit and the girls began to call them Grandma and Grandpa.

Mike supported Russal and Kumari’s work. He and Sharon helped to feed and clothe the girls, and send them to good schools. He’d found the assignment God had designed specifically for him and he took it on with joy. The Bible promises that if we seek God honestly, He will allow us to find Him. And if we want to serve in His Kingdom, he’ll show us what to do. Mike grew from a man who wanted to see what was “in it for him,” to one who wanted to give all he could to make a difference. He learned how to be a valuable member of the Kingdom, a humble servant.

Mike was more than a good man, he was a man on a mission. He caught the vision of the Kingdom and doing his part to alleviate pain. He acted on the compassion God had placed in his heart.

Yes, Mike was just a guy who learned about God and became a Christian. But that’s the wonder of it all. He learned the secret. He turned 180 degrees from striving to build his own kingdom of material wealth and success and found for the first time his life had purpose. He wasn’t just a good man, he was God’s man.

Posted by: janpierce | March 4, 2013

Catching the Vision for Generosity

Uma gives   Teams India has been supporting Uma and Sampath Kumar for over six years. Uma grew up in the orphanage in Jangaon that Roger and I have visited so many times. We became friends with her and loved her outgoing, energetic spirit and her courage to share the things she knows about God.

When Uma married a pastor, Teams India began to support their work in villages near Peddipalli, Andhra Pradesh. Through many struggles they have continued to start house churches, teach and share, baptize and pray for those they lead. They currently oversee six small house churches.

Recently we have been so proud to learn that they’ve caught the vision for being generous. They themselves are poor and live with little in the way of earthly goods. But they have formed a government approved organization with permission to distribute goods in the communities they serve.

Last month they distributed fruit to the poor in the local hospital. In India food must be brought to those in the hospital by family members. Thus, Uma and Sampath were able to bless both the sick and their families as they visited.

This month we received this picture showing them distributing education “encouragement kits” of paper, pencils and a few other school supplies. You can see the packets in the cardboard box on the floor. You can also see pictures of Hindu gods on the wall of the school.

It gives us a sense of pride to see Sampath and Uma paying it forward when it comes to giving. Their heart of generosity will make an impact on those in the community and they will be seen as leaders who care about the people. In that way one more opportunity to share about Jesus will be open to their ministry.

Posted by: janpierce | January 29, 2013

My Sister, Bilahi

Image   Several years ago I had the opportunity to teach several Bible classes to fourteen women in a training center outside of Hyderabad. These women were finishing their last weeks of a six month training when I arrived. I was only with them for three weeks, but I had the chance to interview each one and I’ve never forgotten them. My friend Grace, who we support in women’s work in Karnataka was one of the fourteen.

Bilahi is another. Bilahi works for the Church of North India in Assam. There were seven girls in Bilahi’s family. Her mother died when she was very young and her father died in 2003. She and her sisters worked as “slaves” growing up. They cleaned and cooked for other families, made their own clothes and never had enough to eat. Bilahi was able to attend school part time, but never had time to study. Sometimes she was able to sell clothing she stitched in a neighboring community.

Bilahi worked hard to learn about God and was able to attend several years of Bible school. She now oversees the care of the people of seventy-four small village churches. She travels by bicycle in all kinds of weather, teaching Bible, health care, Christian lifestyle and encouraging children to attend school. She also teaches self-help programs such as candle-making and how to save money in the same kinds of women’s groups that Grace leads in Hubli. These groups give women opportunity to begin small businesses to support their families.

Bilahi loves Psalm 23. She says she loves that God is “all the time leading and comforting.” She says she has no fear of suffering. Bilahi is hard-working and serious. When it was time to go home Roger and I were able to meet a need for her. Her travel bag had broken and we were able to give her a small suitcase we didn’t need. She cried. She was so grateful that the Lord had, once again, met her needs.

Bilahi knows what it means to go hungry even now. She lives on 1,000 rupees per month which is about $20. It isn’t enough. Teams India is sending living expenses to help Bilahi do her job, blessing the people of the CSI churches in remote villages of Assam.

IMG_0528  The education of the poor in India is often scandalous. Government schools may look quite nice, but the level of instruction within the classrooms is appalling. Often teachers don’t even attend classes, leaving children to run the school grounds from morning to afternoon. Or, children sit in rows and recite words with no understanding of content. Private schools are less appealing to the eye, but provide better instruction. However many of the poor cannot afford the fees for books and uniforms. A large number of the better schools in India sprung up through the work of Western missionaries. They continue today to serve the children of India, but more often reach the children of middle class families, leaving the poor of the villages and slums of the cities with only Government school options.  I was encouraged by this article and video about a man named Madhav Chavan, a leader in education reform in India who recently won the WISE award for the work he’s done in upgrading education for thousands of poor Indian children. Working in the slums with little in the way of resources, he’s been able to improve the level of learning. One of the most interesting and sensible things he’s done is train tenth standard students who planned on dropping out of school to be teachers in their own communities. The training encourages the older students to learn and have a vision for a career of their own. The younger children have the benefit of improved instruction in a setting familiar and safe. You can watch a video of Chavan’s work here:

http://www.euronews.com/2012/12/21/wise-words-in-india-teach-thousands-in-the-slums/

Be sure to watch the latter part of the video to see volunteers who were trained to teach and then returned to their own villages to gather the children and instruct them. What a wonderful cycle of giving and receiving.

Posted by: janpierce | January 6, 2013

Sister Cities

Image    When you think of the city of Sodom in the Bible, what picture comes to mind? If you’re like me you immediately think of Sodom and Gomorrah and their destruction because of immorality. They were judged by God for living impure lives.

I’ve been reading in the book of Ezekiel and when I got to chapter 16, I came across something I don’t remember reading before. In verses 49 and 50 Ezekiel is told to speak to the city of Jerusalem and recount the ways in which God’s people have failed to obey. It says, ” Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.”

I’m sure that the careless life of ease in Sodom included immorality. But how often do we think of our abundance becoming arrogance and leading to the gross sin of neglecting the poor and needy.

Over and over again the Bible tells us to care for the poor. We’re to feed those who are hungry and care for the widows and orphans. How quickly we condemn sexual sin but how difficult it is for us to accept that living in careless abundance is gross sin.

What ways do you care for the poor? I’d be interested in hearing what you do or what your church does or how you see this interesting comparison between Jerusalem and Sodom. And how do you interpret this passage?

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