November 2013 Mission Trip Report

On November 6th, I left for India with Nancy Chisholm, Kathy Cochrane from Bedford, and Pastor Chris Emery from Kingsley Baptist Church near Fredericton, NB.  After a good night’s sleep in Delhi, we flew on to West Bengal, meeting Shakti at the Bagdoga airport.  We headed right away by road to the city of Jaigaon, where we would stay for the next 5 days.  Since our first 3-day retreat was not starting for three days, we were able to get rested and enjoy visiting several churches and ministries. 

We attended Sunday morning worship at the Lathabari Lutheran Church, where Chris preached and we enjoyed lunch with Pastor Sujen, and James Narjinary, from the leadership of the local Lutheran association. The next day we toured a large tea plantation and factory, also gaining insights into the living situation of workers, and the outreach work being done in that area.  We also were able to go to the small village of Achapara, meeting with the children and church people.  It was great to finally meet Rita and Anita, the two young ladies who started working in the villages of Achapara and Chuapara about 15 years ago when they were in their teens.  After walking down a narrow dirt road, we arrived at the house that we had built for Sunita and her four children.  It is now surrounded by gardens, Sunita has gotten married, and we were able to see just how happy she and the children are in their new home.

Tuesday to Thursday was spent attending the first retreat for pastors and women, held at HILT – the Himalayan Institute for Leadership Training – a new bible college in Jaigaon.  Chris, along with nationals pastors including Bobby Mathews, taught a group of around 60 pastors.  Kathy, Nancy and I led the women’s meetings.  Despite saying that we wanted to limit the number to around 70 in total we had over 200 ladies in attendance.  I wasn’t sure how that would work with our budget, but in the end, after the second retreat, we had enough money to pay all of the expenses!  It was a blessed three days during which we also had a chance to have supper with Mathews family and visit their children at Grace Ashram. 

The next two days were spent with Shakti, our Regional Coordinator, in Alipurduar.  We attended a youth evening at the Alipurduar Baptist Church, where Shakti has started working with the local youth, and helping to revitalize the local congregation.  We traveled to Mendabari and Shamuktula where I was able to meet with the rest of the parents and children who are part of the school sponsorship program.  I had met the first group one evening in Jaigaon, and at each meeting was able to speak with them and learn more about the children’s schools, favourite subjects, etc..  The thirteen fathers are all local pastors who truly appreciate this financial help.   The funds cover tuition, uniforms and books for the entire school year.  Those living in areas with choices are going to better schools often run by local ministries, and for those who only have access to government schools, the funds go to provide tutoring for the children.  This tutoring will enable them to move on to high school and higher education someday, as the educational standards of the government schools are not always adequate. 

Sunday morning was spent with the congregation of Jalpaiguri Baptist Church where Biblap is the pastor.  It was wonderful to see the completed church, and to see it filled to overflowing.  Several people made decisions to accept the Lord as their saviour at the end of the service as Chris and Shakti have an invitation! Shakti has been a real mentor to Biblap, helping him to grow and mature as a young pastor.  We had lunch with Biblap and his family, and then traveled to Siliguri for the second retreat.

In Siliguri, we again enjoyed the joys of sharing with the women and pastors over the next three days.  We had approximately 85, of which around 30 were pastors.  At both retreats, we had very positive feedback from the nationals who attended.  As on past trips, we all stayed at the Him Corce Bhavan.  This arrangement made it possible to have the extra time to sit and talk with Shakti and some of the other leaders.  Shakti has such a passion to see the local church mature and reach out to those around them in the name of Christ.  I felt excited about all of the things that we can accomplish together in the future.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Canada, so we flew on to the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) for a day and a half of tourism.  We enjoyed staying in the Colaba area of the city and were able to walk to several specials spots including the Gate of India, Marine Drive, and the Taj Mahal Hotel where we enjoyed a special last lunch together.

It was a blessed experience to spend this time in West Bengal and get a renewed vision for the work of Far Corners Ministry in Northeast India. 

In Christ,

Ginny Manuel