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Adam_HS_largeIn John 8:12, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” During the month of April we transition out of lent and a long winter, and into spring and Easter. The journey out of darkness and into the light is led by Jesus. He is the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the dessert at night. He is the light that didn’t go out during Chanukah. He is the fire walker with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He is the illumination of the ascension and the glow of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He is still the light of the world and uses his church to shine his love in places of darkness.

As Jesus mentions in Matthew 5, you are the light of the world. And your partnership with the church in India and Nepal is bringing light to the darkness. It generates income for families on the brink of extreme poverty. It is providing education and love for children. And it is spreading the hope of Jesus to villages that have never heard of him. You are making a difference, and we are deeply grateful for your support. Thank you.

Lord, may your light shine brightly through our lives and partnerships. Display your light and love to our next-door neighbor and our global neighbors. Let your light reside and illuminate through your church. Amen.

Posted on April 14, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_1798 copy 2Pastor Gyan has seen his congregation overcome a wide variety of obstacles during his time as pastor. Two years ago, Gyan followed his calling to plant a church in western Nepal and serve the people there. Equipped with his vision and his preparation from ServLife’s Pastor Training Program, Pastor Gyan set out to confront the problems facing his community.

As his church grew in attendance, Gyan saw his congregants face many challenges- from illness and the bondage of sin to interpersonal and social tensions. One of these involved a couple from his extended family that attended his church. The husband and wife had become estranged; they stopped attending church services and were living separately. This is a difficult situation in any area of the world, but it was particularly painful for Gyan and his relatives as Nepali culture highly values familial and marital harmony. Couples whose relationships are struggling will often withdraw from their communities rather than admit the shame of needing reconciliation.

Rather than let this discord be swept under a rug, Pastor Gyan recognized the need for healing in this couple’s lives. He was able to secure a meeting with the alienated couple. He spent time in prayer with them and says the Lord helped him to counsel and foster forgiveness between the couple. With God’s help, he was able to convince the couple to reconcile and forgive one another. They began living together once again and attending Pastor Gyan’s church regularly. He says they are now a great example to the community of practicing forgiveness and healing through Christ.

Pastor Gyan has seen God perform great healings in his ministry in the past few years, both bodily healings of disease and mental healings of broken relationships or the affliction of habitual sin. Nevertheless, Gyan believes there is further work God plans to do as he and his congregation attempt to combat these areas of brokenness, and he asks for prayer for their strength and perseverance. Brokenness saturates the world, but God’s healing is coming through faithful people like Pastor Gyan and his congregation.

If you would like to support pastors like Gyan, you can do so by contributing to ServLife’s Pastor Training Program here by selecting “Training Leaders and Starting Churches” under “Projects”.

Posted on April 8, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_2196In the midst of human rights struggles across the world, the trials of the Tharu people in Nepal are often overlooked. For the past 60 years, the Tharu have been enslaved, trafficked, discriminated against and impoverished. ServLife staff members see the plight of the Tharu almost daily. Their story deserves to be told.

Much of the Tharu’s persecution began in the 1950’s. For years, they owned fertile land in the Terai region. Because they possessed a natural resistance to malaria, they could farm land that others could not. When malaria was eradicated from Nepal in the 1950’s, other people groups began moving into the region. Since the Tharu had lived in isolation for years and had no formal records for the land, these new settlers registered the land in their own names, stealing it out from under the Tharu.

Once their land was taken, the Tharu found themselves at the bottom of an unfamiliar caste system. With no means of income, they were forced to farm the land as employees of the new “owners.” Eventually, this employment changed to forced labor in a system known as Kamaiya.

Kamaiya, a type of bonded labor, exists mostly in southern Nepal among the Tharu, although other people groups have also been subjected to it. In the Kamaiya system, those in poverty and without land are given loans by wealthier landowners. In exchange, the loan recipient must live with and work for the landowner. Interest is charged at an exorbitant rate, preventing repayment and enslaving individuals and families for years.

Tragically, Kamaiya frequently takes the form of human trafficking. Kamaiya occurs most commonly today when impoverished families desperately sell their daughters into bonded slavery to wealthy families. Without support or protection, many of these girls are exploited sexually.

Officially, Kamaiya was outlawed in 2000, yet some Tharu advocates estimate that more than 5,000 Tharu girls are still in bonded slavery today. Additionally, many of the 1.7 million Tharu people in Nepal are still impoverished and landless. While the government promised assistance for the Tharu, little has been done in the last 14 years to alleviate their suffering and lift them out of poverty.

An essential part of ServLife’s mission to build global community is helping restore the God-given dignity each person deserves. Caring for impoverished Tharu children, offering micro-loans to provide income for Tharu families and sharing the hope of Christ in word and action with Tharu communities are all part of ServLife’s effort to right these long-standing injustices.

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References

“Abolishing Kamlari Practice Still Miles to Go.” 2013.Republica, May 03. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1347755545?accountid=11008. Accessed March 25, 2014.

“After Slavery, Unshackling Potential.” http://www.mercycorps.org/articles/nepal/after-slavery-unshackling-potential Accessed March 26, 2014.

Central Bureau of Statistics (2012). National Population and Housing Census 2011 (National Report). Government of Nepal, National Planning Commission Secretariat, Kathmandu.

Posted on March 31, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sweeney Chapel at Christian Theological Seminary is lit up for the holidaysServLife is excited to announce our new office location on the campus of Christian Theological Seminary (CTS). The office is part of a shared space called the HIVE, which will be used as a community space for local ministries, non-profits and pastors.

CTS is generously offering the space rent-free, making it the fourth free office space in four years for ServLife. Most recently, ServLife’s offices were housed in the EpiCentre, owned and managed by Loving South Africa. Before moving into the EpiCentre, two churches generously opened their doors to ServLife. Common Ground Christian Church and Trinity Church both donated space.

The generosity of each of these institutions has had a global impact, allowing additional resources to be sent to India and Nepal. With low overhead, 79% of ServLife’s 2013 budget went to programs overseas. This would not have been possible without the hospitality shown over the last four years.

Posted on March 24, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_2210This May, you have the unique opportunity to engage with the hopes, dreams and realities of children’s lives in Nepal. ServLife International’s Nepal Children’s Director, Udaya, is preparing for his first trip to the USA, and he is excited to share about the impact that your support is having on children in Nepal. He will join Executive Director Adam Nevins in May 2014, and will be available to meet with a variety of communities and individuals in order to share what God is doing through ServLife’s child programs. We would love for you to meet him! Here are some ways you and your community can take advantage of this special opportunity:

Event or Service
Your church or organization can host an hour-long event for Udaya and Adam to share a multimedia event with video, pictures, and stories of hope and restoration as well as dreams for the future. 10 and 30-minute versions are also options for a Sunday morning church service.

Home Gathering
Your family or small group can host an intimate gathering for Udaya and Adam to share stories, videos and a time for questions and answers.

Personal Meetings
If you would like to personally sit down with Udaya and get to know him and the ministry better, he would love to hear from you and share about the children for which ServLife cares.

To schedule one of these events please email adam@servlife.org or call 317-544-0484. We look forward to meeting with you and sharing the hopes, dreams and realities of caring for children in Nepal. 

Posted on March 21, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_3522Hope is spreading in west Nepal. It is spreading in the lives of individuals, in churches and in communities. For ServLife Pastor Mansing, this hope came through God’s healing power. Several years ago, Mansing lay sick and homebound. Resistant to Christ, his spiritual condition matched his physical.

Amidst his illness, a group of Christians came to pray for his healing, and miraculously, God answered those prayers. But it wasn’t the miracle that brought Mansing to Christ. There was something else that gave him hope through the process – love. “They didn’t just pray,” Mansing reflects. “They did pray for me, but they also showed me love and really cared for me.”

The hope Mansing felt that day shaped him into the pastor he is now. It opened his eyes to God’s power in a way that overflows into his ministry. “That’s the reason I have the courage, passion and confidence to share the Lord in the same way,” he says. “To help people, not just by praying for the sick, but by encouraging people to build a life that is transformed through Christ.”

The hope of Christ cannot be contained only to Mansing’s life. It is spreading throughout west Nepal. When Mansing first arrived as a pastor in his village five years ago, only three families were following Christ. Today, there are over 300 believers spanning three villages.

Many of these new believers have experienced hope through healing in the same way Mansing did. Suffering from illness and demon possession, they first turned to witch doctors. When the witch doctors proved powerless, they came to the church to find healing and freedom. Just like with Mansing, God healed them. But also as in Mansing’s story, it was not the healing alone that drew them to Christ.

“When people begin seeing the power of God in the church transforming lives, they join us,” Mansing says. “They see that when others come to Christ, they are changed. Their lifestyles are changed.”

Now, a different kind of hope is spreading – the hope of shedding the shackles of poverty. ServLife’s micro-finance program, the HOPE Fund, is expanding to one of Mansing’s villages. Mansing is excited for what the program can do. “Most people are looking for an opportunity to overcome their poverty –and they can,” he said. “They have the ability to do something to bring about change, but in the initial stages, they don’t have the funds to get started. When we start the HOPE Fund in our village, I truly believe many people will have the opportunity for change…The HOPE Fund is putting the first seed in this area. Once people are given that seed, they can multiply it and overcome their poverty.”

Mansing’s ministry is a beautiful example of a truly holistic gospel: one that provides physical, spiritual and economic hope.

Want to know more about the HOPE Fund’s expansion? We’ll have a full story in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

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Posted on March 17, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Adam_HS_largeWhen speaking to the woman at the well, Jesus declared that “a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers.” (John 4:23) We know from Jesus and the prophets that “true worshippers” engage in acts of justice, care for orphans and widows, and love their neighbors. The quality of our worship is less about singing a song well and more about our songs and praise having a backbone of justice. This has been transformative for me as a worship leader the last 20 years. I have gone from leading songs to leading engagement in God’s Kingdom justice, and have discovered that they are intimately intertwined. This marriage of heart-felt, artistic praise and the anchor of justice is the union of spirit and truth. That is what God wants.

Jesus exemplifies this for us in unexpected ways. Instead of overthrowing Rome, he defeats death. Instead of liberating the oppressed from jail, he liberates and empowers their heart and soul. Instead of establishing a new and better patriarchal leadership, he raises the cultural value of women and children and the poor. Instead of dying a martyr to be remembered, he comes back to life and remains with us through his Spirit. He lives and reigns and invites us to continue to usher in his “upside down” Kingdom. Our lives of worship are to embody the same values and campaigns. Instead of fighting, we fall to our knees in prayer. Instead of building a generous retirement, we generously care for the poor. Instead of succumbing to greed and selfishness, we submit our lives to Jesus.

You are leading this charge in spirit and truth, and I am grateful and inspired. Your support of churches, children and families in India and Nepal is true worship. Your devotion to their empowerment and care ushers in the Kingdom of Heaven and shows the love of Jesus. Thank you for your commitment and support.

Lord, where there is injustice, unite us as your children to speak out and act as necessary. May all of our acts of justice be steeped in love for others and for you. May your Kingdom come in and through us. Amen.

Posted on March 10, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

P1010898 (2)The Crossing Church in Costa Mesa, California has spent years nurturing global relationships. This past December and January, a team of five from The Crossing journeyed to India to continue building relationships with their brothers and sisters laboring through ServLife on the other side of the world.

The trip consisted of two legs. During the first half of the trip, the team spent time in Katihar strengthening partnerships with Bethel Church Association and Compassion International. While they hoped to encourage their friends ministering in Katihar, the team walked away better equipped for ministry in Southern California. Colleen Whitfield, one of the team members, reflected, “We are seeing this ministry as an amazing opportunity to raise up young leaders in India AND at home as we hope to partner with and connect this ministry with the Leadership Training Program that we are starting up this year at The Crossing Church.”

The second half of the trip was spent with ServLife’s ministry in Raxaul, Bihar, India. Bihar, often called “the graveyard for church planters,” is a notoriously difficult environment for Christians. Even as the team traveled, they sensed this. “The closer you get to Raxaul,” Whitfield noted, “you can actually sense a feeling of darkness.”

Despite the darkness that saturates the area, the team was hopeful that God would move. Immediately upon arrival, the team faced obstacles. Much of their time was going to be spent leading a Christmas program with the children in ServLife’s India Children’s Home. When they arrived, they discovered the supplies and gifts they sent ahead for the program would not arrive in time.

This obstacle turned out to be an amazing opportunity. Albert Das, director of ServLife India, asked the team to instead use their time by travelling through nearby villages to build relationships with families sending a child to school through ServLife. While most of these families are Muslim or Hindu, the team was welcomed into homes with open arms. One particular woman, named Sheetal*, invited the team into her small home made of only sticks and cow dung. Despite initially lacking a translator, the team connected deeply with Sheetal.

The next day, the team helped lead the local church service. Pastor Ian Stevenson shared a message entitled “Let There Be Light.” As the service progressed, the team saw families they visited with the day before trickle in the back door. The service ended with an invitation to begin following Jesus, and slowly, hands rose. One of those hands belonged to a familiar face: Salma. The woman the team bonded with the day before was now in the family of God.

Before heading home, the team shared numerous meals, stories and prayers with local friends. As they invested in these global relationships, their bonds grew stronger. Whitfield reflects, “Now that I have begun real relationships in India…wild horses could not keep me from going back each year to grow in those relationships and continue to be a part of what God is doing there!“

Do you want to begin building global relationships and be a part of what God is doing in India? Check out our Get Involved page for opportunities, including trips.

*Name was changed to prevent persecution.

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Posted on March 3, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_5045Ten years ago, Sangita’s life was drastically different. Before coming to ServLife’s Nepal Children’s Home at age six, she had already experienced a lifetime of hardship. As an infant, her mother tragically passed away, leaving only her father to care for her. Sadly, her father had no interest in her well-being and refused to be a part of her life, leaving her abandoned and hopeless.

After several years, Sangita came to ServLife’s home at the age of six, along with her younger brother. This proved to be one of the most impactful events in her life. At first, she was shy and occasionally acted out. To her surprise, the staff responded to her with love. “They comforted me,” she reflects. “Then I started to have fun living with them and became a part of a family.”

In addition to love and care, Sangita received an education for the first time. Before coming to the home, education was always out of her grasp. She could not read or write and had little chance to escape a life of poverty. Now, in ninth grade, Sangita is thriving in school, and her dreams are within her reach.  “I want to study hard and reach the destination that God has for my life,” she says. She hopes to one day be an airline stewardess, but is open to anywhere God leads her. “If his plan is something else for me,” she says, “then I’m ready to follow that.”

In her time with ServLife, Sangita has encountered God in new ways. “I’ve got to know Jesus as my savior who really loves me even more then I can say,” she reflects. “I am happy to live here with many brothers and sisters, with a huge number of people whom God brought here for a great purpose.”

As Sangita reflects on the last ten years, she is grateful. Grateful for love. Grateful for an education. Grateful for a future. But she is most grateful for the one thing every child deserves: family. “I’m glad to live here,” she says, “and have a family.”

If you want to help provide love, care and family for a neglected child, consider sponsoring a child.

Posted on February 25, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Adam_HS_largeAt the beginning of Colossians 2, Paul emphasizes his commitment to the people in Colossia and Laodicea. “I want you to realize that I continue to work as hard as I know how for you, and also for the Christians over at Laodicea. Not many of you have met me face-to-face, but that doesn’t make any difference. Know that I’m on your side, right alongside you. You’re not in this alone. I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God.”

I want you to know how much we appreciate your commitment to the people in India and Nepal. Your devotion and support for many people that you have never met face to face is an immense encouragement. The lone pastor on the side of a mountain in Nepal is not alone. The little girl rescued from a life on the street is not alone. The family in a remote village living on the brink of extreme poverty is not alone. You are with them in spirit and support.

Lord, help us to make our lives a continual offering of quiet commitment to thread love through the torn garments of society. In our homes, our neighborhoods, our city, our world, may your love be made known more and more as we offer our time, treasure and talents to the propulsion of your Kindgdom come. Amen.

Posted on February 17, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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