Volunteer Trip Reflection By Andrea Moberly (Volunteer from Indianapolis)
In October of 2008, I joined eight other members of my church on a trip to the other side of the world. We headed to Bihar, India to visit ServLife’s Children’s Home and Leadership Training Institute located there and participate in the annual Leadership Conference that’s held there each year. Each member of our team had a reason for going to India. I went on this trip to get outside of myself. To see the world as many experience it instead of as I experience it every day. I was a little scared to go to a place that was completely foreign to me, but I had a lot of hope for what God would do. We stayed overnight in South Korea on our way to India. I was missing my husband and kids that I had left in Indianapolis; scared about what was coming, and I prayed this prayer: “Lord, bring peace to the unease of my heart! No, wait; don’t bring peace, peace breeds complacency. Challenge me! Stretch me! Grow me! I want my heart to expand outside of myself.” I should have known that God would answer that prayer!
We arrived at the orphanage after over 24 hours of travel and were promptly greeted by 25 beautiful children. We had the opportunity over the next few days to spend time with these children; playing, singing, dancing, laughing, and loving. It was fully apparent to each of us how much the children loved one another and were loved by the staff of the children’s home. Each child’s unique personality shone through as we developed relationships with them, and it was obvious by the time we left them a few days later that these relationships were impactful to all of us – members of the team and children alike.
Each team member seemed to connect with a few of the children, and I personally became attached to the 5 girls that shared a room. I spent hours of my time sitting in their room on the floor singing songs and playing games. We had a hair-styling session where we were brushed and combed, buttoned and bowed until the girls were satisfied that we looked our best. Each one of these five girls has a place in my heart, but one in particular will never be forgotten. I spent time listening to her, laughing with her, coloring with her, and affirming her place in God’s family. My heart was forever changed by this experience.
In fact, my husband and I are now in the process of expanding our family through international adoption. While God had laid this on our hearts years ago, my experience in India and with the children there was a catalyst for finally beginning the process. Before meeting the girls at the children’s home I had a hard time imagining that I could love a child from a culture so different from mine. When I left, I cried because I felt as if I was leaving a child behind. Now I am certain that God can give you a heart of love for any child, if you only allow yourself to be open to it.
Our team also had the opportunity to participate in the annual leadership conference that is held there each year. We were introduced to about 80 pastors from all over the region, including India, Nepal, and Bhutan. We worshiped with the pastors, had a Q&A session with them where we learned about what leading a church in that region was like, and four members of our team had the honor of sharing with the pastors through a translator. I was able to share the story of what God has done with my life, and I was humbled to learn that God could use the story of a privileged white woman from the Midwest to bless the lives of those living in much more difficult circumstances.
We were in India during the time between the violence following the killing of a Hindu leader that was blamed on Christians in August 2008 in the Indian state of Orissa and the terrorist bombings in the city of Mumbai 2 months later. We met pastors from Orissa who had been personally threatened because of their faith. One pastor shared that he has been refused entry to certain towns because the leaders know he is a Christian and an evangelist and do not want him “converting” their people. We also heard of laws that limit a Christian’s political rights and ability to do business. We were told that some states require you to register with the government before you adopt Christianity as your religion so that they are aware of the Christians in their region. However, even amidst this persecution, these men stood steadfast and were not ashamed to praise God loudly and passionately! My vision of the persecuted church around the world has been expanded through this time. I now have faces and names to put to my prayers as I embrace my roll in lifting up the church around the world.
I went to India hoping to be changed, and came home motivated to change the world. At the beginning of my trip, I asked God to expand my heart outside of myself. By the time I returned home, I believe He gave me an entirely new hear; a heart that beats with a passion for the lost, mistreated, and abandoned of the world.
(Posted: March 27, 2009)