With our summer travel plans sadly postponed this year, we asked several members of our teams from 2019 to reflect on what they were doing this time last year. The last in our series comes from Charlotte, reflecting on her time in Southern India with India Village Ministries, an organisation reaching rural communities in a multitude of ways.

This time last year, I had the opportunity to spend a week with India Village Ministries (IVM). IVM serves their community through the running of a children’s home, ministry with the elderly and supporting the neediest in society. They promote the importance of high-quality education to help children in poverty, something many children do not receive due to an expectation that they will work for their families instead of attending school.

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, IVM continues to serve others by providing essential aid relief. In all they do, IVM models the love of Christ in reaching out to those in poverty and despair, serving them with their time and resources.

Arriving with Suresh, the leader of IVM, brought a change of scenery for the team, escaping from the busy and bustling capital Delhi to the rural Southern countryside. The team was so lovingly welcomed into the home of Suresh and his wife Roja, a time greatly cherished as we enjoyed fellowship over shared meals and had the opportunity to hear testimonies of how God has worked in their lives and the various projects of IVM.

The majority of our time was spent at the children’s home, where the team coordinated sessions for the children which included singing, teaching Bible stories, leading games and running craft activities. We even had the opportunity to take the children to the beach which was a beautiful memory as it was the first time some of the children had seen the sea! It was a real joy to spend time with the children and hear from Suresh about the wonderful opportunities they now have, all of them being supported to go to school and gain an education. There was a palpable sense of community and joy in the home with children treated as family members and despite the language barrier, relationships were easily built.

A highlight was having the opportunity to worship in the various rural churches in the local area. These churches are small and the team and congregation shared testimonies of how God had worked in our lives. This served to remind us very powerfully of the enormity of God and the understanding that he is a global God with these congregations in a rural Indian village worshipping the same God that we bow before back home. One of the hardest parts of the trip was seeing the extent of human need in these communities, with many having no homes, food or clothing. I felt challenged to pray for these families, not just that their basic needs be fulfilled, but that they receive the message and promises of God in addressing their greatest need, that of salvation and a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

My time in India has taught and challenged me on many levels when considering my own faith. The kindness that I experienced while on the trip is something I will never forget. From the moment we stepped into the country, we were shown warmth, love and great hospitality from Suresh and his family, the children, churches and the various communities we met. This kindness reflected the loving nature of Christ. The willingness to sacrifice time and resources to love others and bless those who have so little has hugely impacted me as I think about my own Christian service. It highlights the love and commitment God requires of us as Christians wherever He may place us. It makes me consider my openness to ‘drop everything’ and serve God around the world, being able to go where God calls us.