Thursday, January 12, 2017

India Day 6: Gospel in Action

This post is part of a series from a Discovery Trip to visit one of Partners International's partners in Kolkata, India. JKPS works in community development, social justice, adult education and with children at risk. Resources like bikes, clean water wells, monthly partnership with a local pastor go a long way to enabling this vital ministry to the Bengali people.

After a night spent on the Sunderban Islands, we awoke early this morning to begin the winding, stuttering journey home. Roads filled with goats, cows, pedestrians and more make a hundred kilometer journey stretch into a few hours.

Thankfully, we stopped along the way to see one of JKPS' medical camps in progress. For the past year, JKPS has been holding medical camps in remote areas of West Bengal for villagers who otherwise would never have an opportunity to see a medical professional. For a mere $500 Canadian, 80-180 people per day are given access to medical care.

All of this is done on the back of a local pastor, who advertises the coming camp, is present through the entire day, and follows up with the villagers after the doctors have left. It is an incredible tool to be the hands and feet of Jesus in people's lives, and to open doors that would otherwise be closed.

As we jostled down a small, dirt road, we pulled into the back part of a remote village in the southern part of West Bengal. Nine Caucasian people getting out of vehicles was quite the sight for a small village off the beaten track. In this case, the van itself couldn't even make it down the road, and so they had set up inside one of the makeshift school buildings.

Three doctors were seeing a constant flow of people: a dentist outside, and an optometrist and medical doctor inside.

In the 45 minutes we were there, the dentist treated five patients. He administered local anesthetic, assessed the source of the pain, and pulled more than a few teeth of both children and adults alike. For these people, it was the first time seeing a dentist.

Inside the thatch building, the medical doctor was assessing the health of men, women and children. He'd check their blood pressure and any other ailments, and prescribe any relevant medication, which JKPS gives to the patients for free.

The optometrist was also assessing individuals, seeing 15 to 20 people in our time there. Some near sighted, others far, and giving them glasses to restore vision and allow them to live their lives.

Here is what I love about this ministry, it is truly the Gospel in action. Mark, the coordinator over the program was climbing the corporate ladder in India, making a significant sum of money while doing it. Yet it wasn't leaving him fulfilled. He wanted to be helping his fellow human beings, and working in the corporate world wasn't doing it. When asked if he would leave that behind and join JKPS, God called him away from they allure of money, and into the fulfilling opportunity of helping others.

Likewise, the doctors are giving up significant sources of money by traveling to the villages for a day. In the case of the medical doctor, he comes from another province, and has to travel by train overnight to get to Kolkata.

This evening we had some down time, and spent an hour or so walking around the local neighbourhood in surrounding Kolkata. Smelling the cooking food from the stands, jostling through the crowds, and dashing across roads in front of oncoming traffic. Nothing gives you the sense for a place more than getting out and walking around. The harsh blaring horns contrasted with the equally loud, but far more melodious sound of the people. There's a rhythm to the city that is bustling with life, yet calm in its demeanor.

Today I was reminded that wherever Jesus went, he listened to the plight of the common people, understanding their lives, hearts and needs and then responded. He called them out of their physical pain, and challenged them to leave behind their spiritual brokenness as well. Each ministry and place requires a special tact -- for the Sundarbans it is relationship and awareness, in the remote villages it is health care and education, in the city child sponsorship and tutoring. All things that require an intuitive sense to understand -- and local partners get that.

The medical camps are important ministries of JKPS in areas of India that would otherwise never see the medical care they get. Yet it doesn't stop there -- the local pastor builds relationships with these individuals to bring healing to the real problem of their souls as well.

Today we got to see something beautiful. It's a holistic Gospel, and today we got to see it in action.

Tomorrow, we spend time with the Mahima home staff and girls, and better understand what the Lord has been doing in their hearts. I can't wait to share with you the stories of how He's been working in both the staff and girls lives.

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