India: Day Two
We are in India!
It was waaaay past my bedtime when we landed in Mumbai at 2 a.m. It's a 9 1/2 hour difference between here and back home. So for my family and friends in the United States it is 4:30 p.m. yesterday.
Interesting, huh? And the reason for the weird 9 1/2 hour difference is because India is technically in two different time zones, but the government decided that it was better to have just one time zone in India and they split the difference by a half hour.
By the way - remember when I told you I contracted pink eye? Well, today we stopped at a chemist's shop (what we would call a pharmacy) to get some medicine. The first interesting thing I discovered was that we didn't need a doctor to prescribe the medicine first! We just walked in and asked for it! The second interesting thing I discovered was that it only cost me 30 rupees - that's just 70 cents! I like India better already...
I can't believe the number of people everywhere! Even at 2 a.m. the streets are alive - beeping car horns, people, and excitement. India is a country that apparently never sleeps!
I noticed right away that I am the biggest human person in India - both in height and width! I am big in America ... in India I am a giant. I can barely fit into any of the spaces in India.
As a matter of fact, we had a funny experience on the elevator at the hotel. I was with two other people from our video crew in the elevator. An Indian was about to get on but the elevator beeped and lit up a sign that said, "over capacity." It could not have possibly have been me that did this - it must have been the skinny Indian fellow. LOL.
I grabbed a few hours of sleep and then we were off to visit the slums of Mumbai. It is like nothing I have ever seen before.
In Mumbai there are only 17 toilets for every 1 million people. One third of the people do not have access to clean drinking water. I couldn't escape the smell of sewage and garbage ... it permeates the air. We saw rats the size of cats! And worst of all, India's slum population has doubled in the past 20 years.
And yet, God is doing amazing things.
First we got to see how women in literacy classes are being trained to make soaps, perfumes, and cleaning agents in order to sell to make a living. They were also making food to sell.
After the literacy class, barefoot slum children literally poured into the tiny one-room church for their Children's Bible Club. Some of them have moms in the literacy class. The children were being taught Christian values and songs by their club leader - a local Christian who is volunteering her time.
Incredibly, despite the poverty that is in your face here every single second, each person that I have met today has a smile on his or her face. I wonder how often I have a smile like that when things get tough...
Today, Chris explored a slum neighborhood in the city of Mumbai, and met children and women being reached through Mission India's programs. Click on the photos below to see a slideshow of his day!
Today's memory verse: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)
Look around the room you're in. Can you name three things that you couldn't live without - but that you probably wouldn't find in a slum in India like the one we visited today?
"Stuff" has a lot of power over our lives, doesn't it?
We work to get it, we have to clean it, we take time to get it repaired, we worry that someone might steal it... Sometimes it is hard to know whether we own all that stuff or whether that stuff controls us. And having more stuff doesn't necessarily make you more happy.
You would find it hard to walk through an Indian slum. The sights and smells and flies can be overwhelming. In today's episode, what did you notice about the slum and the kinds of "houses" people live in?
- What words would you use to describe this place?
Chris uses words like "Incredible!" and "Amazing!" But what is really amazing is that in the middle of all of this you also find smiles and singing.
People are happy to have a visitor. They are happy to learn. They are happy to be together. They are happy to know Jesus. Is it possible to be both poor and happy? Why would knowing Jesus make them happy?
At the end of the day Chris said that he experienced "amazing hope." This is one of God's promises to all of us:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
Millions of Indians live in slums.
Over 42 million Indians live in extremely poor, crowded urban neighborhoods called slums. Many of these families live in tents or shacks, while others must sleep on sidewalks
along busy streets or in alleys.
Most families don't have toilets or clean drinking water. The electricity only works for an hour or two each day. Moms and dads can't afford to take their kids to the doctor if they are sick.
Often people living in rural villages move to the city hoping to earn more money and make a better life for their family. Many of these migrant workers end up living in temporary
shelters in slums.
Today you visited a slum in Mumbai with Chris.
Mumbai is the second largest city in
the world! An estimated 14 million people live in this city on the west coast of India.
Mumbai is also considered the richest city in India. Many global companies have offices in Mumbai, and it is the heart of India's financial industry. Also, Bollywood the world's
largest film industry, is centered in Mumbai.
- Yet at least half of Mumbai's 14 million people live in slums.
- One of these slums is called Dharavi. It is the biggest slum in Asia - over 1 million people are crammed into less than 1 square mile!
Talk about it: What would your life be like if your family lived in a slum?
Watch a short video clip from Chris' visit to the literacy class that didn't make it into today's episode!
Many people in India are surviving in extreme poverty.
Adult Literacy Classes offer learners a chance to gain new skills that will help them increase their family's income.
The first step is learning to read, write, and do simple math.
Once they have these basic skills, learners are introduced to the Self Help Training Program (SHTP) portion of the year-long class.
This is what you visited with Chris in today's episode!
Students learn how to use inexpensive local resources to make products that they can sell. Some of these items include:
- Pain balm
- Leaf plates
- Herbal toothpaste
- Tomato sauce
- Laundry detergent
Literacy students are encouraged to stop borrowing and start saving. As they learn how to use their math skills to spend wisely, the learners also save a small amount each week that can be used to start their own micro-business.
Activity: If you were a literacy student, what kind of things could you make to sell? Try your hand at making and selling an item or service, and then add your income into your family suitcase!
Children's Bible Clubs
Did you know...?
There are over 358 million kids in India under the age of 15. This map shows you the world's countries based on the number of children 14 and younger. Look at India!
It's not easy growing up in India:
- Child marriage is common
- Many children must work to support their families
- 35% of school-aged children are not enrolled in school
- Children born into the lowest levels of India's caste system are taught that they are less than human
- Illiteracy is passed down from generation to generation
- Girls are considered a burden because families must pay a huge marriage dowry
India's children need the Gospel's message of hope:
Children's Bible Clubs are bringing this hope to millions of boys and girls across India each year!
When you support a Bible Club, you are helping provide in-depth training for local volunteer club leaders and materials in 5 age levels and 22 Indian languages. It costs just $1 to send a boy or girl to a local Bible Club.
Children's Bible Clubs are introduced in a community through a 10-day program. If you walked into a Bible Club today, you would see children:
In Children's Bible Clubs, boys and girls hear stories about missionaries working in their own nation. Click here to read the story of Esther Subhashini.
- Laughing & playing skits and games
- Singing "action" worship songs
- Listening to Bible stories
- Hiding God's Word in their hearts through memory verses
- Sharing their needs and gathering in prayer to Jesus
- Telling the ways Jesus has changed their lives!
Kids aren't the only ones who enjoy Children's Bible Clubs - often moms and dads show up at the club, too! They get curious when they see their sons and daughters behaving better at home, speaking respectfully, and trying harder at their schoolwork. And they want to know more about the Jesus their children are always talking about!
Many children in Children's Bible Clubs make a decision to follow Jesus. And these children are bringing their parents to Christ! Every year, new churches grow out of Children's Bible Clubs.
My name is Jeevan. I live in Kerala, a state in south India along the Arabian Sea.
I was just 7 years old when my parents both died because of an accident with fire.
My sister and I were playing outside when it happened. I still remember the sound of their screaming. We came rushing inside the house and when the neighbors noticed the smoke pouring out of our front door, they ran over to help. They quickly put out the fire and took my parents to a hospital. But, within a day, both Mom and Dad passed away.
My uncle gave me and my sister a place to live, but I often had nightmares about the day my parents died. Years passed by, and every night the bad dreams returned. I was completely terrified that I was going to die too.
Then, I met a Mission India church planter when I was 15 years old. He shared the Gospel with me. I listened with interest because he spoke about how Jesus frees us from fear. Soon, I knew I needed Jesus in my life. I confessed my sins to Jesus and put my faith in Him.
I don't have those bad dreams anymore, and I can sleep well. I know that I am never alone because Jesus is with me. My heart is filled with great peace. I have no more fear.
The entire neighborhood has noticed the change in me! Now, I read the Bible, and it brings me great comfort.
This summer, I volunteered as a leader at the Children's Bible Club in my neighborhood. I also shared my testimony with Kimala, one of my good friends from school. I gave Kimala a New Testament to read, and she even came to the Children's Bible Club. Today, Kimala is following Jesus too!
Please pray for me as I share about Jesus with the boys and girls who come to the Children's Bible Club. And pray that they will know the same joy and freedom from fear that Jesus has given me.