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Impact India 360
Building Bridges

Such a large part of what I love to do here is to build relationships with people from the city and village. I have to admit the first time I was to have a lunch/meeting with local politicians I was

a bit intimidated and unsure of how it would go. Since that first meeting I have not only become more comfortable in our gatherings, but I actually look forward to them. This picture is one taken outside a restaurant in the city of Rajahmundry. We did not have any particular agenda, but rather wanted to stay connected with them for a multitude of reasons, first of which is to make sure they know that we are interested in them as people and desire to develop authentic relationships with them over time. The simple fact that we go in with no agenda likely speaks for itself. In this photo is the Deputy Mayor, the Mayor, a County Government Official, an attorney, and local business people. I have met with the Mayor and the Government Official on a few occasions in the past so we are truly moving toward understanding each other and what our goals are. We are doing the best we can to move out into the people and begin to work with them and not to be insular in our presence at CEM. I don’t know exactly how God will use this approach but I am certain it is the correct one and all we are required to do is to follow Him in the way He leads us. We will continue to stay connected to these people and to prayerfully show them through our actions that we genuinely care for them.
This next story is amazing and I would say to this point has been the highlight of the trip (except maybe being with the kids). On my right is Sunil Prasad and on my left is Ganesh Kumar. Sunil works at a local paper mill and Ganesh is an accountant working for himself. Some of you may recall a meeting that we (Jeff P., Sal, Jim) had back in February with 24 Hindu leaders and business people for the simple purpose of getting to know one another and finding some common ground. These two gentlemen were a part of the gathering and were keenly interested in my offer to find ways to work together in partnership to help the village residents. In that February meeting I had posed the question, “what are the three greatest needs of your people”, to which they responded, “medical care, clean water, and care for the elderly”. Of course my first thought was, “what about the children”. As I began to think about this answer, and why they didn’t mention the children, I realized that the perception of many third world nations is that people from the West caring for children is almost a given and while the need for more orphanages and child-care programs is huge, it is the most common way we represent ourselves. Subsequently this led me to search within myself in an attempt to come to some understanding as to why we feel this way, and the simple answer is that children are automatically cute, helpless, etc., etc., and all of us that have children will be immediately drawn to this type of serving. That is great and necessary and is certainly following God’s heart, but what about other groups of very needy, very deserving people. In particular, the elderly. My suspicions that this group is largely ignored was confirmed at the meeting and lunch with these two gentlemen earlier this week. After our “hellos” and “how are your families” were done, we plunged right into furthering the conversations from last February, particularly surrounding two subjects.
1: Clean water. I asked if it would be a big help if we were to start working together to provide wells in different areas of the village (I know, dumb question). I was surprised, however to learn that it is not the best way and that almost all wells, old and new, provide contaminated water. This is due mainly to the ground water and sewage waste that soaks into the land here and eventually finds it way to the water beds from which well water is drawn. Instead, they proposed an idea (which it sounds like Microsoft is doing in other areas) which is more of a community well or larger water tower that can supply many. The water, as it is in our smaller towns, would be pumped into the tower and subsequently filtered and made available to residents to use. The conversation got way more technical regarding the process, but I will spare you of that. Needless to say it gave us a lot to think about.
2. Elderly care. This is the one that grips me. These two guys showed more compassion for the elderly than any that I have seen in my travels to Dowlaiswaram. They fervently shared their feelings of despair and sorrow for the thousands of elderly people who are homeless and left to die alone. In the middle of our conversation I showed them a portion of a video that Kensington Church did a few years back that told a story of one homeless elderly man and the way that the hospital could help. While watching the video both of them teared up and appeared as though they were struggling not to burst into an all-out cry! It blew me away, mostly because there is such a sense of apathy toward the elderly among many of the people I have encountered…..but not these two. We discussed some possible ways we could partner together to work on programs to address this situation. Again, I will spare you the details as it was a lengthy conversation, but suffice it to say that I am excited about where God will lead in this process and I am also excited that we can work together on this.

I wish I could share more about this but there is simply too much to write. If anyone is interested in joining these efforts please reach out to me. Please pray that as we continue to develop these relationships that we will be sensitive to God’s direction and always look to Him first and then act in obedience.