John 4:13-15 - 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
This summer, the SLAM summer interns serving in India met people who were thirsty. Just as Jesus offers water to the woman at the well in John 4, the summer interns who served in India this summer were able to offer this water to desperately thirsty people who otherwise would never be satisfied.
The India interns (Carl Cook, Lily McDaniel, Gabby Ladd, Darbie Guess and Josie Putnam) stayed at our headquarters in the National Capital Region of India, located in the city of Gurgaon. Throughout their time in the city, they observed that billionaires and starving beggars lived next door to one another. They learned, for example, one of Gurgaon’s nicest outdoor eating and social venues, Cyber Hub, was designed so that the people inside couldn’t see the disparity beyond the skyscrapers that encircled the venue. The interns didn’t allow these disparities to block the sight God was giving them, however. They saw the need everywhere they went and were compelled to do something about it.
Our ministry has partnered with a local school named Aquatic Public School (APS), and the interns faithfully and enthusiastically followed Jesus’ example of letting the little children come to him. They were assigned the task of facilitating a “Back to School Bash” for the 140 children who attend the school and the children received an event unlike any other. The day was filled with face painting, food, games, songs, sports, arts and crafts, and finished off with a huge, school-wide dance party.
Anytime someone steps onto the APS property, they are greeted by dozens of children rushing to them, longing for attention and recognition. Not only did the interns leave these children feeling loved and special during the Back to School Bash, but they continued to go back to the school every morning for the rest of their trip to facilitate creative learning games. The principal of APS has since told us that he is certain that God brought us to his school, as he sees our love for the children.
The interns were able to meet the founder of Kabliji Rural Hospital and hear her stories about the plight of villagers, and specifically women, in India. She told everyone present about how the Indian woman’s life is normally no more than seven stages of hell. If the female fetus isn’t aborted because male babies are more valued, she might be killed as an infant as an effort by her mother to save her from a miserable life ahead. Girl children (and women) are denied proper nutrition, as the food is first given to the men and boys. Females eat what is left over in the kitchen after the men have finished eating. Girls are also normally denied schooling if the family can only afford to send their boys to school. Then, it is cheaper for the family to give their daughter away as a child bride so that they aren’t required to pay the dowry that is required for adult brides. Once the girl is married, she must move away to be with her husband’s family and has very little say in the family until she becomes a grandmother. Not only are females denied opportunities, but what little dignity they do have is normally taken away from them through rape, which is much too common.
Our interns were deeply impacted by what they saw and heard. Learning these things gave context to the interns to learn why so much of our work in India is focused on girl’s empowerment and maternal health. Although the need seems so great at times, they pressed into the Lord through times of worship, prayer, and study of his Word. Through doing that, they were reminded that Jesus has living water to give, enough for all of the people who desperately need more than what they are currently getting. Amidst situations of grave need, hope remained in the interns’ eyes and they left India with a strong motivation to learn from Jesus this year so that they will be overflowing with living water to give to a thirsty world.