Scott Sherrod and I recently traveled to India to work with our new employees there, orienting them to our mission and expectations. It was a good trip, filled with team dialogues incorporating both Indians and Americans, seeking to apply God’s Word, rather than our cultural dispositions, to effectively respond to the needs of our moment in India.
Our three new employees Anil Panthi, Rose Chang, and Avi Vinay, will bring their various skills and experience to assist our ministry in the fields of Primary Education, Maternal Health and Job Creation in the NCR (North Capital Region). One of our primary goals for this trip was to give our three new employees a better understanding of who we are, what we do and how they fit into our work and mission.
One important text for us this week was Leviticus 18:2-5, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the Lord your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord.”
Leviticus is a book given to the Israelites before they head into a new environment, begin their new mission and work new jobs. It was supposed to prepare them to accomplish all of this newness according to the Lord’s vision. The text emphasizes our need to transcend our culture (both as Americans and Indians) to develop something new.
Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we are called to form something different from the culture we left and the culture we are heading into. In v.3-4 we learn that our new culture, is formed through the process of learning and being obedient to God’s word together. Though quite the task, the endeavor carries with it the promise that, if we can work together to create solutions that are neither Indian or American, we have a chance to produce a beautiful life for ourselves and our neighbors.
We’ve experienced that promise come to life. At this time last year, our team had hired its first cooperative, Manohar Paul, and was on the verge of hiring its second, Sneha Purti. We had also recently begun volunteering at a neighborhood school, Aquatic Public School (APS), located about 100 yards from our offices. Now, in the Fall of 2018, we have increased to 5 employees and have 1 team member (Rachel Nowlin) on the ground for 12 months. We entered into a partnership with APS last year and have since provided teachers, curriculum advice, administrative support and several practical maintenance projects to help them better serve their underserved students. We also have two women who are being actively trained into birth attendants to better support women in the NCR.
We look forward to building on the last year and for the life that we will produce in the NCR as we implement God’s word, not Indian or American culture.