In December 2017, our team came to India to document the story of Ram Rakhi, a 70 year old village midwife who was the last of her kind in her area. With 50 years of midwifery experience, she had a lifetime of knowledge to pass on, but nobody to tell. Our team was eager to capture a story and legacy that would otherwise be lost forever.
Though the dai lives in a humble setting, her hospitality is unmatched. She and her daughter-in-law ensure that there is more than enough for everyone to be filled. Times like these were filled with laughter and conversation as we enjoyed each other’s company.
Each person had a part to play in the filming of this documentary, to ensure this film was done with excellence. In the background are the many kids, mostly Rakhi’s grandchildren, who were fascinated with the filming process.
From the moment the cameras began rolling, Ram Rakhi told her story with confidence, leaving out no details. Despite the many cameras and amount of equipment, she was unfazed. She told us, “I want to tell my story so that other women can be educated.”
The kids at Aquatic Public School are always eager to jump in a photo. It was so wonderful to return to APS and see the kids’ growth as well as the growth of the staff and facilities.
A toothless smile, deeply wrinkled hands, and joy in her eyes - this is Ram Rakhi. She has a million stories to tell and anyone who’s met her knows she is eager to tell them.
Jenna Dobyns and Alison Jobe shared their musical talents with students at Aquatic Public School. The kids were delighted to learn an English song along with dance moves. Jenna participated in a 6-month internship with G.O.D. India and Alison came for a shorter trip to learn more about G.O.D. India and assist with the documentary filming.
Rekha Ma’am smiles with two of her students. We are so thankful for the immense care and commitment that the APS teachers show their students.
Rachel Nowlin and Principal Sunny display the teacher resource magazine that we wrote, translated, and printed for the staff of APS. Rachel spent a year abroad serving administratively and as a teacher at APS.
Principal Sunny began APS in 2016 in order to provide kids from low-income households with a quality education. We were so happy to join him in this worthy cause in August 2016.
Sandhya shows off her photo in the “Resources” magazines. The teachers were delighted to see pictures of themselves in a magazine that was created to help them in the classroom.
One of the best ways that we can serve the APS kids is by equipping and investing into their teachers. This magazine is one way we are doing just that - giving them practical tips for the classroom translated into Hindi!
Alison Jobe, Lipscomb film student, was thrilled to join us on this trip and apply her knowledge of videography. She was so helpful to us on set whether it was getting b-roll, setting up a tripod, or entertaining the many kids who wanted to be on film too!
Manohar Paul teaches his students guitar chords during their music class. Manohar has a deep love for both youth and music, which makes this class something the boys look forward to every week.
On this day, the boys got together and prepared a short performance as individuals and groups. Despite their nerves, they each demonstrated what they had learned whether it was a simple chord or an entire song.
Meet APS’s music teachers, Manohar Paul and Rachel Nowlin. As you can see, music class is no fun at all.
We’re pretty sure there’s no better capture than this one to display how everyone feels about music class. The boys love this time to grow in their musical knowledge, but also just to simply have fun with one another.
Sneha has been diligently serving the girls at APS by facilitating a class and discussion on issues that young girls face. This ranges from health and anatomy to emotions and safety. Such discussions have proven to be so beneficial to the girls as these are typically taboo subjects in Indian society.
The girls at APS worked together to write and design their very own books! On this day, they received the physical copies of these books to take home. The girls were elated to be able to receive the fruit of all of their hard work!
The girls at APS adore Sneha and look up to her not only as a teacher, but as a role model. We are so thankful that she is able to serve the girls in this way and give them a safe space to discuss their issues.
In October 2017, team members Rosemary Sherrod, Stephanie Bartlett and Leah Sherrod joined liaisons Manohar Paul and Sneha Purti for a week of service. We hosted seminars in maternal health, administration and cross-cultural communication for our GOD India staff. Psalm 133 says, “How very good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” This applies to sisters too!
Earlier in 2017, Sneha Purti and Rose Oungh began a discussion group for more than a dozen female students at Aquatic Public School (APS), grades 6-10. Young ladies in India often lack consistent venues to discuss social issues like self-image, much less discuss them with teachers informed by God's Word.
In contrast to their male counterparts, girls in India are less likely to receive education, have less access to medical care, and have less access to proper nutrition. Sneha and Rose’s discussion groups have not only provided an educational and enjoyable venue for the girls to discuss such topics, but they have also empowered them to better understand their value within a world that greatly ignores it.
Sneha Purti is loved and respected by the young ladies in her classes; she has empowered them by giving them the gift of understanding. They are no longer afraid or confused by what is happening in their own bodies, but can appreciate the way they have been fearfully and wonderfully made!
With several years passed since both Stephanie and Leah had returned to India, this was their first time walking the grounds of Aquatic Public School and meeting all of the special faces that fill it. One cannot enter the courtyard or a classroom without feeling the abundant joy of these children as they receive an education!
Stephanie and Leah also assisted Aquatic Public School by providing administrative training to staff. Stephanie, a trained bookkeeper, was able to collaborate with Principal Sunny Singh, to introduce new bookkeeping methods that will allow them to better serve their student body.
Principal Sunny excitedly welcomed us into his home in appreciation of our partnership and services to his school. The hospitality of our Indian friends and neighbors never fail to awe us.The night was filled with singing, dancing, delicious food, and lots of laughter! Reclining at the table to celebrate our friendships is a great reward in the Kingdom of God!
India team member and G.O.D. Academy Kindergarten teacher, Rachel Nowlin, routinely facilitates educational seminars for the teachers at APS. Some seminar topics have included classroom management, student learning styles, and primary and secondary curriculum development. The teachers always walk away enthusiastic with new ideas and empowered to better serve their 250 students.
Rachel’s days are full of projects to assist the APS staff to even more effectively educate their students. This effort is motivated by these children, many of whom would lack access to quality education if not for APS. Jesus taught in Luke 18:16 that the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children like this.
In addition to working with APS faculty and students, Rosemary, Stephanie and Leah assist with several of our efforts in maternal health. Here they snap a photo with several attendees of the ‘Hamari Awaz’ (Our Voice) event for women. These meetings allow Indian women a safe and hospitable venue to discuss culturally taboo topics such as reproductive health and childbirth- conversations that are extremely important for their health and well-being.
Utilizing interactive facilitated discussion techniques, the small group setting of Hamari Awaz allows for vulnerability and open conversation about topics many women in India might not have the opportunity to discuss otherwise.
It was a sweet reunion between Rosemary Sherrod and this experienced Indian village midwife, affectionately called ‘Danto’ (toothless). For over a year now, Rosemary has been compiling Danto’s stories in preparation for a documentary about her lifelong work in childbirth. Team members Leah and Stephanie also had the privilege to meet her and learn of her wonderful work!
In the years we’ve known this village midwife (center) we have benefited from her nearly 50 years of experience. Her stories provide a unique window into understanding Indian women and the challenges they face. While many of these stories are heart-wrenching, just as many are side-splitting. We’ve been blessed to hear them and even more blessed to provide venues for them to be heard.
India has the largest number of maternal deaths and neonatal deaths per year in the world. Many of these deaths would be preventable with the presence of skilled birth attendants, as the midwife (far right) has been for this village.The women of the village (such as the one pictured), take pride in their stories about the benefit that the midwife has contributed to their own lives.
We have a wonderful group of people working with us at our offices in India, and we love to celebrate them! On the final night of Leah, Rosemary, and Stephanie’s delegated mission, we celebrated these relationships over a meal and shared stories testifying to the faithfulness of the Lord.
In August 2017, team manager Andrew Bartlett (bottom middle) and Scott Sherrod (top right) traveled to India to continue training our employees. These training times aimed to transmit both technical, job-related skills, and more importantly, to enhance our staff’s understanding of our philosophy of mission. Here, the team had just finished a discussion on our pursuit of holiness over that of cultural preference, rooted in Leviticus 19.
In addition to enhancing our staff’s understanding, one of our major trip goals was to develop their team dynamic. John 13 teaches that Jesus’ disciplines are known by their love for one another. Shared moments and intentional conversation over meals, games, and projects are important to building a strong foundation for working together towards a common goal.
In the summer of 2017 a small-scale rooftop garden was developed by the students of the Institute of GOD Int’l on the terrace of our GOD India Offices. In the months that followed, Anil Panthi has continued to faithfully tend to this garden, and it is producing consistently to supplement our staff meals. Andrew and Scott were able to assist Anil by developing plans to respond to some of the garden maintenance needs- namely, the need to keep local monkeys out of it!
Because of Delhi’s limited space, people who hope to grow their own food often do so on their roofs or balconies. We hope that mastering the ‘rooftop garden’ technique will help us to model and provide healthy food options to our neighbors, in particular those that struggle to afford nutritious food at local markets.
In addition to managing our day-to-day operations, Manohar (GOD India office manager) has a passion for working with youth. Along with teaching the Aquatic Public School music class, Manohar mentors these boys on topics that help to build their character. These times together are not only making them good musicians, but good friends and good neighbors too.
Our staff in India all volunteer hours assisting at APS, helping with both administrative and educational needs. A typical scene, Rose Oungh walks among the APS students as she concludes her English classes for the day. We are inspired by Jesus’ teachings to prioritize the needs of children in society, and we give ourselves everyday to this wonderful task.
Over the course of our partnership with APS, we have developed a strong relationship with Sandhya, an elementary school teacher. We’ve been inspired by her passion to offer excellent education for APS’ students, and the students equally love and appreciate her!
In our first year of our partnership of APS, we were able to provide many classroom resources through donor contributions (A big thank you to our supporters!). These resources not only make learning fun, but they provide tools for the development of the children's social and critical thinking skills.
Summer Immersion 2017
Corey Foster was the first of our Summer 2017 Immersion students to arrive in Gurgaon. She didn’t waste any time! In her first week Corey facilitated a teacher’s seminar for the faculty of Aquatic Public School that focused on behavior management in the classroom. The topic was one the teachers chose, and their focus was almost palpable.
As with many schools in impoverished areas, most teachers at APS have had little to no formal training in elementary education. With the help of Sneha translating, Corey was able to share her expertise from over 10 years of teaching experience. It was a wonderful time!
One primary goal of a 6-week immersion trip is for students to grow in awareness of one or two significant systemic issues that affect a region. Corey Foster spent over 60 total hours volunteering at our partner elementary school. She observed cultural practices and became familiar with typical Indian primary school curriculum.
Our visit to the Multipurpose Training Centre for The Deaf was a highlight for summer immersion student Corey Foster, who has been a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing, and is fluent in American Sign Language! This unique vocational school trains deaf young people in viable jobs and helps them find good paying positions after graduation.
Corey was delighted to learn that Indian Sign Language shares similar signs with ASL, and she could communicate with students there. India is home to more poor people than any other nation, and the deaf are an especially vulnerable population. We were impressed with the quality of the program that offers occupational opportunity to these bright young people.
Manohar and Sneha Paul are our cultural liaisons- and very dear friends. Rachel Nowlin (top right) joined us in Gurgaon in June to kick off her year of living and working in India. Morning chai and conversation on the front steps proved sweet times of fellowship, as we came to know each other’s stories and the ways God has drawn each of us into ministry.
India’s complex systemic issues can feel overwhelming. Poverty, gender inequalities, unemployment, unsafe living conditions… they would prove too much to face if it weren’t for God’s Word that calls us to come beside those who suffer and get involved in God’s salvific work. Daily prayer, Bible study and worship together rooted us in faith and offered a lens to interpret the surrounding issues.
When we asked Principal Singh of APS what kind of help he would like around the school facilities he said, “Can you teach an electrical wiring class to my students? They want to be able to wire and repair things on their own.” Fortunately trip lead Nick Sherrod is an electrician and he organized a 2 week class in which students designed and wired their own lamps!
Immersion student Jameson Parker helped with the Electrical Wiring class. Indian education systems place a high value on test scores, particularly in math and English. Unfortunately, this leaves little time for creative classes and hands-on projects that develop problem solving.
Students were so proud of their finished product; a desk lamp with a built-in pencil holder! The design was proposed by one of the students in a competition that encouraged critical thinking skills.
As his first immersion project, student Ryan McAllister prepared a seminar on the use of ‘Iron Fish’. This nutritional supplement addresses chronic issues of anemia in India, due to the high cost of iron-rich foods.
When people think ‘missionary’ they may not envision someone involved in environmental issues such as air quality and clean water sources. But God himself was concerned with placing his children in a healthy environment- a garden- and making sure they had a sustainable food source. Students on their educational immersion trips carefully examine the variety of issues that threaten a community’s holistic well-being, and prayerfully consider how they are to respond to those needs.
One helpful project that Immersion students Ryan and Jameson undertook was to create a map of the neighborhood surrounding our G.O.D. India headquarters. From this investigation of nearby schools, businesses and NGO’s, we became aware of a hostel for street boys that was not far, and were able to spend a day visiting and offering educational activities to the kids there.
Happy Birthday Jameson! We were happy to celebrate Jameson with a time of prayer and encouragement, and a fantastic meal together! The relationships developed during trips abroad take on a very special quality, as individuals find themselves pushed outside all that is familiar and learn to rely on the Lord and on each other in real ways.
Long before he arrived in India, G.O.D. Institute student Jameson had been investigating methods of rooftop gardening in India, and preparing plans to begin one on our terrace in Gurgaon.
Manohar, Ryan and Summer Intern Carl Cook all helped construct the garden beds that are now producing on our rooftop garden. In a region where farming is looked down on as a lowly occupation, we want to affirm the practice of growing your own food, as it was one of the first jobs God gave humanity. (Gen. 2:15)
Jameson worked with G.O.D. India intern Anil Panthi, to prepare him for taking over the garden after Jameson’s return back to the U.S. It was a valuable chance to practice the whole scope of implementing a development project, including it’s successful transference.
Phase 1 completed! With garden boxes built, soil prepared and seedlings transplanted, the summer immersion team left behind a healthy young rooftop garden. They gained valuable experience in executing a small scale project cross-culturally.
Immersion students often supplement our development efforts abroad with unique skill sets. Corey Foster taught a media seminar to our India staff, showing them how to maximize the use of their phone cameras so as to document development projects.
Hospitality in India is unlike what most westerners have ever experienced. This Indian pastor invited us to his home after morning church service, and entertained us all afternoon with music and stories while his wife prepared a wonderful meal.
Traveling throughout northern states allowed immersion students the chance to see how rural Indians live. Our longest trip included a visit to the Barefoot College, an educational organization in Rajasthan who’s thriving campus has gained international acclaim for its focus on educating and empowering the poor, especially women.
At the Barefoot College we met and heard from rural women who had been trained and apprenticed at the campus, and were able to offer valuable dental care and preventative seminars to villagers in the region.
Solar energy is one of the main emphases of the Barefoot College. The college has introduced solar energy as a way to open up opportunities for rural dwellers. With solar powered lanterns they can hold classes and study in the evening time, as their farms require their attention in daylight hours. Seeing such creative and community-driven initiatives in development work was inspirational for students and trip facilitators alike.
Following the visit to Rajasthan, students immediately went to view the world famous Taj Mahal. However, their experience was not that of a typical sightseer- it was followed with a focused Bible study and critical discussion of the value of such an architectural feat, as compared to the toll on human life it required in construction. Students were challenged to consider what place such buildings have in the kingdom of God.
Back in Delhi in July, Stephany Dailey arrived for a packed, 10 day immersion. She facilitated a worship conference for about 30 pastors and worship leaders. It was a time that encouraged ministers to consider their own cultural practices and personal preferences, and examine them according to Scripture. There was much laughter amidst the discussion, games and sweet times of worship.
Stephany also taught daily art lessons to the students at Aquatic Public School who were working on creating short stories for children. They loved her art lessons and creative exercises!
Using objects in the small classroom, Stephany taught the students to use the terms ‘straight’, ‘curved’ and ‘angled’ lines. She then incorporated their awareness of lines into a lesson about illustrating each page of a storybook. Creative arts are extremely rare in schools that serve impoverished families, who are focused on succeeding with the most urgent academic subjects. The girls were thrilled to have a chance to tell a meaningful story in an artistic way!
Stephany brought her passion and vocal skill to some of the first music classes taught to APS students. These music classes have been a wonderful outlet for students to express themselves, have a productive pastime, and learn to collaborate together in band settings.
As the summer drew to a close we spent an evening together enjoying Manohar’s specialty coffee tonics. It was a rich trip full of meaningful work and sweet times of rest and fellowship together.
Summer Internship 2017
Summer Internship participants (Carl Cook and Lily McDaniels) are excited to meet cultural liaison Manohar Paul on their first night in India! On their trip, Mano was integral to helping the interns connect with the people of India through cultural lessons, language acquisition, and biblical insight.
After a walk around the neighborhood next to our office, interns got their first experience with Indian hospitality. After being greeted with fresh warm milk and cookies, they got an opportunity to ask questions about the history of Gurgaon and how locals have seen the social and economic change that has occurred in Gurgaon in the past 15 years.
Interns got to spend the evening observing the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Fitr. Eid marks the end of Ramadan (a month where Muslims abstain from eating or drinking from dawn to sunset) and is commonly celebrated by family gatherings, gifts and, as we got to experience, lots and lots of food!
Innovative solar technology is something that only the formally educated and financially privileged are able to do -- or so we thought! Interns got to experience a weekend at Barefoot College where they witnessed rural village women being trained to build, install and problem-solve all things solar. Pictured is one of the solar educators that guides the women through their 6-month course.
It is said that over 20 million people travel by train each day in India. While trains are the most affordable way to travel long distances in India, they also can come with unpredictable arrival and departure times. Here, the team is waiting for our train, but we make the most of the time by having impromptu Bible studies and sharing stories.
Gurgaon is a city of incredible contrasts. We walked through a slum near our office where the average worker struggles to make 2 dollars a day; that same slum is met by towering office buildings and high-rise apartments. Interns navigated both worlds and experienced the very real disparity between the rich and the poor.
U.S. students in our Summer Internship program learned to exercise ingenuity as they facilitated play times for the students at Aquatic Public School. Gabby Ladd used her big personality to make any game fun and interactive! This kind of game-based learning was a special experience for the students, who rarely get out of their seats during classes.
Carl Cook uses his guitar skills to teach valuable lessons to a class at of boys at Aquatic Public School. Carl got to see how music is a valuable tool in doing cross-cultural ministry, as it provides a platform that many can engage with.
Josie Putnam surprised herself with how her skill in drawing could be used to bless kids with a fun and educational lesson. Here facilitating a lesson on drawing an elephant, we found the kids thrilled with how good their final product was. They learned simple concepts of drawing that could be widely applied so as to capture images in the world around them.
Lilly McDaniels works on perfecting her chai making abilities. Chai (which simply means ‘tea’ in Hindi) is a very popular drink in India and can be commonly found with streetside vendors where a cup costs about 15 cents. Being able to make chai and offer it to guests is a prerequisite to showing appropriate hospitality.
Interns got the privilege of visiting a village midwife, or ‘dai’ in Hindi. This dai is a 70 year old woman who has dedicated her life to serving women through childbirth. G.O.D. Institute student Darbie Guess got a hands-on lesson in doing a prenatal checkup on team member, Stephany Dailey.
Personal space can be hard to find when taking a shared taxi! In India, especially in cities, sharing a taxi with 6-10 people is quite common. Internship is about denying the privileges we are used to and experiencing the daily realities of many in the developing world, so as to better understand how to serve.
Participating in popular Indian festivals like Holi gives team members insight into local culture and helps us understand the worldview of those we serve.
During Holi festivities you can’t walk down the street without experiencing the rain of color! Celebrants bring in the coming of spring by throwing vibrant colors into the air and at one another. The colors mimic sprouting vegetation and the coming rain. From left to right: Taylor Maute, Stephen Carver, Manohar Paul, Andrew Bartlett, and Scott Sherrod enjoy time together during the Holi Festival.
From left to right: Josh Nava, Taylor Maute, and Corey Streeter spent time in prayer and reflection before they left for India. The bond we share in the LORD is what makes these trips productive and memorable.
Remembering Jesus over a shared meal is a priority for us. Here, the March 2017 team shares breakfast with Sneha and Manohar before starting a full day of work.
During mealtimes we have the opportunity to encourage one another with scripture and learn more about each other’s lives. India team members Taylor, Corey, and Josh pause with cooperative Sneha Purti to let Manohar capture the moment.
India team member Josh Nava prepares a lesson on biblical studies for our Indian cooperatives. Their ongoing skill in interpreting and applying God’s word is what will make them effective ministers. Bible studies are a priority on every trip we take.
The unity of his followers was what Jesus prayed for during his final days on earth (John 17). We strive to support the efforts of other churches in India’s National Capital Region, offering worship and Bible conference to ministers, and teaching God’s word as we have opportunity. Here, Corey Streeter delivers an encouragement from the word to a local church body, with Manohar Paul translating.
The many skills our members develop at G.O.D. Int’l headquarters (Nashville, TN) are valuable abroad as well. Here, Josh Nava introduces Manohar to carpentry work which will be utilized in various spaces to outfit our office.
Investing in the development of another person is a joyous task given to us by the Lord. We never hesitate to pause and find satisfaction in what God can do in others.
India team member Josh Nava searches for affordable local materials, to be used for a hospitality space in the G.O.D. India offices. Pallet wood furniture proved a versatile option, and is a skill that Josh has already developed over years of practice.
India team members and cooperatives meet with local leaders to discuss how to better the community.
Corey Streeter builds a frame for wall art installation. Because of the creativity and diligence of trip participants we were able to save hundreds of dollars in outfitting our office building- dollars that can instead be directed to those in need.
The team worked hard to prepare a room within our office building that could be rented out. This income helps cover the cost of our daily operations in India, and provides a hospitable place to host guests as needed.
Manohar spent much time with Stephen Carver learning the basics of stone cutting. This skill was utilized to create a hand-washing station for a nearby primary school. Ironically, in Delhi the supply of marble and granite far surpasses the supply of wood, and thus it is often cheaper to build with marble!
Delegation Mission: Cooperative & Property Development (Spring 2016)