In November 2019, Pastor Errol, Mike and Claudiu from Hendon Baptist Church, went on a missions trip to Vimukthi Baptist Church in India. Mike shares his reflections of the trip:
At 08:15 a.m. on Monday 3 November 2019 Pastor Errol, Claudiu and I caught a coach from Golders Green to Stansted airport. We were off to catch a flight to Dubai and then another to Hyderabad in South India. We were going to visit Vimukthi Baptist Church, the church that Rebecca and Sunil have come from. Pastor Jeevan, who is Pastor of the church, is Rebecca’s brother, and the church was founded by her father. We were collected from Rajiv Gandhi International airport by Pastor Jeevan, Sangeeta his wife and two of the Church deacons. We were then driven across the city. This was our first experience of Indian traffic – there was so much of it, and it was so noisy! Trying to count how many people were on some of the mopeds was amazing, as was seeing what else people managed to transport on their mopeds. Then there were the dogs and cows in the roads. We stayed in Rebecca and Sunil’s apartment and our first trip out was to KFC, but that was the only time we had western-style food during our trip. Next it was back to the apartment and off to bed as it was Tuesday night (in India) and we had been awake since Monday morning (UK time).
Every day we met with some of the Church Leadership for a time of prayer and teaching, and during the week we met with the deacons of the church, visited church members in their homes, and one night we met on the flat roof of a house for a time of singing and teaching. We met with the village Pastors who are supported by the main Church, attended a Bible Study, a Revival Meeting, their Women’s meeting, and on the Sunday morning after the Service we experienced their Harvest Festival. People brought things that they had made, cooked, drawn, painted and grown, and sold them, with the money going to the Church.
We visited many people in their homes during the week, and we saw the very basic conditions that some lived in. Yet wherever we went we were always made extremely welcome, which always seemed to include being offered something to eat and drink.
The weather was wonderful, the temperature was about 30°C every day, but it was a dry, comfortable heat and the evenings were cool. Many of the people spoke English, although during any of the Services when we spoke everything was translated into Telugu, the local language. The food was fantastic and we were looked after so well. I learnt so much during my time away, how I take so many things for granted, how much freedom we as a Church have and the opportunities that we take for granted.
Claudiu was alarmed at how they painted the outside of the buildings by being suspended on a rope from the roof. I was horrified watching how the pedestrians tried to cross the roads in constant flow of traffic, and brave Pastor Errol eagerly accepted the offer of a ride on the back of a moped.
On our last full day we became tourists and went into the centre of Hyderabad to look around the old city and see some of the shops and markets. At the centre of the old city we saw the outside of the Charminar, a mosque built in the 14th century. However, we declined the offer of a trip to IKEA.
Our journey back to the airport seemed so calm, in just a week we had got used to the traffic, the noise, the mopeds and the animals. And then after a flight back to Stanstead, via Dubai, we were back on a coach to Golders Green where Lavinia and Daniel were waiting to pick us up.
I hope that many others in Hendon Baptist Church will have the opportunity to visit Vimukthi Baptist Church in the future and that we can establish links and share and support one another in new ways. We are so thankful to Rebecca and Sunil for all that they did in organising our week and to Pastor Jeevan, Sangeeta, the deacons and the whole Church for making us so welcome.
By Mike Gardner
We asked Pastor Jeevan's wife, Sangeeta, to share some prayer requests with us. She asked that we pray for:
The spiritual growth of the church members
The leadership of the church
The ministries in the church, specifically - Sunday School, Youth, Women, Outreach
The church would like to have a van and a projector
Healing for those in the church who are unwell
The small population of Christians in a Hindu majority country
Let us also pray for those affected by Covid-19 in India, particularly the poorer communities.