In January, a team of 13 people from around Australia went on a trip to attend the World Convention Global Gathering held in Damoh, and to visit GMP’s partners in India. Janet Woodlock, Federal Coordinator for Churches of Christ in Australia, shared some of her experiences:
“Our first stop was Daund, where we visited the Shrigonda Girls’ Home and Ashwood Memorial Hospital. The first Australian missionaries in Daund set up a tent under a tree over 100 years ago to begin ministry in the area. What a sacrifice it must have been in that era! Like the mustard seed of faith in the Bible, it has grown into a huge tree of fruitful ministry. There we were, at Shrigonda, treated to a welcoming ceremony, a church service, a concert performed by the girls, then a shared meal. Team members, Chris and Lindsay Parker from South Australia, were delighted to meet their sponsor child. In talking with the school director, I was struck by the realisation that girls’ education is critical for releasing families from poverty, and saving vulnerable children from early marriage, forced prostitution, and other forms of exploitation.
The next morning involved a tour of the Ashwood Memorial Hospital and we participated in the official opening of the Doctors’ and Guest House of Ashwood. The hospital treats patients regardless of their income status; patients pay what they can afford (which in some cases is little or nothing). We visited a hospital-sponsored support group for HIV patients, where we heard testimony after testimony about how the clinic had given them hope and happiness, helped them find Jesus, and calmed fears about HIV in the wider community. It was incredibly moving. That evening involved a service at the thriving church nearby.
A unique experience on the trip was the centenary celebration of the Baramati Boys’ Home, which involved many formal speeches, and testimonies from former residents. At one point, the star of the show was a large monkey wandering about on the stage! In the evening, there was celebratory dancing by the young boys (who had sat in an unbelievably quiet fashion through the many hours of speeches!). Other attendees, including the Australian guests, joined in the dancing too!
One strong take-away impression from my trip was the words of a Hindu Member of Parliament to the Christian Global Gathering: ‘You have something no one else does. You have a calling. You go to places that no one else goes to.’ Reflecting on 100 years of Churches of Christ ministry in India, I wonder what the fruit of our local church and of own personal ministry might be 100 years from now. Whom might we be called to reach, and where might we be called to go? We have much to learn in Australia from our Indian friends and their passion for the gospel, their ministries of mercy, their church planting, and their courage in the face of persecution.”
Federal Coordinator for Churches of Christ in Australia
Learn more about our partners and projects in India