Experiencing India

We’ve arrived back in the states safe and sound. For most of the month of May, myself, two other CCO staff, and nine college students traveled through the northeast region of India. It was a true immersion experience. We ate traditional food, wore Indian clothing, visited one of the most religious sites in Hinduism on the Ganges river, stayed in ancient villages that are over 3000 years old, drank so much chai, taught English, encountered a beautiful culture, played with joyful children, affirmed the dignity and value of the women we encountered, trekked through the Himalayas guided by local shepherds, discovered more deeply what it means to be the body of Christ and live in community, learned to pray with longing and hope, had our hearts broken by the manifestations of darkness in the culture, and rejoiced in the ways that the spirit of God is moving in those places to restore and renew in Jesus’ name. The kingdom is breaking through and has already arrived; we had the great privilege to participate in the work that God is doing there. 
As students reflected on the trip, they expressed the following: 

“I was touched one chilly, rainy afternoon when our host mother at the village brought out wool coats for all the females in our group to wear. I was amazed not only at the warmth and beauty of the coats, but at the hearts of the women who were so eager to share with us. After taking a picture with the women of our host family and of our group, the mother told us: “when you return, bring us a copy so that we can miss you.” – University of Pittsburgh student 
“One of my favorite moments of the trip was when we had the opportunity to share dances with the people in one of the villages. After our group shared some songs and dances inspired by the United States, the Indian people performed one of their most traditional dances that told a story of their village. It was absolutely moving and beautiful, showing the ways in which music can transcend language/cultural barriers and ignite powerful feelings of understanding, acceptance, empathy, and solidarity.” – Eastern University student 

“My life in Christ is now different because on this trip I was able to recognize my strongholds. I rely more on Christ to show me these insecurities and be the one to help me through them. I know that he is capable of all things! I believe that my prayer life will be more consistent and routine rather than something I do when I need something. I learned that prayer is not supposed to be the immediate return on investment, but a process that occurs over a long period of time!” – Eastern University student

For myself, I was reminded of the ways that the core of humanity remains consistent across cultures: we are all simultaneously broken and beautiful. I found friendship with villagers and students alike on this journey through our common humanity. At our core, we all deeply desire to be known and loved. Yet, we hide out of shame and fear that if we allow ourselves to be truly known, we won’t be loved. Thank God that we are called his beloved and are loved more than we can fathom. It was a privilege to walk in the freedom of that love and to receive and extend the love of Christ on this journey to India. I will carry these people and their stories with me always.  - Kylie