Hannibal-LaGrange students minister to India’s impoverished
By Brandy Campbell
HLG Public Relations
February 22, 2005
Hannibal — In recent months, images of India have been on the forefront of American media, following the devastating tsunami that took place in the Indian Ocean. However, there are some pictures that haven’t been in the newspapers or on the television – those of an entire country bonding together in the wake of tragedy. That’s just the picture that three Hannibal-LaGrange College students were able to see on a mission trip to Chandigarh, India over Christmas break.
Although Chandigarh, a city of one million people, is nearly 1,500 miles from Sri Lanka (imagine a trip from Missouri to Nevada), HLG students said that they were able to see the effects.
“We were able to see India pulling together,” said Jessica Howsden, a junior from Omaha, Neb. “They held rallies, and they were trying to educate people on how to assist, how to clean up, and how to help their own people.”
Howsden, along with Sarah Crews, a freshman from Glen Carbon, Ill., and Kerre Stolfus, a sophomore from Lee’s Summit, were in India with Global Encounter Ministries, a ministry out of Springfield that HLG has teamed up with on various trips. They joined other college groups from across the country to live out the Scripture in Luke 10, which speaks of a ripe harvest but too few workers.
“It was amazing to me to see how ready India is, how ripe they are for the harvest,” said Howsden. “The people we met there were searching for Christ, and those who had found Christ had given their whole lives to Him. They were not just ‘Sunday Christians;’ they served Christ every day.”
The missions team spent part of their time evangelizing in local villages. They led worship services in both English and the village’s language, and shared testimonies, conducted a drama, and held prayer services.
“So many people would come forward for prayer, and it was kind of overwhelming since we only had one translator,” said Crews. “But we just prayed God’s will, knowing that He knew their needs.”
After the services, Crews said the team would visit Christian elders in the village who weren’t able to attend the worship time.
“A lot of what we did was encourage believers,” continued Crews. “We wanted to let them know that we care about what they’re going through, and that people in another country are praying for them.”
The team also spent time working in Indian clinics, helping pass out eyeglasses and organizing a system for people to receive medicine and vaccinations. Many of the patients were children, and they were fascinated by the Americans.
“I loved being close to the children,” said Howsden. “They warmed up to us instantly, and were so filled with love for God. I’ve never seen children worship like that. It was amazing.”
Crews said she was also amazed at how God worked through even the most inconvenient circumstances. Both her and Howsden’s luggage was lost, and was not returned during their time in India. But to Crews, it was just another way that God taught her the reality of Luke 10.
“In Luke, there’s a passage where Jesus is instructing his disciples about their mission, and he tells them to not bring a moneybag, or clothes, or an extra pair of sandals,” said Crews. “When our luggage was lost, that Scripture literally came to life. I think we all learned contentment and humility through the experience.”
India is a country of poverty, the caste system, and as of late, devastation. But three HLG students learned that it is also a country laden with God’s love.
“When I traveled to India, I expected poverty,” said Crews. “Instead, it was there that God revealed to me that He is alive and active across the globe, not just in America.”