"You took high school students where!?" Yep…
The (Short) Story of How This Crazy Idea Happened…
When I arrived at Hillside Church in August 2011, 7 high school Juniors welcomed me to the job. They made up 7 of the 7 students in the whole student ministry (that's also including middle school!). Two years later, our high school group grew in size exponentially, at which point, I was confronted with a massive question:
How do I provide our well-established, over-churched Seniors with the tools they need to graduate from high school and not from faith?
In a flash of Holy Spirit genius (along with hours of processing with other youth pastors), the idea struck me in the shower (of course!): Provide a catalytic experience for our students that messes with their worldview so much that only their reliance upon the Spirit can create a way forward for them. In other words, let's mess with their worldview one more time before they head off to the next thing after high school! I emailed my Lead Pastor of Hillside Church at the time, Brian Winslade, and shared this idea with him.
Without skipping a beat, he smiled, and said, "Let's go for it!"
When he asked where in the world we should do such a crazy trip, I suggested that the only place in the world we should take our students is Kolkata. Given that I possessed very few tools to lead a trip of this magnitude alone, I proposed that he and I do this together. He knows this city inside and out — the language, people, customs, geography — and his expertise in Christian mission made his leadership in this venture indispensable.
Additionally, our Lead Pastor's involvement also invited our students into a more complete relationship within the corporate community of our church — a win-win on multiple levels for everyone in our church.
The summer 2013, eight guys — all guys — participated, along with one college student who brilliantly served as an up-and-coming leader and my right hand man. No doubt God assembled a motley crew. Each one of the guys on the trip hailed from differing backgrounds. Some had been part of our church since birth, while others recently joined our crew only months before their Senior year ended. Some were new to faith. Some had been journeying with Jesus for quite some time.
Regardless of their pasts, however, God assembled our team, and led us through a complex, heart-wrenching agenda — more than 12,000 miles away from our home in Marin! What the Spirit taught us broke our hearts for Christ more than we could have imagined. It's powerful, and to this day, I still reflect upon our 10 days in Kolkata. Take a read below at the India Project:
The India Project 2013 #loveGodloveKolkata
Read and watch the process of our story unfold by clicking on the links below to my blog posts. They flow in chronological order from top to bottom:
I would love to read your comments and reactions. Feel free to respond in the comment section at the bottom of the post or email me directly on my Contact Page.
Our Goal for the India Project
The long term goal for this project is threefold:
1. To Expose our students to the bottom third of the global population and significant issues that face our world.
2. To Wreck their limited worldview of the West and upper-middle class, white America.
3. To Equip them to then respond to issues of poverty, hunger, and human trafficking through the lens of Christ.
Our chosen focal point for the India Project is to research the sex trafficking industry in India and become aware of how this issue impacts society, culture, and the lives of those involved - both in India and in our own backyard.
The first, IJM, investigates and prosecutes brothel owners and the sex traffickers who perpetuate such evil around the globe. The latter organization, Freeset, seeks to rehabilitate those rescued women through vocational training, domestic education, and psychotherapeutic counseling.
During our visits with these two organizations, we listened to the stories of these women, undertook service projects to assist with their work, and interviewed the personnel who serve in the field.
In addition, we visited the Mother House instituted by Mother Theresa, toured the city of Serampore (the ministry location of William Carey), and visited the Kalighat Temple, a place devoted to the goddess Kali who is the goddess of death and patroness of the city Kolkata.
More to Come...
Please feel free to Contact me with any questions, and we appreciate your prayers for our partner organizations.