I’m pleased to welcome my friend Christa Hutchins to the #BeBoldGirl series. Christa recently returned from a business trip to India, where she had the opportunity to experience the work being done by Mission India. I think you’ll enjoy hearing what she learned. Welcome, Christa!
I followed the friendly man through a small opening in the side of the flimsy five-story building made from scrap tin, bits of lumber and covered in cardboard, gingerly stepping around the muck of unknown contents. Once inside, we followed an orderly maze of narrow alleyways, each one lined with cubes of shops and living spaces.
Watching my feet and being careful to tread exactly where my guide stepped, I almost bumped in to him when he stopped abruptly at the open door to one of the small cubes. Inside the room were twenty of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, sitting on the dusty floor with books and chalkboards in their laps.
Mr. Sunil, a representative of Mission India, had led me into the slums of Mumbai, India … an area of illegal housing built around drainage ditches and filled with the some of the poorest, most forgotten people in a land of poor, forgotten people. He brought me to see one of Mission India’s Adult Literacy classes, where they provide the resources to teach women to read, write and do basic arithmetic.
These women are bold in a way I’ve never seen before. The Hindus in elegant saris and the Muslims with heads covered were all ages and were being taught by a young woman named Laxmi. With a mix of translation and broken English, we talked about the things that women all around the world connect over. I asked about their dreams and they asked about my children.
Their dreams? To be counted as people. To stand on their own two feet. Simple dreams that we so often take for granted. They wanted to show me how they could write their names with chalk on their slates. The power of tangible evidence of who you are demonstrated by wrinkled brows as they wrote, and proud smiles as they held up their slates.
Mr. Sunil explained how the program works. The ladies register for the course and attend two hours of lessons each day. They go through three books in a year. Each book has one “Jesus story” woven in. “And slowly, slowly, they come to know Jesus.” During the classes, they are also instructed in basic health and hygiene care, and learn a skill such as domestic service, chalkmaking or soap making to earn an income.
Laxmi learned to read in the program and went on to finish what we would call high school. She teaches for Mission India now as a way to give back, but she is not a believer. But Mr. Sunil is confident. “Slowly, slowly, she will come to know Jesus.”
This idea of “slowly, slowly” stuck in my heart. We are always in such a hurry, and quick to change direction if we don’t see immediate results. We have an urgency to see people come to Jesus, and to see their hearts healed. But often, God works slowly, slowly in hearts and in our ministries. His plan is good and he asks us to be patient, joyful even, in the waiting.
Just as these ladies show up every day to learn, we should show up every day to whatever God has called us to do.
Just as their beautiful clothes stand out in the dirty surroundings, we should stand out as beautiful representatives of hearts surrendered to him.
And just as their joyful smiles light up over the smallest of accomplishments, we should savor the little things that God is doing and celebrate the times when we see him slowly, slowly working his plan.
When my visit was over, Mr. Sunil led me back through the maze and out into the street, where dinner time was approaching and chicken kebobs covered in bright orange sauce were being grilled over open flames. Children with little or no clothes were playing in the streets or picking through the garbage. Life in the Mumbai slums was going on. But through the bold work of Mission India, life may never be the same for the twenty women who gather in the little room to learn who they are and why they matter.
To learn more about Mission India and how you can support their work, visit their website at MissionIndia.org. I’d also like to thank Amy Carroll and my friends at Proverbs 31 Ministries who helped to arrange the visit.
Christa Hutchins is a “doer-of-things” who provides ministry coaching, project management and administrative support for speakers, writers and ministry leaders. Her writing and courses provide practical insight into moving your God-sized dream from vision to action. Christa lives in South Louisiana with her husband in their delightfully empty nest, where you usually will find her with her nose stuck in a book or sipping on a triple tall, non-fat peppermint mocha. Connect with Christa at her website Do A New Thing, on Facebook and on Twitter.