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NewLife Church Mission To India

May 21, 2007

By Sue Erickson

It's amazing to see how God sets up circumstances so that our lives cross paths with other believers who will impact us forever and give a small church a great purpose.

It all began with the World Wide Youth Conference in Hong Kong. Through a series of miraculous events, including the SARS virus, the dates were changed which altered the members of our team and Holly Ng was added. While there she was put in a small group where she met Kalyan, a young man from India. They continued to correspond after the conference. When the tsunami [of December 2004] hit an area near Kaylan's home he and his family pooled their resources and he went to help. He found that the remote fishing villages were getting no help and the people were in great need. They had lost everything, including their fishing nets. Without nets they could not feed their families.

If they didn't get help they wouldn't survive.

Kalyan returned home and sent out an urgent E-mail to everyone he knew or had ever met, across the world. Holly brought this request for help before our church. To help you understand the enormity of his request you need to know the make up of our congregation. We have about 25 members including children, poor college students, and families with low to moderate incomes. Kalyan said they needed emergency food, clothes, blanket, and fishing nets. The cost would be $5,000. He and his family's ministry (OASIS) would purchase and distribute the items.

For us $5,000 seemed an impossible amount to raise, but immediately our 12 year old son, Gabe, whispered to me that he wanted to give $500 from his savings account. This shocked and encouraged us. God had already provided the first 10% through a very unlikely source. We needed to let Him use us. It was so exciting to be part of that adventure and God provided the funds in a very short time. Later we were told that out of all the requests made for help our church was the only one to respond. God used us; a small, poor, insignificant group to meet a great need and touch people on the other side of the world!

We continued our contact with OASIS, its leader Dr. Joseph and Kalyan. They sent pictures of the villagers receiving the gifts from us. They said they hoped one day we would come to India and meet the people whose lives we had touched.

Here was another opportunity to physically go, touch, and see these dear people. God was giving us a chance to go into all the world and share the gospel. We began to pray, work, and save. Again God provided the funds in miraculous ways and on 12/27/06 a team of 9 members of NewLife took off on an adventure to India that changed us forever.

This was not an easy trip, but it was exciting, faith building, and humbling. We met with obstacles that tested us and exposed our weakness, but even more we saw the strength of the Lord and the unique gifts and abilities He had put in each individual on our team. When we met the OASIS team we found kindred spirits. Their group was much like us, small with limited resources, but willing to follow God. They loved the Lord and the rejected people of SE India; in fact their own family were dalits, the low cast of India.

The dalits, which means broken people, are despised and rejected by their own government, society, and religion. They are called the "untouchables". That was our mission, to touch the untouchables with the love of Jesus. What a privilege! We were the hands of God in SE India.

Our time was filled with traveling through the villages in the rural areas giving out blankets and clothing to the widows, handicapped, elderly, and sick. We even helped a group of people with leprosy and went to the area where the prostitutes live to conduct a free medical clinic for them and their children. Every place we went large groups gathered and Cork and J. would preach the good news of God's love for them. We all prayed for the needy. They would come with bowed heads, just wanting us to touch them and ask God to meet their needs. The children were happy and beautiful. They crowded around us wanting love and attention. They were honored that we had come all the way from America to see them and we were humbled to think God would use us to deliver His love and hope to them.

Our love for Dr. Joseph, Kalyan, and their family is deep. It is impossible for me to fully describe to incredible family. They are true servants. They are generous and tireless in reaching the rural people. They have only a small pension and whatever the family can contribute to do this work. They have established many churches through out rural Andre Pradesh. Some of the pastors they have trained and help support lead as many as 6 congregations in different villages. They continue to support medical camps where they get a doctor to give free care for a few hours and give out limited medicine, which they purchase. They distribute food, clothing, and blankets to the needy.

This ministry receives no support. We have been their only donors. Rural India is a harvest field. The people are poor, needy, and open to the gospel. The OASIS team are willing workers who will continue to serve with or without any support, but this is an opportunity to literally change the world. We know the truth because we have witnessed it with our own eyes. We can be a part of something huge. A little goes a long way in India. $1.00 can feed a family. We, as Americans, can sacrifice a very little bit of our money to bring God's love to desperate hearts. I hope God would call on you to join us. Ask yourselves, what can I do for India?

New Life has entered into an ongoing partnership with the OASIS ministry in India. Soon we will have a website up to proclaim the greatness of God in India. We continue to contribute monthly toward this ministry. And we desire to return again and again to the downtrodden of India. If you are interested in being apart of the partnership or contributing to OASIS please contact Pastor Cork Erickson at corkerickson@msn.com

Sue smiling while sitting in a chair Sue meeting children in India Sue and Cork Sue, Cork, Erin, Samuel, David, and Gabe