“I don’t think I have quite enjoyed worship and prayer as [much as] I have with the residents of Mukti. Seeing their simple faith has inspired me and the commitment of the staff has made me re-think what a restored and transformed community looks like.” – India LIFE Team Member
When the LIFE Team project to India spent two weeks at Mukti Mission in August, jam packed schedules had the team mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted – but they left Mukti feeling spiritually enlivened.
“I think our team was challenged by seeing the residents at Mukti being so joyful and rejoicing because Mukti was very different from how you would experience a senior’s home in Canada,” explained Stephanie McDonald, India LIFE Team leader. “Maybe if you met someone in the same physical circumstances in Canada, they wouldn’t have the peace and joy that these women and children had – and it was very evident that that came from the Lord.”
The India LIFE Team was made up of ten people. With the exception of two members, everybody on the team had come on the trip with a member of their family or someone they knew. The combination of the older generation with the younger generation, as well as the ease of knowing at least one other person, created a team dynamic that mimicked a big family.
Participants visited with different houses at Mukti, spending time with residents and doing daily assignments in different areas. Daily jobs were assigned based on interests, skill and need. Some of the assignments were at the school, the hospital, the farm, in the office or doing maintenance work.
This team spent a majority of their time visiting the homes of girls and women at Mukti. They would break up into smaller groups to visit different homes to do devotionals, worship and pray with the residents.
“What was so moving was that [with] the women who don’t really speak English, we can all come together and worship the Lord and sing songs that we all know,” said Charmaine Wee, India LIFE Team leader. “It really was incredible and moving that we can go halfway across the world and find people who are believing and worshipping the same God.”
LIFE Team members quickly realized that a simple smile or display of attentiveness was more than enough to overcome any challenges that would arise due to language differences.
“Even the little things, [such] as holding someone’s hand or asking for their name can lift them up [despite] language barriers,” said one of the LIFE Team participants.
While team members set out to show God’s love to residents, they found that they were also deeply moved by the joy, passion and faith of the people they had come across at Mukti.
One of the home visits that touched many LIFE Team participants’ hearts was Bartimi Sadan, a home for blind women named after Bartimaeus from the bible. While these women would normally be devalued by society, at Mukti they are cherished and encouraged to become independent, creative individuals. This was apparent when the team got to witness the women weaving baskets, cleaning and cooking.
“They would crack jokes. We had some funny moments with them,” McDonald recalled. “And they recognize you based on your voice. They would remember names really well.”
Upon their arrival at the Bartimaeus home, LIFE Team members were greeted with chairs that were laid out in the front of the room for them, but they ended up sitting with the residents to sing with them instead of perform for them.
“One of the women played the electric keyboard and another one played an accordion-organ type instrument and they could both play by ear. That was a huge blessing to be able to sing with them,” said McDonald, who described the house as her favourite, having visited it twice during the trip.
“LIFE Team participants were encouraged by seeing how faithful the Christians were at Mukti. I think our participants left being more affected than any resident [of Mukti] would have been affected by our team being there,” said McDonald.
“For short-term missions, one of the goals is that you would leave being impacted and the trip would change your life, even in a small way. On the last day where we did our debrief, you can definitely tell that people thought: ‘how will my life not be different because of what I have seen and what I have experienced and the relationships that I have made and the way that I’ve seen God be so present?’”