GOODWILL TRIP TO INDIA - OUR TRAVELS WITH A FEW GOOD TRIPS
As we leave 2014 and enter 2015, I would like to reflect upon our recent activities in Salt of the Earth International Ministries, (SOTEIM). In October 2014, myself, along with seven other individuals traveled to India for a two week short term mission trip. The team included experienced, world traveled missionaries; but this was their first visit to India. Our host was Bishop Ebenezer George, head of the Full Gospel Church in India. Our intent was to visit cultural sites before arriving at our destination, a children’s home in Vellore, India where we were charged to teach a Vacation Bible School Class, and a U.S. History class with emphasis on the African-American contribution. This children’s home is equivalent to an American academy. The children are children of local pastors that are establishing and pastoring churches within the community and surrounding countryside.
After an eight hour flight from Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, GA, we arrived in Paris, France for a brief layover. From Paris it was another eight hours into Delhi, India. The next morning we ventured to Agra, a three hour drive to visit the Taj Mahal. The trip was very exciting and we had a close-up view of the native country outside the major population centers. This journey became more interesting when we had a major bus failure on the highway! A rear tire blew out, rupturing the main gas line and dumping fuel. Look at God! Thwarting the darts of the enemy, and covering His children! Thankfully, we were able to continue our touring journey, and arrived back in Delhi tired, relieved and praising God for his covering.
The next day after more sightseeing and shopping, we boarded a domestic airline for the city of Chennai in southern India. We arrived at night, and surprisingly were escorted by the regional police chief to the police academy where we spent the night. Unbeknownst to us, there was political unrest in the area because a high administrator had been found guilty of corruption and the people rioted and many deaths were recorded. We learned of this the next day, which helped us understand why we were escorted under police protection, and why during the morning drive through the city, the van curtains were drawn so no one could see us in the vehicles, but we could peep out and see the damage that had been done. There was a heavy police presence and barricades. Busses had been stopped from entering the region and made to park along the roadside. Another testament to God’s protection.
Later in the day, we visited the cave where the Apostle Thomas hid to escape his enemies who were pursuing him because he had brought the gospel to India. We were spellbound as Bishop George explained to us the miracles the Apostle performed, and as he took us along the route the Apostle took; even to the very mount overlooking the city where his pursuers finally caught and killed him. I think everyone on the team was extremely humbled to have had the privilege to have been there. As the weekend approached we scurried to catch a midnight train to Bangalore for the weekend and Sunday services. The train ride was - I’ll just say interesting! Almost as exciting, was our night van ride from Bangalore to Vellore where we finally got to meet the children - our main reason for coming to India – the children. Their excitement, the way they received us, and the time spent with them, was worth every obstacle we had endured! If we had any regrets, I think we would say that it was not getting to spend more time with the children. I don’t know who had the best time - us or them. On our way back to the States, we were routed through the United Arab Emirates, giving us an opportunity to spend a day in Dubai. A visit to the Dubai Mall was a nice way to relax and prepare for our long flight home. This trip was instrumental in defining some of the specifics of this ministry, and I along with my team, hope that YOU will be able to accompany us on our next trip as we find new ways to communicate the Great Commission.
Min. Eric Hill
CEO, Salt of the Earth International Ministries, Inc.