HOME PAGES w w w. i n t e r s e r v e . o r g . u k more than we anticipated Keren School children Helen reports on her time spent with Beth On Track in India. ' ou will receive more than you will was to serve God in a different way friendly teachers and students at Y be able to give' are words that struck me at the Interserve weekend and to grow in faith. We were aware that six months away from home school, we began our busy schedule. Everyday we 'tucked' our sari, then Beth and I took part in as part of our would present us with various walked to the high school campus preparation for our six months in challenges, which would lead us to (about 15 minutes along the main India. I wondered if these words depend on God and teach us more would come true for us and how. road from Joy's house) and lead about how to follow him closely. morning prayers. Following a few We had long before decided to go to Interserve seemed the most suitable minutes of singing, we gave a short India together in our gap year after organisation for us and we were talk on a Bible passage and gave the finishing our A levels. Beth had accepted as On-Trackers. Beth and I students a principle to challenge them developed a strong interest in India were to spend four months helping in for the day ahead. as a country, and I had become the Keren School, an English medium determined to return to India since We were also given a timetable of primary and high school in my first visit with my family in 1999. English lessons for students between Checkanurani, a village in Tamil Beth and I agreed that we should find standards 2 and 8. Our lessons Nadu, South India. a short-term placement because we usually involved activities like reading both wanted to develop a deeper After our orientation weekend, we storybooks, acting out role-plays, understanding of the Indian culture flew to Mumbai in January 2005. In listening to story tapes and singing and recognised that it would only be Madurai, Tamil Nadu we were met by new songs. possible to do that by living and Mrs Joy Rajan, the Principal of the Beth and I were also involved in the immersing ourselves in it. Keren School. teachers' prayer groups, running Our other main reason for spending After a week of settling in to our new English classes after school for six months overseas in Christian work home and meeting lots of very teachers and leading Bible study iv FOURTH QUARTER 2005 HOME PAGES The hostel children and their wardens Children's holiday club at the primary school Helen (left) and Beth at a wedding reception groups for older believing students. students. Because many students before. Elijah's words in 1 Kings, 'If Our spare time at school was spent came from very broken homes, where the Lord is God, follow him, but if chatting to teachers and playing with alcohol and violence were common Baal is God, follow him', seemed to the kindergarten children. We were problems, Joy and her staff took on be directed to the Indian people so therefore able to get involved in the the role of teaching Keren students clearly. We often found that Indians activities of the school and immerse how to behave morally and spiritually, were more than happy to accept ourselves in the Indian culture. It was as well as academically. Students Jesus along with their Hindu gods but a privilege for both of us to feel so were discouraged from watching films struggled to accept him as the one much a part of the school after just a and going to the cinema and were true God. few weeks. prevented from having relationships Beth and I also learnt during our After a full day at school my highlight with the opposite sex. morning prayer preparations that it is was the hour I spent playing with the not us who can convict people of the 14 children in a nearby hostel. Joy the Bible came alive truth but the Holy Spirit. As soon as we submitted to God and relied on had set up this hostel with her to us in a way it his strength and power, we both husband, Rajan, last summer to house missionary children whose never had before experienced him guiding our thoughts parents worked in dangerous parts of and working through our morning North India. Beth and I grew very fond At Keren all students are given two prayer talks. of these children who lived as one big vital gifts: fluency in English and the On one occasion Joy mentioned to family and also attended the Keren choice of following Jesus for Beth that we should pray for rain School. On Tuesdays and Thursdays themselves. For those that did because the land had been suffering I taught recorder to a group of them, commit to following Jesus, Joy and from an increasingly severe lack of which they picked up quickly. Rajan organised various camps over rain over recent years. As a result a number of weekends to bring Beth held a prayer, meeting at We realised quite soon that Beth and believing students together in praise I would not be the ones starting lunchtime for three days. The following and worship. Outside speakers were week Checkanurani experienced something 'big' in this area but that invited to give talks on the Bible and God had already started to do God's answer to prayer, and it rained encourage them. The camps were key heavily for three days. Not only was amazing work in the lives of hundreds to the growth of believing students, of Hindu students and teachers who this a blessing on the land and for the who often had to hide their new faith farmers but also a wonderful witness passed through the school. They from their family or face opposition in often approached us individually to students and teachers. openly confessing their conversion. asking for prayer and support When the time came for us to leave concerning personal problems. Beth and I had a very happy time in Checkanurani at the beginning of Through such experiences we came the Keren School and felt supported May, Beth and I agreed that we had to know the openness and honesty of and welcomed by all. However, there learnt far more than we had the Indian people and soon became were times when we struggled. anticipated. On leaving England at the close friends with several of them. Perhaps the hardest thing was to start of the year we clung to Joshua prepare the talk for morning prayers 1:9 – 'Do not be terrified; do not be Hospitality and generous giving are everyday. We often lacked inspiration discouraged, for the Lord your God is also strong qualities of the Indians. and were unsure how deep to pitch with you wherever you go.' We Time and time again we could see the talk. It was during these times, experienced this verse in its fullness how our friends would go beyond when it took hours to put together a during our four months in their means to make us feel welcome short Bible talk, that we felt most Checkanurani, witnessing God's in their homes. stretched. However, it was through protection, faithfulness and constant It was evident throughout our stay these challenges that we learnt the presence throughout our time in India. that the teachers had a passion for most. It was incredible how the Bible Thank you to all of you who prayed their jobs and cared much for their came alive to us in a way it never had for us; we really valued your support. FOURTH QUARTER 2005 v
"more than we anticipated"