Love & Compassion in Action – Everyday Church visit, Spring 2019

This post feels like it’s been a long time in coming. I first went to India in November 2016 and knew within minutes of arriving that I needed to come back again. Fast forward two-and-a-half years and the dusty warmth of the Hyderabad air hit the nostrils once more. This time I was also joined by Michael Percy (part of the Everyday Church Comms team).

For those not in the know, Everyday Church supports a small-but-mighty charity known as ‘Love and Compassion in Action’ (LCA) – a charity founded by members at Everyday Southfields. In a nutshell, the charity seeks to serve underprivileged people in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and does so through prayerfully and financially supporting several ministries at work in those regions. The ministries touch a range of points: medical aid, childcare, education and church planting, being the main subheadings.

To unpack the nutshell a little more – the work being done is transformational. For the poorest of poor being served and for me, the guy from England, mouth-wide in amazement.

Join me on the journey a little longer as I bring some detail to those four subheadings…

The reason for heading to Hyderabad is that it is home to New Life Ministries, led by Sujatha Veta – a diminutive lady in stature, but no doubt a giant in God’s Kingdom. Aside from having planted a flourishing Church family, she and her team provide pre and post-Op care for people living with the effects of Polio. Some are new-born, some are fully-grown adults. We heard stories and met people whose lives have been unbelievably altered for good as a result of this incredible act of service.

Without the combination of finances, expertise and demonstrable love of God required to help these people, their situation would have been completely hopeless. But New Life have intervened with just that combination.

To hold 9-month old Vasumadhi (pictured), whose legs had previously been fused apart from birth, but whose legs are now fully corrected and rehabilitated, is quite special – let me assure you.

And when I met 21-year old Santosh 2 years ago, shuffling along on his backside with only the use of his hands, I hadn’t imagined meeting him again, now walking upright (albeit still with the aid of crutches)!
These are just two mind-blowing stories among many changed lives.
At present, there are 10 more people/operations in the pipeline for the coming months. 10 more lives being shown the practical, tangible love of God. 10 more families feeling the impact of God’s grace. 10 more families (many of whom from Hindu backgrounds), who are feeling the rippling effect of the real Gospel, in action.
Aside from the medical provision, LCA has also recently provided funds to help with the renovation of the new Church building; most notably a new roof, providing shelter for worshippers from the scorching heat! When it’s regularly well over 100.c, that shade makes all the difference!

Following our time at New Life ministries in Hyderabad, we made our way to Carmel Ministries in Eluru – a ministry that has known the favour of God and the leadership of Pastor Ebenezer Sastry for over 20 years.

In response to the great need on their doorstep and the enormous numbers of small/rural/tribal/Hindu villages close by, Carmel Ministries has reacted with amazing vision.

Upon entering the facility, we were greeted by a procession of small children. 38 to be precise.

These children are all orphans or semi-orphans, who are introduced to food, clothing, education, a safe place to rest their heads and (most importantly) the Gospel, every day. It’s very hard to imagine what might have happened to them, had they not been connected to this place. Here they find some stability and hope and the love of God in their lives.

One peculiar observation: I immediately noticed that many of the kids were very good at throwing (balls and rocks!). I later learnt that some had come from a nearby village, notorious for hunting and eating rats. That would explain the accuracy!

As infectious as their joy and laughter is, it’s a fairly overwhelming sight to take in. I could observe them exchanging clothing; they were constantly acquiring scrap bits of plastic to create a new ‘toy’, and it was impossible not to make comparisons with my own son and daughter – living comparatively comfortable and excessive lives back in the UK. As I muttered prayers under my breath, I was reminded of just how much I could surrender of my own comfort back home to enable blessing, kindness and support to flow back to these children. LCA financially support some of the children (and teaching staff), but more is always needed.

It’s astonishing to imagine the sheer number of children who don’t have the love and hope of a secure family. And yet, there we were, surrounded by 38 children who now have some place to belong; whose future has more hope in it than it used to. Their story really can be influenced by our prayers and practical support. It’s basic, it’s different to how it might be done in the UK, but praise Jesus that it’s in place for them.
Several miles up the road (the Indian roads are a beast to behold by the way!) is the Carmel Ministries Bible College. The backdrop of the region, as is the case for much of the country, is multitudes of rural communities (often only consisting of 200-300 people); many of which are Hindu and largely unchanged by the Gospel. At the Bible College, Church leaders of the future are trained; and trained with the intention that they will soon be sent to these groups. With limited access to water and electrics, very hot conditions and the prospect of a cold welcome, that task is not for the faint-hearted. When I first visited 2 years back, there were 42 such Churches planted into these villages. That number has since jumped to 65. So it would appear that they have a zeal for the Gospel to spread in such a way that would make my pasty legs turn to jelly.

Ebenezer shared that when they planted their first Church in 2005, the village was known as ‘Rat Catcher’ village (see previous rock-throwing reference). As they preached the Gospel for the first time, locals had to swat scorpions from around the preacher’s feet and they had yet to be taught the most basic of hygiene logic.

Despite the very real threat of resistance (both verbal and physical) and despite the enormous personal and social cost at stake, there is an amazing resilience and hunger instilled into the pastors and their commitment to the pursuit of the Gospel is as inspiring as it is convicting.

We heard stories of 30, 40, 50 people coming to faith in these small villages in recent months/years. If there are only 200 people in a village, that’s a very impressive start!

Another thing I also found so stirring was that the training centre was funded by Ilford Baptist Church many years ago. It’s remarkable to think that a group of believers in Essex, sent £60,000 to ensure that the facility was established to resource future Church planting efforts (especially considering how fruitful it now is!). To see the reality of the multiplication was incredible.

When stripped of many of the complications that western culture bleeds into the Church, it was difficult not to feel like we were stepping into the book of Acts as we visited the different ministries. Keeping it simple seems to be working! Serve the poor, teach the Gospel.
Just to further whet your appetite for this great charity: some months ago, LCA were able to fund the installation of a small water facility at the College. Aside from providing the staff and students with clean water, it serves as a blessing from God to 8 nearby villages. That’s up to 400 people a day, now receiving clean water (for free) from this site, all thanks to the generosity and stewardship of LCA support.
There are many other tales that I could share, but the main purpose of writing this (and indeed for going in the first place), is to rekindle an understanding of what we’re supporting as a Church. I was reminded repeatedly that this is an amazing charity, making a significant difference and it’s a huge privilege to partner with them for the movement of the Gospel into peoples’ lives.
Michael is in the process of producing some footage that will be circulated in due course. I have no doubt that those images will paint a 1,000 more words and stir our faith to continue in prayer and support.
Until then, if you’d like to consider giving support to these projects, my experience reminds me that LCA are very good stewards of financial gifts. You can do so via (and I’d encourage you to do so generously).
There is also an immediate need for a Chair of Trustees for LCA. As the charity seeks to fulfil their responsibilities and objectives, this is a key area for prayer and support. If you feel you have the experience or would like further information, please email ASAP!