I met Rachel years ago as a worship leader for City Wide Worship. She has a gentle heart which loves like God. She is patient and thoughtful. Take the time today to discover a portion of her story.
During my college years I had a chance to go on a vision trip to India. I traveled with six other classmates to Hyderabad, India for six weeks. We taught in schools for undercast children, alongside local teachers, and toured the area to see what DFN (Dignity Freedom Network) was doing in the region. On this trip I spent one afternoon observing a mobile medical clinic in a slum village. The clinicians made their way to a little slum village where people lived in concrete pipes. The medical staff saw anyone who needed medical attention and gave out simple medication when needed.
I am not a doctor or a nurse, I don’t speak the local language (Telegu), I barely knew the culture and was zero help to the medical staff. That being said, there were plenty of little kids around who were eager for attention. I found myself swinging a little girl around by her hands as she giggled and smiled. The doctor told me, “That is the best medicine you can give her”. Little did I know this would change my life.
After college I stayed the summer in Seattle wondering what I needed to do next. I had a degree in Sociology which didn’t exactly give me much of a direction. As I prayed and thought about what I needed to do, the image of that little girl in the Pipe Village kept coming to my mind. By the end of the summer I knew I needed to go back to India. Fast forward a year and a half—-After raising money, working, and procuring an internship with a Christian NGO, I was ready to go back to Hyderabad, this time for 6 months.
During my time I worked alongside three local women who DAILY went into the slums in the surrounding area. They taught young women how to sew, mentored and prayed with older women, and taught young children basic English and Bible stories. Each day I accompanied these women to these villages, and each week we returned to these same places. I fell in love with the people in each of these slums, one of them being the Pipe Village. That same little girl I had swung around may not have been there, but I knew every one of the kids in the Pipe Village and loved them like they were my own.
After going to the slums each day, I went to a girls shelter. Each of these girls had come from human trafficking/slavery situations and ranged from age 5 to 15. For the next few months my job was to teach the 4 oldest girls as much English as I could so they could do well in school. These girls had come from the hardest of situations and yet could dance with joy on the rooftop of their shelter in the pouring rain. As my trip came to an end I was not their teacher, but their “Didi”, their sister.
Upon returning from my trip to India, I was in yet another season of “what’s next?” One evening I was looking in a magazine and saw an Advertisement for a Masters program called “International Care and Community Development”. After researching the program, I realized it was the perfect opportunity. I knew God had led me to this program for a reason, and so I worked incredibly hard for 2 years to earn an M,A, in International Community Development.
Thirteen years after my initial trip, India still has a massive part of my heart. I had the opportunity to take my husband to meet many of these wonderful people I call my friends. We worked in the girls shelter together which now houses more than 50 girls. Just this year we had a baby girl and named her Elsie, after one of the beautiful women I went to the slums with each day. I’m still not sure how God will have me use my Master’s degree, but I’m hoping that it can be used in a way that helps my friends in India.
My background in “missions” is not a straight line and has not been easy, but it’s been passion filled and life changing. My advice to you is that if you are feeling called or thinking about missions, GO! Make sure that you go with a person or organization that partners with local people who are living on the ground. It is important that we don’t go with our own agendas, but partner with those who are already doing the work and who know the culture and language. GO with open hands and an open mind. Open your eyes to see how complex and beautiful other cultures are. Find God in the beauty of his creation, creation that may be very different than you are used to. Go as a learner. Go humble. Go knowing that you will be given more than you are able to give. Go knowing that you will be changed.
By: Rachel Nesbitt
M.A. International Community Development