Featured Trip - India
Rarely does an 18-year-old college freshman have the vision and leadership ability to start her own short-term mission trip to a third world country on the other side of the globe. This was not the case with Lipscomb student Kimberly Beam. In fall 2008 she went by the offices of the Missions Program to share where she felt God was leading her to. “I couldn’t get the thought of going to India out of my mind and off of my heart. India was popping up everywhere I turned, in every book I read and in random conversations with people I talked to. I had heard how wonderful and different the people were. I prayed about it and felt such peace about the decision to inquire about the possibility of starting a Lipscomb mission trip to India,” said Beam. “Even though I was incredibly nervous and young and had never been to India before, I knew that if God wanted this trip to happen, it would fall into place.” So the journey began.
Getting Beam connected with the right contact who had solid leads for a mission trip to India was first priority. In stepped Bruce Anstey, a 1974 Lipscomb graduate and a member of the Woodmont Hills church in Nashville. Anstey later said, “I had never led a group, but have never shied away from unexpected challenges, and this was an honor that I could not walk away from. It was a humbling thought to think that anyone at Lipscomb would consider asking me to take on such a task.”
After the tsunami struck India in December 2004, the missions committee at Woodmont Hills partnered with a local Indian minister, Dr. Gopala Raju, to help in the relief efforts that left over 100,000 Indians dead and tens of thousands homeless. Their goal included helping the most innocent victims affected by the storm, hence the creation of the Grace Home II Orphanage. Anstey frequently called on Lipscomb University for almost three years to send a team of students to Vishakhapatnam, in the state of Andhra Pradesh for one reason – to love on the kids who had been orphaned by the tsunami. Sometimes it is just a matter of waiting on God’s perfect timing.
Although their ages were separated by more than a generation of years, Beam and Anstey did not let that prevent them from tirelessly working together to form a team and make plans for the mission trip to take place in the summer of 2009. After over six months of trip preparation, the trip was postponed three weeks before their departure date because of a potential threat of civil unrest in the state of Andhra
Pradesh. In reflecting on the trip being delayed, Beam said, “At the time I was confused at what God was trying to tell our team and what we were supposed to do.” Emotions of disappointment, frustration and dejection filled the spirits of this mission team of seven, yet they did not let that hamper their determination to re-schedule the trip for December. Beam continues, “Now, we all know why it was postponed, and it made it a much better trip than it would have been if we were to have gone over the summer.” Insert six more months of pre-trip planning, fervent prayers, intense fundraising and even adding four more team members into the equation and the team took off two days after Christmas 2009 for a sixteen day journey to India.
Aside from their primary goal of being Jesus to the kids at the orphanage, a secondary goal was to build a garden on the backside of the property so that the home could save expenses and provide food for the kids and workers through growing its own produce. Thanks to some training by Healing Hands International along with the gardening experience of team member and Lipscomb graduate Nathan Hale (’08), the team was able to accomplish so much more than they could imagine. Hale said, “The folks at the orphanage were very knowledgeable about gardening and plant care. I could tell they were very serious about taking good care of everything after we left. It was evident they appreciated the potential the garden gave them and all the food that would be raised. On the last day of our trip, it was awesome to see the team’s excitement when they saw the first plants sprouting from the ground.”
On the way home, the team intentionally scheduled a 3-day stopover in Mumbai to give the students a chance to reflect upon what they had just experienced while also immersing themselves even deeper into the Indian culture by spending time in the second largest city in the world. Anstey said, “The Mumbai stopover proved to be so much more for the team as they saw God’s hand in the lives of people they’d otherwise never had a chance to meet.” Lipscomb junior Stacey Elliott recalls a conversation with Dawahl, Christian from Mumbai who expressed how encouraged he was to get to meet other Christians. Dawahl explained to Elliott that in India Christianity is a minority of the minority. It was huge for him to have the opportunity to worship and fellowship with the Lipscomb team as it reminded him that there are others in the world who share his faith.
Upon their return home, the India mission team was faced with the reality that they had to begin their spring semester the next day, which was not an easy task after what they had just experienced on the other side of the world. In reflecting on the trip, sophomore Alana Thomas said, “Every aspect of our trip taught me how to be a better Christian and person. I’ll never forget singing and dancing with the kids. I learned so much about patience, love, team work, peace, self control and just enjoying the simple happiness in life. I’ll never be the same person.”
It was an eighteen-month journey to get a Lipscomb team to India and back, and it all happened because of the boldness and courage of a freshman who was willing to follow the call she felt God placing on her heart to serve…it just so happened, along the way she took others with her