An extreme trek has long been part of the yearly program for the Fresh Hope Navigate Students and this year was no exception. In November 2015, 10 Navigate students set off on their last trek together, an adventure to India.
Led by John & Marianne Crowther along with Jessie & Abigail Skelly, this trip took the students on a journey that would have them connect with the sick, the poor, the outcast and the orphaned. They sat with patients with HIV, played with children who know no parents, listened to the illiterate recite bible verses, shared stories with remote communities & experienced enormous generosity from the poor.
The trip was marked by immense kindness & hospitality from everyone they came across during the trip. Specifically, Dr Philemon and his wife, Shalini, who organised a very detailed program for the two weeks along with generously opening their homes and lives to the group.
Marianne Crowther shared her gratitude for their hosts.
“It was humbling to be so warmly welcomed by Dr Philemon & his wife, Shalini; they invited us into their homes as if we were family. We can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and care for us while we were there.”
The team were able to donate money, time and other resources to some of the projects & people they visited. One of these projects was Ashwood Memorial Hospital.
Dr Philemon is the Director of Ashwood Memorial Hospital, a Hospital well known for its care & compassion of every person, including the poor & disenfranchised. Ashwood Memorial Hospital is a GMP project and is also supported by some of the churches in our Fresh Hope Movement.
“After going on a tour of the hospital facilities, we were amazed to see what was being done with so few resources. The Hospital has gained an incredible reputation in the community of Daund and the surrounding region as it extends care to people who simply cannot afford it. Often this means taking on the financial burden themselves in order to value and love people no matter what their status or financial means,” said Marianne Crowther.
India was a challenge in many ways. It challenged the world views, judgements and perceptions of the students. It made them uncomfortable at times and inevitably had them encounter things they had never experienced before. It is in this foreign environment that the students sat with, faced and worked through the points of discomfort that came up in their hearts and it was here that they were encouraged to seek what God had for them in every moment.
“Although the internal journeys were tough for all of us at some point, we saw some amazing breakthroughs during our time away. Some experienced freedom from fear, shame and guilt. Others were deeply challenged by the sheer faith, obedience, courage and the joy of people who are struggling with illness or poverty,” said John Crowther.
It isn’t easy to step into a new culture and allow the experience to profoundly change you, it takes vulnerability, risk & courage. As we reflect on our 2015 theme ‘The Adventurous Spirit’, it is so encouraging to see students living this in a real way, with real vulnerability & a real willingness to be open to the adventure that God has for them.
You may not be off to India anytime soon, but there is no reason why you can’t embrace the adventure that God has for you this week, in your place, in your context – just like these students have.
You can read more about Ashwood Memorial Hospital here.
You find out about Fresh Hope Navigate Programs here.