Kolkata in West Bengal is a city of over 10 million people, many living below the poverty line. Several New Zealand Baptists manage businesses there providing employment and a new way of life for the poor.
Tripura, a state of north east India is home to 3 million people. The church there, helped by a long association with New Zealand Baptists, has flourished and continues to grow. Last year more than 6000 new converts were baptised.
Thames Baptist Church is about to farewell a team of for three weeks to Tripura and West Bengal.
The short term mission trip to West Bengal has been a long time coming. It was first talked about in late 2008 and, over time, enthusiasm has grown with more and more people expressing an interest.
Now seven church members aged from 18 to 75 years preparing to head off on November 14.
Roger Driver-Burgess, senior pastor at Thames Baptist, says, “We want to reinforce existing relationships with projects and churches that we’ve been promoting for years but have had little personal contact with. I hope on our return we will be able to better inspire our church with a clearer vision of God’s mission.”
The team has had fantastic support in our fundraising. It included garage sales with home-made products, participation in the annual town street market, busking on market days and a “Roads to India” concert in the Civic Centre. Approximately $7000 has been raised, most of which will be used for gifts to the communities and enterprises in Kolkata and Tripura.
Our team is made up of ordinary people with skills that can be used to enhance the life and faith of those we meet with. Here’s a little bit about each of us. We’ll let you know how we get on in the January 2012 edition of World Reach.
Terri Miller: Occupational therapist. I’ve worked in community health and rehabilitation for many years.
Frances Chaplow: Registered nurse working at the Thames District Nursing Service with fellow team member, Lynne Wood. I’ve recently been to Auckland to collect supplies from medical aid abroad, which we will dispense while away.
Tina Haakma: The youngest team member. I’ve been a leader at the local Christian camp, completed a 6 year course on public speaking, taken on the youth pastor role at the church, and started worship leading in church.
Elizabeth Jones: The oldest member of the team. I first went to this region as a young bride with my husband, Gordon, in 1961. After Gordon died in 1992, I went back to teach in St Paul’s School. I look forward to returning to my ‘other home’ and sharing with the women celebrating 50 years of the Women’s Society, which began in 1961.
Roger Driver-Burgess: Senior pastor at Thames Baptist. I’m going with the hope that this will inspire our church at home and overseas with a sense of God’s purpose for mission.
Anne Hay: Probably the second oldest in the group, I look at the upcoming trip to India as part of a continuing journey in my Christian walk.
Connor Driver-Burgess: I’m going to India simply because when the church was asked to go, I thought it was about time did something!