BIC World Missions sponsors Vision Trip to India and Nepal

—From February 13 to March 1, a group of 10 North American Brethren in Christ leaders traveled throughout Nepal and India as part of a BIC World Missions-sponsored Vision Trip.

Participants in the 2011 Vision Trip to India and Nepal (left to right): Chris Sharp, BICWM executive director; Vicki Landis, BICWM mobilization coordinator; Matthew Baer; Carol Hoke; Amy Harlacher; Joleen Brubaker, North American coordinator for SPICE; Bruce Brubaker; Rebekah Sharp; Leah Cressman, assistant to the executive director of BICWM; and Ken Hoke, BICWM regional coordinator for South Asia and executive director of IBICA.Led by Ken Hoke, BICWM regional administrator for South Asia and executive director of the International Brethren in Christ Association (IBICA), and his wife, Carol, the 18-day trip took participants to seven Indian and Nepalese cities and afforded them the opportunity to interact with the BIC communities in these countries.

According to trip participant Joleen Brubaker, North American coordinator of the Scholarship Program for International Children’s Education (SPICE), the purpose of the trip was fourfold: (1) to participate in the South Asia BIC Church Round Table, a biennial group planning and vision-casting event held this year in Nepal; (2) to visit several hostels sponsored by SPICE, a BICWM program that provides housing, food, and education to students in India and Nepal; (3) to visit the growing BIC churches in Goa and Karnataka, and to encourage local leaders; and (4) to finalize details for STEP India, a nine-month BICWM-sponsored internship program for young adults set to start in 2011.

Trip participants documented their day-to-day experiences on a group blog.

Gathering around the table
As in previous years, the 2011 South Asia BIC Round Table afforded participants from both India and Nepal the chance to collaborate, encourage one another, and pray for God’s work within the international Brethren in Christ community.

Part of the meeting time was also devoted to “intentional discussion regarding self-sustainability,” according to Chris Sharp, a Vision Trip participant and executive director of BIC World Missions. Since its inception as an autonomous General Conference separate from the North American Church, the India BIC Church has relied on BICWM for operational funding. Now, plans are in the works to help the Conference develop its financial self-sufficiency.

“The Indian and Nepali leaders embraced the training provided by a fellow Nepali leader/church planter,” comments Sharp. “This brother in Christ encouraged us to embrace the message ‘Everyone has something in their hand.’ In other words, as God leads and directs ministry and outreach, He also uses the giftings of those He is calling to raise up sustainable means of support.

“Our North American team was blessed and privileged to take part in this meeting,” she adds.

Meeting and nurturing the next generation of the Church
For Brubaker, the Vision Trip afforded her the chance to meet and build relationships with the children in the SPICE program, a cooperative effort led by Brethren in Christ in India and supported by Brethren in Christ in North America.

Trip participant Leah Cressman, assistant to the executive director of BIC World Missions, meets her SPICE sponsor child, Puja Kisku, at the Mary Hoke Girls' Hostel in Nepal.“It was an amazing experience,” she says. “I was overcome with tears of joy and gratitude as I interacted with the children. I wish each of our SPICE donors could see the smiles of joy on the faces of the children as they shared their appreciation for the support that is provided to them through SPICE sponsorships.”

One sponsor had this “life-changing” experience: Trip participant Leah Cressman, assistant to Chris Sharp and a SPICE donor, met her sponsor child, Puja Kisku, during the trip's visit to the Mary Hoke Girls’ Hostel in Biratnagar, Nepal. “What an awesome and unique experience!” Cressman says of meeting Kisku. “She was so full of joy and gratefulness when she learned that I was her sponsor. Her joy has given me a new excitement about giving each month.”

Brubaker concludes that the trip has strengthened her ministry at home. “The children we met on this trip are the next generation of the Church, and through SPICE, we have a chance to build them up in Christ’s love,” she notes. “This is truly a life-changing program.”

“It’s exciting to see God at work all around the world!”
In the final days of the trip, participants traveled to Goa, a province in southwest India. There, they visited with Dan and Karen Trip participants spend time with children in the Kid's Up program in Goa, India.Dehyle, Cameron and Hepzibah Deyhle, and other members of the West India BIC Church. The Deyhles, BICWM missionary affiliates, coordinate “Everybody Ought to Know” (EOTK), a multi-faceted ministry that includes weekly worship services, leadership development, a children's ministry called Kid's Up, and job training programs in sewing and photography.

The time in Goa was spent getting to know EOTK leaders, participating in the Kid's Up programming, and putting the final details on the STEP India program, which Cameron Deyhle is coordinating.

“People [in Goa] are growing as amazing leaders,” wrote one trip participant on the Vision Trip blog. “It’s so exciting to see God at work all around the world!”