SPECIAL EDITION: SPOTLIGHT ON INDIA
WHERE WE WORK VisionTrust has 185 programs serving 16,095 children in 17 countries.
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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Because of your partnership, VisionTrust is transforming the
people living in India are Christian. But, we discovered that
lives of the neediest children in 17 countries around the world.
India has the largest number of non-Christian children who
In this issue, we’ll be showing real examples of how our child
are open to the gospel!
development strategy works, from Reaching to Equipping to Transforming. My hope is that you’ll experience God’s mighty power in a deeper way by focusing on this threefold strategy in a single country: India.
In response to these statistics and with God’s clear calling to go, VisionTrust India was launched. We began with three Learning Centers that reached a total of 99 children. Today, God has VisionTrust operating 30 Learning Centers that care
As we prayed about which country to highlight, India became
for over 1,700 children and youth! Most importantly, 75% of
the obvious choice for two reasons: 1) By God’s grace, we’ve
these precious kids now identify themselves as Christian.
had 12 years of dedicated on-the-ground work that is yielding transformed lives— healthy and educated Christian adults that are choosing to live for God and love others; and 2) as we’ve grown in India over this time, the newer programs are in need of new financial support partners. So why did God call VisionTrust to India in 2004? First of all, India has the largest number of children who
How did this happen? By God’s hand and your partnership. God called partners like you to join us over the years to bring the necessary prayer, donations, and volunteer expertise. My prayer is that you will be blessed as you read the stories in this issue and that you’ll rediscover just how critical your partnership is in the long-term process of transforming lives in India and around the world.
are suffering. Thirty percent of the world’s extreme poor (approximately 100 million children) live in India alone. As a result, the country’s population holds the largest number of
Thank you for being a part of VisionTrust,
children who are at-risk for trafficking, malnourishment, child labor, and early childhood death. To make matters worse, these orphaned and vulnerable
children are also immersed in a traditional Hindu religious
President & CEO
environment designed to keep them oppressed, limiting their opportunity to get out of the cycle of poverty. Only 2% of
IN THIS ISSUE Meet Merwin Joshua 4 Washed Away 6 Glasses of Hope 8 Unending Hunger 10
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President & CEO Matt Storer Founder Ernie Taylor Editorial Deanne Batorski, Katie Bradley, Jenna Ross Design Danielle Camorlinga Proofreading Brittany Freyschlag
N GA BE
ISIONTRUST IND V W IA O H
VisionTrust India began with three programs in October 2004 through a God-ordained encounter between founder Ernie Taylor and Bishop Ezra of the Evangelical Church of India (ECI). A short two months later, the Indian Ocean Tsunami struck and we were able to provide immediate relief in the form of Survival Kits to 27 devastated rural villages. Today we serve over 1,700 children through 30 Learning Centers and have seen 10 new churches open in response to the growing Christian population in these communities.
Merwin Joshua and
his wife, Shenola.
Meet MERWIN JOSHUA DIRECTOR OF VISIONTRUST INDIA
The son of a pastor, Joshua
gave him the opportunity to work directly with
was raised in a family with
VisionTrust for the first time. Four months later, he
strong Christian values.
was recommended for (and accepted) the position
However, his life was
of Country Director of VisionTrust India.
heading in the wrong
Today, Joshua oversees over 1,700 children and
direction for many years
100 staff in 30 VisionTrust Learning Centers. He
before he made a commit-
is passionate about seeing children and parents
ment to live for God. As a teenager, Joshua was one of the leading troublemakers at his high school; in college he focused more on exploring his new freedoms than he did on his academics, expecting his English-speaking talents to bring him success. “I never…intended to be a Christian,” Joshua said. “The Lord loved me so much that he intervened in my life in just the right time, even without my invitation.”
alike come to know that Jesus is the only true God, rather than one among many—an important distinction in the Hindu-saturated culture.
“The Lord loved me so much that he intervened in my life in just the right time” “I know that someday what we tell the children about the Lord will be the ultimate tool for their
In Joshua’s words, the Lord “cornered him”
transformation,” he shared. “My life is a typical
through a series of events over the course of just
example for this. The word of God which my
a few days in February 2003, including a vivid
parents had imparted [during my childhood]
dream and a startling drinking incident. But
meant so much to me after I was saved…I [am] so
it wasn’t until he was rejected from a Master’s
very convinced that only by introducing Jesus in
program that Joshua was truly shaken and fearful
the lives of our children can [we] give them a hope
of his future.
for their future.”
“I cried and cried and poured out my heart to God, and surrendered my life to him,” Joshua said of
Joshua’s wife, Shenola, has been partnering alongside him in the ministry of VisionTrust India
that night. “I confessed all I had done and that I
since their marriage in 2006 and recently accepted
couldn’t do anything in this life without God.”
the role of Health Development Coordinator.
From that day forward, Joshua has possessed a joy and hope that only God can provide. He went on to be accepted into a different Master’s program
Joshua and Shenola have two children—a nineyear-old son, Clifford, and a four-year-old daughter, Catherine.
and finished business school with a degree in Rural
Please join us in praying for Joshua, Shenola,
Business Management, determined to use his skills
and their family as they seek to honor God and
for a Christian organization.
faithfully serve the children of India every day.
Then in December 2004, the Indian Ocean
Read more about Shenola’s health-related efforts on the blog: blog.visiontrust.org/taking-jesus-into-the-community
Tsunami hit. With a heart to help, Joshua quickly joined the Relief and Development Department of the Evangelical Church of India (ECI). ECI was busy with relief activities in hundreds of villages after the deadly disaster, and Joshua’s assignments
WASHED AWAY WASHED AWAY REACHING AND RESPONDING TO FAMILIES IMPACTED BY THE FLOOD
Starting on November 30, 2015, an unprecedented monsoon season was unleashed in India. It was the worst rainfall the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu had seen in 100 years.
The rising flood affected hundreds of children and their
Some regions were thankful, as they desperately needed the
couldn’t reach everyone; so VisionTrust took action.
water for their crops. But for Chennai—the fourth largest city in India and a popular tourist destination—widespread flooding caused thousands of people to run for their lives. Many could be found begging for a glass of clean water or a piece of bread, while mothers were crying to get milk for their children. Families were completely cut off from the rest of the world without electricity or mobile network connections. Miraculously, the Lord protected the local VisionTrust India office and all staff from harm. However, one-third of VisionTrust India’s Learning Centers were badly damaged and forced to temporarily close their doors.
families, as well as many Local Heroes. Families lost their properties and suffered for days without food, water, and other provisions because they weren’t able to work to buy what they needed. The situation was so chaotic that government aid
Praise God for the gracious financial partners who enabled the distribution of flood relief materials to 550 children and their families! Relief kits containing a sleeping mat, blanket, mosquito net, and a two-month supply of clean drinking water and basic food supplies were given to each child. Naveen is one such child. A disciplined and obedient student at the Learning Center in Cuddalore (a town just south of Chennai), he lives with his mother—a sweeper—and his father—a daily wage worker and alcoholic. Their house was completely destroyed by the flood. When the water level began to rise, they took temporary shelter in a relative’s house. Then they pieced together a tiny thatch hut to live in—the best they could do. “We suffered a lot in the rains and stayed hungry most of the time,” Naveen’s mother recalled. “That is when VisionTrust provided us with provisions and we really could not express our happiness in words. [The] days of starving had gone...” It was evident the family would need additional help to fully rebuild their home, so VisionTrust stepped in. Even before the house was complete, Naveen’s mother couldn’t contain her tears. “I’d never be able to build a house by myself like this in
6 REACH CHILDREN WHO SUFFER MOST
Opposite page: A severely flooded street in Chennai. Left: Naveen and his mother in their temporary shelter. Top: Merwin Joshua with Naveen and his family by the construction of their new home. Bottom: Joshua presenting the keys at the dedication ceremony.
my lifetime,” she declared, gazing up at the unfinished brick walls. Her praise goes to God for answering her prayers and sending VisionTrust to provide for her and her family. On June 18, Naveen’s friends and neighbors gathered as Merwin Joshua presented the family with the keys to their newly finished home. As a strong witness to the entire village, Joshua dedicated the house to the Lord, emphasizing how God’s love is available to everyone. Neighbors agreed God must have listened to the cries of Naveen and his mother and provided a house for their family.
I’D NEVER BE ABLE TO BUILD A HOUSE BY MYSELF LIKE THIS IN MY LIFETIME
Many lives were washed away in the 2015 Chennai flood. Yet we praise God for the ultimate safety of our staff, children, and their families, and give Him the glory for allowing VisionTrust to reach the children who suffer the most in India. Please join us in praying for the continued spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ—the only firm foundation on which we stand.
YOUR GIVING, GOING FURTHER
Did you know that your donation can go even further toward helping children? By switching your recurring gift to automatic checking withdrawal, VisionTrust can stretch your donation by more than 2.5%. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org today to easily switch your giving to automatic withdrawal.
One of those children is twelve-year-old Meena. Dr. Korpi
OF HOPE EQ U I PPI NG C H ILD R E N W IT H T H E G I F T O F C LE A R V IS ION
met this young girl during his most recent trip this past March. Meena’s eyesight was so poor that she needed the help of her friends to walk safely to and from school. Once there, she could always be found sitting on the front row of her class— the only way she could get a decent view of the blackboard. One day shortly after Dr. Korpi’s visit, Meena’s name was read from a list of those whose glasses had been delivered. Immediately, silence swept over the classroom. With expressions of relief and happiness, nearly every child turned to witness the boundless joy in Meena’s eyes. Everyone could feel her excitement and gratitude, knowing what a powerful blessing the glasses would be for her daily life. The gift of clear vision plays a significant role in equipping the children of India to achieve their full potential. Now Meena and many children like her are free to learn and grow without
“They have a better chance of being one of their country’s future leaders,” shared Dr. Korpi.
the hindrance of poor sight. They can absorb class lessons without being feet from the board; they can read their Bibles and schoolbooks without being fatigued; they can play with
The Iowa-based optometrist was referencing the hundreds of
their friends instead of sitting on the sidelines. And as they
children he has helped equip with new eyeglasses over the
improve in each of these areas—educationally, spiritually, and
past few years. Since 2013, Dr. Pete Korpi has partnered with
socially—opportunities for their futures expand. In the words
VisionTrust to provide more than 6,600 vision exams and
of Dr. Korpi, “they have a better chance of being one of their
nearly 1,100 pairs of eyeglasses to children and staff in eight
country’s future leaders.”
of the countries we serve around the world. The World Health Organization reports that globally, there
“I KN OW I P L AY ON LY A S M A L L PA RT OF A
are 19 million children under the age of 15 living with a
M UC H L A RG ER P I C TURE OF I M P ROVI NG T HE
visual impairment—and 90% of all visually impaired people
OVERA LL H EA LTH A N D WELFA RE OF C HI L DR EN
reside in developing countries. Predicting exactly where these children might be is impossible, but Dr. Korpi believes in the importance of finding them. “From an optometrist’s perspective, the earlier I can find a child with a visual deficit and do something about it, the better visually they are going to do,” he explained. “The impact of putting those glasses on is immediate.” Like any good optometrist, Dr. Korpi checks the children’s overall eye health during vision exams. Most of the children he sees simply need a pair of glasses to help them focus more clearly, but he sometimes finds a child who needs surgical care or some other treatment. In India alone, Dr. Korpi has helped change the lives of 189 children and 89 staff.
A ROUN D TH E WORLD. BUT I FI G URE I F EVERYON E TRI ES TO DO TH EI R S M A LL PAR T, BI G TH I N G S G ET DON E.”
Dr. Korpi’s motivation for investing himself in this work is based on what Scripture says about helping others in need. “It’s important to God,” he shares. “I truly feel that we are all uniquely gifted and put in uniquely different situations for a purpose… I know I play only a small part of a much larger picture of improving the overall health and welfare of children around the world. But I figure if everyone tries to do their small part, big things get done.” What gift do you possess that can be used to play a part in growing the Kingdom of God in India?
8 EQUIP CHILDREN TO ACHIEVE THEIR FULL POTENTIAL
These are a few of the key verses that motivate Dr. Korpi:
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:17-18
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Above: Meena excited to
Dr. Korpi is the only American that has visited all 30 VisionTrust India programs.
wear her new glasses; Left: Children receive vision exams and eyeglasses through VisionTrust’s program.
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VUnending r A S TA R V I N G O R P H A N â€™ S JOURNEY TO THE O N E W H O S AT I S F I E S
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1 0 TRANSFORM COMMUNITIES TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF POVERTY
MEET AKISAN. At twenty years of age, this young man has already faced more than his fair share of hardship—yet through it all, he’s learned to trust the Lord for help.
and liver failure. Akisan earnestly prayed for her healing, and God answered—miraculously restoring her to health!
Born into a dysfunctional and violent family, Akisan became an orphan after losing both parents in a traumatic experience at the age of two. Afterwards, his grandmother took him in. She did everything possible to care for and raise the small boy despite her own poverty.
As the end of 12th grade drew near, Akisan sought the Lord’s guidance and wisdom for his future. He originally hoped to study agriculture, but his uncle refused to let him join a program, so he chose to begin vocational courses instead.
While his grandmother was gracious and loving, Akisan’s uncle, who provided for them both, was the opposite. His uncle demanded Akisan be responsible for all the household chores yet wouldn’t give him any food. Akisan’s grandmother would do her best
Akisan applied to VisionTrust’s Higher Education Leadership Program (HELP) and was excited to learn he had been accepted. Not only does HELP provide financial assistance for students wanting to attend college or vocational
to share her meager portions, but
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever go away. comes to me shall not hunger, When Akisan was eight, things and whoever believes in me went from bad to worse. The Indian shall never thirst.” Ocean Tsunami hit southeastern the hunger pangs never seemed to
India, wreaking havoc in Akisan’s coastal
school, but the program is also designed to provide Christian leadership training. In fact, this past January Akisan joined 14 of his peers for the first-ever HELP Student Training in Chennai. Put on by VisionTrust staff and local Christian leaders, the two days of
a beacon of light emerged in the wake of the
Biblical teaching and life-skills training left Akisan
disaster—a new VisionTrust Learning Center
encouraged and excited for the future.
opened nearby for the many malnourished and orphaned children like Akisan.
Once he graduates from the Industrial Training Institute in August, Akisan is hoping to help with
The Learning Center quickly became a place of
an upcoming food sustainability initiative to benefit
hope for Akisan in an otherwise dark and trying
VisionTrust programs in India: a goat farm!
time. Finally, his hunger was satisfied—in more ways than one. He received nourishing food to eat as well as school supplies, tutoring, and the love of Christian teachers. They taught him about the one true God: Jesus Christ. Thanks to their faithful guidance and generous care, Akisan began to thrive physically, mentally, and spiritually. Left: Akisan and his
Akisan experienced the presence of God in every
friend Vignesh learning
area of his life. On one occasion, his beloved
about goats and food
grandmother became deathly ill with kidney
This young man’s constant struggle with hunger as a child turned into an insatiable appetite for the things of God. Now he lives as a powerful witness for Christ through the various community activities he’s involved in and by helping with the children at the Learning Center. Akisan is thankful to VisionTrust for reaching and equipping him with the tools necessary to use his talents and experiences to live for God and love
others. He strongly believes God has transformed
his life so that one day he can transform his
community to break the cycle of poverty.
VisionTrust 3710 Sinton Road, Suite 100 Colorado Springs, CO 80907
READY TO PARTNER WITH INDIA? Here are four ways to get involved:
For $40* a month, you can change the life of a child in India by helping provide regular meals, clean water, basic medical care, spiritual mentoring, and education.
Did you know it costs an average of $995 per month to operate each VisionTrust India program? Provide a one-time or monthly gift of $25, $50, or $100* to support the work.
COMMUNITY OR CHURCH PARTNERSHIP
CONFERENCE CALL WITH MATT STORER
Interested in getting your church, business, or community involved in what God is doing in India? There are currently 10 programs ready to begin a long-term partnership that’s as unique as you are.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19 AT 11AM MDT
Hear the President and CEO of VisionTrust personally give a more detailed account of what’s happening in India and other practical ways to get involved. Register at: visiontrust.org/conferencecall
*Dollar amounts are in USD
TOGETHER, WE’RE PART OF VISIONTRUST.
VisionTrust's semi-quarterly publication, Spotlight on India Edition.