Serve with Us: Mission India
Initiating Congregation-Based Community Health Care in Ranchi, India
The North Western Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church (NWGELC) asked Normandale to join them in developing a vision of congregation-based community health care. The NWGELC, headquartered in Ranchi, Jharkhand State, India, prides itself as a self-sufficient indigenous body with a Christian heritage of more than 150 years. It comprises 120,000 members in 730 congregations, incorporates its own cultural heritage in worship, and sponsors outreach ministry in 10 states across northern India and Nepal. It founded its own seminary in 2007. But it has never developed health care for its members.
The NWGELC represents the Orao tribal group (called Adivasis: aboriginal people of India), who have suffered various forms of oppression and persecution over the years. They mostly live in remote forest regions without infrastructure and basic services. They fall prey to corrupt government medical services as well as fly-by-night quacks. Knowing their great need, church leaders began to discuss various approaches to providing basic health care. That’s when they invited Normandale to join the conversation.
What possibilities do we envision?
- Tribal people with sufficient knowledge and support to take control of their own health care needs, including basic nutrition, sanitation, and disease-control practices that incorporate tribal as well as modern medical knowledge
- Systematic information and care provided by community health care workers
- Pastors with knowledge and hands-on experience who can educate and foster the development of community health care
What plans do we, together, implement?
- Develop a job description and hire a Health Ministry Director
- Determine the scope of initial services, concentrating on malaria prevention
- Recruit and engage community health care workers as well as church-member medical professionals to serve in the program
- Construct faculty/staff residences on the Seminary Campus
- Construct a Health Ministry Center (with training facilities as well as basic examination and laboratory capabilities) on the Seminary Campus
- Develop curriculum to provide seminarians with basic health care knowledge, skills
- Develop mutually acceptable contributions to the ministry
How does this advance and enhance Normandale’s ministry?
- It strengthens the oneness of the community of believers, the Body of Christ, across cultural realities. It helps realize Christ’s prayer that “They all be one” (John 17:21) as it enhances our mutual witness to the gospel of God’s unconditional love.
- Our members, as they engage in this mission, experience transformation in faith and daily living. We have seen rejuvenation in the practice of our medical professionals as they give of themselves in mission.
- We also work to develop congregation-based community health care, now primarily through our Center for Healing and Wholeness. What practices may we learn that we can transfer into our own communities where health care has become prohibitively expensive?
The partnership between the NWGELC and Normandale Lutheran Church will continue to foster exciting ministry possibilities. Our youth have unique abilities to share. Our music and worship programs will enhance and delight each other. (Just imagine our youth learning Orao competitive dancing, drumming, and singing as they learn our choral singing!) Our members will find their faith strengthened, our medical professionals will find their calling rejuvenated, and our brothers in sisters in Christ will develop confidence in their own independence. And that’s only the beginning!
Our India Partners
- The Ekka Family, NLC supported missionaries, who live on location at Navin Doman seminary. Their family has donated land for this project.
- The Leadership team for the North Western Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church – consisting of an 8 person team of leaders and elders of the church who understand needs of rural, Indian, native people and had inspired vision to build at this location.
- 34 students of Navin Doman Lutheran seminary. Students will spend time with community health care workers/center as component of their study and will take this with them into their local ministry.
- The Orao community (tribal, native-Indian people) – local people in the community at this rural location who have need for basic health care and caring community.
Mission India Festival | January 8, 2017
Neeraj and Nijhar Ekka, and their children, Maani, Urbas, Puna, and Jhumpa, were at Normandale to worship with us and celebrate Mission India on Sunday, January 8th.
Mission India Groundbreaking Trip
Several insight trips to India have taken place over the last few years to initiate relationships and build our partnership with the North Western Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church (NWGELC) at the Navin Doman Theological College (NDTC) near Ranchi, India. In early March 2015, Pastor Paul, Pastor Dale, Ann Bentdahl, Amy James, and Kim Sannerud traveled to Ranchi to meet with the India team led by Neeraj and Nijhar Ekka to review plans and break ground for the construction of the Community Health Care Center.
The time in mission was divided into two parts. The first three days included time in Delhi and Agra to observe, learn, and experience Indian culture, religion, and history. The last three days were spent on location in the gated compound where the Community Health Care Center will be built, in the country 15 kilometers outside of Ranchi surrounded by farmland. The gated compound includes the seminary, a dormitory, and the soon-to-be built Community Health Care Center which will serve the surrounding community with accessible, basic care.
Time, conversation, food, and encouragment was shared with on-location partners as they invited us into their family. Ground was broken at the future site of a Community Health Care Center in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit alongside Neeraj and Nijhar Ekka, our NLC supported missionaries, and a gathering of 200. As we broke ground, the verses of "How Great Thou Art" rang through the evening air.
Share in the journey with the photos below. Thanks be to God!
Next Steps for Mission India
The India Core Leadership team and Mission India teams (including those who have made the journey to India) meet regularly and are in communication with on-location partners. Updates and next steps are shared via email and skype from NLC across the globe to our partners in this mission on a monthly basis. On-going personal connections will continue with annual face-to-face visits to support our partners and friends in this mission. All drawn to this mission and called to these relationships are encouraged to get involved as you will find your role in this partnership as it continues to be shaped and unfold.
Please contact Pastor Dale Howard to learn more at email@example.com / 952.929.1697.