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Workers call for focused, strategic plans to meet India’s sea of need


Americans who travel to India often describe the experience as overwhelming. Jan Swensen is no exception.

The attorney andmember of the Holiday Park church near Pittsburghhas traveled to Indiaseveral times, teaching biblical archaeology and geography to ministers andtheir families.
He describes India as a landof contrasts. In Mumbai, for example, he’s seen people living in mud huts, cookingwhatever they could find over smoldering fires, just blocks from a luxuryhotel.
“So many people, somany needs, so little sympathy,” he said.
And so many askingfor help.
“Everywhere I went,local preachers asked for financial help with their churches or projects,” hesaid. Swensen wanted to help, but in a strategic, responsible way. Heinterviewed dozens of workers to find a partner in meeting India’sseemingly insurmountable need.
He found R. Sanga, aminister in Imphal, in the northeastern state of Manipur.
Sanga, who wasbaptized in 1981 after studying at Alpha Bible Collegein Shillong, had long dreamed of launching an orphanage to serve his community.With Swensen’s help, he did just that.
The Angels’ Place, inChurachandpur, Manipur, recently completed its first year of operation. It hasbecome home for 75 children and operates under the James Connection Trust,incorporated by Swensen in 2003.
“These 75 childrenhave a place to call home, and they are receiving Bible teaching and participatingin devotionals,” said Heather Zambito, communications committee member for theJames Connection.
Members of the ImphalSchool of Preaching, which Sanga founded, helped to launch a congregation thatmeets at the facility. The church has more than 450 members, Sanga said.
In southeastern India, wheremillions of people continue to feel the aftermath of the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami,local ministers work with a U.S.-based mission to serve people’s medical andspiritual needs.
Healing HandsInternational partnered with Paul Renganathan, minister in Chennai, toconstruct a mobile medical clinic to serve a 1,000-mile stretch of coastalvillages affected by the tsunami.
The clinic includesan x-ray machine and heart-monitoring equipment. Doctors have treated more than3,000 patients since the clinic’s launch last November, said Brandon Post, whoworks in international development for Healing Hands.
When workers firstvisited the region after the tsunami, “it was obvious to us that the people …needed medical help in their own villages,” said Roberto Santiago, coordinatorof relief efforts in southeast Asia. “What better way to keep our presencethere than by showing that we do care for them as individuals?
“And we will be therefor the long term.”
FOR MOREINFORMATION, see www.jamesconnection.org or www.hhi.org.

April 1, 2006

Filed under: International

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