On a sunny Friday afternoon, we met with Ria, the project coordinator working with Circular Road Baptist Church (CRBC), in Kolkata. She led us to India’s ‘red light district,’ and introduced us to the women there.
CRBC’s project invites these women to receive skills training so they can earn income as beauticians or tailors. Visiting the women showed me how important these few hours of classes are to them. It’s an opportunity to learn a new skill, gain a source of income, and be together in community by socializing and attending sermons.
When I asked if they could show us their work, they proudly displayed their sewing projects in turn. It was beautiful to see their excitement!
In Kolkata, the gospel is shared by stepping into the lives of vulnerable women. Many who are trapped in human trafficking are offered friendship, hope, and a chance at a brighter future through vocational training.
In the mountains of Nagaland, the church is built by caring for the poor, the widows, and those struggling with alcohol addiction within the community.
At Alempang Baptist (ABC), CBM’s local partner, the church is a vibrant hub for the community. One of the programs the church spearheads is the Alcoholics Rehabilitation & Transformation Project. Participants shared their stories of transformation and healing through this holistic support program led by the local pastors. Income-generating projects, such as pig and chicken farms, provide them with a renewed sense of purpose and support for their families.
One participant shares, “Before, I felt like I was nothing, useless, worthless. But after starting the program, I went to church and attended every sermon. I have learned a lot about Jesus Christ. I am happy going to church and being in community with the other men. With God’s help, I have overcome my difficulties. I am living with no fear, doubts or problems. My family is so happy together, by the grace of God.”
We rejoice with Alempang Baptist Church as this project move towards long-term sustainability in 2024 (no longer requiring outside funds to continue their program). “The journey towards sustainability is the product of the partnership between CBM and ABC for six years,” notes Suraj Komaravailli, CBM’s Asia Team Leader.
Each of CBM’s projects in India is designed with community input to involve an income-generating component. Participants donate a share of their profit back into the program so that more community members can learn new skills and start businesses. A sense of pride and ownership in the collective process fuels these projects. Community members are invested in seeing each other succeed.
“This has also led to CBM introducing new partners and projects from 2024,” continues Suraj. These projects include support for victims of human trafficking, livelihood programs for low-income pastors, and leadership training and capacity building for leaders of the Soura Baptist churches.
As CBM forges ahead with new partners and projects, the transforming power of the gospel continues, touching lives and bringing hope to many in India. The dedication, love, and resilience of God’s people in India have shown me that building the church is not just about bricks and mortar but about restoring lives, healing wounds, and transforming communities through word and deed.