30 Apr GLINK India: More Than A Gap Year
The gap year. A concept we’re all familiar with as it’s grown more popular over the last few years with students taking a year off after high school to go volunteer abroad or a month after college graduation hopping on a plane to start the adventure of couchsurfing, cultural immersion, and volunteer work. The gap year for its own sake does not offer much merit beyond self-discovery and personal memories; however, the same concept buttressed by the structure and vision of GenerationLINK proves to make the time abroad of infinite worth.
GenerationLINK may seem like another gap year opportunity to some as it involves taking a year between graduation and getting “a real job,” and for me, the experience of living in another culture and getting to travel pretty frequently. I’ve even had a relative refer to my year in India as a “long vacation.” However, vacations are marked by self-indulgence, rest, and the idea of getting away from real life for pleasure. My year in India has been anything but that. It has not been a miserable-stripped-of-all-joys experience. It has not been constantly painful or lonely. It has not been a break from my real life. It has not been martyrdom by any means, but living in India is not a vacation. This year has stripped me bear of comforts and securities taken in things besides the Living God. I have learned more about myself, who I am and who I want to be, my strengths and weaknesses. I have experienced the richness of community that comes through the bond of Christ breaking boundaries of culture and language. I have learned to manage money and travel alone to another country where I don’t speak the language. I have learned to pack light. I have found more of what I was made for.
One of the advantages of being overseas through GenerationLINK is the strength of partnership provided through Crosspoint as a sending church. I have gotten to spend the last ten months in India with an amazing team of servants of Christ passionate for the work of the gospel being done among those who have not heard. Through this partnership, my time in India gains meaning it otherwise might have lacked as I immediately was grafted into a team established in our city and able to come alongside the work already in progress. Though I struggled in the beginning to figure out what my days would look like and how I would be a part of the work, I was never a lone-ranger in this city of a few million. I was able to come and begin with a foundation laid by the people who had previously come and those who were still here continuing the work.
About six months ago, my roommate and a national partner began visiting a Hindu home and shared with them stories from the Bible as well as prayed for the family. I tagged along a few times and became familiar with this family. Soon after the first of the year, the oldest daughter believed and was made alive with Christ! It has been awesome to see the transforming power in her life over the last few months. I began meeting with her to help me develop my Hindi speaking abilities, but soon we were translating stories from English to Hindi so we could share with others from the Bible. That time transitioned into a discipleship relationship in which we met to discuss the commands of Christ and what she is reading about in the Bible.
One afternoon we met together and discussed the command to love. Love your friends. Love your enemies. Love your neighbors as yourself. We looked at several passages, seeing over and over this basic command to love. She understood, but had a practical question. She asked me about when her neighbors and family ostracize her or treat her badly or talk about her negatively. How do you love then? Loving became more than just an abstract idea at that point; we weren’t talking about the faceless neighbor or nameless woman at the grocery store who cuts in line or the man who cuts you off in traffic, but the neighbors within the walls of her own house. How was she going to love them, day in and day out? “But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 4:4-5). “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We only have the power and ability to love because we have been loved. Only the gospel will enable us to love our enemies because we were once an enemy and we have experienced Love.
Praise the Lord for bringing me to India and doing much more than I would have ever imagined in intersecting my time in India with my sister’s belief in Jesus! What grace that He would use me to teach this sister and water her with the Word that God might bring growth in her life!
GenerationLINK has given me much more than a gap year – it has been the means by which I have been able to be a light for the gospel in a very dark place, to meet this sister and be a tool used to help her grow in the gospel. It is the means by which I have partnered with work already being done to build upon a foundation previously laid and leave more accomplished for those who will come after me. It is the means by which I have gained vision for what’s to come in my life, not because of self-discovery, but because of a greater understanding of The Vision, God’s vision and how I can be caught up in it for the rest of my life.
Written by Rachel
GenerationLINK Staff | India