I am currently escaping the terrible monsoon weather in India and am instead enjoying beautiful Oregon! As much as I love India and my work and ministry there, I am finding it is essential to take times of rest and reflection as well. My busy paced life in India doesn’t really allow me much time for relaxation or reflection. So I am learning to be a bit more intentional about scheduling times of rest so that I don’t so easily get burned out. My life these last six months have been a bit hectic. I am constantly traveling to villages, hosting people, doing trainings, and just trying to navigate the daily culture and communication challenges. It has been a busy but very good season, and I am seeing God at work in many ways. Some of the people we have trained are doing amazing work now, using the skills we have taught them to impact their communities and to share their faith with people. I definitely feel that my work here is not complete as I see God continuously opening new doors for ministry.
As I continue in this calling the Lord has given me I really need some prayer as the political and religious climate in India is quickly changing. In May the current pro-Hindu political party was re-elected which likely means increased persecution of Christians and Muslims. Last October the government also changed a law regarding foreigners living in India. Before the law stated that we could live here as long as we left the country every six months, so most people would leave India for a day or two and come back again. But now the new law states we cannot be in India more than six months in a calendar year. So we can't just leave and come back anymore. The only exception is if we register with the local police and get residency. It's quite difficult to do what I am doing if I can only be in country six months out of the year, so I definitely need to have residency!
In January, I contacted one of my American friends who lives a couple of hrs from me in the city. He has been running a tourism business for a couple of years and was looking to expand the business. So I decided to join his business as a partner. Being a part-owner of an Indian business allows me to be able to register with the police and get residency to stay a full year. The paperwork was a nightmare, and at times, I doubted whether it was actually going to work, but I did end up successfully registering and getting residency for a full year. So that means I can stay until next May, at which point I will need to apply for another year of residency. Shortly after registering, however, the local police started investigating me by contacting everyone I am working with including my main partners and my new business partners. It has been a bit of a stressful experience, but I am trusting that if God wants me to stay here, he will continue to provide a way.
One of the requirements for people on business visas is to have a business that makes at least $150,000 in income a year. That is a very hard thing to do in India! In order to reach this benchmark, I will have to invest more time in developing my tourism business. Up until this point, I have been hosting mostly individuals and couples. It has been wonderful hosting people and having them join me in visiting villages and helping me with my work and ministry. But now I will need to focus on hosting a few teams a year as well. So I want to share with you all what I am thinking and ask for prayer as I move forward with this idea.
There are many villages that I have been working in these last couple of years. In many of these places, I have trained people to be animal health workers already. Many of these villages are asking for help starting vaccination programs for their animals. I would like to start organizing teams of people to come that would be interested in trekking house to house in some of these villages with the locally trained animal health worker providing treatment to the animals. These trips would be ideal for veterinary students and veterinary professionals, but really anyone interested in agriculture with a desire to serve local people in a practical way could join these teams.
Some people may be thinking that this tourism business will take away from my ministry focus. I do not intend for that to be the case. There are so many villages that are asking for help with their animals, and I just can't go to all of them myself. So this will be a great way to serve these communities, encourage the guys I have trained in these places, and also to provide some financial support to villages that want to host teams. I also have Indian partners who will lead the teams so that I do not have to be present with them all the time, freeing me up for my own work and ministry.
If you know of anyone who has an adventurous spirit and a heart to serve in such a way, check out my business website: http://www.himadco.com/farm-tours
I could really use prayer as I return to India in September. There are so many things that God has put on my heart to do, and I want to continue to move forward in faith that He will make a way for me to stay here. Thank you for partnering with me,