The Derbyshire Churches in Partnership with The Church of North India

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Visit of 6 women clergy

Six women clergy from Derbyshire visited the Church of North India to help promote the ministry of women. Details of the visit can be found on the Partnership website

Loraine Mellor, chair of the Notts and Derby Methodist District, has written about her visit on her Chairís page on the District website
( Here are some edited extracts from it

I have been asked if I have enjoyed my visit to India. No, I have not "enjoyed" it. I have been challenged, surprised, frustrated, angry, tearful, exhilarated
in equal measure but it's not been enjoyable. I have been challenged by the poverty while appreciating how rich we really are in the West.
I have been surprised by the sheer magnitude of the problems of inequality, injustice, poverty and the lack of religious freedom.
I have been frustrated by those who hear but don't really listen and angry at those who seemingly think they have little to learn from our world church partners.
I have been tearful at hundreds of worshipping adults, young people and children who worshipped with such sincerity and where the Holy Spirit was evidently present
and exhilarated by the whole experience as I know so too were the worshippers. Am I changed as a result of the visit? Without a doubt.

The visit to ISPCK was very interesting, informative and yes, enjoyable at times. I met with Revd Dr Ashish Amos, the general secretary who took me to one of
the poorest areas of the city where I met Priscilla an amazing lady who literally lives on the job where she supports women out of prostitution and runs a school
with two others five mornings a week. Two girls sleep on each of the three landings and two men across the door way so she wonít get raped or worse killed.
She is described by the women as "sister" . This was truly a remarkable woman.

One of the highlights was visiting the "Disha" project in a very poor area . We had to walk a good way through the narrow streets avoiding the dirty water and
the refuse and the excrement, being aware of the stares and the nervousness of people as a white women entering the area. Many of the people had never seen a
white face and certainly not walking down their alleyway within inches of there makeshift home.

"Disha " is a project with just one teacher working with young girls to keep them out of prostitution by teaching them beauty techniques. Now women readers
imagine going into a beauty salon at home, gentle music, soft towels comfy chairs.........I could go on but you get my drift. I entered what can only be described
as a cave where I had to jump down 2 feet or so to get in having taken off my shoes at the entrance. I did wonder if they would still be there on the way out.
On entering this dingy room no more than 6í by 8í 20 girls sat cross legged on the floor. I was shown their work books, and some very elaborate eye make-up.
I then presented a few of the girls with certificates and how proud they were and how little I felt with my painted nails and makeup that probably cost more than it
did for one girl to do the course. They insisted on us having a snack and drinks with lots of photographs being taken. I reluctantly left as the teacher and two
of the girls escorted us back to the car, complete with my gifts, my garland and red spot on my forehead. We have received so many gifts while we have been here
that we are having to have them sent home It would have been so ungracious to leave them and we have fitted as much as we can in our cases.

We finally arrived at a school run by Rev Peng Thawng who comes from Myanmar. He trained for ordination in his home city but then found himself due to the conflict
as a refugee in Delhi. He moved into a community with lots of others from the same county and discovered how as refugees they were very poor and could not afford
to send their children to school so he started a school 5 afternoons a week, and he now has four teachers - all Christians, and 60 children divided into four
classes from 4 to 16. No uniforms, no desks, very few books and no fees for the parents to pay. He is now supported by ISPCK. He also started a church but he said
" it's a bit disappointing I only get 500 over the weekend!" I found him and the staff truly inspirational. The children were stunning too, singing in almost
perfect English. "Jesus is the answer" with actions. When I tried to teach them " he's got the whole world in his hands" they thought it very funny!