Student athletes share Christ’s love through water filtration, sports, and foot washing

By May 31, 2017

India (MNN) — In India, only 33 percent of the people have access to traditional sanitation, according to The Water Project, and the nation’s groundwater levels are dropping. Clean water is an invaluable commodity in many Indian communities.

The upcoming monsoon season will help replenish the water reservoirs, but even in developed cities, the running water system is marked by rusted pipes and contaminated sewage. According to Quartz Media, not one city in India can provide clean tap water around the clock. In rural areas, the water access problem is even worse.

JP Sundararajan with Audio Scripture Ministries just got back from leading a mission trip to India with Hope College student athletes. Along with sports camps and community worship nights, the team distributed 100 water filtration systems, and taught families how to use and maintain them.

Sundararajan shares, “The total team including the leaders were about 14 of us or so. We partnered up with Sawyer, which is a water filtration company based out on the east coast that has strong connections to Hope College…. We did this through a program called SEED which was basically involves student athletes running sports camps, but they kind of incorporate this idea of water filtration into their mission trips.”

(Photo courtesy of Audio Scripture Ministries via Facebook)

First, ASM identified an area where they and their ministry partners at World Cassette Outreach of India (WCOI) serve. “We went out to the northeastern part of India. We’re talking about a state of India that borders the country of Bhutan and China, so pretty far away from Bangalore where we usually hang out.”

Mornings with the team were dedicated to water filtration installation and education. The only thing the villagers were required to bring was a plastic bucket.

“We bring this dirty water in and then we demonstrate how these filters work, and they’re tiny. They come in these little Ziploc bags. We install these water filtration systems and we teach people how to take care of it, because if they can do that, these filters last for life.”

Then following the water initiatives, the student athletes led sports camps for the local kids, which turned out to be a big hit even with the surrounding communities.

“We were in a community where there really hasn’t been a lot of international traffic, so-to-speak. So as the week went on, we were drawing hundreds of kids who would come to these communities, and we would just get to know them, teach them different sports, [and] play sports with them. We even got to witness a martial arts demonstration and partnered up and got to learn a little bit from them as well!”

(Photo courtesy of Crista Ballard Photography via Audio Scripture Ministries)

Then, says Sundararajan, “Every evening, we had a worship service where we then did what WCOI and ASM has been doing in this community, which is working with the Bodo and Santali tribes where we’ve been distributing audio Bibles there.”

Everything took place on the grounds of the local church. This provided a beautiful opportunity to invite non-Christians from the community who might not otherwise come to connect with the local Christian community and missionaries.

But then the Holy Spirit prompted the team to do something else they hadn’t previously planned on. The whole village was routinely invited each night to the time of evening worship with the ASM team. But as the sun cast a setting glow over the village on their last day there, they had some chairs set up during the worship time. The team then invited village members who hosted, fed, and transported them to come and sit on the chairs.

“Then our team washed their feet in front of the entire community.”

Sundararajan explains, “It was an act which was not meant to draw any attention, except to demonstrate that this is what Jesus calls us to do — not so much be cared for, but to serve others. It was a beautiful moment because I was standing there watching these grown women sitting on these chairs sobbing and their tears just kind of overflowing everywhere. Everybody was weeping because it was just a powerful demonstration of what we are called to do as Christians. And then, of course, after we were done washing their feet, we were invited to sit on the chairs and then they washed our feet.

“That for me was the real reason we do this trips, is to demonstrate the greater community that we will always be brothers and sisters because of the blood of Christ that unites us all.”

Because ASM leads mission trips to areas where they have ongoing ministry or partners on the ground, there is always some sort of Gospel follow-up and continued relationship building in those communities. For example, says Sundararajan, “This community is an area we’ve been continuing to record new languages for, we’ve been continuing to distribute audio Bibles there, so that will continue to happen.”

Think you or a group would like to go on a mission trip like this with Audio Scripture Ministries? Sundararajan says it will change your life, and allow you to put your faith into action in service of the Great Commission.

“If there is a group of people who are interested in going, definitely contact our office. You can email me at jpsunda@asmtoday.org to talk about opportunities for India. But otherwise, even visit our website at asmtoday.org, get in touch with our staff. There are different groups going to different parts of the world. You could always join in!”

He also asks, “Just keep praying for us. Every time we go on these trips, for me, I have to say goodbye to my family and it does take a toll. So pray for journey mercies and encouragement.”

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