In a previous article, we began sharing the story of our ministry partners Jim and Kelley. In 2002, this couple felt led to add to their biological family of five through adoption. When God closed the door to domestic adoption, they wondered what in the world He was up to! They soon discovered He had kept that door shut so He could open the door to international adoption in India.
In 2004, two years after they started the adoption process, Jim, Kelley, and their three biological children, travelled to India to meet their new daughter and sister, Ganga Grace. When they boarded that plane for the 28-hour flight to Mumbai, excitement about embracing Grace—a beautiful gift from the Lord—pounded in their hearts. They knew beyond a doubt that He had chosen her for them. But they had no clue just how much the Lord had in store for them...and for India.
Let’s pick up where we left off on our conversation with Jim and Kelley....
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Jim: Before we left to pick up Ganga, God prompted us to have the entire family praying to create love in our hearts for her and love in her heart for us. Ganga—her name—was all we knew about her. We decided to keep Ganga as her first name and give her the middle name Grace. She decided to go by Grace....
Kelley: Let me back up a bit to share something really neat that God did for us. Before we learned about Ganga, we got a reference from the adoption agency for another child. Jim and I prayed about this girl. We also asked our kids to pray. A couple days later, we all came together at the kitchen table...and no one felt like we were supposed to adopt her. That was a hard, horrible phone call to make...But then we got our reference for Grace.
We again asked the kids to pray on their own as we did. When we came back together that time, we each felt God was telling us she was the one. It wasn’t just, “Mom wants this one,” or, “Mom and Dad decided...” It was our whole family!
Jim: And then, our whole family got to go pick her up! Tyler was 15, Clint was 13, and Anna was 9. We landed in Mumbai around 1 a.m. On the drive to the hotel, our senses were assaulted! It was 1 o’clock in the morning, and the streets were crowded with trucks, noise, people, and smells. They roll up the streets at 9 o’clock in our town, so this was a shock!
There are SO many people in Mumbai. If the highway has six lanes, there are 10 lanes of traffic. And the poverty...When our driver picked us up at the hotel and we left for the orphanage, I stuck my camcorder out the window to take a video. Right away, 10 children who beg on the streets lunged at us. They were hanging on the side of the car, reaching their hands in for the camcorder. We were panicked about their safety, but our driver just kept going!
As we drove along, we saw babies splashing in cesspools I wouldn’t let my dog play in; people taking their constitutional along the road; a motorcycle going by with a family of five; kids coming out of tin shacks that don’t look as good as the ones we raise chickens in! It’s just extreme poverty, and everyone is right on top of each other. And yet, everywhere we looked, everybody had a cellphone. Every shop had a radio playing. Everyone is on social media. That connectivity takes precedence, even over their dwelling conditions.
During our trip, we had Muslim drivers, Hindu drivers, drivers with no faith. One guy had a Ganesh statue on his dash. When we told him we were Christians, he said, “Oh yes,” and dropped down his visor to reveal a St. Christopher medallion, as if to say, “I’ll add your God, too. If he can help me on Sundays, Ganesh can take care of me on Mondays.”
For the most part, we found them open to Christianity. They just didn’t have any clue about it! That and the dichotomy between the intense poverty and the level of connectedness made such a strong impression on me...as did our visit to the orphanage.
When we picked up Grace, we spent the day at the orphanage. Those kids so wanted a family; you could just see it in their eyes. Grace was the princess for the day because she was getting to go home with her forever family. And boy, leaving those other 40 kids behind was tough.
We ate a meal with them—just a little chicken and rice. We sat on the floor and ate with our hands from tin plates. After dinner, they washed the dishes from their galvanized pipe that came out of the wall. They have just that one pipe for drinking, cooking, and washing. It’s also where the kids stand and splash themselves to bathe. They sleep on bare, concrete floors. But at least they’re getting two meals a day.
Kelley: I’ve been thinking about how our trip to India impacted our decision to partner with Insight. One of the main things was the children we had to leave at the orphanage. When we got Grace home, we just went about our business. We had our family devotions, went to church, and prayed as always. It didn’t hit me that this little girl didn’t know Jesus...until, when she was eight years old, and she asked Jesus into her heart. A few days later, she asked me if she had hated Jesus before. It struck me then that Grace had the opportunity to know Jesus, but what about the children at the orphanage who didn’t go to Christian homes or weren’t adopted at all?
Also, one of our cab drivers said something I’ll always remember. When we told him we believed in God, he said, “Oh, Allah, it’s all the same.” I realized then that they just don’t know. They’re not hearing the truth.
Being over there made me see how important it is to not only make the message available but to make it culturally relevant. Just translating Chuck’s good teaching isn’t enough. It’s Chuck’s personal stories and struggles that grab your heart and pull you in. That effect can’t happen if the message isn’t adapted for each culture by a person who intimately knows it. The way Insight engages and connects with each culture through international pastors is unique!
Jim: I heard God’s call to reach India a couple years after Grace became a believer when I received a flyer in the mail from an organization that pulls girls out of sex trafficking. In that flyer, I read the testimonies of two rescued girls—one named Ganga from India and one named Anna from Europe. I’ll never forget realizing that could’ve been about MY Ganga or MY Anna! It made me think there are thousands of Gangas still in India who have no hope. Remember, in India, girls can only stay in the orphanages until they are 14 years old. With little to no education and no family, they’re left helpless on the streets. Many are kidnapped, raped, or forced into the sex industry. In 2017, more than 10,000 girls were raped in India and more than 1,500 were victims of human trafficking. A total of nearly 6,000 women, girls, men, and boys were trafficked that year—nearly 22 per cent for the purpose of sexual exploitation or prostitution!1 My heart longs for all the people of India to have the opportunity to hear about Jesus and have hope—just like my Ganga.
IFLM: On a crisp, April day in 2016, our executive vice president and chief Donor Ministries officer, Alex, met with you at Panera Bread in Springfield and shared about Vision 195—how the Lord has called us into all the nations and how we see a way to get there. What sealed the deal for you in deciding to partner with us?
Kelley: Your approach with training international pastors is different from the norm. There’s nothing wrong with what other ministries are doing, but we realized that being culturally relevant is so, so important. Another thing is that you’ve been upfront with what you’re teaching and how you’re teaching it. So, we know what’s being taught is the truth.
One thing I want to share with anybody reading this is, Insight will work WITH you. In all the many conversations we had with Alex, we said, “India’s important to us. That’s where our heart is.” And you guys said, “Yes, let’s do THAT.” You didn’t say, “Why don’t you make this donation now for something else, and if and when we get Chuck’s messages translated into a language there, we’ll move into India.” We said, “Here’s our passion,” and you went for it! It’s a true partnership.
Jim: At no point did we feel like you took our passion and tried to manipulate it to fit your agenda. You said, “We have a plan that can provide good, expositional Bible teaching throughout the world. It’s called Vision 195, and here’s how we’re gonna do it.” And we said, “We have a passion for India that fits that plan!”
Truthfully, we’re “can-do” people. We were ready to say, “Let’s just rent some airtime and get this thing going!” But you were very clear in explaining to us that Insight shares our passion for India but also has a passion for excellence. You laid out so plainly how the Lord has led you to launch the ministry in India in a way that will be successful, not just for a few months or years...but for decades and beyond. You helped us realize how we can build a ministry that will be in place when Kelley and I, when Grace, when all of us, are dead and gone.
What’s the number one exported service from India? Call centres! To learn the language, they will listen to any ministry’s English broadcast. There may be one in a million who comes to faith through that. But making the message culturally relevant and providing tools like Searching the Scriptures will bring so many more not just to faith but to an abiding relationship with Christ! And we’re not just talking about one pastor, conference, or broadcast. Insight’s pastor in India will be trained...and then that pastor will train other pastors in India who speak other languages...who will train more. That brings the value of multiplication! That kind of exponential growth is what we need in that country of 1.3 billion people!
When we first started talking with Alex and heard how effective media can be, we realized one of the reasons God took us to India: to draw the connection between Insight and the media saturation of that country. That’s the one thing that stood out in our minds: everybody had a cellphone...in 2004. Just think how much technology has blown up since then!
That’s what sold us...that, your unwillingness to compromise your beliefs in how you form an excellent ministry outside the borders of the United States, and the integrity with which you protected our donations to go toward India.
IFLM: Of course, we can’t earmark every gift of any amount from every donor; Insight runs entirely on donations! But we want people to know, if they have a passion for a country or language, they can contact us and start a conversation about how their passion might align with Vision 195.
Kelley: I hope people will understand that they can partner with you with confidence. Insight takes the passions God gives His people very, very seriously! If someone’s passion and Vision 195 align, and they’re able to work with Insight, over time, you will reach the goal together! We’ve been giving in increments over three years, and now we’re about to see the ministry in India launch. It’s not just a someday dream. It’s real. It’s happening!
Jim: There’s one last thing I want to say. The sole reason we’re willing to tell our story is because we hope it will encourage others to have their own story of partnering with Insight. We take it seriously when the Bible tells us not to let our left hand know what the right is doing. But we felt the Lord leading us to encourage others to know what it’s like to partner with Insight, whether through larger donations for a specific people group or smaller gifts for the general pursuit of the Great Commission. We want our brothers and sisters in Christ to be encouraged to follow His commands, to listen to the callings that God gives them, and to get on the Vision 195 bandwagon!
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Through Jim and Kelley’s generosity, the hard work of our International team, the faithful prayers of our partners around the world, and the grace of God, Insight for Living India will open its doors THIS year!
What passion has the Lord put in YOUR heart?
1. “Table 3A.3: Women and Girls Victims of Rape under Different Age-Groups—2017,” “Table 14.2: Victims Trafficked—2017,” and “Table 14.5: Purpose of Human Trafficking—2017,” National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2017/pdfs/Table%203A.3.pdf, http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2017/pdfs/Table%2014.2.pdf, and http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2017/pdfs/Table%2014.5.pdf.