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Touched by the untouchables

The Year of Discipleship is part of the Uniting Church in Queensland's Vision 2020, focusing on the call to form active and accountable disciples of all ages. Callide Valley's Pastor Donna Muston writes.

Earlier this year, filled with a large measure of trepidation and excitement, I found myself in a group of twelve visitors to northern India. Organised by the Dostana group, we met with diocesan workers from the Church of North India, Diocese of Amritsar and visited the Kangra Girls' Hostel, which offers accommodation for school-aged girls. There I discovered that in the Church of North India, faith, hope, love, courage, trust, compassion, servanthood, dedication, and integrity are more than words, they are the core of discipleship.

I came home with thoughts, impressions and lessons learned that I have since found difficult to articulate.

There were situations and some worship experiences that were perplexing and confronting, but I also saw practical expressions of love, giving hope and healing.

Diocesan workers stepped out in faith, listening to and advocating for the Dalits (formerly the Untouchables), whose voices are rarely heard.

Having seen and heard, what's next?

There are a number of avenues, and now I can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse.

A hand of friendship has been extended to us, and we must honour this new relationship.

Quite unexpectedly I began to question my awareness of the marginalised in my own community, and I realised honouring local relationships is one way to honour global ones.

Micah 6:8 probably best encapsulates the discipleship that was evident in the work of the Church of North India, "Hear then what your God asks of you… to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God."

Our time in India revealed that discipleship is an ongoing commitment to listen, to observe and learn. It is a journey alongside others. In that journeying, we meet Christ in those who are different, especially through the practice of generous hospitality.

Each of us has taken parts of this journey to India into our hearts.

In so doing we too have been changed, or at least challenged as disciples on the way.

More information regarding sponsorship of Kangra Girls' Hostel can be viewed at UnitingWorld. Alternatively, contact Paul and Lyndall Moore on 5499 9851 or 0417 726 099 or psg.moore@bigpond.com

Looking for a Gap Year?

Auckland House School in Shimla, northern India, has a great opportunity for a young music teacher or accomplished pianist to teach piano.

This boarding/day school for girls is one of the oldest schools in Shimla and aims to nurture and educate girls to believe in themselves and in turn, contribute to the common good.

Please contact the principal, Mrs Sunita John if you are interested.

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