World Student Christian Federation Journey to Orissa, India

WORLD STUDENT CHRISTIAN FEDERATION JOURNEY TO ORISSA, INDIAFrom November 25-December 5, 2014, I had the honor of helping lead a delegation of young adults from the World Student Christian Federations North American chapters on an exchange to India. The purpose of our trip was to learn about the devastating consequences of proposed mining practices on the daily lives of rural farmers in the Orissa province of the country. One such project, the proposed POSCO steel plant in Orissa would displace over 4,000 families who have cultivated the land for hundreds of years with little compensation.

As a North American delegation, we were particularly interested in the role of US and Canadian shareholders as complicit agents in perpetuating this cycle of violence and direct actions we could take to influence these individuals when we returned home.

Our work was following in the footsteps of giants. The Indian subcontinent has been a space were many storied Christian leaders have come to learn about strategies of non-violent resistance to social injustice among them theologian Howard Thurman and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

World Student Christian Federation Journey to IndiaAs an African-American minister, it was particularly poignant for me to live into the legacy of these famous black preacher who sojourned to India and found wisdom that served as the philosophical cornerstone for the freedom struggle we now know as the American Civil Rights Movement.

On my journey, I too gained access to knowledge that I will carry with me. From the “untouchable” tribal villagers in Chengara, who have reclaimed their ancestral land and re-established a community that recognizes the innate dignity of all people, I learned the power of persistence. From the women of the anti-POSCO movement who live each day under the threat of arrest, I learned the true meaning of the audacity of hope.

From my fellow WSCF sojourners, I learned how to hold one another = as we go about the often painful work of personal transformation. I will continue the work of striving to embody these lessons in my ministry each day as I hold them alongside these words from the prophet Micah, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Amen