Faidley on a mission to India
Grant Faidley gives a piggyback ride to a young boy at an orphanage in southern India. (Submitted photo)
Toward the end of his visit to the predominantly Hindu country, the police caught wind of a group of North Americans who were interacting with villagers through a translator. The officers approached the group, which was shuttling between villages on a tour bus, and demanded to know why they were there.
“We had to hide our Bibles and we all got on the bus right away,” Faidley said. “We had to get the translators to go out and tell them we were taking pictures. It was intense. We were all trying to shove (the Bibles) down our pants and stuff.”
The run-in with police may have been Faidley’s only disheartening moment in India. The 19-year-old Hollsopple resident and born-again Christian recently returned from a month in the country as part of a Global Expeditions mission trip.
Faidley learned about the opportunity at an “Acquire the Fire” concert in Pittsburgh. Dozens of prayers later he found himself destined for Garden Valley, Texas, where he received four days of training in Bible studies, evangelism and Indian culture.
“You learn about things you shouldn’t do over there — things that might be offensive there but aren’t offensive here,” he said.
One of the first things the missionaries learned is that mission work is frowned upon in India, at least when it comes to obtaining a visa. So the 70 members of the group had to pose as tourists. Faidley played the part, snapping nearly 90 photographs during the trip.
“When you first get there, you get questioned. A lot of it is because you are American,” he said. “You just have to keep your cool. It’s pretty intimidating when you get there because they’re talking about you (in their language) and you know they are talking about you.”
The missionaries lived in a Catholic dorm in southern India, which raised even more questions. They worked with Serve India Ministries, an organization whose stated purpose is to plant churches in 100,000 villages by 2020. Serve India provided the translators.
Faidley was struck by how poor the villagers were, by the garbage strewn throughout the streets and by all of the loose animals. The things he saw reminded him of the commercials of disadvantaged children that appear on TV.
“It’s just like a culture shock,” he said. “It makes you realize how much we have that we take for granted.”
Faidley’s first day in India was spent unpacking. On the second day the group visited a local school, where they participated in a Bible study and played soccer and cricket with the children. For the remainder of the month, the group visited villages, spreading the word and building relationships.
Although Hinduism and Islam are the two most prominent religions in India, Faidley said the group was generally well-received.
“I think a lot of them never, ever saw white people before, so they were going to be receptive to what we were saying,” he said. “They were going to want to hear what we were saying.”
The conversations generally involved asking the villagers what they believed in and explaining the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Before they left Texas, the group learned a drama that was presented at the end of each visit. The drama was followed by an invitation to become a Christian.
One of Faidley’s most memorable experiences was visiting an orphanage. The children there were shyer than their village counterparts, but they quickly warmed to their unique visitors.
“They wanted to be loved so bad because they never had a family,” he said. “There are towns around (the orphanage) but no one ever really went in because they felt they were going to be pressured into adopting somebody.”
Faidley remembers one 12-year-old boy in particular.
“He just kept saying: ‘Don’t go home. Don’t go home. Don’t leave.’ He just kept telling the translator that,” he said.