Release Date: 3/11/2010
Clarksville, Ark. --- "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." -- James 2:15-17
For Pastor Ryan Rose and his wife Tiffany, feeding the hungry goes with the territory. The couple graduated with honors from Ozarks May, 2007, with B.A.s in Communication, and Pastor Rose currently serves as the Media Pastor/Multi-Media Director of Butterfield Assembly of God in Van Buren.
For two weeks last October and November, however, the couple was far away from the familiar things of home, taking part in a mission to bring food and comfort to blind and otherwise impoverished children in Calcutta, India.
“It was a great trip,” said Pastor Rose. “The church we work for is good friends with a missionary to India based out of Houston, Tx. We have a ministry in our church that is focused on orphans and homeless children. We paired together with this missionary who is on the board of directors with a ministry that focuses on working with blind orphans in India among many other schools, hospitals, and medical clinics. So we went.”
According to Rose, parents often send their children to school as much for something to eat as for an education. “A full week’s worth of work for the average Indian, which means 55 to 60 hours, will only get them about $20 to $25,” Rose said. “That is not an hourly wage, or a daily wage, that is a weekly wage, [but] they receive their payment for labor monthly and have to budget it out. So an average monthly wage for an Indian citizen is about $80 to $100.”
The missionary group saw close up and personal the dire poverty of Calcutta, where the smog is so bad, he said, that “breathing [there] for one day is the equivalent of smoking three packs of cigarettes.” Pastor Rose blogged extensively during the trip, posting photos and video as well as a running commentary on their travels. His descriptions of their trip convey vividly what it’s like to travel at night in Calcutta: “Night time was really scary; there is no roller coaster that can compare to the fear and excitement we get from our rides with [our driver] Bob-uh-Lou. The difference is you know what to expect with a roller coaster...a beginning, a few loops, and an end. But on this bus you don't know what to expect – horns honk, people yell, vehicles slam on their brakes, goats and cows fighting in the streets, pedestrians running at full speed in wide-receiver hot-route patterns with 50 pounds of bricks on their head, and all the while Bob-uh-lou keeps his calm and doesn't flinch one muscle.”
They also ventured into the countryside to visit rural medical clinics. “They are literally out in the middle of nowhere,” Rose said. “It is a three-hour drive from the nearest hospital, and most of these people walk, especially the ones who make the trek by foot from Bangladesh.”
“We truly don't know how good we have it back home,” he said, “and surely the kids in the U.S. don't either. These kids were so excited to spend a couple of hours kicking a soccer ball around with Rachel, Laura, Michael and myself. They loved doing arts and crafts and singing and dancing with the rest of the group. They are so starved for love and attention. When I went inside after playing soccer, I don't think I had sat down for more than about 10 seconds and I had 8 to 10 kids climbing all over me, hugging, tugging, smiling, crying. They just want someone to love them. Tiffany and I, like everyone else, brought some toys and trinkets to give to the kids. We had stickers, and they just went crazy of a simple little sticker. They are so grateful to have anything.”
The Roses have participated in trips to other suffering areas, including a skid row in California, Indian reservations in Arizona, and children’s homes in Arkansas. “For both Tiffany and me, our experiences at Ozarks helped shape us and mold us into the people we are today,” he said. “While at Ozarks we didn't just get an education in Communications, we received an education in Life. We also learned what it meant to be a part of something. We were and still are part of the Ozarks Campus, a corporate body that grows together, learns together, smiles together and cries together. Through being a part of organizations like the Student Foundation Board, KUOZ Channel 6 and 100.5 as well as Rotoract and many others, we learned about service. This helped prepare both of us to serve in the ministry capacities we do today, and to a greater extent prepared us to serve the less fortunate elsewhere. Without the experiences we had at Ozarks I know that we wouldn't be the same people we are today.”
He added they planned to be involved in a relief mission effort in Haiti later this year. “It was originally planned for 2011, but we bumped it up to this year as soon as the earthquake happened.”
Pastor Rose’s blog of his trip can be found at http://mm4j.blogspot.com. Look for posts starting on October 26, 2009.