“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”– Augustine
The following is a testimony written by Chris Hickey following a Global Hope mission trip to India. We hope it inspires you as much as it has us!
Two years ago, I asked my daughters, Katelyn (13) and Meghan (10), one of the most thought-provoking questions I’ve ever asked them. As I tucked them into bed, I wondered, “Do my girls think we are rich?” I thought about it myself for several minutes before I posed the question to them. Looking back on my own life and recalling the path God had me travel, I realized that compared to many, I have lived a privileged and extremely blessed life! But, I continued to ponder the definition of “Rich”.
Growing up in Kansas City with three brothers there was always an adventure playing out! My brothers and I were introduced to a variety of experiences growing up, which gave us a broad vision of what life had to offer. My parents believed in exposure. From concerts to sports to travel, we saw and experienced a lot.
My mother was an RN by trade. My father was an entrepreneur dabbling in a variety of businesses ventures. Because of these ventures, we traveled and saw many things most kids were never exposed to. My brothers and I attended an all boy’s private Catholic high school and each of us went on to higher education. By all accounts we were “Rich”.
Although my life was comfortable growing up, I struggled. I had learning disabilities and was not particularly good at any sport. My parents hired tutors and I spent countless hours in remedial classes trying to catch up in my grade. My self-esteem was low. My relationship with God was average at best and I did not believe in myself. My senior year of high school my parents separated and later divorced after losing our home to financial failure. My mom went on to finish a successful career and I lost contact with my father. I was on my own.
I put myself through college, focusing on business but later found myself unsatisfied with my career path. I owned several successful small businesses in my 20’s and my finances were always stable, but I was unhappy. I was not fulfilling a desire in my soul to be something better although I didn’t know what that something was. Reflecting back, I clearly see how God was pushing me in a different direction.
In 2000, I decided to become a police officer in Kansas. I wanted to make a difference. I had been blessed with so much and felt I could make a positive impact. I had a successful career until a tragic on-duty motorcycle accident in 2008. I suffered severe injuries and went through an onslaught of surgeries and physical therapy before needing to retire in 2010. I was devastated! My career had become my identity and it was gone. The thoughts of not being enough were rapidly returning and my life was in a downward spiral. My marriage ended a short time later and I felt alone. I was angry with God and hopelessness was consuming me. At the time when I was pushing God away I was also growing closer to him. I had nobody else.
I became active in my church and began attending a Saturday morning men’s group. In that group I met Scott French. I was intrigued by his wisdom and spiritual input he offered our group. Scott mentioned a charity he was involved with, Global Hope, and shared about experiences God blessed him with through that organization. It was those stories that led to a conversation about mission work through Global Hope. Since my divorce, I had invested a lot of time and energy into me to be a better man, father, friend and mentor to anyone needing help. The idea of being a missionary was intimidating. I was not a theological scholar and have been intimidated by scripture. I had a severe head injury as a result of my on-duty motorcycle accident and had difficulty recalling verses and specific stories from the bible. How was I going to spread the Word of God to anyone? Once again, I felt inadequate and felt I could not be of benefit to Global Hope or the people they served. Scott assured me otherwise.
After months of consideration and praying, I signed on with Scott to travel to India in February 2018. I set up a pledge campaign and raised the funds needed to travel. I own a small carpet cleaning business and knew the time off work was going to be a financial hit because I am the business. There are no employees to generate income during my time off. The cost of the trip and the loss of income was unnerving, but I felt like God wanted me in India, and He provided the means for me to go.
On February 6, 2018 Scott and I left for India. I was nervous and still questioned whether I was going to be able to serve God and share anything of value. It was completely unwarranted! From the moment we landed in Hyderabad my heart was at ease. We traveled to Palakollu first to meet with “Pastor Z” at the KEL Children’s Home. Pastor Z, his family, and the children all welcomed us late at night with song, celebration and flower petal confetti! In the following days, I was so struck by how the spirit of God was alive in the souls of all the children! Their smiles, glow in their eyes and inquisitive questions were powerful. They were so excited to speak with us! Over the next few days, we participated in worship, teaching and learning experiences. God was using us as a light of hope for all those we encountered.
We concluded our visit with Pastor Z by traveling to a small and remote village called P. Lanka. The village is extremely poor with little resources, but Pastor Z and his family are helping by offering spiritual guidance and food with the assistance of Global Hope. While in P. Lanka, Scott and I preached to the community about hope and the power of God. Local Hindu leaders unexpectedly visited us and inquired about our presence. We were surprised by their welcoming nature and willingness for us to continue teaching God’s Word. They walked away with a Christian Bible in their hands and allowed us to photograph them receiving their Bibles!
Our last stop on the trip was flying to Secunderabad where we met with Global Hope’s other partner, Saji John, with the John Foundation. This ministry is overwhelming! They care for and educate over 500 children, while also educating men and woman in garment manufacturing, computer science, ESL and various other trades. They also have a 2-year training program designed to plant Christianity in villages across India, and a home for rehabilitating women victimized by India’s sex trade industry. They are giving these women a new life! It was such a blessing to see what Global Hope’s support of this ministry was accomplishing. It was an amazing example of God’s work in motion! Witnessing this work ignited a spark in me that I’ve never felt before—God had me there for a reason.
After returning home, I was spiritually loaded but physically exhausted. I was humbled by what I saw. The poverty and poor living conditions are extreme, but the faith of those we encountered was beautiful. The people, including the children, have so little but their spirit and strength fueled by God was second to none. It made me realize just how “poor” I was with so much around me. After returning, I was upset with myself for taking too much for granted and focusing far too much energy on what I think is not right in my own life. The Christians in India have such a rich spirit and heart, and that’s what I want to emulate. They taught me more about myself and my journey with God than I could have possibly taught them.
I learned two years ago when I asked that poignant question to my daughters that they do understand how “rich” they. They know they are blessed with much, but like us all, take that for granted at times. I hope someday they can experience the “riches” in India’s poverty, and recognize if their own lives become “poor” despite the wealth that surrounds them. I was humbled by my experiences in India and returned home a better man. I thank God once again for the eye-opening blessing.
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