Rohit serves on the Middle East and Asia Board for Willow Global with a specific focus on India.
The famous Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” I can’t think of better words to describe David. His beginnings were humble, but his dreams are far from it. David is only eighteen years old, but he has the dreams of a far more mature man. At a young age, David was sent to a Mercy Home campus managed by Pastor Raju. David came to the home in ill health. Pastor Raju took care of him, prayed with him, supported him, and took on the role of an adopted father.
David did not have an easy journey being from a small remote village in Rajasthan and far from a big city with more opportunities. The villagers have to travel in search of work. Their meager earnings barely support their families. There’s no electricity or toilets, but there is water if you’re willing to pay a hefty price. David overcame the odds and soon recovered from his poor health. Thanks to the support of Pastor Raju and our mission partner RIMI, David attended a private school and is now a second-year college student at Rajasthan Technical University. He’s the first in his community to graduate from high school and attend college. David is currently studying civil engineering and plans to return to his community to serve them.
David’s story touches me deeply. His family’s story is much like another story I know so well. My great-grandfather John was orphaned as a result of a famine that engulfed southern India. It just so happened that a missionary from the United States named Kate French found my grandfather and adopted him as one of her own. My great-grandfather went to school, found a great job, and gave back to his community. I stand here generations later, proud of the legacy he leaves behind. It’s a legacy I hear every time I go back to India.
I can’t even imagine the legacy that David will create for his family and community. I know that David will become a great leader. I’ve experienced his leadership myself. When I was asked to speak on a recent trip to India, I decided to speak in English because I felt my American-accented Hindi would probably cause more laughs than anything else. I was told by our Indian partners that someone would translate my words into Hindi. Much to my surprise, David stood next to me and beautifully translated my English words into Hindi. I couldn’t have been more proud of him. He stood confident next to me speaking in both Hindi and English comfortably. David is the first in his community to speak English. This affords him a wealth of employment opportunities. Yet he has chosen to give back to his community, and I know he will inspire children in his village to seek opportunities and change the world. In other words, in a gentle way, he is shaking the world around him.
This is what Celebration of Hope is about. It’s about celebrating the fact that we have been given an opportunity to use the gifts God gave us to shake the world around us. It’s about recognizing that we need to give love, support, and resources to men and women like Pastor Raju and Kate French to empower them to empower others. It’s about our small financial sacrifice that generates big kingdom impact stories.
This year, Willow welcomes India as a partner. I can’t contain my excitement that we have an opportunity as a church to address illiteracy, water deficiency, and open defecation in one of the largest countries in the world. I’m reminded of an Indian village leader who expressed his thanks for Willow building a toilet in his community. He shared his appreciation that the dignity of the women in his community was restored thanks to this new toilet. It is stories like these that make me realize why this work is so important. We have an opportunity to shake the world—let’s shake it together!