Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Visit to Madurai

We're back from our busy weekend visit to Madurai!

We arrived to the temple city on Saturday noon, in time for lunch. We then spent our afternoon visiting two service projects with Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, and then finished our evening with the sound and light show at the Tirumalai Nayakar Mahal.

On Sunday, after a worship service on TTS's campus, we went out to visit the Shree Menakshi Temple (photo above), stopped by the Gandhi Museum and then visited one more project with TTS on our way back to Coimbatore.

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the service projects run by TTS. In their second year of classes, seminary students are required to go into the slums in neighboring villages and live and serve there while attending classes on campus. Students spend their entire third year living in slums within an hour's distance from the city, where they minister full-time to the poor and marginalized. Then, in their final year, they come back to campus and finish their studies with, as one might imagine, a particular heart for the poor and with an increased understanding of the relevancy of the gospel to those living in the margins of society.

Over the weekend, we were able to visit a paper recycling and book printing facility run by the 'differently abled' on TTS's campus, which publishes and makes books written by the TTS faculty. Off campus, we visited a nursing home for "grannies and grampas" where students live during their second year to help to care for approximately 30 grannies and 20 grampas and run an "Adopt a Granny" program. These men and women have no family members to care for them in their old age, and are admitted on the basis of need. We also visited a tailoring, sewing and weaving rehabilitation center for women who were sexually abused, where the seminary purchases linens for their guest house and also stations students during their second year. On Sunday, we stopped by an orphanage for 17 HIV+ children, a third year project for seminarians where we were able to take some time and play, laugh and sing with the children.

After our time at the seminary, we've been talking a bit about how different a seminary education in the US would look if seminarians were required to take part in an intentional ministry among the poor.  We've also been talking a lot about God's heart for the poor and how we, as Christians, Americans and people of privilege, can and should love and serve the poor in our home contexts.

Thank you for reading!
see more of our photos from our trip on Facebook here.

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