I Almost Missed It! February 6, 2023

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Guest blog by Barbara Brennan

I almost missed it! I wasn’t even considering a return to India on this year’s mission trip, and I should know better than to go to a mission trip interest meeting. It only inspired me to return to the beautiful people of India and speak a little bit more about Jesus to them.  Then in October 2022, through Pastor Ryan’s teaching that Sunday, I heard the Lord ask if I thought He was done using me to witness to others.

Here is what I almost missed:

*Speaking Jesus and praying for ladies in the rescue homes as we did crafts together!  They remember our previous visits, showing me pictures of their babies I’ve held during visits years ago. Not all of them know the Lord as their Savior yet, but we keep up our witness for this purpose.  

*Met and toured a newer business that give work and hope to women (and they’re doing it so well) in hopes we will be able to give our testimonies and encourage a relationship with Jesus on our next visit.

* Organized a retreat for the leaders of the rescue ministries to encourage and give them a bit of rest and appreciation for what they do each day and remind them in God‘s eyes we are beautiful in our brokenness!  

* Taught Bible lessons to children at Saturday School and adults on Sunday evening.  These two worship events are church plants that our hosts (who make sure everything goes well for us while here in India) have started!  Amazing, passionate for the Lord family who never stop telling others about Jesus and how God has changed their lives.  

* A visit to a home who rescues homeless children from the railroad tracks! Some of these wonderful kids are studying for their finals coming up in a few days!  The children, ages 3-15, have a future because a Christian couple answered His call to bring 4 boys home….those 4 grew to 26 they care for and teach about Jesus in their home!  

*I also learned from the ladies I serve with! Each time I go on a mission trip I learn from those who go with me and their passion for the Lord.  

So glad I didn’t miss this! Is God nudging at your heart to Go Beyond?

More Than a Walking Tour – February 4, 2023

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Guest blog by Laurie Jeansonne

In Kolkata I’ve only learned a few things. Just how close you can get to a moving vehicle without being run over for instance. But I’ve experienced many things.

On our walking tour through the largest flower market in Asia (open 24/7, 365), we continued on to cross the Howrah Bridge (the busiest cantilever bridge in the world) over to the industrial side of the Ganges River. Even though the flowers were beautiful and make for great photos, it was the abandoned frames of idols on the industrial side that will stay with me.

As Christians we believe in a living God. A God who became flesh and walked this earth, sacrificed Himself for sinners and defeated death. The photos you see of headless, straw figures are the remnants of gods here who have been dipped in the Ganges and sent on to their heaven. These are idols made of mud and straw. They are built on bamboo frames, artistically fashioned with straw and clay and painted in bright colors. There are 33 million documented gods, and I heard the phrase “as many as possible”. I’ve experienced highly intelligent women instructing on how to better lead your NGO, felt a heaviness that is palpable and seen a darkness that is unavoidable. “As many as possible”? Our world doesn’t need more gods, more darkness, more void of hope. It needs the love of a savior.

The circumstances here will not change over night by 1 woman accepting Christ. But her heart will be filled with the truest love, light and hope and she will want to share that. The same with the children. And after time and maybe a few generations, these dark areas can shine in the Light.

As I have sat side by side and at the feet of many women and children I can see how special they are. How beautiful and gifted they are. But they need to know and feel that about themselves. These women and children need to know that they are each precious in His sight.

When we read in God’s word or hear our pastors/teachers say ”the one true God” and “the living God” let that set a little deeper in your spirit. I hope I never take those words for granted again.

New Friends – February 2, 2023

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Our team does not consider what we do to be “short term missions”. We have long standing relationships with over 15 ministry partners. We are in communication all year long, not just when we travel to Kolkata in the spring. We Zoom, Skype, or WhatsApp video throughout the year. They are prayed for by our team, and updates are sent agapichay (Bengali word for back and forth). These are long term commitments that we make with our partners. Without these partnerships we would not be able to do the work that we do when we bring teams.

It takes time to build trust, and we are happy to be entering into a new partnership. This new partner makes the most beautiful leather products: belts, bags, and bracelets. They are smack-dab in the middle of bustling Kolkata, in an area called Bowbazar. Their workshop is perched on the edge of the second largest red-light area in Kolkata, where an estimated 1500-2000 women are still trapped in the sex trade.

Each item is hand-stitched by a woman fighting for her freedom. Please reach out to one of our team members if you would like more information. We all purchased a product (or four) and are happy to show them off when we return. Unfortunately we cannot share the name on our blog but we are happy to share about it in person.

Missionary Charcuterie – February 4, 2023

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We eat really well in India! We are all thankful for the poofy pants we bring and buy here because we come home a little more “filled out” than when we left. We obviously eat a lot of Indian food, but they also have really good Chinese food as well as fish. I always ask the team to bring some snacks as well, as you never know when plans may change, or we get stuck in traffic, or if you just feel like having a snack on the bus in between ministry appointments.

After 8 fun but grueling, long days, none of us wanted to stop anywhere for dinner. We were all ready to collapse into our beds. We decided to invent a new style of eating that we will forever call “Missionary Charcuterie”. Move over Martha Stewart, the India team is here!

Here is how you create your very own Missionary Charcuterie:

Step 1: Everyone empties their backpacks and suitcases of all their snacks. Dump it all out on the table. Tonight’s options included: kettle popcorn, Jumbo Goldfish (don’t even mess around with the regular Goldfish, this is a special night!), Pop Tarts, pickles, a few oranges from the fruit market, Kind Bars, Cheetos, beef jerky, and some M&Ms.

Step 2: Grab a paper plate you brought for one of the crafts out of that random suitcase in the corner.

Step 3: Build your own Missionary Charcuterie by filling your plate with the most random items you can find! Get creative with the design and layout.

Step 4: Enjoy! But first, post a picture and make all your friends and family back at home jealous!

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A Bittersweet Day… – February 1, 2023

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Sonagachi, the largest of Kolkata’s many red light areas, is home to over 11,000 sex workers. It is also home to a very bright light in an otherwise dark existence, a ministry that has been a friend, employer, and safe place for women who are able to make their way out of the sex trade. It has taught them how to craft beautiful products from the simplest and most readily available supply- used saris.

This particular visit was bittersweet though, and brought home the critical need for support for organizations such  this. After 17 years, their beautiful red doors and shutters will be closed for good in March. The women here have been employed, earned benefits, learned work and life skills all while healing from trauma and finding new life in Jesus. Sixty women are now trying to find new work, and the risk is there for them to return to the work they left before.  

We have loved the years we have gotten to spend with the ladies and prayed with them that God would guide their steps as they step out in faith to find what is next for them.

Sonagachi is made up of hundreds of tiny passage ways filled with multiple story dwellings. Homes are often a small room with one bed and a concrete floor. Walking through the area, even at 10 am, evidence of the sex trade lies on the street, and you will see women standing ready to work.  

So what is one to do? How does one help? There are many here who pour their lives into answering that question. Our goal, as a partner from Kingsland, is to offer support and encouragement to them as they do this seemingly impossible work.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Happy Reunions – January 31, 2023

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When we left Kolkata in late February 2020, we never dreamed that it would take us a full three years to return to the City of Joy. Not only did Kolkata endure the pandemic, there was also Cyclone Amphan that caused much damage and flooding during the same time period.

The Team at the Houston airport. We take this same picture in front if the Mickey Leland statue every year.

The team is 6 women strong this year, all returning members except for our newest member Laurie. Barbara, Brenda, Jan, Kay, and Stephanie are the returning members of the team. We are ready to hit the ground running, but first…our traditional chicken rolls at Nizam’s and shopping at Sunshines!

Shine a Light – February 13, 2020

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Hello! My name is Kalie, and today I have the privilege of sharing a snapshot of our day. I want to start by saying that today, February 13, is Shine a Light on Slavery Day!  How fitting for the End It Movement’s special day that we are in India on one of the many days we are surrounded by women who have been rescued from human trafficking or are still victims in human trafficking. I can’t help but thank God for allowing our trip to fall on this day.

Today was a good day. Long, but oh so sweet. It all started at 4:50AM when my alarm went off for the service at Mother House (former home of Mother Teresa), which starts every morning at 6:00AM on the dot. After the service and during their prayer time, we quietly exited the room because our schedule was very tight today and could not be late to board the bus for our next destination. However, when we left, the front gate doors were locked, leaving our team stunned and puzzled. Suddenly, a nun approached us with the keys and long story short, we were yelled at by a nun in a whisper voice. It was something we will never forget. We quickly walked back to the BMS and of course, had to stop for a 2 minute chai tea stop!


After a bus ride to another part of the city, we walked about six minutes down a road in the Udayan Pally village where New Hope School is located. New Hope is a school that allows the poorest children in the village to attend school and receive an education. There were children as young as 3 ½ years old all the way to 14 years old.


new hope

We had a science lesson about electrical engineering by our very own electrical engineer on the team, Stephanie! She taught the kids wonderful things about static and electric energy, and then the kids participated in the coolest experiment! They each received a balloon and rubbed it vigorously in their hair, hovered it over a plate full of salt and pepper, and watched the pepper quickly rise to the balloon. The kids were overjoyed and wide eyed at the experiment! Then, they made butterflies as seen in the pictures and used the energy from the balloon to flap the wings! One child in my group asked “Gum?” and pointed to the paper for the butterfly to be placed on, so I asked him why he needed gum. He replied by showing me a gesture to show he needed gum to glue the paper down. This really tugged on my heart strings. We take so much for granted in America, even the simplicity of a glue stick.


Next, Stephanie taught the kids about circuits and each group built circuits by using a snap kit. They were able to see how the electricity flowed through the circuit to make the lightbulb turn on and the fan blow. Each time these happened, they would cheer loudly and clap with happiness. Stephanie really did an outstanding job planning the school lessons! Stay tuned for the description of the experiment tomorrow!


At the end of the school day, the children all lined up in 5 single file lines for chapel. Deanna gave a devotional about how we are lights for Jesus and a life without Jesus is darkness. The kids all prayed together and it was a sweet moment seeing them praying to Jesus.

Next, we hopped on the bus to travel to Mahima Ashaloy! This is a community center for women who live in Sonagachi, one of (if not THE) largest red light districts in south Asia. They have weekly medical checks, counseling, dance therapy, music therapy, just to name a few. Here, Danae and I spoke about anger and stress management and healthy ways to cope when feeling angry. This really resonated with the women and about half of them opened up with personal stories from their friends and families. They asked good questions asking for advice and I believe they took away important coping mechanisms. After this, the women made tassle earrings and had a blast. Our dear friends and translators, Zeenat and Anita, were a huge help today helping us communicate with about 30 women on the terrace. Of course, they blessed us with chai and samosas which were delicious.


To wrap up a very good but long day, our team had dinner at an American owned coffee shop and café named 8th Day which was delicious. On the way from Ashaloy to dinner, my mind circled thoughts about the day. I’m amazed at several of the women’s faith after all they have been through, they’re still trusting that God has great plans for them, which He promises in Jeremiah 29:11. As for me, I’m having difficulty believing God has great plans because of recent events in my personal life, even though I know it to be true. It’s amazing how some of these ladies and all of the staff are so strong. It truly blows my mind.  Our God is doing great things here in Kolkata, the city of Joy. Please keep praying for the people here who are living in darkness away from Jesus!



Touching His Robe – February 12, 2020

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My name is Sterling Greene and I am the guest blogger on tonight’s Kolkata Go Beyond blog!

This is my fourth trip to Kolkata and my ninth mission trip with Kingsland. If there is one thing I have taken away from all my travels, it is that a smile means the same in every language. A smile can go a long way between two people who do not speak the same language. So I smile a lot, because I only speak one language!

Today we spent the day with Destiny Foundation at two different locations.   Destiny was established about ten years ago.  Their mission is to empower women that have been trafficked by teaching them job skills.

The Destiny women are always so happy to see us! We have continued to go year after year, and as a result we have built relationships with them because of our consistency. When we enter the facility it is always such a precious time as we have all longed to see each other. We are always welcomed with huge hugs and joyful smiles.

I had the privilege to share the Bible story about the bleeding woman from Mark 5:21-34, and Danae shared her testimony. The women were intrigued. The majority of the women at Destiny are not Christians, but they are always so receptive to us and the words we speak about Jesus. They always have so many questions and amazing discussion. They always bless us with their questions and their desire to want to know more.  Today after the story, one girl asked, “I wish Jesus were still alive so I could touch his robe and He could heal me.”  That swung the door WIDE OPEN for a conversation about how OUR GOD is not dead.  He is alive and active and working in our lives every day.  When we speak to Him, He hears us.  He sees every tear that falls. These women sometimes feel forgotten by their gods that they worship as Hindu followers.  What a contrast!


After our Bible time and testimony, we taught them how to make threaded earrings.  And of course we have our signature activity, pedicures! Feet are a big deal here and no one wants their feet touched. It is a cultural taboo that 1. They feel like they are sinning by having their feet touched and 2. Someone younger washing the feet of an older person is not okay. So many ladies were uncomfortable having their feet washed and cleaned today, but they allowed us to bestow our crazy American ways on them. It was such an amazing day full of so much love. 


Ten years ago, I would have told you I would NEVER go to India! NEVER! It was the last place on earth I ever wanted to go. Today, I can tell you it is my second home. The hospitality of the Indian culture is such a heart warming quality that we as Americans have lost. I have a family here that is always welcoming. This city of Kolkata is amazing and full of so much good that we tend to forget because of the great darkness, but our God is BIG and is in the business of transforming hearts with His crazy love.

A New Journey

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Our team is ready and excited to begin our journey to India. This is our first time for our women’s justice team to travel to India’s capital. Our work will be a bit different than what we do in Kolkata, but very closely related.


Our women’s justice team will be traveling to New Delhi and Punjab to work with a partner that is proactively working to champion the rights of Indian girls and women. It has been said that the three most dangerous words in India are “It’s a girl.” Killing girl children just after birth and female fetacide is on the rise in India as girls are thought of as a burden on their families. Rape and violent crimes against women are also becoming more prevalent – a result of the devaluation of females.

Decades of sex-selective abortion have created an acute lack of women in certain parts of India. Traffickers capitalize on the shortage by recruiting or kidnapping women ensnared in poverty to sell as brides. It’s a cycle influenced by poverty and medical technologies, but one that ultimately is perpetuated by India’s attitude towards women.” – Carl Gierstorfer CNN

Our team will be educating teens and young women about the sanctity of life, living a life of purity and approaching the issue of gendercide from a Biblical world view. We will also be conducting a VBS for orphans, visiting the daughters of lepers and pampering women of extreme poverty that are a part of Disha’s vocational training center.

Our team:
Kay Smith
Kaytlin Norman
Mary Whittington
Rona Lee
Jana Soroski
Ruth Soroski
Rachael Soroski
Melissa Crowder
Sterling Greene
Christina Crane

Thank you for praying for our team and following along on this journey with us,

As it happens when women travel together we tend to talk a lot. Our wait in the Houston airport was filled with fun chatter and getting to know one another. A funny thing we found out was that lots of us feel like we need to expand our vocabulary. So we decided that we will pick a new word each day and use it…today our word (from Jana) is perspicacious- to have a ready insight or understanding of things. I guess that is a perfect word to begin the journey.

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