I’m Heading to Kolkata, India

Dear Movers & Shakers,

Warning: this is a support letter. Turn back now or forever hold your peace.

The Background

It’s happening. That thing I was most afraid – well I’m doing it. See I never wanted to be a “missionary.” Growing up, hearing places like Africa never peaked my interest, let alone anywhere else in the third world.

First time I traveled abroad was to India with a medical outreach team back in 2008, and after going, I wasn’t too sure I wanted to go back. Constant noise, terrible smells, immense poverty, caste hatred, and all forms of disease plague the land.

India was also the first time I came across sex trafficking outside of a book setting. Kids selling roses between crowded rickshaws with a baby in one hand, other hand reaching out, all within eyeshot of the pimp who will reap the benefits.

I walked through streets of human excrement. Saw more homeless people in a square block than all of Denver’s homeless combined. In my mind, the place was a mess. But something happened there I never want to forget.

A Seed was Planted

Quite simply, India is a paradox. Such natural beauty mixed with vibrant colors abounding everywhere contrasted with filth, pollution, corruption, and hate, all surrounded and encompassed by the caste system.

At one point I came across a huge billboard rising directly over a large gypsy slum reading, “Luxury Villas for the Accomplished.” I could not help but wonder what it meant to be ‘accomplished,’ and wondered where these accomplished people were so they could come and pick up their fellow human beings and tell them someone loved them, saw them, hadn’t passed over them, and finds worth and value in their life.

My Great Grandma Gigi was a Hindu guru and pretty heavily involved in the New Age. She was a follower of Yogananda and had disciples of her own. There are still Ashrams (places of worship) dedicated to Gigi in India today. She often visited India and was buddies with the one and only Mother Teresa. I have a picture of the two of them together laughing up a storm. Like my Great Grandma Gigi, my heart is drawn to India. Something inside of me compels movement to take a second look. But unlike Grandma Gigi, I’m bringing something else with me. I’m bringing King Jesus!

Most of you know about that whole World Race thing I was did. A not so typical mission trip to 11 countries in 11 months. Well it was: energizing, depleting, refreshing, dirty, epic, and still hard to put into one sentence. It wrecked me. I’m screwed. I know who the Lord called me to be. I know where my identity lies. And that compels me to live a life of bringing a voice to those whose voice has been taken or oppressed.

International Director of Word Made Flesh, Chris Heuertz, states that “we need the poor, more than the poor need us.” Something happens that brings a fulness to my life serving alongside the poor in wealth and poor in spirit. Jesus shows up.

The World Race was 11 back-to-back-to-back short-term missions for 11 months. It was 11 snapshots of different ministries, passions, and places to pour myself into. I have seen sex trafficking in many countries and even stateside. I have become aware over the years. But at some point, I need to move beyond awareness and into advocacy. And to be honest, it’s fairly hard to be a voice of advocacy if you don’t know the people for whom you are advocating.

You’ve Been Hand Selected

I most likely will need financial support for years to come. I need you to support and partner with me. Make no mistake – this will cost you something. It may cost your time, comfort, resources, money, energy, effort, or all of the above. But guess what? You’ve been hand selected by yours truly, plus that Jesus guy, to bring Kingdom to the world.

I’m learning Jesus always cost something, but the reward is great. I believe the Lord is calling me to tell people’s stories, and everyone has a story to tell. When telling people’s stories it can be easy to turn a “person” into a “cause” to champion. And while poverty and such circumstances may be an aspect of what someone is living in, it does not define who they are. Jesus does. I want my life to tell stories of hope and joy.

Sidenote: this trip scares the crap out of me. I’m serious. I really don’t know what I’m getting myself into or what this will turn into. And at the same time I do. I think I’m getting myself into more of Jesus. I want to learn how to love better and see Jesus. I believe living with the poor tends to do that. Please pray about supporting me.

From what I’ve seen, missions can be like a sorority. All women and barely any men. The world needs men willing to stand in the gap with the Father’s heart and say no more, “Here I am. Send me!” So here I go.

“We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us life doesn’t mean anything and that humanity has no great purpose. It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks to it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them.”

– Donald Miller

The Specifics

*** The end of August I will be heading to Kolkata (Calcutta), India to join a 4 month Servant Team with Word Made Flesh. ***

What is Word Made Flesh? (WMF)

“Word Made Flesh is called and committed to serve Jesus among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor. This calling is realized as a prophetic ministry for, and an incarnational, holistic mission among the poor. We focus our energy to make Jesus known among the poor while reconciling the church with the poor.”

What is a Servant Team?

“Servant Teams are 4-month formation opportunities. Our team will commit to live and serve together, under the leadership and guidance of a WMF staff member.”

What is WMF Kolkata’s Mission?

WMF Kolkata has been called to serve among those who have been sexually exploited. We work to see the freedom and restoration of Kolkata’s red-light areas through dignifying relationship with persons affected by the sex trade.”

True Religion

James 1:27 puts it bluntly. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

“True Religion is about taking care of those who are robbed and left on the road. True Religion is about giving water to those who are thirsty. It is about providing food for the hungry, sight for the blind, care for the sick, and encouragement for the dying and bereaved. It is about cleaning the body of a leper, living with the untouchables of society, and bringing communities together. True Religion is about being peacemakers rather than violence creators, standing up for the powerless in society, protecting the rights of women and children, and joining hands with all those who are doing good and standing in solidarity with the oppressed, the victimized and the forsaken.”

– Joseph D’souza

So I made it Kolkata…click here for more stories

  • Here is my e-mail. Use it. Ask me questions. nathansalley@gmail.com
  • Here is my cell. Call me. Find a time that we can have a beer or coffee and talk. 303.482.5806.
  • Here is my website. Subscribe to updates. Follow my story. nathansalley.net
  • Here is Word Made Flesh website. Check ‘em out. See what you think. wordmadeflesh.org 


5 thoughts on “I’m Heading to Kolkata, India

  1. Holy smokes, Salley.

    “I really don’t know what I’m getting myself into or what this will turn into. And at the same time I do. I think I’m getting myself into more of Jesus. I want to learn how to love better and see Jesus. I believe living with the poor tends to do that. Please pray about supporting me.”

    Amen and amen.

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